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The aftermath of Halloween

The aftermath of Halloween

Last week, I shared about our Halloween tradition with the Switch Witch and while I got mostly positive feedback, it invoked some questions and commentary that got me thinking a little deeper about moderation, self regulation and finding good uses for the ‘great candy haul.’

Towards the end of last week’s post I admitted that Adam and I would most likely throw away any and all of the Halloween candy that the boys collected.  I was hesitant to write it knowing that it wouldn’t be the popular opinion but I strive to present an honest reflection of our life on this blog and the honest truth was that we would do as we have done in past years and ‘can the candy.’  Within hours of publishing, I had people reaching out with suggestions of things we could do with our candy and it got me thinking about the options to donate it constructively – constructively meaning not putting it out at work for kids that have a haul of candy at home and colleagues that aspire to eat better and exercise more.  I did a Google search and came across some pretty neat opportunities across the country!

If you live on the West coast, you can drop off your candy with this Calgary dentist for it to be turned into biofuel feedstock!  Those of you in Halifax can bring your candy here and have it sent out to our troops!

Those of us in Ottawa with candy to spare can bring it to Citigate Dental this Saturday and they will be donating it to a shelter with children that didn’t get to go trick-or-treating.

Thank you to everyone that reached out to me with your suggestions.  We stuck with the ‘Switch Witch’ concept this year but when Clyde asked me where the Switch Witch takes all of his candy, I was left at a loss for words… Next year we will encourage the boys to choose a place they would like to donate their candy!

…and speaking of candy.  Can I just say that this was by far my favourite year of trick-or-treating?  Clyde, at nearly 3.5 years old, truly understood the concept for the first time and it was as if he had found his purpose in life.

We live in the country where kids trick-or-treat by driving from house to house so we asked the grandparents that live in town if we could meet at their house after work/daycare for a crockpot dinner and head out together to the densely populated neighborhood near them.  The streets seemed really quiet when we started so we walked down the street from their house, rounded the corner and found a trick-or-treaters haven.  The kids were literally running back and forth across the street and from house to house.   Without a moments hesitation, Clyde left my side in a full sprint to join the gaggle of kids in costume and made his way to the first door he could get to.  ‘Trick or treat!’  he said proudly.  Followed immediately by ‘Thank you!  Happy trick or treat…I mean, Happy Halloween!’ and he was off again to the next house.

Super Dad and Grandpa pushed Jude in the stroller while Grandma and I maintained a light jog to keep up with Clyde for the evening.  The small, foam bags from the dollar store were being filled up in record time and brought to the stroller to be dumped.  Note to self: next year, he will be ready for the pillow case.

My heart was bursting with pride to see him holding his own amongst the big kids and speaking confidently with the adults that answered the door when he knocked.

We were back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house by 7:30pm to dump and sort the candy then it was time for pajamas and home to bed.

I was grinning from ear to ear on the drive home thinking about how this year marks the first of the next 10+ years of trick-or-treating with that boys that will be so. much. fun.

On the topic of self regulation and treats in moderation, I want to clarify that we are not striving to raise ‘sugar free kids.’  Anyone that knows me or read my post about motivation knows that I have a bowl of ice cream every night and that I love treats.  The major difference being that I can choose to eat well throughout the day knowing that I will have a dessert in the evening.  Our kids are bombarded with opportunities to consume excessive amounts of sugar everyday via juice, cereal, flavoured yogurt, packaged snacks – the list goes on and on.  Our priority is to help them choose whole foods and opt for treats that are homemade or a recipe that we did together so we can use ingredients like whole wheat flours, oats and maple syrup instead of refined sugars, dye’s or ingredients we can’t pronounce.

Our desire to implement the ‘Switch Witch’ is not an attempt to eliminate the opportunity for our kids to eat candy but it is a way to emphasize the fun and joy of trick-or-treating instead of Halloween being all about the candy.  Trick-or-treating itself is a great concept, in my opinion.  It promotes creativity, stimulates conversations between neighbours and is a night spent with our kids walking outside with friends and family!  We all enjoyed sorting the candy at the end of the night and sharing a few treats together and then we reinforced our standard message that candies are yummy and fun for a treat but that they don’t help us to grow big and strong.  Clyde was happy to help package up all of the treats for the Switch Witch and the next day we all enjoyed sitting down to play with their new dump trucks and Hot Wheel cars!

