Swimming Like A Mermaid!


The Little Mermaid was my favourite movie growing up and still remains at the top of the list today. However, as Ariel desperately longed to have legs to walk on land, I have always been eager to soar deep beneath the surface of the sea — perhaps this is what led me to become a Scuba Diving Instructor. Recently, there has been somewhat of a mermaid takeover in the media and pop culture, but it came as a surprise to find out that Ottawa actually has a Mermaid Academy! That’s right, at Aqua Mermaid, you can learn to swim like Ariel.

Aqua Mermaid is the world’s largest mermaid swimming school where people book mermaid swimming lessons, private events, celebrate special occasions or simply join for fitness. Families love bringing their friends and kids to Aqua Mermaid because of how fun and great of an experience it is. I brought my two nieces (ages 9 & 11) and nephew (age 6) to try out their fun beginning class and explore exactly how it feels to sport a mermaid tail and propel yourself through the water!

The class was held at the YMCA downtown, right in front of the Canadian Museum Of Nature. Upon arriving we were greeted by a super friendly instructor, Marielle (sounds a bit like Ariel doesn’t it?) Marielle explained what types of activities the class would hold and the outline for the hour we were there. She then gave each child their very own mermaid tail and explained how to wear and take care of their tails, then it was time to hit the pool for a quick swimming test to assess their comfort level in the water! Over the course of an hour she had them swimming laps in their tails first supported by floaties, then without, followed by a series of fun games and activities, finishing off with a photo shoot in the warm pool.

The kids were smiling the entire time and it was wonderful to see them try something new, that was equal parts fun and challenging!

Aqua Mermaid hosts group events (or have discovery mermaid swimming lesson for smaller groups) that range from 1 – 2 hours of mermaid fun. Every event includes mermaid swimming, time for photos and a dedicated mermaid coach that will teach you how to swim with a mermaid tail while playing fun games. If you’re looking for an awesome time, a unique experience and a challenging workout, definitely check them out!  Book today.

I have always been an over packer. An over-night or weekend trip can very quickly turn into looking like I’m leaving for a several month long expedition. I’m the one at the airport who’s emptying the contents of one bag into the other, trying to even out the weight distribution, as an attempt to avoid having to pay for heavy baggage. Then I had a child and it got way worse….

Since the birth of my daughter our family has been lucky enough to do our fair share of traveling, and with each trip I’m left wracking my  brain trying to figure out the absolute essentials. Do I bring a high chair? Pack a car seat or rent one? How many outfit changes could she possibly need every day? Pack diapers or buy them when I get there? I usually just succumb to the fact that at any given time, a massive blizzard could hit in the dead of Spring, in the tropical destination we’ve traveled to, and bring her ALL the options.

What we had for 2 weeks in Florida (plus my diaper bag)

This March, my little one and I eagerly set off on a two week holiday to Florida. Impressed with the fact that I only had one, 50 pound bag for the two of us, I arrived to the airport with only an hour to spare, to find out the worst had happened!!!! The latch on our pickup trucks trunk had opened, and somewhere between Orléans and the Ottawa airport, my bag had rolled out. I was left having to decide whether to cancel the trip altogether, or move on to Florida, with nothing but the clothes on our backs and winter boots on our feet. One hour later we boarded the plane and although the experience of traipsing through two airports in heavy, winter, fur-lined boots was uncomfortable, the amount that I learned about what we and our little ones ACTUALLY need  and don’t need on a holiday, was invaluable.


  1. Don’t pack a highchair – if you are staying at a hotel or resort, check ahead with the staff because almost every establishment will have one that you can keep in your room for the duration of your stay. Furthermore, if you dine on the resort grounds or in any restaurant, there will be one you can use. I had the Summer Infant travel highchair that I LOVED, but it added a lot of extra weight to the luggage, and took up tons of room.
  2. Don’t worry about too many pairs of pyjamas –  At home, I like my daughter to wear a different pair of pj’s every night, but if you’re looking to travel light, you do not need a nightly wardrobe change. Many places will have laundry on site, but if you’re only gone for one week, they won’t get dirty enough to warrant bringing too many pairs. When we arrived in Florida, I bought Finley one really cute and special set of jammies (that she picked out) and I washed it intermittently throughout our stay.
  3. If you’re bringing your iPhones and/tablets, you may want to skip the baby monitors – I am certain you won’t leave home without your phone, so if space it what you’re hoping to save, you can download many different Baby Monitor Apps that serve as a monitor. We set my phone up in her room as the base and used the iPad as the camera. It worked perfectly and I now know that I don’t have to risk our expensive monitor getting broken in our luggage.
  4. Shoes – one for travel, one for leisure. Unless you’re going on an adventure-packed trip by day, glamorous gala-filled trip by night, you don’t need too many different pairs of shoes. I bought Finley a comfortable pair that she could wear on the beach, in the water, or when walking around shops and restaurants, and of course she had her boots with us to come home in. In the past I packed her flip flops, dressy sandals, water shoes, and runners. One pair of shoes that double as water/leisure shoes is all that’s necessary. For me, one pair of flip flops was fine for two weeks in the sun.

