April 26, 2018

Toddler Bedroom Inspiration: Outdoors

Our upcoming move is going to be a big change for everyone. But, the biggest change by far will come for our two year old daughter.

A new house, her own room, a new bed, a new school and, soon enough, a new baby brother or sister. As exciting as all of those things may be, it’s going to be tough on her. And as we’ve come to learn very quickly, toddlers are very stuck in their ways and don’t necessarily handle change as well as us adults.

Up until this point, the three of us have been cozy roomies. So, we know that we will be dealing with separation anxiety when she has her own room and wakes up alone, no immediately seeing mom or dad. One idea that we had to help ease the transition was to put extra effort into her bedroom. Make it a space that she will enjoy, a space that she will be proud of and a space that she will talk about with others. We want the first words coming out of her mouth to be something along the dramatic lines of, “Oooohhhh, look at Maw-ley’s room” when she sees it for the first time. 

First task in designing our toddler’s “dream bedroom” was to come up with a list of her interests. She’s only two, so they're pretty broad. Omitting Paw Patrol and princesses, we were able to narrow it down to two things that she absolutely goes crazy for, and that mom and dad have zero problems getting on board with. 

Child Outdoor Theme Bedroom Inspiration

Two things that she absolutely loves are animals and being outside. Unlike Paw Patrol or princesses, I can’t see those interests disappearing anytime soon. So, we decided to harness her wild and carefree spirit and design an outdoors-themed bedroom

While we’re happy that she loves the outdoors as much as we do, we’re also happy that we can finally dust off our photographs, paintings, decor, etc. that we’ve collected alongs our travels and in our time in Alaska. Yes, think moose antlers and red lanterns. 

The game plan is to keep the colour (walls, floor, area rug, bedding) fairly neutral, and bring in the pops of colour with the decor, pillows, blankets, etc. While the room is considered a second bedroom, it does not have a window. So, when picking colours, we need to remember to keep them light and airy so that they do not make the the 10’x10’ room look smaller than it really is. 

The struggle we are currently having is the furniture itself. Not only do we want the furniture to be multi-purpose (think bed and storage) for the small space, we also want it to grow with her for at least the next five years. Also keeping in mind that this space will eventually become a shared space once baby #2 comes along, maximizing closet and shelving space for clothes, toy and baby supplies storage is a must. 

Stay tuned for the next few months as we get our hands dirty turning our vision into reality, and share the before and after shots (and of course Morley’s reaction) of the new space!

Have you recently designed a toddler-room? What were some must haves? And what were some things you could have left out? I’d love to hear!


April 24, 2018

The Story Behind the Move

Isn’t it funny how when a life-changing moment occurs, you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing at the time?

Take for example, the end of summer 2014. It was close to the start of the 2014-2015 hockey season, and Steve was preparing to head overseas to begin playing in a league in the UK. We had hummed and hawed all summer about the decision to move “across the pond”, but like our move to Alaska a few years before, ultimately decided we had nothing to lose and would take the chance. His visa was set, his flight was booked and he was good to go. The plan was for me to join him a few weeks later. I had made my visa appointment, put in my two week’s plus notice at work and began making my UK bucket list. 

The day was like any other day. I was downtown Toronto, on my way to work, and had just walked up from the subway when I got the call. “I don’t think I want to go, I think I’m done,” were the words on the other line. While there may have a been a few unkind words out of my mouth (because well, hello, I had just quit my job), ultimately, I was proud he made the decision on his own. Really, I should have seen it coming. The travel was starting to get to him, and we had a good thing going in Toronto. He hadn’t been this close to family for this long since before he left home at the age of 16. Our good thing wasn’t to be messed with.

Anyways, long story short, we decided to start putting down some roots in the place we were going to call home. First up? Finding a place to live. (Oh yes, after I went and begged for my job back.)

With the Toronto real estate market at an all-time high, we knew that owning a home would be out of the question. Instead, we decided to get our feet wet in the market by starting small and eventually working our way up. 