I hope that you and your family had a fun and safe year of trick-or-treating!  We will be excited to run the streets of Kanata again next year!

To work or not to work?

To work or not to work?

In the days leading up to my return to work, I had a friend make a joke that really resonated with me.  We were messaging back and forth about how I would make it through my first day and how my family would adjust to the change and then she wrote: “When was it that women fought for the right to work?”

I laughed but the thought has really stuck with me and changed my perspective entirely about going back to work.

In an instant, I went from wallowing about not staying home with my boys to feeling empowered about having the opportunity to hold a challenging and satisfying career of my own.

This isn’t by any means a knock against stay-at-home parents.

It’s simply a reminder of how fortunate we are to have the choice – to work, to stay home or to balance a bit of both.

This past Friday marked my first “month-a-versary” of having been back to work full-time.  Just like with everything else these days, the weeks flew by and I’m not sure I can say with full confidence that we have our feet under us yet – but we’re getting there!

This being my second time back to work from maternity leave, a few things felt a little easier.  Namely dropping Jude at daycare knowing he would be with his big brother all day was a breeze.

Otherwise, I am referring back to my own “survival guide” if you will.  So many of these tips remain true for me today as a working parent…

1. Love your job.  Coming back to work this fall, I had the opportunity to start in a new role at a new Community Centre.  The learning curve has been pretty steep – on top of adjusting to a new routine at home – but in less than one month, I got to bring my kiddos along to a weekend event in the community where I work and we all loved it!

2. Love your childcare arrangements.  If I can’t be with my boys all day, everyday, it’s important to me that they be in an environment that adds value to their day.  Our boys spend their time with the sweetest family at a French home daycare.  They bring home crafts and Clyde tells me stories about playing with his friends.  They are practicing a second language and spend much of their time playing outside.  When I told Clyde in September that Jude would be joining him at daycare, he was so excited and to see them run into the house together warms my heart.

3.  Make plans to socialize after bedtime.  In the last year, we have established a monthly ‘guys night’ and ‘ladies night’ with our friends.  We meet up once a month after bedtime on a weekday for drinks or a late dinner and catch up!  It’s become something that I really look forward to and takes the pressure off of getting together without the kids during precious weekend time.

4.  Let brunch be your best friend.  I have written many times about my love for breakfast outings with kids.  Whether we’re at a restaurant or making pancakes at home, it is one of my favourite times to socialize with the kiddos.

5. Quality over quantity.  I am a firm believe in the value of playing with your kids and when I get home from work, everything waits until after bedtime so I can make the most of every minute with the boys.

Perhaps step number 6 should be to remind myself, on the hard days, that having the choice to work was worth fighting for.

5 Tips for successful hiking with small kids

5 Tips for successful hiking with small kids

Hiking together is something that Super Dad and I have enjoyed doing since the very start of our relationship.  We often talked about how we would continue hiking and having an active lifestyle even with small kids.  Now three years into that time in our lives, we have learned a few key things to make for a successful outing for everyone.

