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February 21, 2014

Yes You Can! Outdoor Adventures with Baby

We met Meghan online and were intrigued by her gorgeous baby, her active lifestyle and the fabulous photography on her website, The Adventures in Parenthood Project. She kindly agreed to take time away from her suitcase packing to do this interview.

 

1. You live in an international tourist destination, Banff, Alberta. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to Banff?

I was born in Calgary, Alberta, just outside of the mountains, but my family moved to Ottawa, Ontario, when I was just five weeks old. When I was 15, my family went on a camping trip to Banff National Park, and that was the first time I laid eyes on the mountains. Years later, when I was window washing during my summer break after my first year at Queen’s University, I had a longing to do something more adventurous with my next summer off. I applied for a job at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge on Bow Lake in Banff National Park, got hired, moved to the mountains, and met my (now) husband, Paul. After three summer seasons at Bow Lake, I eventually moved to the Town of Banff in 2008, and have lived here ever since. I love living right in nature, and having easy access to incredible wilderness and backcountry trails.

2. Your beautiful daughter Mistaya was born almost a year ago. We would love to hear about Mistaya’s birth and your early weeks with her.

 

Resting together in those early weeks. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Resting together in those early weeks. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Mistaya’s birth was an incredible experience. I am a firm believer that birth is an empowering experience – not some hardship to be dreaded and endured – and I brought this perspective into my own labor and delivery experience. That doesn’t mean it was easy. Her birth involved 28 hours of active labor after a full day of laboring at home. It isn’t easy to summarize a birth experience but suffice it to say that the little adventurer was just too excited to be out in the world, and was coming out with her head tilted up, which prevented her from descending. I’ll never forget the moment the nurse placed Mistaya (or Maya, as we call her) on my abdomen, and I just lay there totally exhausted, counting her fingers and toes.

Our early weeks with our daughter were blissful and completely exhausting. We don’t live close to family, so it was a month before we had any hands-on help. We had a few breastfeeding issues, but we gradually overcame them, and she gained weight fast. My daughter is wonderfully spirited and wouldn’t sleep; it required a Herculean effort every night to get a few hours of rest. She eventually settled into a better pattern.

For those first few weeks I tried my hardest to be easy on myself and let myself rest and heal. My husband was a total rock, even though I’m pretty sure we were both sleeping vertically at times! Parenthood really has a way of pulling you to extremes, all in a matter of seconds. One second you’re totally done, feeling like a failure, and the next you feel completely overcome by love and like you’ve been a mother forever.

3. We can tell from your website that you love the outdoors and being active. What were some of your earliest outdoor adventures with her?

After her birth it took a week before I could walk outside with Mistaya, and then it was only for a few minutes at a time. Within a month, however, I was doing a bit of light hiking with her, including Tunnel Mountain, a small peak here in Banff. When she was 11 weeks old we took her camping for the first time (I wrote these 10 Tips for Camping with a Baby based on that experience). I gradually got more comfortable taking her out, and by six months we took her up her first big peak in the Rockies, Mt. Fairview, and also hiked into a backcountry lodge. It’s amazing how convenient it is when all you have to do is pull over to breastfeed! I’ve fed that kid in a tent, at a snowy mountain pass, on a summit…even in a canoe!

I have kept a logbook of all the hikes and trips I’ve done with her, and it’s fun to look back on it.

4. We are in the middle of a cold and snowy winter. Do you find yourself getting cabin fever being home with a baby? How do you keep Mistaya warm when you do get outside?

I’ll admit I don’t get out as much as in the summertime, or for long periods of time. But I will get cabin fever if I don’t get out, so I pretty much plan my whole day around getting outdoors with Mistaya, even if it’s just for a walk. There were only two days this whole winter when we didn’t take her outdoors. One of my favourite things to do is push her down to the river in the Chariot, lace up my skates and push her around on the rink. She usually falls asleep, and I get some fresh air and exercise.

I have my 7 A.M. ENFANT Blanket 212evolution (Meghan reviewed it here) to thank for keeping Mistaya warm during all these outings. It’s a lifesaver and helps me feel confident when I’m taking my baby out in really cold temperatures.