We knew move-in would be a few years away, but ultimately signed on the dotted line of a pre-construction condo. It had everything we wanted, was in a booming neighbourhood with good schools, access to public transit and close to family, and most importantly, fit without our budget.  (It's also close to the beach, which for this water-loving mama, was a nice perk.)

Fast forward almost four years, and in less than four weeks, we will officially be taking the keys to our very first home!

Since this is a completely new building, we are starting with a completely blank slate, which means having the creativity to design our own space! Yes, that does add to the stress of moving, but it is also very exciting.

Over the next few weeks here on To & Fro, I will be sharing our design inspiration for the space, before-photos and eventually, once our vision becomes a reality, the afters. Stay tuned!

What is your decorating taste? Where do you get your inspiration? I’d love to hear!


April 19, 2018

Connect with Nature: 10 Reasons to Get Outside

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” -Rachel Carson

When you think back to your childhood, can you recall a day at the beach, a camping trip or even just a picnic that you really enjoyed? How about a passion for fishing, swimming or even canoeing? It’s time to bring back those memorable childhood pastimes, and time to start dipping your toes in the mud once in a while.

As far back as I can remember, I have always loved spending time outdoors. When I was younger, my grandmother and I used to go on nature walks at our cottage, collecting interesting things and always looking up the names of certain flowers or birds when we got back. Growing up on Lake Huron, I spent my free time at the local beach, not coming home until my fingers looked like prunes. 

Some may call me a nature nerd, but that's ok with me because being outdoors is what makes my heart happy.  

Connect with Nature on Earth Day: 10 Reasons to Get Outside

When was the last time you went outside? I'm not talking a walk to put out the garbage at the end of the driveway. I'm talking when you really went outside - for purpose and pure enjoyment - hiking, camping, fishing, even a relaxing day at the beach.

Sadly, not many people can remember the last time they really got outside. Emerging technologies, limited green space and a fear magnified by media are often to blame. Nature deficit disorder is real, and is becoming all too common in today's society.

At a time when we our daughter is beginning to take a larger interest in the world around her and we’re about to welcome number 2, I can't imagine a world where we don't get outside. 

Connect with Nature on Earth Day: 10 Reasons to Get Outside

Clearly, I am a total nature pusher and truly believe that being outside in nature is good for the soul. In celebration of Earth Day (on April 22), I'm sharing 10 reasons why YOU should get outside:

To escape the hectic city life. 
Stressed at work? Leave the to do lists at home and head for the trees. No wifi, no electrical outlets, no problem. Leave the technology at home. Studies have found that those that spend time in nature have lower levels of cortisol, a hormone used as a marker for stress, than those that stay in the city. Give your brain, and eyes, a break, and enjoy the quiet time. A dose of fresh air is the perfect way to reset before the work week ahead.

To explore new places. 
Whether it is your local park, or a natural area a road trip away, choosing different places to visit allows you to explore what your own city and others have to offer. Do you research - you'd be shocked at the places you can find within a short drive from your home.

To develop a new found love of nature. 
Being outside isn't just about being in a new environment. It's also about gaining a new appreciation for Mother Nature's beauty. Take a walk in the woods - close your eyes, open your ears and take a deep breathe. Look up, look down, look all around you. Appreciate the small things. Learn something new about the plants and animals that call your area home. 

>> You may also like: Benefits of Outdoor Play 

To reset your sleep cycle. 
With crazy work schedules and the increased exposure to artificial light, our internal clocks can easily get out of rhythm. Studies have shown that we actually sleep better when we set our sleep cycles with those of the sun. Plan a camping trip and leave the alarm clocks at home. Allow your body the rest it deserves.

To relax your mind and eyes.
You probably already know that staring at a screen for hours is bad for your eyes. So then, why do it? Turn off the electronics and take in the visual buffet that is the outdoors instead. And, if you really need to take the technology with you, put it to work by going on a photo safari. 

To spend time with friends and family. 
Being outside doesn't have an age limit. Taking a walk through the worlds, relaxing on the beach or even sitting around the campfire, telling stories, playing games and having a few laughs is the perfect bonding experience. And don't forget about your pets, sometimes unwinding in nature does them good too.