In no particular order…

  1. Pack endless snacks and water: this is basically a rule of thumb for us anytime we leave the house but even more so when we’re taking off on an adventure.  Everyone is happier and willing to hike further with full bellies.  Typical snacks for us include crackers + veggies + hummus, apple slices, cheese slices, sandwiches, granola bars etc.
  2. Bring a well fitting carrier:  It’s no secret that I am a big fan of wearing my babies but I truly don’t know how we would have accomplished some of our adventures without a well fitting carrier.  By ‘well fitting’ I mean both for you and for baby.  Ottawa has an amazing babywearing community both online (Facebook: Ottawa Babywearing Group) and in person (Milkface and Belly Laughs).  My ‘go-to’ carriers for a hike is a standard Tula for Jude (13mo) and a toddler Tula for Clyde (3yrs) but it’s worth trying on a few options to find out what’s the best fit for your family.  Clyde always walks as much as he can manage and then goes up in the carrier for the home stretch if he needs it.
  3. Play games along the way: sometimes our greatest challenge is to maintain a decent pace when Clyde is walking.  He is either walking slowly or stopping to look at every. single. rock.  Games like ‘I Spy’ or scavenger hunts are a great way to get him moving in the right direction.  A walking stick (read: a big branch that we pick up on the trail) is also always a big success.
  4. Travel in packs:  we love to extend the invitation for others to join us on our hike.  I guess it’s like the ‘strength in number’ concept…it’s fun and the enthusiasm of hiking in a group always helps to go farther.
  5. Aim for the top and be ready to turn back at any time:  this is such a big one.  I had initially wrote ‘set realistic expectations’ but the more I thought about it, I realized that’s not at all what we do.  We always set out on our hike with the expectation of getting to the top (or the end) and we talk with Clyde about what we’ll see when we get there.  Often times we make it but sometimes, we can tell that his tank is running low and we decide to turn back early – with no hard feelings.  It’s important to aim high when you set out to do something with the kiddos because you never know but you might just make it farther than you had anticipated!  See below for two memorable hikes that we set out on with ambitious goals and made it!

Top of Cape Split (16km return hike)

Top of Luskville falls (5km return hike…40 weeks pregnant.  I went into labour on the drive home!  Read the rest of Jude’s birth story here)

Meet the [blogger]: The Yellow Canoe

Meet the [blogger]: The Yellow Canoe

I don’t know about you, but I always wanted to be the kind of parent who’s stories were often met with a, “that’s crazy”or a stunned silence. Before having children, my husband and I were both avid travellers, and active in our recreational time. He grew up practicing kickboxing, I played rugby. He did a biking tour of Europe solo and I rode on my University Equestrian team. We both loved camping and hiking and he would soon introduce me to his passion, canoeing. We had both spent time working in different parts of the world and we spent our honeymoon travelling around Central America for 35 days. We knew that when we had children we wanted to add them to our lifestyle not change it to make them fit. As teachers we have the luxury of regular breaks and a long summer vacation which we fill with as many experiences as is humanly possible.

I started blogging after having my second child. We regularly shared stories of our adventures with friends and colleagues and a few friends started encouraging me to write our stories and share them online. I have always dreamed of being a writer but felt extremely nervous to take the plunge and invite other people, friends and strangers, to read my work. Writing has alway felt deeply personal to me and I wasn’t sure how I would handle negative feedback or worse, no feedback at all. But when my daughter was born and our family travel and adventure plans continued to grow I made myself start writing. I have always wanted to raise brave, compassionate, independent children and I knew I would have to lead the way. With a year of maternity leave to look forward to I had the time and the ability I just needed the nerve.

I gave myself time every Monday morning to write. I worked on my novel and when I got stuck I blogged. I wanted to share our family’s adventures with other families like ours. I wanted to swap stories with people who were already exploring the world and the wild with their little ones and encourage other people who were eager to try some adventuring with their kids but weren’t sure how to start or whether there would be support for their decision. I also wanted something to hold me accountable to my kids, something external to push me to say yes to crazy two week roadtrips to Alaska, or flying the entire family to Asia, or back-country canoeing with infants. Everytime I write an entry I am reminded why we choose to make travel and outdoor adventure a top priority.

The Yellow Canoe focusses mostly on our family adventures, from outdoor pursuits, to international travel, to resorts to stay-cations and local treasures. I try to share advice on safety, enjoyability and travel parenting tips through the narrative of our journeys. I believe so strongly in the power of travel of all sorts to strengthen children’s ability to think critically, creatively and compassionately, to be able to recognize problems and care enough to find solutions, to expand vocabulary and unite families through shared experiences. I was excited when Kelly, at “Reckies Raising Kids” asked me to guest blog. I feel honestly thrilled that my small readership is expanding and I am able to share our stories and maybe inspire another family to get out there and have epic family adventures, safely and most of the time sanely.

Visit me at ‘The Yellow Canoe’ for stories of an everyday family doing their best to fill their lives and lives of thier children with wonder!

