About eringirouard

Erin is the Director of Mommy Connections Ottawa and mom to a beautiful daughter, Finley. After joining a Mommy Connections class in 2017, it became clear that offering that same support to other moms in the city she calls home, is what she's meant to be doing.

Your Guide To Ottawa’s Holiday Events!

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.

5 questions to ask before hiring a real estate professional

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.

Kids & Company

In our programs, the topic of finding childcare is among one of the most popular discussions. Where to begin the search? Home vs centre? How do I know if it’s the right fit? What types of questions do I ask? The search can be overwhelming and in Ottawa, not always easy. This summer we were fortunate to have Kids & Company in Kanata, act as our host venue for the 6 week, Mom and Baby program.

Summer Mom and Baby Program

The centre is located in the booming area of Kanata South. Upon my arrival to tour their facility, I was immediately greeted by a team of incredibly friendly individuals. Their Director, Erin Savard, was welcoming, warm and professional while being extremely relatable as a mother.

The centre features floor to ceiling windows  throughout each classroom, that offer natural light and creates a bright and cheerful environment. What struck me first was that even in the midst of their daily activities, the centre remained so clean, a feature that I know is incredibly important to moms and families.

Another aspect that struck me as unique, was that each staff member adorned navy blue scrubs with the Kids & Company logo displayed on their shirt. I had never before witnessed this in a daycare facility and loved that I could tell exactly who was an employee of the centre. I felt this feature not only added to their professionalism, but helped me feel at ease as I could clearly define who was a teacher, vs who was a parent picking up their child.

Kids and Company Uniform

Kids & Company offers programs for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school aged children. Being a mom of an infant, I was eager to explore their baby room and sleeping quarters. At the time of my arrival, they were in the process of deep cleaning the cribs and mattresses and I was impressed at how thorough of a process this was; everything was deconstructed and sanitized. The babies were in the process of being served their lunch, which tickled my curiosity to inquire about their menu.

I was blown away not only by the KidCo menu, but their philosophy on nutrition. They have a full sized, professional kitchen on site where they cook all the food from scratch. Their menu is created by executive chef and Mother, Lisa Ruscica, who understands the importance of nutrition and goes above and beyond in creating an eclectic, child friendly menu with an understanding for allergies and intolerances. Never before had I considered dishes like “Chicken Pad Thai” or “fish tacos” to be served to children, but they do so in a way that inspires curiosity with food. A local mom who’s son attends day care at the centre explained that through his exposure to new foods at Kids & Company, he is no longer a picky eater and now has new favourites such as Buttered Chicken and Korean Bibimbap ( you can view the Kids & Company menu as well as featured recipes here.)

Dinning; Family Style

While continuing my tour we stopped in to the preschool room where I was able to observe the little ones in the middle of a craft that was designed to encourage sensory motor play. It was explained that the entire Kids & Company curriculum is centred around play based learning and that they feature different sensory building skills daily. Each activity serves a purpose has research behind it to support growth and development. Best of all, the kids seemed to LOVE what they were doing and each individual in these small class groups seemed to be getting ample focus and attention from their teachers.

At Mommy Connections we have worked with so many moms who have enrolled their children in one of the four Ottawa Kids & Company locations and each one has their own set of unique, positive reviews, from the centres ability to accommodate Nursing/ shift work schedules, to severe allergies, to their incredible Baby Signing program. After my initial tour, I felt confident that I would in fact enrol my own children in their program, but after having spent six weeks in the centre, I had zero doubts.

One Woman’s Breastfeeding Journey

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.

What I Learned From Three Weeks Of Being Active

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:

    • Working out is WAY more fun in a group – Every morning of the three weeks began with a check-in about how we were feeling. I loved hearing all of the mixed emotions about how the moms were doing. “My legs and butt are in so much pain”, “I’m so not in the mood to work out today” and “I feel better than I’ve felt in years” were all things that were said by each one of us at some point throughout the camps. I can’t begin to tell you how nice it was to know I was not in it by myself. When we had a particularly hard workout, all it would take would be a look of “you got this” from a mom across the room to perfectly motivate the tired. Or while we were dancing to the Spice Girls with Emilie of Esther America Dance, we were laughing so hard at ourselves and each other, that we had forgotten we were even working out. The women in the group helped make the exercises fun!