To do something affordable. 
Getting outside is often cheaper than planning a weekend trip to a popular tourist area. Chances are, it may even be free! If visiting a national/state/provincial park, day use and overnight fees are usually very minimal, and what you do pay often goes right back into caring for the park. 

To get some exercise. 
Being outdoors does not need to be strenuous, but it can give you the opportunity to take a break from your regular exercise routine and try something different. The opportunities for exercise while being outdoors are endless - canoeing, climbing and hiking are just a few. Your body will thank you.

To inspire others.
Now that we have a daughter of our own, spending as much time outdoors as we can is so important. The more time we spend outdoors, the more our daughter will enjoy being outdoors with us. It's all about building that connection with Mother Nature. If someone has a connection with nature, they are more likely to love it. And if they love it, then they're more likely to want to protect it.

>> You may also like: Creating an Animal Lover 

To have fun! 
No explanation needed.

So do me a favour this weekend - make a pledge to get outside. Whether it is a nightly walk in the park or a weekend camping, drop the chaos of every day life. Take a deep breath and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors. Make a lasting connection with nature. I think you'll like it. 

Connect with Nature on Earth Day: 10 Reasons to Get Outside

About Earth Day 2018: Earth Day is now a global event each year. Observed by more than 1 billion people in 192 counties, it the largest civic-focused day of action in the world. This year's theme is End Plastic Pollution. From injuring marine life to the presence of plastics in our food and beyond, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival. The goal of Earth Day 2018 includes ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100% recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behaviour concerning plastics.

What is your favourite outdoor activity? How do you celebrate Earth Day? I'd love to hear!


April 16, 2018

The Stress of Moving

*This post is sponsored by Bayer®. To make sure Bayer® products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

In exactly one month, we get the keys to our brand new condo. Our very first home. And while excitement is at an all time high, so is the stress.

Since moving in together in 2010, Steve and I have bounced between eight different houses and apartments. At first, it was just a part of the hockey life. When the hockey season in Alaska was finished, we would find our own place for the summer, only to move back into team housing at the start of fall. 

When we moved back to Toronto in 2013, we knew we wanted to set some roots and buy a home. But, the factor of cost came into play. We were very fortunate to be able to spend time living with family as we saved to make what could be the biggest purchase of our lives. And now, almost five years since moving back, stress aside, that once messy construction site below is about to turn our dream into a reality.

Stress of Moving

Whether one moves frequently or almost never, moving is an intensely emotional experience. It can be filled with new beginnings, symbolism, disappointments, fear and anxiety. Simply put, it can be very stressful. 

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and to mark the occasion, I’m sharing the common signs of stress you may have never even knew existed.

It can affect your hair growth.
Many factors can impact healthy hair, including stress. If your hair could use some support, a nutritional supplement like Priorin® can help improve hair growth. It has been shown to provide fuller, thicker and stronger hair in as early as 12 weeks by stimulating hair growth and re-growth. 

It can cause bathroom trouble.
Both constipation and diarrhea are common signifiers of stress, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. Drinking lots of water and eating high finer foods are good first steps. If you’re experiencing occasional constipation, a mild laxative can help get your body back to its normal rhythm. RestoraLAX® is a gluten- and sugar-free osmotic laxative that works with water to help soften stools and increase the frequency of bowel movements. It easily dissolves in eight ounces of water, fruit juice or any other beverage, with no taste or grit. (Visit their website for a trail offer.)

It can make you breakout.
Skin conditions like acne, itchy skin or rashes can be related to an inflammatory response caused by stress. Your skin is an immediate stress perceiver, which basically means it’s on the front lines of your battle with stress. Take time to pamper and care for your skin when you’re going through a tough period. Try a DIY face mask for some low-cost luxurious pampering you can do at home.

It can cause a body imbalance.
Many women are prone to yeast infections when they’re experiencing stress or major life changes. Around 75% of women will experience it at least once in their lives. Luckily, treatment is readily available. Some treatments, like CanesOral Combi-Pak® are single-dose oral treatments that can be taken anytime and anywhere. 