Meet the [blogger] launch + zucchini pancakes!

Meet the [blogger] launch + zucchini pancakes!

We are home…for one week!

Last week, we split our time away between our favourite cottage at Pigeon Lake Resort and with of our favourite families in my childhood hometown, Whitby.  We got home Sunday afternoon in time for me to race over to my baseball game and for Super Dad to go skydiving with friends.  Never a dull moment for an O’Rourke!

The madness continues as we spend this week unpacking, washing and repacking for a two week camping and road trip out to Nova Scotia.  We are counting the sleeps with Clyde in anticipation of our upcoming adventure and while we are all stretched a little thin in preparation, we are all very excited about what lies ahead.

When we’re home in between trips this summer, we try to soak up as much time with the grandparents as we can.  Yesterday morning, Grandma and Grandpa rolled in on their motorcycle to surprise the boys for breakfast.  I whipped up one of our favourite summer recipes and we sat together smiling and laughing while we all ate peacefully.  Read: the adults exchanged a few words with one another between toddler meltdowns and there weren’t enough pancakes to go around…but HEY!  such is this beautifully chaotic stage of life and we enjoyed every minute of it.

If you have ever grown zucchini in your garden – or know someone that does – you have probably been swimming in this delicious vegetable at one time or another.  We love zucchini grilled on the bbq or sliced like noodles but the recipe we use on repeat all summer long is these Zucchini Bread Pancakes.  It may seem odd to be shredding zucchini first thing in the morning but don’t knock em’ t’ill you try em’ – and when you try em’ and love em’, dig up some carrots and try these pancakes next!

While we’re travelling to Canada’s East coast next week, I’ll be launching the start of my ‘Meet the [blogger]’ series!  In this series of guest posts, I’ll be introducing other amazing bloggers that are also writing about raising their families with a love of the outdoors, adventure, recreation and travel.

Stop by next Wednesday morning to meet Alison from The Yellow Canoe!


Flashback to Vancouver as a family of three!

Flashback to Vancouver as a family of three!

We have so much to celebrate in my family this week.

First up, my big boy is three today!  I feel like I should be saying that I can’t believe it but I really can and I’m so excited for three.

This is a picture of my Clyde in all his glory – covered in dirt, face painted like Spiderman, the remnants of marshmallow on his lips, and all alongside his best buddy, Henry.  These past three years have been some of the greatest for me and my heart swells with pride for this boy.  He is full of joy and adventure – brave and strong.  He loves hugs and kisses just like his Mommy and he cares for his little brother more than I could have hoped for.  Happy birthday, my sweet Clyde, we love you!

Also newsworthy is that this week marks the start of an 8-week family summer vacation!  Super Dad is taking the last eight weeks of parental leave and I am using a combination of leave/vacation so we can be home together with the boys for July and August.  Our plans include soaking up time with one another and as much sunshine as we can handle.  If you’re looking for us this summer, we will be at a beach, a park, a splash pad or a cottage and I couldn’t be more excited about all of it.

One of the highlights of this time off together is our upcoming camping and road trip to the East Coast of Canada.  Super Dad and I have always shared a love of travel and we knew when we started a family that we hoped to pass on this love to our kids.  Given that it’s Clyde’s birthday today and with our upcoming trip to the East coast, it seemed fitting to share about our first trip together back when we were a new family of three and discovering the West coast!

After Clyde was born, the question was not if we would travel but instead where and when. The draw of maternity leave and our infant flying for free seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. We decided on a trip to the West Coast of Canada in the fall of that year. I have family that lives in Mission and on Victoria Island so our accommodations would be looked after and we would have access to a car or drives to public transit.

At just shy of 3 months, Clyde boarded his first flight with Air Canada en route to Vancouver, British Columbia.  The flight went without a hitch and my uncle met us at the airport upon our arrival. On our way to their home, we stopped for groceries and a few necessities we chose not to pack like diapers. We spent our first four nights at my aunt and uncle’s house travelling around Mission and a day trip into Vancouver. We had the basement to ourselves and my family borrowed a pack and play for us so as far as free accommodations go, we were living well! Being hosted by friends or family is the cadillac for inexpensive travel. It provides a home base for all of your travel gear, a full kitchen for food storage and meal prep and a live-in tour guide to point out all the best things to do and ways to get there. Bonus if you can coordinate ahead of time for access to things like pack-and-plays, car seats, vehicle access etc.