5. Do you have any tips or advice for other families who would like to be more active but have a baby?

 En route to Skoki Lodge, our first backcountry experience. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

En route to Skoki Lodge, our first backcountry experience. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

My advice to these families is to just get out and do it! Being active outdoors with a baby requires some planning and preparation, but it also involves practice. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll get. Start small, and work your way up to larger, longer adventures.

Babies are incredibly adaptable; it’s often the parents that need to learn to be more flexible and easy-going. Be ready to laugh at your mistakes and mishaps, and treat every outing as a mini adventure. You can’t go wrong!

For some activities, you’ll need the right gear. My website is full of tips and resources, and if anyone is looking for some specific advice, they are welcome to contact me.

6. Do you have favorite product that has made outdoor adventures with a baby easier?

There are a number of products I recommend, but the #1 product would have to be a quality baby carrier. This is essential for hiking, walking and traveling with baby and gives parents more hands-free time overall. I personally recommend Boba Carriers (or carriers that are a similar model). This carrier offers optimal support to the parent and baby, and can be worn on the parent’s front or back.

Another carrier worth checking out is the Onya Baby brand. Their carriers come with a built in baby seat! I’ll be trying this one out on some upcoming travels, and I think the built in seat will come in really handy.

7. You are going abroad soon. Can you tell us a little bit about what adventures lie ahead and how you are preparing for travel with a baby?

 In just a few days we depart for nine weeks of what I’m calling “Island Hopping with an Infant.” Our travels will take us to New Zealand, Niue, various islands in French Polynesia and Hawaii. Even before she was born, my husband and I had the goal of travelling with our daughter in her first year. We are so excited to share our love for adventure and travel with her!

I think that all my time spent outdoors with Mistaya has offered me great preparation for our upcoming travels. We have also already travelled with her to four other provinces in Canada, so are accustomed to meeting her needs on-the-go. Additionally, I have been reading articles about traveling with a baby (I have compiled them here) in order to learn as much as I can from others.

For the most part, I know we just need to dive in headfirst. There’s only so much preparing we can do. A lot will have to be figured out on the spot. All the more fun, right?

Introducing Mistaya to Bow Lake. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Introducing Mistaya to Bow Lake. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Meghan J. Ward. Photo by Kurtis Kristianson

Meghan J. Ward. Photo by Kurtis Kristianson

 

Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer and outdoorsy mama based in Banff, Alberta. She is the founder of The Adventures in Parenthood Project, a website exploring the transition of outdoor adventurers to parenthood. A mountain sport enthusiast, she also enjoys international travel, photography, yoga and healthy cooking. You can learn more about her at meghanjoyward.com, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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February 7, 2014

Reflections on a Quarter Century of Mothering

Jana has kindly allowed me to take over the blog for this week’s post. – Cindy

 

My oldest child turned 25 this week. This is not only a milestone birthday for my son, but it is also a milestone for me as a mother — a quarter of a century of mothering!  Much of the early years with my children are a blur but there are some memories that stand out.

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I remember:

  • how my mother-in-law helped me after the birth of our first child. She cooked, cleaned and generally pretended that she knew nothing about babies. She made me feel like I was the expert.

 

  • how proud we were of our first baby. My husband and I argued over who should carry him into church for the first time (I won!).

 

  • my 6 year old being present at the birth of our second child. His reaction to the birth: “Sometimes you feel so happy you could cry.”photo 5

 

  • the painful 6 years of waiting for our second child to be born. I felt my heart would burst with happiness on my first Mother’s day as a mom of two.

 

  • thinking that “sibling rivalry” was something that happened in the first 2 weeks after the birth of a new baby. I have learned that it is a lifelong condition!

 

  • spending the night in the hospital after the birth of my youngest. Our oldest child phoned me, feeling sad. I sympathized, “It’s sad to miss mommy, isn’t it?” He replied, “It’s the baby I miss!”

 

  • wondering if I would ever have the time or energy to get my bathroom clean.

 

  • being expected to put on a shower for a newly engaged couple at a time I wasn’t getting more than 4 hours sleep a night.

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  • our amazement about how different each of our children were, right from birth. How can two parents have three children who are so different?