It can literally make you sick.
If you often get colds and flus, your stress levels may be to blame. Your brain and immune system are in constant communication, which means that a psychological change can cause physical symptoms. Diet is an important factor in bolstering your immune system, so take extra care to get the vitamins and nutrients you need.

Stress of Moving

Whether you are moving, switching jobs or something in between, the bottom line is that stress is a normal part of life. But, given the effect that stress can have on your body and overall health, making an effort to reduce the stress wherever possible is definitely worth your effort and time. Talk to your doctor about ways that you can manage your stress, like a change in diet, increased exercise and relaxation techniques.

Stay tuned for the big reveal of our new home in the coming weeks!

Do you ever feel like stress is taking over your life? Tell me some of the ways you cope. I’d love to hear!

*This post is sponsored by Bayer®. To make sure Bayer® products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

April 10, 2018

They See Me Rollin': BOB Revolution Stroller Review

We’re pretty set in our daily routine when it comes to daycare. Dad drops Morley off in the morning and leaves the stroller for me to then pick her up at the end of the day and take the bus home - that’s how a typical day looks.

But, when a morning instead turns into a battle with above mentioned toddler to put her socks and boots back on before walking into school, sometimes, things can change. Sometimes, things get forgotten. Like the stroller. Also known as my lifeline for getting home safely and in a decent amount of time.

That’s how last Friday turned out anyways. Luckily, I was able to dust off our cheapy, and wonky-wheeled, Target umbrella stroller (that we obtained for the sole purpose of getting Morley through the airport efficiently on our fall adventure to Alaska). It worked in getting her home, but it wasn’t pretty. 

Long story short, you really come to appreciate the good things in life when you don’t have them. Strollers included.

When deciding which stroller was right for our family, we knew we needed something that was durable, something that was rugged and something that we could take on our outdoor adventures. It needed to be comfortable enough for baby, but also safe for baby. After plenty of research, we opted for the BOB Revolution SE stroller

This “cadillac of strollers” is designed for all of your adventures - perfect for jogging or walking over pavement, sand or bumpy trails, the all-terrain Revolution SE is a way for families to be active together, no matter where you end up. 

BOB Revolution SE Stroller Review

While we may refer to this stroller as the “cadillac of strollers", the pros do come with a few cons. Here is what we love, and what we don’t love, about the BOB Revolution SE.

What We Love
  • The swivelling front wheel allows for superior maneuverability, and can be locked forward for increased stability when jogging or if the terrain is rough. We took the stroller with us to Cuba, and it easily handled the cobble-stone streets and sandy beach.
  • It is easy to fold and unfold. While the two-step folding may take both hands, unfolding can actually be done with one hand - perfect when baby won’t let you put her down!
  • The large multi-position canopy adjusts for protection against the elements. It also has a large window on the top, so you can view your child while pushing.
  • It can hold up to 70lb. and fits the BOB Infant Car Seat Adapter for infant car seats and a compatible snack tray for toddlers, meaning we will get quite a few years of use. 
  • The ultra-padded, adjustable reclining seat and five-point padded harness make for enhanced seating, or reclining, comfort. Perfect for an impromptu nap.
  • The cargo basket underneath the seat provides plenty of storage, perfect for grocery shopping.
  • The padded handlebar adds comfort for the pusher and also adjusts to different positions depending on activity (or when you need to squeeze into a busy elevator).  You can also easily hang your diaper bag off the handles.
  • The foot-activated parking break is easy to take on and off.

