The month of love

I’m not generally a big Valentine’s Day fan. It’s too commercial and I’d much rather get flowers on a random day than anytime around a holiday.  Sure, Robyn and I have some traditions for V-day, like buying a new specialty box of chocolate each year to enjoy together and going into Boston to get Burdick’s hot chocolate, but that is the extent of our V-day celebrations.  However, when you have a child, you are always looking for a way to make them feel special (year round) and I found something that happens to fit in well with the month of February.

I’m not sure where I found this, probably Pinterest, but I remembered that I saw something where someone cut out hearts in different colors and wrote down compliments for their child and then put one on their door each day for the month of February, so when they woke up, there was a new message for them to read. Since February is “the month of love” and also Ashton’s birthday month, I thought this was a really cute idea to do with Ashton to let him know how much he is loved and appreciated by Robyn and I.  It also tied in nicely with his preschool and their “kindness curriculum” the past two months.

So, I got to cutting out 29 hearts in pink, red and white and wrote things on them like  “You are kind,” “You are smart,”  “You have great ideas,” “We believe in you,” and “We love you.”

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I have loved hanging his hearts on his bedroom door each night after he has gone to bed and hearing about them when I pick him up from school in the evening.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to be woken up to a new surprise each day that let them know all the great things others feel about them? What a great way to start each morning, right?

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In a day and age where things are so busy, so structured, everyone is so pressed for time, people don’t take the time to let those in their lives know how they feel, it’s important to me that Ashton always knows how much Robyn and I love and appreciate him, and that while we have very small family, he always has him Mama and Dad to be there to support him.  This was just a small, fun way to do that and for us to celebrate the month of love at the same time!

 

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Question of the day

Do you celebrate Valentine’s day?  How do you let the ones you love know you care outside of “commercial” holidays?

Fixing Ashton’s foot

**Warning: this is a bit of a long post**

Back in late 2014, Robyn and I started to notice that Ashton’s right foot was turning in a bit, it was nothing drastic, but we noticed it from time to time while he was walking.  We talked to his pediatrician who took a look at it and said to keep an eye on it and if it continued, we would send him to a specialist. Flash forward to this summer and while on a hike, Ashton ran ahead of us and we both turned to each other after seeing a much more prominent turn of the foot. I told Robyn we needed to get it looked at now, I didn’t want to wait anymore and he agreed.

That was on a Saturday and on Monday morning I immediately called my amazing podiatrist and asked if he saw toddlers, thankfully he did. He was able to squeeze me in that week due to a cancellation and Robyn, Ashton and I showed up in his office to get to the bottom of this problem and fix his foot.  He asked us some questions and then put Ashton though a bunch of movement tests.  Thankfully, there was nothing SERIOUSLY wrong with him.  What he did have was a slight weakness on his right side, mainly in his hips, which he thought he could quickly address with a small tweak.  Of course, when he said that I was thinking the worst. Does he need surgery? What kind of tweak?  But it was something much simpler…we needed to get Ashton into minimalist, zero drop shoes.  What?? That’s it?

Dr. Feldman taught us that the worst thing we can do is put our kids in hard soled, heavily structured shoes (which is basically what we have been told to do for YEARS.)  He said this is counterproductive and that we want children barefoot as often as possible (which was great since we always have him barefoot at home), and when that is not possible, they should be in ultra-thin soled, zero drop shoes to allow proper alignment and the ability to actually feel the ground below them.  That was Ashton’s problem, it was his foot’s lack of sensory ability to feel the ground because his shoes were TOO supportive.  He said he sees countless people (children and adults) that have problems with their feet and knees because they have been in overly structured shoes their entire lives and their bodies try to adjust to the shoes, instead of moving naturally as we were designed to do.