    • If you’re going to succeed in being healthy as a busy mom, you have to plan your meals – As part of the program, we would end the day having lunch with one another while talking about some assigned journalling topics that promoted feelings of empowerment, confidence and self love. We all committed to bringing healthy lunches and snacks. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have found it almost impossible to prepare myself delicious, healthy meals while raising a baby. My daughter will have the most delicious, organic, nutrient packed spread laid out for her and I’m eating a box of mac n cheese because it’s fast and easy; so things had to change. At the start of each week, I would do my groceries and in addition to a lot more fruits and vegetables, I would buy things that I knew were protein packed and easy to make. One great option was to grab a Farm Boy Rotisserie Chicken and their pre-made Kale salad. This was good for at least 3 lunches and if I added a hardboiled egg and some avocado, it would fill me up for most of the day. We were also visited by Karen Seath Smith, R.H.N. to discuss Nutrition For Busy Moms. She provided us with tips on how to make meal prep easier on ourselves such as, roasting veggies in the oven while you’re playing with the little one. Filling your fridge with energy balls or hard boiled eggs so you have something quick and easy to grab while you’re on the go. Sharing the cooking/prep load with your partner. And finally, pre-making delicious smoothies the night before and storing them in the fridge.


    • There will be good days and hard days – We are only human. Although every day that I was with the moms I had FUN, there are certain days that exercise is just downright HARD and unpleasant. Maybe you overdid it the day before. Maybe you were up all night with a sleepless baby. Maybe you’d just rather be on the couch watching Netflix in your sweats. It will not always be amazing, but you WILL always be thankful you did it when it’s over.        


    • You have to love the workout you’re doing – This is kind of contradictory to the above point, but enjoying what you’re doing is a surefire way to continuing to do it. I am not a gym person; I never have been and the thought of fitting my postpartum body into spandexy clothes that are going to reveal my insane postpartum sweat stains, causes me an intense amount of anxiety. So it was vital that I find workouts that I did enjoy! Some that’ll have you grinning ear-to-ear include: Fitness with Jules – not only is she insanely relatable as a mom and person, she will have you laughing so hard, you’ll forget that you’re doing an insane workout. Salsa Babies – Doing anything with an extra 20+ pounds strapped to your chest is HARD! But dancing to Latin music with other smiling women, while snuggling with your baby, makes it easy and fun! Babywearing Street Dance – Instructor Emilie Phaneuf is the perfect mix of encouraging, hilarious, kind and energetic. Just being in her presence makes you feel cool, even though you have a baby strapped to your front! Best of all, she takes requests so in our group it was essentially 90’s central (Spice Girls/No Diggity). Sweaty Betty’s Fitness – The postpartum fitness of the West and South End! I loved that almost all of her exercises incorporated baby. Greco Kanata South – these guys must pump something into the air of the place because the second you walk in, you just feel GREAT! We were welcomed there on a “field trip” and had an amazing instructor Matt, lead us on an 8 station, circuit workout. It was probably the hardest thing we did that week, but the playlist, combined with Matt’s energy and the Greco vibe, made for such a fun time. Bottom line, you’ll enjoy the experience of working out FAR more if you can laugh your way through it. 


    • It’s easiest to get it over with early It turns out, I actually CAN work out in the morning. I have always been amazing at making excuses for why this is impossible but the truth is, I loved waking up early and getting a one hour workout and one hour walk over with first thing, so I had the rest of the day to do all the other things a busy mom needs to do (or nap). I know that this isn’t always doable, especially as multiple kids come into the mix, but it felt really great to know I could carry on with my day and the hardest part was over. Plus, I had more energy for the rest of the day.


    • Working out DOES make you happier – By the end of the first week, I was not only feeling happier, but things that normally got on my nerves, started not to matter as much! I found I felt happier towards my partner, laughed more, felt more inclined to socialize and had a lot more patience. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. The last time I felt this way was when I was hot yoga obsessed while preparing for my wedding and maybe I equated the happy feeling to my upcoming nuptials more than the physical activity I was doing.


    • No matter the shape, size or weight of a person, we all have our own challenges – Do I need to say more? As each woman shared their story it became blatantly clear to me that just because someone may look otherwise “perfect” doesn’t mean they feel good, strong, or confident. Many women find it incredibly difficult to recognize (or like) their new bodies, however remarkable it may be. Even those who appear to have “bounced back” can be left with negative feelings towards their new shape.