What We Don’t Love
  • Air-filled tires do require inflating every so often.
  • Despite folding for storage, it is larger than other strollers and takes up the majority of our Ford Escape’s trunk space. 
  • We purchased both the sun-shield and weather-shield accessories. While the sun-shield came in handy on our trip to Cuba, we rarely use it. We have definitely got more use out of the weather-shield, as it protects her from wind, rain, snow and cold. The instructions that came with the shields were pretty vague, so [embarrassingly] it took us a few attempts to figure out how to fasten it correctly (i.e. the sun shield is actually upside down in the photo below, but still worked).
BOB Revolution SE Stroller Review

Tech Specs

  • Weight: 25 lb.
  • Capacity: 8 weeks to 70 lb. (Maximum occupant height is 44’’)
  • Overall length: Swivel-mode 46’’; Jogging-mode 51.5’’
  • Overall width: 25.5’’
  • Folded length (wheels on): Swivel-mode 39’’; Jogging-mode 43’’
  • Folded height (wheels on): Swivel-mode 16’’; Jogging-mode 16’’
  • Frame material: High strength aluminum alloy
  • Tires: Air-filled
  • Seat material: Poly- and dobby-weave fabrics with water repellent coating and open cell foam padding
  • Safety features: Padded five-point harness; parking brake; wrist strap
  • Storage: 2 interior mesh seat pockets; 1 large pocket on seat back; large cargo basket underneath seat

Compatible BOB Accessories:

Price (MSRP): $599.99 CDN (Available online or in-store at most baby/child retailers.)

Bottom Line

Don’t let the price fool you. Yes, you may be paying a little more for this stroller, but you are also paying for quality. And that is not something to cheap out on when it comes to the safety of your child.

The BOB SE is a great all-around stroller for both city and active lifestyle, including the ability to handle variable terrain, jogging, hiking and keeping baby protected. It may not be the slimmest stroller on the market, but it is incredibly stable and accommodating to children of a variety of ages and sizes.

And, if our toddler can fall asleep in it - that's a win-win for us!

What is one baby/child item that you can't live without? I'd love to hear!

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, at no additional cost to you.

April 3, 2018

You Belong Among the Wildflowers

If you’ve been around here long, you know that the outdoors is near and dear to my heart. I also like to eat, and enjoy good food. 

And if you too enjoy one or the other both, then this story might hit home for you.

In recent years, you may have heard the buzz (pun totally intended) about the decline of bee populations in North America. Researchers say there could be many reasons for the decline - everything from parasites and bacteria to loss of habitat and use of pesticides. 

Regardless of the cause, the bottom line is they are disappearing and it’s a BIG problem. 

Why should you care? While bees may cause a sense of fear in some, these little critters actually play a vital role in our everyday life. Through pollination, bees help produce many fruits and vegetable crops. In fact, it’s estimated that bees are responsible for about 1 in every 3 bites of food in our country! Food crops from fruits to nuts to coffee rely on the pollinating assistance bees provide as they go about their work. 

So long story short, you can thank the bees for providing you with breakfast, lunch and dinner today. 

Getting Morley to care for our natural world is extremely important to me. We accomplish this many different way - from activities as simple as getting outside for a walk to a weekend-long camping trip with family. This spring (and just in time for Earth Day), we plan to teach her all about the bees, and how she can help bring them back. 

For the third year, Honey Nut Cheerios is encouraging Canadians to do their part to help Bring Back the Bees, by ordering their free packages of wildflower seeds to get ready for planting when the spring weather comes around. Over the past two years, the Bring Back the Bees campaign has helped Canadians plant more than 600 million wildflowers across the country to help preserve and grow the natural habitat bees need for survival, and this year they’re hoping to plant another 300 million!

Additionally, to inspire young people to become the next generation of bee champions, Honey Nut Cheerios is giving away 100,000 free copies of the new children’s book Bella and Jack Bring Back The Bees (written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by the award winning Josee Bisaillon). This book tells the story of two kids who learn about the threats to our bee populations and are inspired to do their part to help bring back the bees.
“This terrific new book and the packages of free wildflower seeds [available at bringbackthebees.ca] are designed to inspire a new generation of bee champions and give them the tools to get involved,” says Emma Eriksson, Vice President of Marketing for General Mills Canada.

Share how you are a champion for bees on social using the hashtag #BringBacktheBees!

How do you get your children to care for Mother Nature? I’d love to hear!

Disclaimer: To & Fro was provided with product and/or compensation. However, all opinions are 100% that our own.
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