These Natives are a great choice for the “everything” shoe

5. You don’t need to pack all the toys – If your child has a lovey or special toy that they don’t like to be without, pack it in your carry-on so no matter what luggage situation you get into, they’ll have it with them. Another local mama I know says she allows each child to pack their own tiny backpack full of toys from home. “It makes them feel special and included in the process of getting ready for the trip”. You can also pick up a couple of cheap toys at a local dollar store once you arrive at your destination (sand toys etc), but most little ones will be so occupied by their new surroundings, that they won’t be overly interested in the toys that came from home. We were also recently gifted a Moonlight, that attaches to your phone to illuminate your child’s favourite books on the ceiling. It weighs nothing and is a super fun alternative to actual books.

Dollar store sand toys were a big hit! And we just left them behind for another little one to enjoy when we were leaving.

Moonlight attaches to your phone and plays books on the ceiling

6. Share one toiletry bag for everyone – I am usually a notorious toiletry-over-packer. I bring big bottles of shampoo, conditioner and soap and giant bottles of my favourite body wash. Not to mention all the lotions and washes that my little one uses. Losing my luggage made me realize that this was unnecessary and a massive waste of space. Upon arrival in Florida, I purchased a travel sized bottle of body wash that was safe for both me and my two year old and doubled as shampoo for her. I picked us up toothbrushes and a travel sized toothpaste and a small bottle of shampoo for myself and that was all I needed.  It was refreshing not to worry about styling my hair or wearing makeup for the two weeks. That being said, leave the blowdryer at home. If your natural air-dried hair is a bit out of control like mine, there will be one you can use in almost any rental unit or hotel room.

7. Blackout curtains are great, but tinfoil and garbage bags work just as well – I know I know. It sounds funny and may not be the Pinterest worthy look that you were aiming for, but the Gro Blinds are huge, take up tons of space and aren’t cheap. You can just as easily cover any window with tin foil and black garbage bags. Those two items can be purchased anywhere you go and can ensure your little will have successful sleeps!

8. Don’t bring your most expensive stroller – If you are going on a holiday where you’ll be cruising rugged terrain with your littles in tow, it might make sense to pack it. Otherwise, an easy folding umbrella stroller does the trick. I packed my UppaBaby Vista on one of our first overseas trips, and it was severely damaged while stowed with the baggage. I now have a cheap and light Maclaren Umbrella stroller that is more than sufficient. If you’re a baby-wearer, you might even think about renting a stroller once you arrive at your destination. This is a surefire way to not cause any damage to the ones you like to use at home.

9. Cribs are available to rent/borrow at so many hotels – It may be worthwhile leaving the pack & play at home, especially if you’re traveling by yourself. We have had great luck with hotels having clean and nice cribs available for rent. Pack & plays are great if you’re driving somewhere, but to fly with them can be difficult and unnecessary. Call ahead where you’re going and ask what their crib situation is.


  1. Car seats ARE needed, and you should bring one that you’re used to installing –  One mistake that I didn’t make was strapping my little one into her travel carseat before leaving our house. Because I was traveling alone, I made sure that I was comfortable with installing it and knew how to use it. It is recommended that when your child turns two and has their own airplane seat, you strap them into a carseat. I cannot express how vital I feel this is. Not only is if safer in the event of turbulence or that the plane stops fast. Not only is it also a comfortable and familiar setting to that your toddler is used to. But, it also comes in extremely handy when your little one can’t get out of their seat and run around on the airplane! Yes, you can rent them upon your arrival, but you will never be sure that they have not been previously damaged, nor will they come with a manual on installation. It may be bulky to lug through the airport, but you can buy inexpensive, lightweight ones such as the Cosco Scenera Next, recommended by Ottawa’s very own carseat and safety experts). 

    This lightweight car seat works great for travel

  2. Pack any/all medicine in your carry on –< This includes any pain/fever relief medicine that you and your children might need, prescription drugs, Epi pens, Benadryl, Pepto Bismol; anything really, that you might need in the event that something happens and you or your little one isn't feeling well. If you lose your luggage, at least you'll have peace of mind knowing that stuff is near.
  3. Pack a change of clothes in your carry on – Even when your kids are over the diaper blow out phase, I can’t stress enough how happy I was that I had a pair of backup clothes when we were five minutes into the flight and my child spilled freezing water all down her front. You never know what the kids can get in to so it’s best to have clean, dry clothes they can easily change into.
  4. Stock up on snacks – This probably should have been point #1 as I feel it is the most crucial way to ensure you have a bit of sanity on your flight. This is the time where I stop being the health conscious mom, and worry about what will make her happy in the event that a full blown in-flight meltdown occurs. Snacks. They are the way to go. Even if it means an extra 10 pounds in your diaper bag, pack them all! Also, you never know what kind of delays you’ll encounter while traveling, or when the next full meal will be. So let me reiterate one last time, PACK ALL THE SNACKS!!!

The bottom line is, if you’re happy, your kids will be happy. I had the choice to panic, cancel our vacation and cry over it, or suck it up and remember that it’s only “stuff” and she and I are capable of having fun no matter what.

I am so happy to report that thanks to the wonderful powers of Facebook, my bag was located and returned to us safely. Although I was beyond grateful to have the contents back in my possession, I’m even more grateful for having had the experience of winging it with my little one. I now feel I have a much stronger grasp on what the ACTUAL essentials are, and know this will save me time, money and sanity moving forward.

So grateful to the man who found it and for the amazing powers of social media!

On November 13th late at night, I found out I was pregnant with my second baby. After a somewhat long period of trying to conceive, I was beyond elated. Our little Family was growing and my sweet girl was going to be a big sister! That bond that you feel in pregnancy sparked instantly and we were over the moon. On December 21st, it was taken away from us when we found out that our tiny little heart had stopped beating.