My uncle worked the morning of our first full day so we took the time to unpack, adjust to the time change and walk around the neighborhood. We came across a beautiful hiking trail that led to a park complete with a restaurant for lunch. A must-have for both of us when travelling is a good pair of walking shoes as we rely heavily on the “heel-toe express” to get us around. It’s free and it’s great exercise to counter balance all of the amazing food we want to eat. One of the many great things about Vancouver is the access to beautiful green space for parks, hiking trails and mountains. We borrowed a stretchy Moby wrap from a friend at home so that we could explore hands free and not feel limited to walking paths and trails that accommodated a stroller. This was my first real experience with baby wearing and sparked a love for a whole other journey that we are still enjoying with both of the boys. In the afternoon, we drove out to Harrison Springs and went for a swim at the community pool. Home for sushi dinner and a visit with my cousin and his girlfriend.

The next morning we got dropped off at the train station nearby so that we could travel into Vancouver. Using public transit to get into a downtown area is not only cost effective but also skips the part of dealing with traffic and parking. With that said, it does mean you have to be flexible with your time to accommodate for late or missed busses/trains and pack for a full day of touring with no “home base.”  Our day in Vancouver was amazing. Fall is such a nice time to travel with little ones because it’s warm enough for a light layer but not too hot that we’re looking for shade and reapplying sunscreen every few hours. We walked along the sea wall, shopped the Granville Island Market, toured Olympic village and perused the downtown streets and shops. Everything was (relatively) within walking distance and I was breastfeeding so we took a break every few hours at a street market, a local craft brewery and a great patio to nurse and refuel ourselves. We typically walk anywhere from 8-15kms/day so stopping at great restaurants is of high priority.

It was part of our plan to visit with family on Victoria Island and see the sights but our timing didn’t line up and they were out of town while we were there. We were so fortunate that a friend of theirs rents a cottage on Pender Island and they generously offered it to us for a few days in the middle of our trip. We took a ferry over from Vancouver and hitch hiked our way around this small island to the cottage. Yes, we hitch hiked with our infant. To be fair, we had been told ahead of time that “car sharing” is a popular way to get around so it didn’t seem like a far stretch to put our thumbs out once we were off the ferry. We travelled with our Peg Perego car seat that we bought mainly for its easy install so popping it in and out of vehicles was a breeze. The cottage was adorable and the perfect hiatus for our new family to spend a few quiet days truly by ourselves. We walked around the island, car shared, hiked a mountain, ate lots of food but mostly stuck around the cottage and spent some time relaxing with the most adorable travel companion. We had picked up a small gift for the owner of the cottage earlier that week at the Granville market so at the end of our time, we left it with a card and car shared back to the ferry.

My uncle picked us up again and we spent the afternoon with family that lived near the ferry port. They have a gorgeous house on the water so we walked along the beach to a park and enjoyed some time with my young cousins climbing, swinging and sliding. Clyde was named after his great grandpa on this side of my family so it was truly a treat to spend the afternoon and evening together introducing the newest addition to the O’Neal clan.

We had two full days left of our trip and lots on the agenda. With my uncle, we biked to a nearby beach to do some fishing then to a local winery for some samples. My uncle works in forestry so he drove us up one of the forestry roads to the top of a mountain. The views were incredible and we even experienced a Sasquatch sighting! Our last full day we spent in Vancouver to see Canada Place, totem poles and met up with an old friend who works at the Vancouver aquarium!

After ten days, our hearts were full and the rest of us was tired and ready for home. We had an amazing experience on our first big trip with our little.

Check in next week for long overdue packing lists including some of our travel and day trip favourites for babies and toddlers.

9 months in, 9 months out: life with two!

9 months in, 9 months out: life with two!