    • Stretching is important –  I’d always be the one sneaking out quietly during the cool-down portion of any workout. I always thought the importance of stretching was a myth that the gym teacher told us to get five minutes of quiet.  I’m joking of course, but honestly, I didn’t know just how great it could feel until we were visited by Olga of Olga’s Way in Orleans, and Claudia Hoyos of My Yoga At Home, in Kanata and Barrhaven. Each instructor guided us through a deep, cleansing stretch that worked our tired and aching muscles. It felt great and we all took home valuable tips on how to relieve common “new mom aches and pains”.


  • Your confidence CAN reach new heights – Along with the happiness factor, when I realized that I actually could take control of my lifestyle and be healthier, I started to feel more in control, which lead to an increase in confidence. Coupled with the fact that I spent three weeks talking about how amazing the female body is, I began to look at my body in an entirely new light. Gone were the negative thoughts of cellulite and stretch marks and what replaced them were thoughts of kindness and self love and appreciation. Our final task of the week was to write a letter to our body, personifying it. If you’re still reading this, I challenge you,  to sit down, pen to paper and write your body a thank you note for all of the amazing things it has done. Once you actually think about it, you’ll realize that your body never left you and in fact, has been there creating miracles all along.

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 



Queenswood Stables

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!


Music Classes in Manotick

Do you have children who love music? The Manotick Arts Camp is offering weekly music classes for typically developing children and children with developmental delays aged 2-7. So many children can  benefit by this activity! Many children with autism spectrum disorder, for example, have enhanced memory for music and may be very motivated to engage to this type of music class. Through games of singing, and movement, children learn to play in ensemble with one another on real instruments; this is great fun for kids and great for their overall development! Music education enhances many cognitive abilities that are necessary for success at school. Learning to sing and play instruments trains the auditory system and can be especially beneficial to children with language delays. In order to play music together, children learn to synchronize their movements to a common beat, which improves fine and gross motor movement as well as self-control. Playing music together also involves teamwork and requires social engagement! Besides getting early musical training, which is so important to future musical education, children will be engaging in an activity that has countless developmental benefits.

Developing your child’s musical ear is incredibly beneficial for learning to play an instrument later on in life. Similar to learning language, the same principles apply to learning music; the more exposure we have to hearing and speaking a language early on, the more natural that language becomes for us. In contrast, languages learned later in life, in general, are not spoken or understood with the same kind of ease. Exposing your child early to listening and playing music can help develop the auditory system and give your child the fundamentals for learning to play music later on. Singing in tune, playing to a common beat and distinguishing individual notes on xylophones, bells and percussive instruments are skills which are so important to further musical development.

Music education can also be beneficial for children with developmental delays. Musical training can improve the distinction of consonant sounds and can improve language comprehension. Furthermore, playing music with your peers can strengthen the emotional bond within the group. Music provides a structure with social rules of engagement; when everyone plays in rhythm with one another, there is a great feeling of unity and satisfaction. These experiences can be a guide for knowing how to interact in group situations.

Many other areas of cognition are affected by musical training and best of all, most children LOVE it! The activities in our classes are so enjoyable that the children do not even realize they are learning!

Music for Wee Ones weekly classes are on-going during the school year and through the summer in the beautiful village of Manotick. Check our website: www.manotickartscamp.com for location, time and cost.

The Manotick Arts Camp has been offering quality summer day camp programs in the performing arts for children aged 6 to 16 since 2000. 

By: Dr. Sandy Stanutz

“Sandy is very talented and professional. Not only in her music knowledge, but she also has a special way of handling the children. They have lots of fun, together with structure and discipline. The kids are always eager to go, can’t wait for their next class.”

-Annelie, mother of two boys

Dr. Sandy Stanutz recently completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Educational Counselling and Psychology Department, McGill University, where she implemented a music program over a 16-month period at a center-based early intensive childhood intervention program in Montreal for preschool children with ASD. Sandy has been developing and teaching a music and movement based course curriculum to preschool children for over 15 years.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/Manotick-Arts-Camp-180403368652788/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/manartsc

Website: www.manotickartscamp.com

Questions? Call 613-890-1529