It’s so exciting to see a positive result!


I began showing signs of a miscarriage on the Wednesday morning before Christmas, which was also only one day after we shared the good news with our parents. It began as mild spotting and slowly increased to become the colour red that every woman fears terribly during pregnancy. We waited a long and painful two days for a very unsympathetic doctor to tell us that the little flicker of a heartbeat that we’d come to know and love, was no longer viable. The doctors instructions for what was to follow felt so clinical and cold; as if he was sharing directions to the nearest gas station, not something devastating. We all of a sudden felt like we were being ushered out of the bed we were occupying in the ER.


Although I knew inside that we had experienced a loss, my brain began to try and rationalize how the ultrasound could have been wrong; it started to play tricks on me and tell me that someone somewhere, had made a critical mistake. Denial. Next came the guilt. What did I do that caused this? Was that steak I ate too pink? I know I avoided lunch meat but am I sure that goat cheese was pasteurized? Maybe it’s because I drank coffee or took that Zantac when my heartburn was so bad…I never took Zantac in my first pregnancy. It has to be because I’m still breast feeding my toddler. Didn’t I read somewhere that breastfeeding can cause miscarriage? The walls felt like they were closing in on me and as I was rapidly transitioning through the different stages of grief, my heart quite literally, felt like it was breaking.


Some doctors say 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Some say 25% and some say one in five. I have personally known six women in the month of December who’ve gone through it, so why did it feel like the loneliest thing on the planet to experience? Perhaps it’s because it all happened before I had the chance to publicly announce it, so the masses didn’t know what we’d lost. Maybe it’s because it felt like in some way, my body had failed me. Maybe it’s because there’s a certain level of guilt associated with the experience, that no one else could possibly understand. Whatever the case, it felt like my life paused and I was totally unsure of which direction to turn. So many medical professional made feeble attempts at support by using the common dictums such as “Its Gods will” or “Everything happens for a reason” or “you already have one child so at least you know you can have another”, but none of these added any comfort or made any sense, in fact, it was probably the opposite. I just wanted to be left alone as I knew that the only person who could understand my grief, was myself.  While I now realize they all had good intentions, there was nothing that anyone could say, to make any sense of why this was happening to me.


If it had been any other time of year, I would have been granted the opportunity to grieve quietly and for as long as I wanted, but it was three days before Christmas, and I’m a mom to a toddler which for me meant that I had to try my best for “the show to go on”. But how do you celebrate what’s supposed to be the happiest time of year, when you have a broken heart? The traditions and events that can add so much joy and meaning to the season were punctuated with painful reminders that the tiny person we loved will never be here with us. In so many ways I wished that I could find a quiet place to hide until January 2nd.


Despite everything, I ended up having a wonderful Christmas Day surrounded by my loving family and for the first time since we received our news, I actually felt happy again (which unfortunately brought back the guilt). I want other mamas to know, that it’s always ok not to be OK. But just as it’s OK to grieve for as long as you want, it is also OK to smile and enjoy the good things happening in your life. It doesn’t mean that you’re not mindful of the baby you lost. If this should ever be you, please try not to let yourself feel guilty for taking your mind off things and living your life. Grief comes in waves and when you experience any kind of loss, although it may feel like you’ll never smile again, happiness WILL slowly make its way back into your life. There will be moments where the grief feels overwhelming, almost like an actual wave washes over you and you’re fighting to stay above the water, but that wave passes and you can and will once again see the beauty in all that’s around you.

Real smiles on Christmas night… something I didn’t think would be possible


Miscarriage can be an amazingly difficult thing to talk about, but the more I have shared my story, the more other women are beginning to admit (almost shyly) that they too, have experienced this type of loss. The common denominator between them all is that after the ice is broken, each woman almost seems relieved to talk about it. I want you, my friends and family to know that I am someone you can talk to if you lose a baby or know someone who does. I am an open book with the details of my story and I never want any woman to feel ashamed in asking me about it, or sharing their story with me. Imagine a world in which there was only understanding and support, where a woman didn’t have to feel ashamed and she could grieve for her baby with the love and support she needed instead of suffering in silence. A world where people don’t feel that they need to make an excuse for terrible things. Sometimes, things are just really shitty, and we should be able to hold someone’s hand and simply say “I’m here for you, in any way you need. And when you’re ready to talk about this, I’ll be here to listen”.
To my sisters (and brothers) out there, I am always here to listen to your story. Thank you for reading mine.

After 17 days of my body trying to go through the process “naturally” I ended up in the hospital where the doctors had to perform a Dilation and Curettage. It was the last thing in the world that I wanted, but I was so relieved for it all to be over.  Doctor McCoubrey and the team at the Montfort were extremely kind, compassionate and wonderful.

Edit to add: There were so many people who were so supportive, kind, thoughtful and helpful during this process. Those who sent flowers, brought gifts, helped with Finley, called, texted and sat and let me cry. You know who you are and I want to be sure that you know how very much I appreciate you and how grateful I am to have been blessed with your friendship. I will never forget those acts of kindness during such a dark period. It also so happens, that in the 17 days I was going through this, I became even closer with my spouse.  In my experience, there was a little bit of sunshine at the end of the storm.

If you have suffered a loss, or know someone who has, I can always be reached by email at ering@mommyconnections.ca for support and am also a proud distributer of the Butterfly Box. Please feel free to message me any time.