A few weeks ago, my Mom came over to help me recreate the pictures that we took on the day that my youngest was born.  In the first set of pictures, I was in the early stages of labour on the afternoon of Jude’s due date and he was born at 1:19am the next morning at home. In the next set of pictures, now 9 months old, I held Jude up in the place of my belly to capture 9 months ‘in’ and 9 months ‘out’.

Reminiscing about that day got me thinking about how differently I feel as a Mom today than I did only 9 months ago.

Rest assured, I’m still permanently tired and eager for advice but I’m also more confident in my own decisions and my heart is more full than ever before.  It’s a pleasant surprise to be feeling this way given the emotional roller coaster that was ‘expecting my second baby.’

A roller coaster ride that included questions like…

How can I possibly love another person as much as I love my first baby?  Are Mom’s and Dad’s everywhere secretly withholding the truth about loving their first child more than any other?  Do all of the clocks in my house suddenly slow down with the addition of another person to care for?

We opted to find out the gender of our second and the news of expecting another boy brought on even more questions…

Will it feel like I just did ‘all of this’ in raising another baby boy?

I recently came across a post on one of our local Facebook Mom groups from a fellow Mom asking for insights into life as a family of four (or more) and reading the responses reassured me that I wasn’t alone in having ridden this roller coaster.

For us, the fourth trimester was hard.

Super Dad and I were falling asleep at any given moment at all hours of the day and trying hard to be compassionate with one another.  We blew through the freezer meals I had prepared before Jude’s arrival and small mountains of laundry were piling up throughout the house.

Slowly but surely as time passed, we began to feel our feet under us again and looking back on our time so far, there are a few key things that have us working like a well-oiled machine today – as ‘well-oiled’ as a family can be with an almost 1 and almost 3 year old that is…

I found a deep love for baby wearing and had sweet Jude in a wrap when he was just days old so we could keep up with big brother.  (Cringing now at the sloppy wrap job but hey, we made it through the fog!)

After having followed a regimented schedule with Clyde, I said goodbye to sleep training for Jude and have never felt more relaxed.  It always seemed more a priority to keep Clyde busy and entertained and Jude always happily came along for the ride.  On the days we were home, he caught up on his sleep with nice long naps but otherwise he slept whenever he got the chance throughout the day and I did my best to follow a loose sleep, eat, play routine.

Find friends with toddlers!  Somehow, having three or more kids around is suddenly easier than one or two.  Fellow toddlers keep each other entertained so you can have a minute alone with the baby.  We hosted a casual drop-in through the winter months and otherwise met up with Moms and toddlers for play dates as much as we could.

If possible, keep your oldest in part-time day care.  Clyde continued with his home daycare two days each week and it was a good thing for all of us.  On the first of these two days, I made the most of my mat leave and put my feet up while Jude caught up on his sleep.  On the second day, we normally spent the day in town running errands – because all of the sudden running errands with only one dependent is easy as pie.

Clyde is spending his last day at daycare tomorrow before staying home for the summer.  Super Dad is sharing some of my maternity leave and I am using some vacation to spend July and August at home as a family.  We are so looking forward to this time and already have some great plans made.  It’s hard to believe that when Clyde goes back in the fall, his little brother will be in tow!

How is it that Winter feels like it drags on forever and summer goes by in a flash?  Chalk it up to another of life’s mysteries I guess…

See you again next week!  I’m finally sharing some details about our camping trip to PEI and Nova Scotia this summer!  Here’s a little preview of what our preparation looks like so far… tent city in the basement!


the Saturday Sprint

the Saturday Sprint

Hello and Happy Easter from Barrie!

We took a road trip yesterday morning to spend the long weekend with Adam’s family.  Our plan is always to wake up, load the car and hit the road so when the kids woke up at 5am, we decided to make lemonade and hustle out the door.  Being on the road by 7am got us here in time for a late lunch and a full afternoon and evening of bike riding, trips to the park and playing outside.  So much fun!

We’ve learned that a morning drive is the best time to tackle a long trip with Clyde.  He’s rested, fed and has spent an hour or two running – or biking – around while we packed and loaded the car.  By the time we’re ready to leave, he’s usually content to climb in to his car seat and start a marathon of shows on the iPad.

