Friday, April 27, 2018

Forest Bathing

  After forest bathing in the woods for the past eight days, I have emerged!

Pure joy!

I know it's blurry, but I treasure this photo because it truly shows what a week in the woods can do for your soul. It was a privilege to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and study to become a Forest Therapy Guide at the Eco-Wellness Centre in Carp, Ontario. 

During the course, I was completely immersed in nature and invited to wander, with no destination in mind, and allow my senses to guide me. As I slowly moved my way through the woods, the ancient trees waved hello. I noticed the smell of the rain, the cool breeze moving across my face and a symphony of birds.

Tea Ceremony

One evening, we gathered around a campfire and shared nature connection stories. I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks.

The most powerful experience from the program was when my mentor, Carolynne, who is of Mi'kmaq ancestry, sent me on my first medicine walk. A threshold was made with sticks we found in the woods and once I crossed the door to transformation, I was able to reconnect with my inner wisdom. Meanwhile, Carolynne waited at the threshold, held space for me and awaited my return. I'm going to keep what "medicine" was revealed to me close to my heart, but I will say that nature reflected back what my soul needed and wanted to see.

The founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs, Amos Clifford, says to be a guide is more than a job. It is a calling. Over the next six months, as I continue to strengthen the threads of connection I have with nature and complete my field practicum, I look forward to the opportunity of opening the door and supporting my community through immersive experiences in the forest.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Fairy Party for my Forest Pixie

My lively little sprite is three!

"Show the children every winged thing. The bees, dragonflies, queen ants, bluebirds and swallowtails. Creatures that inspire them to defy gravity."

-Author Unknown

Over the weekend, we invited our family to an "enchanted forest" to celebrate Rosie's third birthday.

I loved watching Rosie take it all in. The feeling of a birthday is truly magical.

The kids received fairy wings and wands when they arrived at the party and instead of a party hat, Rosie wore a real flower crown made with baby pink roses and baby's breath.

We feasted on homemade tea sandwiches, fruit kabobs, veggies and dip, potato salad, Cheesies, various meats and cheeses and a very pink cake (as per Rosie's request).

The old fashioned party game, clothespin drop, was a huge hit. Mike won.

Rosie was showered with love and thoughtful gifts from her family. My heart is overwhelmed with so much love for my beautiful girl and the celebration of her life.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Rosemary June. We love you so much!

Friday, December 29, 2017

A Meaningful Christmas

I began the Christmas season reflecting and seeking out quiet time. This year, I wanted my family to focus on living Advent in our hearts and in our home. We decided to invite our Kindness Elves, Hazel and Arthur, back into our home this year and we spent Advent performing little acts of kindness. Our friendly elves would leave Henry and Rosie instructions each day that included activities like; make a donation to your local food bank, bake cookies for a neighbour, hide positive notes in your library books and hold the door open for someone.

Photographed by Vivian Bertrand

Photographed by Vivian Bertrand

I decided not to RSVP "yes" to every invitation this season and stuck to the activities that are important to me and my family. Last year, we had a great time cutting down our own Christmas tree, but this year we decided to pick one up at the farmer's lot down the street from us. We went out for breakfast, picked out our tree and spent the rest of the day listening to our favourite Christmas carols and trimming our tree. It was cozy and wonderful.

We lit the candles on our Advent wreath, attended mass on Sundays and spent the month of December preparing, baking and creating homemade gifts for our family. We focused on family time and enjoyed playing and hiking in nature. My heart is so full and as there are twelve days of Christmas, the feasting and joy continues in our home.

Photographed by Vivian Bertrand

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, friends. I hope your 2018 is full of hope, love, laughter and adventure!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Henry has transformed into a five-year-old!

As a baby, Henry never had a favourite blanket or stuffie, but over the past year, he has treated his Ultra Bee Transformer toy like a baby doll. Henry tucks it in at night and brings Ultra Bee with him everywhere he goes. So, to celebrate this milestone birthday, we went with a Transformers themed party at our Forest School.

The highlight of the party was the scavenger hunt through the woods. Henry and his Autobot friends were sent on a mission to save our planet from the evil forces of the Decepticons. Once they found the Energon crystals, the Autobots were also rewarded with an Optimus Prime pinata.

Big, fat snowflakes began to fall as we were gathered around the campfire, roasting hot dogs for our lunch. It was incredibly beautiful.

The hot chocolate station I had set up inside our cozy cabin was a hit with the kids. Mix-ins included sprinkles, whip cream and mini marshmallows. Later, we sang Happy Birthday and enjoyed a piece of cake. I baked the cake, but I have to give Mike credit for creating the Autobot symbol out of red fondant. He did a great job!

It was really cute to watch Henry open his presents and homemade cards from his friends. He was so excited about each gift he received and he complimented all his friends on their beautiful drawings. He was spoiled with thoughtful presents and I was so proud that he enthusiastically thanked everyone for his gifts.

Thank you for transforming me into a mother, Henry. Happy 5th Birthday, sweetheart!