If you’re anything like me, the second Halloween is over, you have Christmas on the brain. The lights, the treats, the shopping, the decorating…even the snow (although the second Christmas is over I’d be happy for it to melt).

The holidays have taken on a completely new meaning now that there’s a toddler running around our home and seeing the magic of the season through her eyes makes it even more special to our family. Just last night we took her to Lowes to see the Christmas display and watching her eyes light up as she saw the trees, the Santa’s and the lights, made me realize exactly what the “magic of the season” is that people always talk about.

We are so lucky to live in a city that has an endless list of holiday festivities for children and families, as well as countless opportunities for your little ones to cozy up to Santa for a once-a-year magical encounter.

Below is a list of family friendly holiday events happening around the city of Ottawa!

Santa at the Shopping Malls

Carlingwood Shopping Centre

November 17th – Santa’s Arrival Parade.

He leaves from Centre Court at 1pm to tour the Mall and arrive at his chair.

Santa Arrival PARADE

Rideau Centre

November 17th – December 24th

Hurry! This mall is offering a one of a kind Santa experience offering zero lines or waiting (making your child’s visit that much smoother).  Book your reservation now! Only a limited number of reservations are available.

Santa’s workshop will be located on Level 3, Freiman Bridge. Walk-ups will be accommodated as time allows

St Laurent Shopping Centre 

November 17th 11am-5pm

Located on the first floor of the shopping centre. Your little one will be able to meet Santa (or send him a letter!) and take a picture with him.

Place D’Orléans

November 24 – December 24th

Located on the first floor in the BMO court. Your little one will be able to meet Santa (or send him a letter!) and take a picture with him.

Digital Photos With Santa


Saturday, November 17th: 10:00AM – 7:00PM (Santa’s arrival)

Click to be directed to a full list of times to visit!

Visit  Santa’s Village, located on 1st level. Your little one will be able to meet Santa (or send him a letter!) and take a picture with him.

Holiday Snow Globe (also available at Bayshore shopping centre) 

From November 17th, 2018 to January 6th, 2019.

Step inside the Snow Globe in Crystal hall, 3rd level, for an immersive Holiday experience! The life-size structured will allow you to immerse into a wonderland with cascading snow and a themed décor. All proceeds and donations will be donated to the Sentors Foundation. 


 Help Santa Toy Parade – Central Ottawa


November 17, 2018 @ 11:00am

Starts at Ottawa City Hall – Finishes at TD Place)

Every year since 1969, the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters’ Association has been organizing the Help Santa Toy Parade and collecting toys along the parade route for distribution to the less fortunate children in Ottawa-Carleton.

The parade has evolved into a significant event drawing tens-of-thousands of people who line the Parade route and share their generosity. Participants are entertained to the sights and sounds of floats, bands and clowns produced locally and from around the Province.

Fire fighters will collect new toys and cash donations along the route. Due to the fact of the numerous amount of unsuitable used toys that have been dropped off over the years we will no longer accept used toys of any kind. New toys can be dropped off at any of the Salvation Army Thrift Stores.

Kanata Santa Claus Parade
November 17, 2018

The Kanata parade (a.k.a the Hazeldean Mall Santa Claus Parade) is presented by the Kanata-Hazeldean Lions Club in cooperation with the Kanata Sports Club. The parade starts at Terry Fox and Castlefrank, moves along Castlefrank to Abbeyhill and then on to the Hazeldean Mall. Nonperishable food donations to the Kanata Food Cupboard are appreciated.

Barrhaven Lions Santa Parade
Sunday, November 18th at 5:30 p.m.

The annual Barrhaven Lions Club Santa Claus Parade runs down Strandherd Drive, west. Tim Hortons will be providing hot chocolate at various spots along the parade route.

Image result for barrhaven lions santa claus parade

Arnprior Santa Claus Parade

November 24, 2018 at 6 pm

Carleton Place Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, November 24, 2018 at 5 p.m.

Santa’s Parade of Lights – Orléans 
Saturday, November 24th @ 6:00pm 

Image result for santa's parade of lights

Also hosted by the Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association, this parade takes place on St-Joseph, Blvd. in Orleans. Toys and cash donations will be collected by firefighters along the route.

Stittsville Parade of Lights 
Saturday, December 1, 2018

This parade is a favourite community event. The parade proceeds south down Main Street to Village Square. Parade goers are welcome to stay for the lighting of Village Square Park and to warm up with some hot chocolate.

Carp Santa Claus Parade
December 8, 2018 12 pm

Image result for carp santa claus parade 2018

Parade route starts at The Diefenbunker, 3911 Carp Road and follows Carp Road. 


Other Holidays Activities in Ottawa and the Surrounding Areas.

Breakfast With Santa – Barrhaven

Sunday, November 18th @ 8:00am

Head over to The Breakfast with Santa in Barrhaven at 8 am or 9:30 am (tickets MUST be purchased in advance) and stay for some free family fun with Santa! Do some crafts with our student elves, listen to your favourite holiday songs and have some festive fun with your family and friends. They will be collecting food and cash donations for the Barrhaven Food Cupboard at the front of the school all morning. Drop yours off or bring them to the parade that evening.

Breakfast includes; pancakes, sausages, juice, coffee. Limited seating. Pre-purchased tickets only!