We continue our weekend tradition of going out for breakfast and choose a spot an hour or more along the way.  On this trip we made it to Bancroft and ate a terrible breakfast at Dixie Lee’s.  It was desperate times.  Fortunately it was warm and sunny so we seized the opportunity to go for a walk while we were out of the car.

In other news, I still find myself marvelling at the sight of grass and the feel of sunshine.  This week we made the most of every minute that passed with no rain and spent it outside playing.  We broke out the gator, the swings and the sand toys and it felt a bit like Christmas!

Probably the highlight of our week was checking out Canada’s largest playground at Mooney’s Bay Park.  My sister in law joined me and the five cousins enjoyed a full morning checking out all of the different structures.  We packed balance bikes and a picnic lunch – it was the perfect kick off to spring!

We are enjoying time with our family today and I hope you are doing the same!

See you on Wednesday for a training update and thoughts on why racing together makes for a good marriage in our house!

Mama’s Half Marathon – Training eats + Why we don’t feed our kids dessert

Mama’s Half Marathon – Training eats + Why we don’t feed our kids dessert

Training update: This week I logged 15km of running with one longer run of 9km.  I had one attempted run with both kids in the stroller and it went terribly because Clyde kept trying to climb out – you win some you lose some!  We’ll see what this week brings.

Alongside modelling an active lifestyle for the boys, we also want to eat well as a family and do our best to set them up with healthy eating habits.

Adam and I love to eat.  We love kale smoothies and ice cream sundaes and everything in between.  We eat meat and fish and drink beer and wine.  We eat at restaurants and cook frozen pizzas at home.

By many accounts, we nourish ourselves no different than anyone else – and while that may be true, we have made a few changes over the years that have allowed us to eat well and to eat clean.

Clean eating is one of the greatest lifestyle choices that we would like to impart on the boys.  It’s the choice to eat whole foods that are minimally (or not at all) processed, refined and handled.

The irony about clean eating is that it’s possibly the most simple lifestyle – but given today’s food industry, it’s a hard transition and a conscious decision to say no to pre-made meals, most restaurant menus and packaged foods.

If you read last week’s post about our active lifestyle, you may remember reading that you can’t out exercise food.  While we strive to eat clean all year round, it’s particularly top of mind while we’re training for a race or working towards a fitness goal.

If I’m going to arrange a babysitter and/or plan a day around a long run, I don’t want to jeopardize my progress by making a poor choice with how I refuel my body.  Choosing to eat clean foods will also contribute to increased and consistent energy and a smooth recovery making my next workout that much more productive.

Here’s a typical day of eating for me:

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs from a friend and local hobby farmer, toast from Wilkie’s* with almond butter and an apple or gingerbread pancakes topped with plain greek yogurt and a drizzle of Ontario maple syrup.

Raw veggies sticks with hummus, frozen pizza from Our Pizza Farm*, and a handful of grapes.

Snack: Clyde and I love to bake so there’s usually something like these healthy banana muffins around for an afternoon snack.  If not, I like a bowl of plain greek yogurt drizzled with maple syrup and topped with granola and berries.

Dinner: Oven baked or barbecued chicken from a local friend and farmer, sweet potato fries and steamed broccoli.

After kids are in bed**: These cookies or ice cream from Carp Custom Creamery*.  Closer to the race, I will do my best to trade this for a light snack of crackers and veggies with hummus but cookies and ice cream are my kryptonite … and I’m still nursing full time so Mama’s gotta live a little while she can.

Drinks: Water.  All day, everyday.  We occasionally offer Clyde a glass of milk because we have it in the house for baking and bowls of cereal but otherwise, we are a water from the tap kind of family.  I don’t go anywhere without my Klean Kanteen or my Swell Bottle so that I always have water available.  In training season, staying hydrated all the time is particularly important.