Autobots, roll out!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Hygge Halloween

With all the candles lit, plenty of warm jack-o-lantern soup in our bowls and my family carving the pumpkin we picked up at our local farm together, Halloween has truly been a hyggelig event this year. I enjoy making the change of seasons a happy time in our home.

In honour of the spooky season, we hosted a spooktacular and served Halloween-inspired food including; Franken guac, a creepy charcuterie board, mummy dogs, a skeleton veggie tray and spider cupcakes for dessert.

As for decor, the dollar store was on point this year-pumpkin lanterns, a black lace spider web table runner and witches' brew potion bottles. Meanwhile, Henry and Rosie were busy getting crafty at our kitchen table and made potato stamp ghosts, toilet paper roll bats and mummy mason jar luminaries. Holiday magic always sparks a childlike spirit in my heart.

Henry and Rosie are excited to go trick-or-treating tonight in their handmade costumes. We go green for Halloween by creating DIY masterpieces out of things we have around the house and by making old costumes new again (e.g a dance costume I wore twenty-five years ago!)

Presenting my little Transformer "Optimus Prime"...

And her Majesty, the Queen.

Happy Halloween, friends!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fall Family Time

Childhood is fleeting and I don't want to miss a moment with Henry and Rosie.

One of the benefits of teaching them at home is that we don't have to cram family time into weekends. Homeschooling is a lifestyle choice and I love that it affords us the freedom to spend so much time with our kids.

We're not just giving them an education, we're making memories! We are learning in the forest, at the kitchen table, at the cottage and even in a fort we built in our living room. I love that I get to make learning fun and that I can say YES to building a real robot.

As Henry and Rosie are learning, so am I. Homeschooling is an educational journey for the whole family. When I joined a local homeschool activity co-op, I thought I'd find a group of moms who dressed like they lived in the early 1900s, but instead, I found parents who are educated professionals including teachers and doctors.

Henry and Rosie have no shortage of time with friends-each week they attend Forest School, homeschool co-op, math playgroup, hockey and run club. Sometimes, we actually have to decline invitations so that we can get our homeschooling done.

I can't predict how long our homeschooling journey will continue, but for now, our family has found an amazing opportunity to learn and grow together.

Meanwhile, Fall festivities are in full swing at our house and we've been busy checking activities off of our bucket list; apple picking, bake Grandma June's famous apple pie, have a traditional turkey dinner, visit Pumpkin Inferno at Upper Canada Village...check! check! check! check!

This week, we're looking forward to hosting our cousins and taking them to our local pumpkin patch.

Meanwhile, Halloween costumes are being made, I'm finalizing the menu for a soup SPOOKtacular that I'm hosting and we're exploring our way through a list of family friendly hiking trails in our area.

The fall issue of Ottawa Family Living Magazine was recently delivered with the Ottawa Citizen and my article How Modern Moms Meet Other Moms was published on pages 32-33. You can read the article online here.

Happy Fall, friends!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Happiness Is...Summer

Life with a four-year-old and a two-year-old is a lot of fun. I am loving this season of life! Henry and Rosie are not only close in age, but they truly share a close bond. One day we were visiting our good friends and the kids were upstairs playing. Suddenly, I heard Rosie crying and before I got to the top of the stairs to see what was the matter, I heard Henry sticking up for his baby sister.

     "Hey! Don't do that to my sister!" he said. It was the sweetest thing!

These two have had a great start to their summer. At the cottage, we spend most of our days in the water. The kids love to swim, hike and canoe. When we're in the city, we like to attend different festivals and go on adventures with our Homeschool Activity Co-Op. The best part of being a working-stay-at-home-mom is that both kids will be joining me at Forest School this summer. I love spending my days with them and I treasure our time together.

Rosie's new phrase of the week:

     "Mama! I'm happy!"

And I smile every time I hear her say it. She's been diaper-free since March and is a spirited little girl. Meanwhile, Henry graduated from his balance bike to a bike with training wheels. He is very coordinated and is looking forward to starting hockey in September.

Mike and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary this month. We spent the day at the cottage and enjoyed a date night at the restaurant where we held our wedding reception. On the way back to the cottage, we made a quick stop at the cute little church we were married in on June 11th, 2011.

Life with this man just gets better and better! He's an amazing husband and daddy. For Father's Day this year, I threw my Blue Jays fan a baseball themed BBQ. He loved the burgers in a basket idea and enjoyed the sugar free/grain free chocolate torte I made him for dessert.

Speaking of celebrations, my girlfriends and I dressed up as 1960s go-go dancers to celebrate Andrea, the beautiful bride-to-be. I am so looking forward to this wedding in September.

My article "The Trekking Tribe" was published in the summer issue of Ottawa Family Living Magazine and even though I completed the course in April, I just received my certificate for completing the Forest School Practitioner's Course. It's made of wood!

The summer has just begun and I feel like we've done so much already; strawberry picking, the RCMP Musical Ride Sunset Ceremony, the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival and a visit to Upper Canada Village. I'm looking forward to camping in a national park this summer (and using our free pass), visits with faraway friends, a trip to Toronto to visit cousins and a family vacation at the cottage to celebrate Canada's 150th with our very own fireworks display off the dock.

Ah summer, I love you!