Tickets can be purchased here

Alight the Night

November 30th to January 5th
Upper Canada Village

Step back in time while walking around the beautifully lit heritage buildings, trees and fences of Upper Canada Village. There are festive activities and a chance to meet Santa Claus all throughout the month of December leading up to Christmas.

Cumberland Heritage Village Museum Vintage Village of Lights


November 30th – December 23rd 

30,000 Christmas lights, decorations everywhere, a gigantic reindeer and sleigh and – of course – a visit with Santa Claus in his workshop! Kids will have fun sledding, playing broomball or street hockey, making a snow globe, decorating gingerbread, and sending your Christmas wish list to Santa via telegram. Regular admission applies. 

Manotick – Olde Fashioned Christmas
Saturday, December 1st and Sunday, December 2nd

Manotick’s annual Olde Fashioned Christmas celebration. From horse drawn wagon rides with Father and Mary Christmas to sunset carolling, this wonderful weekend is full of traditional events not to be missed. Refreshments and music everywhere! The Village is transformed into a Christmas of  yester-year. Wreaths are hung on lampposts, trees are lit and the Village shines brightly all season long.

This is one wonderful weekend full of small town tradition you and your family will not want to miss!

Almonte’s Light Up the Night!
Friday, December 7th at 7 p.m.

Bundle up, this is an open-air concert and fireworks display on Main Street in Almonte. Now in its 28th year this night is full of music and memorable outdoor festivities.

Holidays at The Parks 2018

Sunday, December 9, 2018 from 12:00PM – 4:00PM

A great family friendly event, Holidays at The Parks will feature activities for everyone including a vendor’s row, kids craft station, horse-drawn wagon rides, opportunity to meet Zack the donkey, and more! All activities will take place in the Wesley Clover Parks’ heated indoor arena. Meet and take a picture with Santa! Admission by donation.

Magic of Lights: Nov. 17, 2017 – Jan. 6, 2018


Wesley Clover Park

Now in its third year, Magic of Lights Ottawa is returning to the Wesley Clover Parks Campground for the 2018 holiday season! This magical event, that has quickly become a holiday tradition for many Ottawa residents, is comprised of festive lighted displays celebrating the joy of the holidays. A “drive through” experience from the comfort of your own car, at every turn and in every direction the magical route is overflowing with spectacular light displays and animations. New attractions in 2018 will include “Candy Cane Lane”, a 200-foot animated Candy Cane celebration, as well as a twinkling “Snowflake Forest” winter spectacle.

Head just west of Ottawa’s downtown core to Wesley Clover Parks for this one of a kind drive-through experience. Nearly one million LED lights are spread over two kilometres, including a 200-foot light tunnel and large LED displays of your favourite winter characters like snowmen, elves and more. Select proceeds from each carload admission benefit the Ottawa Senator’s Foundation.

Nepean Christmas – Nepean Sportsplex, 1701 Woodroofe Ave. 

November 1st – 4th

Bring the whole family and get into the Christmas spirit by coming to the museum for a Nepean Christmas Celebration!  There will be Christmas crafts, treats, and of course Santa! 

Chanukah Gift Fair – SJCC

November 18th @ 10:00am-4:00pm


PJL Chanukah Event

November 18th @ 10:00am – 12:00pm


PJ’s Annual Chanukah Party. Join your PJ Library friends for story time, crafts, sufganyot, dreidels and a special Junkyard Symphony performance.

All are welcome. You do not have to be a PJL subscriber to attend.

Goulbourn Museum Olde Fashioned Christmas
Sunday, November 18th from 10 am to 3 pm

Get a head start on your shopping at this holiday celebration and Christmas market that features activities for the whole family. Write letters to Santa and pose for a photo with the jolly old soul, enjoy free hot chocolate and apple cider and buy one-of-a-kind handmade gifts from local artisans. Free admission.

20th Annual Trees of Hope for CHEO:

Nov. 27, 2017 – Jan. 8, 2018

Image result for trees of hope chateau laurier

Head to the historic Fairmont Château Laurier hotel to see several beautifully decorated Christmas trees throughout the holiday season during Trees of Hope! Opt to enjoy Afternoon Tea or a meal at the hotel followed by a stroll through the lovely trees located throughout their storied halls. This is a holiday season tradition for many.

The Museum of History’s Christmas Market

Nov. 30 – Dec. 3, 2017

This four-day Christmas market brings over 80 exhibitors to the Canadian Museum of History‘s Grand Hall. Choose from gourmet foods, artisanal spirits, handcrafted jewellery and many other unique handmade gifts. Free admission.

On Nov. 30 at 6:00 p.m., the Canadian Museum of History will also light its giant outdoor Christmas tree. Enjoy Christmas carols, hot chocolate and Beaver Bites.

The Ottawa Little Theatre Presents- It’s a Wonderful Life

November 28 – December 15th

Based on the most beloved holiday classic of all time, this is the story of George Bailey who on Christmas Eve, convinced that his life has been a failure, wants to end it all. Clarence Oddbody, Angel Second Class who has been trying for 200 years to earn his wings, is sent to the rescue.

Tickets can be purchased here



Christmas Lights Across Canada

Dec. 7, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018

Join the fun Dec. 7, 2017 on Parliament Hill for the Christmas Lights Across Canada illumination ceremony, complete with carollers and hot chocolate. From then until Jan. 7, 2018, Ottawa’s downtown streets and several monument sites are lit up with hundreds of thousands of dazzling coloured lights. Plus, don’t miss the magical Winter Lightscapes show projected on Parliament’s Centre Block!