 

  • how much energy my middle child had as a toddler. I made it my mission to “run him” outdoors every day. One day I paid him a penny each time he ran up the hill behind our house. He didn’t stop until he earned a dollar!

 

  • using a Rubbermaid bucket to bathe children while camping and later using that same bucket to make them a “hot tub” on our deck.

 

  • how delightful it was to nap while snuggled up with a toddler.

 

  • my children doing the “bare naked dance” (i.e.: jumping on my bed after bath time).

Some things I did well:

 

  • Without realizing its importance, I married a laid back and patient man. He has helped to counter balance my “less laid back” self and has made me a better mother.

 

  • photo 4I breastfed my babies. When my first child was born, I didn’t know about its health benefits. In my family, that was how babies were fed.  Years later, I looked after my niece who was bottle fed. I was amazed at the work involved with formula feeding!

 

  • I did lots of activities with my kids when they were preschoolers: library story time, skating, tobogganing, biking, and the zoo. I miss those times.

 

  • I made sure we camped every summer as a family. For us, it was a time to connect without a lot of distractions. (My children probably have less than happy memories of the campground hikes I forced upon them…)

 

  • Our kids were always allowed to crawl into our bed when they needed us. Some people worry their children will be in their beds forever; we are living proof that it does end. We can assure you that we have never had a teenager come sleep with us.

 

  • I loved my kids fiercely and I still do! Heaven help you if you aren’t kind to my children (as a couple of their teachers discovered…).

 

  • I apologized to my children when I messed up (and it was often!)

 

  • I made the choice to work part-time. It meant we had less “things” but we had more of what was most important to us — time with our kids.

Things I wish I had done differently (Note: There are NUMEROUS mistakes I have made but to preserve my dignity, I will only list a few):

 

  • photo-27I was given a formula sample some time after my oldest was born. He had been exclusively breastfed to that point but I noticed that it was nearing its expiry date.  I fed it to him so it wouldn’t “go to waste”. Illogical to me now…

 

  • I felt embarrassed that our house was untidy and cluttered with children’s toys. I wish I had turned a blind eye to the mess.

 

  • I wish I hadn’t yelled at my kids when I was stressed. I was the one who should have gone into time out.

 

  • I wish I had paid more attention to nutrition. I remember serving a lot of Kraft Dinner and hotdogs for lunch.

 

  • I wish I had allowed myself to take breaks away from my children. I thought a “good” mother would be available to her children all the time. In retrospect, I would have been a “better” mother if I had allowed myself a break.

A quarter of a century is a long time. It amazing how little I remember. (Hint: When someone with older children tries to tell you how they did it, don’t believe them. They likely cannot really remember either!)

 

“The fingerprints move up and up the window, and then they disappear.”

Enjoy your children, no matter what their age.

———————–

Other posts you may enjoy: Why Cindy & Jana? and Creating NuuNest.

IMG_9687 4About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

                                       ——————-

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December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from our Families to Yours

We LOVE the holiday season: the excitement, the snow (believe us, we have lots in our city!) and the holiday lights. But, the thing we love most about Christmas is time with our families.

 

Jana and her family are spending Christmas together in the sunny Cayman Islands. They are visiting relatives and relaxing on the beach.

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Cindy is having a more traditional holiday, spending Christmas at home. Despite some missed flight hiccups, Air Canada pulled through and delivered both her sons for the holidays (one from Ontario and the other from British Columbia).

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The only thing missing in our holiday season is having young children to share the excitement. Thankfully we have many online friends who have shared Christmas posts and pics. With their permission, we have reposted some of the photos that have brightened our Christmas season.

 

The children of our Twitter friend: @MrsMommyKitty

 

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From our twitter friend: @YYCMum

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Tamara’s daughter (Discovering Parenthood)

discoveringparenthoodsantaphoto

 

 

 

Sarah’s sons (Nurse Loves Farmer)

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Carolyn’s sons (Moments in Mommyland)

Santa Photo

 

April’s son (First Time Mom and Dad)

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 Kiran’s children (Mummy Says)

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We wish you a very Merry Christmas, filled with love, laughter and the voices of children, no matter what their age.

 

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