He then used the example of how people always use watching young kids run barefoot as being the prime example of how we are supposed to move. Now if that is how we are SUPPOSED to move, then why do we put ourselves in shoes that do everything to stop us from moving this way? The way we were born to move?  We talked a bit about the minimalist movement in running (since he is a distance runner) and all the points he made, made perfect sense, but goes against everything we have been told over the course of the last few decades.  However, the tides are changing and there is so much more research and science behind this minimalist movement.

He said at Ashton’s age,  we should have him in shoes that are soft to allow a natural foot function and that the soles should bend easily at the toe joints because this is where the foot is designed to bend to recreate the arch on take off.  They should have a zero drop which will enhance his lateral movement since the foot will not be up on a platform or have a slope from heel to forefoot, and that they should have a wide toe box so the toes can naturally spread.

Of course, after this information overload, I asked if he could recommend a shoe that had all of this.  His answer was Vivo Barefoot shoes.  He said this was all his young children wear and that was all I needed to hear.  I was sold and bought Ashton his first pair as soon as we got into the car post appointment and we had them in hand in less than a week!vivobarefootHe also wanted us to schedule a consult with a PT for Ashton to ensure there were no other imbalances in his body. The podiatrist works very closely with my amazing PT Mike and he was able to get him into see him a month later and we scheduled a follow-up appointment with Dr. Feldman in December.

Well, within a few days of Ashton wearing the shoes we saw a change.  By the time we went to see Mike to go through the PT evaluation, he couldn’t see any turn in on the right foot. He also put him through about 30 minutes work of drills to evaluate all his movement and he came out with perfect scores.

We had our follow-up appointment last week with Dr. Feldman and he said there is no turn it at all anymore and that the shoes were clearly working!  He fixed Ashton’s foot with the right pair of shoes–crazy right?  We talked a lot about his shoes since his feet are getting so big (he jumped 2 sizes in 6 weeks and then another size about a month later! Yeah, buying shoes for him has been awesome!) and the fact that I love the Vivos but they keep a very low stock of their little kids shoes and in between two pairs, we had to get him a pair of Nikes to hold him over because they were out of stock. He recommended Altras or something similar (as long as its zero drop).  Ashton should be able to size into the Altras soon if his current foot growth is any indication and we may give those a try next!

It’s incredible how drastically Ashton’s movement patterns changed once he was out of the Nikes and New Balances and into the zero drop shoes.  We have learned so much through this experience, most notably that proper shoes make all the difference and moving forward, Ashton will continue wear zero drop shoes…strong feet=happy feet!

Have a good day!

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Question of the day

Anyone else wear zero drop shoes? What shoes do you wear to run and for leisure? Did you know you shouldn’t put babies/kids (or anyone for that matter) in structured shoes?

My first “race” of 2015

Hey friends, happy Monday!  Surprised to hear from me??  🙂  It’s been crazy, I know, but that is life…it’s crazy, messy and beautiful.  Anyways, I have some exciting news…I ran my first “race” of 2015 last week!! Back in December my sister texted me asking if I wanted to do a Rugged Maniac race with her.  I have never run a race with my sister (we were planning to do the Tough Mudder last year but she was seriously injured and needed major surgery so that was postponed) so I of course said yes.

Well, weeks went by and finally last Sunday it was race time.  I think this is the first year since I started running that I didn’t run a race until almost the end of the year–eek!  I will use “race” loosely for this specific event because they didn’t time you with chips (unless you bought them for extra $).  This kind of race is more about having fun and doing the obstacles, rather than getting a PR on a course. ( I am sure there are some that were there to really compete, but I would say 95% of the people there were in groups doing it for pure fun.)

In general, I don’t usually do these kinds of events.  I have done one Spartan race before (back in 2010) and while I had a great time with friends, I found it to be pricey for a 5k and would have rather spent that money on a road or trail race (which are usually much cheaper too!) However, my sister loves these kinds of races and I was happy to do this with her.