Barrhaven: Winter Wonderland
Saturday, December 8th from 10 am to 12 pm

Presented by the Minto Recreation Complex, this festive event will include pictures with Santa, crafts, games and cookie decorating. Admission is free!

Taffy Lane in Orleans


This street has a well-deserved reputation across Ottawa as having the best neighbourhood light display. There is a (Santa) clause in every agreement of purchase and sale that home owners must put up an elaborate light display

There are also several houses that are over the top only a few minutes away from Taffy Lane, just South of St. Joseph.

So you’re ready to buy or sell your home, and you want the guidance of a real estate professional to help you with the process. But how do you pick the one that is right for you?

“It’s always a good idea to meet with at least a few different real estate professionals before selecting the one you’d like to work with,” says Joseph Richer, registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario. “You should also consider asking friends or family to recommend someone they’ve recently worked with.”

When you’re ready to meet with a few representatives, consider asking these questions:

  1. What is your experience? Experience is about more than how many years someone has been in business. Take the time to learn about the types of properties they typically work with, which cities or areas they work in, and how many homes they helped buy or sell in the past year.
  2. What is your approach to the buying or selling process? If you’re buying, how will the representative search for suitable properties and what is their approach to negotiations? If you’re selling, how will your home be marketed to help attract prospective buyers? By understanding their approach, you’ll know what to expect and will be able to determine which representative’s philosophy and methods align with your preferences.
  3. What services will be included? Discuss your particular needs and expectations with prospective representatives to ensure they are able to provide the services you expect. For example, when selling, will the representative have professional photos taken of your home? Will they host open houses? What about advertising? Understanding exactly what services will be provided, and later documenting them in your written contract, will help avoid misunderstandings later on.
  4. What are the commissions or fees that I will need to pay? Commissions and fees can vary between brokerages and for the services provided, so be sure to understand what will be provided, and what it will cost. Keep in mind that, as with most things, the cheapest deal is not necessarily the best one.
  5. Do you have references? As with most job interviews, getting in touch with references is an important step before hiring someone. So, speaking with past clients is a great way to learn more. Were past clients pleased with their experience? Was the representative responsive and easy to get in touch with? Would they recommend them to others?

“Buying or selling a home is a major decision, so it’s important to take the time to find the right representative for you,” says Richer.

Use the ‘real estate professional search’ feature to ensure your representative is registered.

There’s a lot of information out there about market trends and how to get the best price, but you also need to know about your rights and responsibilities as a home buyer or seller.  The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) can help you with that.

When it comes to real estate transactions, the more you know, the better you’re protected. Visit RECO’s website to learn more.

Check out some helpful advice about whether to buy first or sell first as well as the 4 must-do tips before you start the home buying process.

Before the birth of my first child, I felt a lot of pressure to breastfeed. Every woman in my family had done it with ease and more than a few were vocal about how it was just expected of me. In fact, when I announced I was expecting, I was met several times with “you will be nursing right?” Although I had always dreamed of having a nursing relationship with all of my kids, once she was born, like so many women, I felt the immense pressure to be good at it.

I remember laying in the hospital room on that first night, repeatedly pressing the call button for a nurse to appear. I could sense their frustration at me but I needed to know: Was she latched okay? Was she getting enough? What happens if she falls asleep while eating? Do I wake her up to feed her? How do I know when to switch sides? 

First Latch. Feb 22, 2017

The World Health Organization recommends that women breastfeed exclusively for six months and beyond two years (WHO, 2017), so if this is the case, where was the nurse and why wasn’t someone assigned to be at my side to teach me to do the thing that society deems as so important? Where was all my support? Surely I thought, this doesn’t just come naturally to everyone. Then they send you home…

As my milk came in and throughout the following few weeks, I was met with cluster feeding, insane engorgement, a baby who on some days, just didn’t feel like eating all that much and chapped nipples to the point of toe curling pain upon her latch (if this ever occurs, get a prescription for Doctor Newman’s APNO ointment; you will be so thankful you did). I  remember having to set myself up for success upon each feed that included: getting in a comfortable position complete with my nursing pillow, burp cloth and glass of water to hydrate the mouth that would instantly feel like I had spent the day eating sand. I marvelled at the women that could nurse in public with ease, those who could carry on conversations with people while their little ones effortlessly latched on. When was that going to be me?

Before I knew it, two months had passed! The whirlwind that is cluster feeding started to subside, my breasts had established a healthy milk supply, baby had begun developing a routine and without even realizing it had happened, my nipples no longer hurt at all. Through a chance and very lucky encounter with a Lactation Consultant, I had discovered the side-lying feeding position and through that, coupled with bed-sharing, baby and I blissfully began sleeping through the night. She would get hungry and latch on without my even realizing. I also began being able to comfortably nurse in public and was even surprised at how often I was met with encouragement from total strangers; whether it be a smile and nod or someone outright telling me I was doing a great job.

Side lying position. May 2017

It has now been 17 glorious months since I began my breastfeeding journey and I’m proud to say that we are still going strong! Our nursing relationship is something that I value tremendously and although we did have a rocky start, I would take years of those cracked nipples if it meant I got to feel the joy just once, of staring into her eyes as she looks up at me and smiles with a boobie in her mouth. We’ve nursed through sicknesses, bumps, falls and bruises, toddler tantrums, sleepless nights and moments of comfort, joy and bliss. 