*I specifically mentioned the source of these foods for three reasons.  Firstly, we buy from them during market season and enjoy seeing the vendors each week.  Secondly, they’re local sources that pride themselves on producing a high quality product with fresh and local (when possible) ingredients.  Thirdly, all three companies established a share or pick-up program this winter so we were able to stock up or plan our meals accordingly knowing when we would have these foods in the house.  Not only did this benefit our meal planning but it also had a huge positive impact on our grocery money because the money was spent up front and then we made a commitment to use what we had and then wait for the next pick up.


You may have noticed that I chose the words “After kids are in bed” instead of “Dessert.”  This brings me to my next topic…. why we don’t feed our kids dessert – gasp!  Do you feel badly for them?  Hear me out!

Along with the concept of clean eating, we want the boys to understand that truly all whole foods in moderation contribute to healthy eating habits.  I didn’t say that we don’t allow our kids any junk food, I specifically used the term ‘dessert.’

If we’re going to offer our boys something sweet – right now only Clyde, we will put it on his plate with the rest of the his food and it becomes part of his meal.  It’s really interesting to watch him eat it.  Sometimes he goes right for the treat and finishes it right away but most times, he eats a bit of everything throughout his meal.

What we’re avoiding is the build up of sweet food – the desire to want what we can’t have so to speak.  What we’re instilling is that all whole and clean foods contribute to healthy eating habits and good nutrition.

So often, kids today are asked to finish their meal or have ‘x’ number of bites before they can have dessert.  This is not only teaching our kids that their meal is just a means to eat something sweet but also that the ‘best part’ comes at the end.

The concept is less about not eating sugar or junk food and more about educating them about how food drives their bodies and to make good choices, always in moderation.

So… your thoughts?  Not so bad, eh?


Mama’s half marathon – 9 weeks until race day

Mama’s half marathon – 9 weeks until race day

Well folks, we did it.  Adam and I have just registered for the 2017 Ottawa Race Weekend half marathon.  Yikes! …I mean, yahoo!  

We have been talking about doing it for a few weeks and even pulled up the website to look at the registration form but hadn’t yet filled in the information and clicked submit.  For Adam, it was a matter of paying the registration fee x 2 that was holding him back. For me, to be honest, I think deep down I was hoping the race would sell out and then I could say “well, I tried!”  After a night out with friends on Saturday and talking about all of the people we know that have already signed up, it was enough to seal the deal and we were officially registered racers by 9am the next morning.

We are less than 9 weeks from race day.

Later that same day, Adam took Clyde out to run some errands so I decided to kick off my training and jump on the treadmill. I nursed Jude, had a light snack, got into my running gear, set up my music and water bottle, put Jude in the Jolly Jumper, laced up my shoes and stepped onto the treadmill – feeling like a boss, I might add.  Some would argue that I had already completed a workout just getting to that point (with which I wouldn’t disagree) but I was ready to run.  I pressed ‘start’ but the treadmill didn’t move.  I turned the power switch off then on again and still no movement.

That’s when it happened.

I looked down and noticed that the ‘safety key’ was missing.  If you are not a treadmill runner, this‘safety key’ is meant to be clipped to the runner so that if you are falling behind, the clip will detach and the treadmill will shut off.  It will not start again until the key is clipped back into place.  You can see my issue.  Memories of Clyde racing around the basement with a clip and a string flooded my mind.  I scanned the obvious places with no luck.  I called Adam and he confirmed that just days prior, he remembers seeing Clyde playing with this piece from the treadmill.  He put the phone on speakerphone so that Clyde could hear me and I asked “Clyde, do you know where the clip for the treadmill is?” ……… “No.”

By this time, Jude had had enough of the Jolly Jumper and my window of free time had come to a close.

Adam and I spent the next 24 hours looking for this safety key only to find it at the bottom of a small bag of ‘treasures’ that Clyde stashed in Jude’s room.  Needless to say, it has now been given a home out of reach from small hands and only to be used when an adult is on the treadmill.

In the midst all of this, I realized that this 9-week journey to race day is going to be an adventure that should be documented.  Tune in over the next few weeks to read my progress reports on running, food, race day prep and my sanity.

Next Wednesday I will share my goals for the race and my training plan to achieve them!

Anyone else have a race day coming up?