One Year Anniversary. Feb 22, 2018

In short, I wholeheartedly believe there is a lack of breastfeeding support to new moms after they leave the hospital. Health care providers need to increase their breastfeeding support and every woman should have access to an IBCLC Lactation Consultant. These specialists are highly trained individuals that should be readily available and covered by health insurance for all new moms and babies. They have a wealth of knowledge about breastfeeding that few others in the healthcare system have.

If you are or know of a mom who could use some extra breastfeeding support, you can:

Authors Note:

While this is my journey, I want to express that I understand every woman’s story is different and unique. I fully support any decision a mother makes regarding feeding her baby.

When I became pregnant with my daughter, I was immediately told not to do any physical fitness activities, due to possible complications with my pregnancy. Although on one hand, I was extremely happy for the excuse to stop working out, on the other hand, I grew tired, lazy and far less healthy than I could have otherwise been during my pregnancy.

Flash forward nearly two years later and with a busy toddler, I had not restarted any kind of fitness routine. Sure I’d take stroller walks several times a week, but that was as far as it got. Like so many busy moms, I just couldn’t find a way to make it a priority. Furthermore, my targeted ads all over Facebook and Google were screaming slanderous slogans like “Bounce Back After Baby!” and “Find Your Body Again!” I couldn’t help but think, I never lost my body…it has been right here with me all along. I also began thinking about how all of the postpartum programs I’d been a part of had been geared towards weight loss; which was something that I was never that I was interested in. I was however, on board with getting healthy and feeling strong.

I decided to plan three weeks of Mom and Baby Active camps for the month of June. I made the commitment to facilitate each one, beginning in Orléans then heading to Barrhaven and finishing in Kanata. In addition to starting the summer off on a healthy note, and jump starting a healthier body and mind lifestyle, I was eager to meet and connect with other moms who were in similar positions to my own. I wanted to hear their stories, know their goals and share in each others strengths and weaknesses.

Here is what I learned:









The following poem was written by Chelsey Paton Stewart; Mom of beautiful Sara and my friend <3

Body, Oh Body, Where have you gone,

I don’t know you anymore, You have me feeling glum.

I hate you for the way you look, My eyes they do not lie,

For when I take the time to look at you, I always want to cry.

Routines don’t feel right anymore, Running, walking, it just isn’t the same,

The pounds are weighing down on me, My Body, my mind, my soul are in pain.

Even after all that you’ve put me through, I’ll tell you from my heart,

You’ve given me a new life, a new start,

My little smiley, cuddly, all around sweetheart.

I feel it is important to be sincere,

You’ve made my life complete,

Allowing me to carry, grow, and feel, Her little kicks, hiccups and heartbeat.

Although it wasn’t easy, They cut me pretty deep,

You’ve been mostly strong all along, Holding me up on my feet.

So even though I have some doubts, Of ever seeing the old you again,

The new you isn’t so bad, I’m glad to call you a friend.

Special THANKS to all the amazing businesses that worked with us over the three weeks!

  1. Karen Seath Smith’s Facebook group for the empowerment of women, recipes and health tips 
  2. Iron North Studios 
  3. EVX Bootcamp
  4. Fitness With Jules 
  5. Sweaty Betty 
  6. Salsa Babies Ottawa 
  7. Emilie Phaneuf of Esther America Dance
  8. Olga’s Way
  9. My Yoga At Home
  10. Karyn Jacobsen Hughes, Belly Dance 
  11. Greco Kanata South 



Growing up with horses out my back window had an impact I will forever be thankful for. Learning about empathy, caring for others and treating animals with respect were just some of the ways that riding changed me.

I was so excited to share my love of horses with my children, that the first time my son got on “Toby” at Queenswood Stables I am not sure who was more excited. Less than 15 minutes from our home in Orléans, this stable is one of the most organized and beautiful ones I have been inside, and I have been in my fair share. Having the opportunity to explore country life so close to the city gave our whole family a little breath of fresh air at the end of a long week.

My 3 year old, who was and is a ball of energy, was calm and quiet and thoughtful as he worked his way through a “Pony Ride Lesson”. The instructor, Katie, had this way of ensuring Cohen understood the serious aspect of being around horses (safety, respect for the animals) while also having a lot of fun. He groomed Toby, got fitted for a helmet and helped Katie bring the tack out while learning the names of the saddle and bridle. His experience riding Toby that time and future times taught him a lot about himself and animals. He overcame fears while listening to himself, Katie, and the animal who was so kind to take him for ride.

When creating our most recent Traveling Tot program, I was beyond excited at the possibility of bringing our group to Queenswood. They welcomed us with open arms, and gave our Moms and Tots a glimpse of what a Pony Ride program was all about. Ranging from infant siblings to 4 years, each child and parent got something different from our experience. We had a tour of the stable, learned to brush the horses, and the kids each got to ride on the amazing schooling ponies. Again, even the most energetic kids were calm and focused when presented with such a unique experience. Some mom`s last experience around horses was years ago and not positive at all, but the combination of a competent staff, amazing horses and calm vibe at the stable allowed for a different relationship to form as they saw their young child enjoying the morning.

I would love to encourage each parent who is comfortable to explore ways of incorporating horses into their children`s lives while they are young. Having their first experiences with these large amazing creatures be real and interactive, with breath, touch and life versus on a screen.We have an excellent option to do so very close by, and it takes the guess work out of how to do this in a safe way with animals who know children well. It was so nice to share this experience with the group of children, I cannot thank the staff of Queenwood for the day and for all they do for young riders and animals in our community!


When we see of our less favourable characteristics in our child, it can be terrifying. We may remember all the times that particular way of being has been difficult, or may shake our heads realizing that our Granny was right that the difficulty we caused for our parents would return someday in a flipped version. When I realized my son`s need to get things right on the first try, his being hard on himself, I felt truly guilty. Nature vs. nurture did not matter, the how was unimportant when I saw him struggling with the mistakes he, everyone made. I knew how hard it was, and did not want him to feel that burn.

Timing can be a funny thing. My son had learned to manage, even channel this quality in himself with the help of his amazing teachers and our patience. We made an effort to show us when things did not come as easily to us, he learned to take a breath and a break instead of relentlessly trying something beyond his current physical or cognitive ability. To put a task down and walk away. Difficult for anyone who wants to get things right the first time, every time. It had only been the past week or so that, like any difficulty can, things were more difficult again.  And then an amazing friend suggested we take our big kids for some 1:1 time rock-climbing. No baby siblings, no husbands. Just us and our first babies.

I had no idea that rock-climbing was available for kids as young as 4, and even less did I expect the benefits that occurred both during our time there and what was to follow. We walked into Altitude Gym in Kanata, and my son (and I) were immediately taken back. The environment was calm, the space was large, and the possibilities seemed endless. From the moment we helped the kids put on their tiny harnesses and climbing shoes, to the first step up the rock wall, my son was in the zone. We were experiencing something new together, and though we both had no idea what to expect, the confidence in the staff and setting made us free to relinquish control temporarily and slow down.

As he climbed up the rocks, I found myself telling him to slow down, to trust his body. He quickly shifted from trying to power up the wall, to being mindful about the path he would choose. He would try, it would NOT work, but he would try again. Or he would jump onto the large mat below and enjoy the feeling of falling, flying, safely in the air. He did not get on that wall and climb to the top, it was not the start of some fascinating tale about a professional rock climber being naturally skilled from when they were just a young boy. But that was the point. He enjoyed the process regardless. We enjoyed it together.

On the practice wall, the kids can climb and fall easily from bottom to top, without being harnessed. It is neat because there are letters, animals, shapes and coloured rocks to help them navigate their journey up. Great opportunities to work as a team, listen carefully “try putting your foot on the green A” or create and attempt personal goals. I noticed that when my son focused on the numbers, rather than the height, that he was able to climb to his personal best height. He made a goal, focused on reaching his arms and legs up, and up he went. A few attempts, but he was so proud of himself when he made it. I was also so proud. When he returned home he told my husband and daughter about his personal best. 

Another interesting observation I made around teamwork and social skill development was how the kids (both four) were encouraging one another. Unlike races, which can be tricky for this age group sometimes, they did not feel defeated when they saw the other climbing higher. My son was the weaker climber, but looked in awe at his little buddy and listened carefully as she explained how she planned her route. She loved to teach him and he was open to learning from her, despite his usual flow with peers which is to be more of the teacher. It was all pretty special. Something about the atmosphere, the activity, and the company we had made it a very special outing.

Of course we have already planned our next adventure to Altitude Gym for next week. My older nephew is coming to visit soon, and is a fan of “ninja warrior” so I think we will also check out that part of the facility. Our home is in Orléans, but this was most certainly worth the drive. The skills learned and confidence gained are limitless, and the nap afterwards was epic!



Written By: Karli Marshall

A thrilling moment: our four-year-old daughter’s hockey team was invited to play during an NHL game! Unfortunately, the game took place an hour after she would normally be in bed, but we came to the decision that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we had to go.

The day of the game we structured everything meticulously to set ourselves up for success that night. When her time finally came she skated hard and chased the puck; we were incredibly proud of her, and incredibly relieved. My husband and I had both been anxious in anticipation of a major meltdown occurring in front of thousands of people.

Driving home we were listing things that had made us so proud of her, and my husband mentioned a moment he witnessed before the game. He told her he was especially proud that she had asked an older girl on her team to stop teasing another girl, when no one else did. My daughter is one of the youngest kids there and while she is incredibly determined, (she is sure she will take over from Justin Trudeau someday), I’ve often worried about her proclivity to peer pressure.

For Christmas, we gave our daughters the “Rebel Girls” book set. These books focus on real women who have done amazing things. Although I often change the wording to make it age appropriate or save certain stories for when she is older, my daughter has loved reading these books each night. They have given us some meaty topics to discuss, anywhere from the civil rights movement, to transgender youth, and gender equality. After each reading I say to her, “Daddy and I gave you and your sister these books, because we want you two to be strong, and brave, and to fight for what’s right.”

As the beautiful, cold night skyline of Ottawa grew on our windshield, my husband praised our daughter for standing up for someone who was afraid to stand up for herself. My girl shrugged her sleepy shoulders and said in her matter-of-fact way, “I was just fighting for freedom, Dad”. It has to start somewhere.
Best night ever.

When Karli isn’t chasing cats or changing butts, she is writing, painting, and losing herself in History. She has two strong daughters, a four year old Joan Jett (world’s biggest fan), and a 10 month old cheeky monkey. She has been an Educator in rural Alberta for the last five years and is now lucky to call the dynamic Ottawa region home.

Give your inbox a dose of delight.

Sign up to receive helpful parenting info, program updates, contests, and special offers - right in your inbox.