So, on Sunday morning I woke up and headed the 40 minutes down to her house where we met up with some of her friends and headed to Southwick.  When we arrived, we had to pay $10 a car to park.  This kind of annoyed me since the race is not cheap (prices start at $49 and go up to $110) and then you have to pay to park, pay if you want a timing chip, etc.  It seems like they nickle and dime you for everything additional, but whatever.  We parked, got out our bags stocked with towels and a change of clothing and walked to the registration table.

The check in was SUPER quick (less than 5 minutes,) we got our bibs and t-shirt and then headed to the bag check which was very quick too. I will say it wasn’t incredibly organized (it has a more relaxed feel) but it didn’t feel chaotic if that makes sense.

We had about 30 minutes to kill before our wave started so we walked around a bit and took a before pic!12079603_10206971573395126_8104998074988325023_nFinally, it was time for our wave to start.  We met up with a few more friends and before we knew it, we were off.  One difference I noticed in this race vs. the Spartan I did was that there were SO many more obstacles. There were 25 in this race, which at first seemed like a lot, but I really had such a blast doing them all.

There were a lot of back ups with all the people at the obstacles, which is why I think it would be super hard to actually try for a PR at a race like this, but going in with the “just have fun” mentality helped me a lot.  One HUGE plus to this race is that you get free race pics, this was the biggest perk in my opinion.  Here are some pics of us running over fire ( I LOVE this picture series)…

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Then going down the ridiculously high slide into water (check out Ashley’s face…she is terrified of heights–I can’t lie, I didn’t love the stomach drop either!)

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And then jumping into the mud pool!water pit collage

And…this is where I lost my favorite headband (total amateur move, I have no idea why I thought it was a good idea to wear it, but what can I do now?) Needless to say, its sitting in the bottom of a mud pit right now.  This was the one obstacle I was looking forward to the least, as we were fully submerged in the muddy water and I can’t pretend that I don’t hate the feeling of being so dirty, but it wasn’t AS bad as I thought it would be.  I also made sure to keep my mouth closed anywhere near water.  There was also a lot of sliding around on our stomachs in mud under barbed wire. Those weren’t as hard as I thought they would be since I am so short and a lot of scaling high walls–especially the last one where you literally had to sprint to get up as high on the wall as possible and have someone pull you over the top.

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One we scaled that wall, we had to go over a rope floor and climb down and we were at the finish.  The finish line was a cluster–this was the most unorganized finish line I have ever seen.  There were at least a hundred people packed in trying to get through the finish line.  It took us over 10 minutes to get through to get our medals.  They were giving out water and some cut up bananas and oranges that I skipped because I just wanted to get my bag so I could get cleaned up and into new clothes.

We went, took a few pics and then headed to the bag check area.

post race collage

After we got our bags (super quick process) we went over to the clean up area, washed up and got changed into clean clothes before heading over to the area where they had music and drinks. I grabbed a chocolate milk and the rest of our group had some beer (I’m not a beer drinker.) We stayed about 15 minutes or so and then headed out.  We had a 25 minute drive to my sisters and then I had to drive back home.

Overall, while there are some things about this race that were unorganized or annoying to me, for my first race of 2015 (and maybe my last?) I had a blast and I am really glad I did this race with my sister and her friends.

 

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Question of the day

Have you ever done a race like this?  Thoughts, experiences?

A fun night at the park {in pictures}

Hi guys–I know I’ve been MIA lately…I’m sorry and I miss you all terribly.  I am in my busy(est) season of work right now and most days I barely have time to eat, so blogging has really taken a back seat, but I just had to share with you some new pics of my little monster.

I am lucky to have a great friend of mine, Michelle, who is also a professional photographer and she offered to take some pics of Ashton for me, so one night late in August we headed out for a fun night at the park and this was the end result. I am absolutely in love with these pics.  I know I say it a lot, but I cannot believe I now have a 3.5 year old preschooler! This boy just melts my heart.

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I can’t even pick a favorite, I just love them all for different reasons. She was able to capture this silly boy perfectly.  Thanks Michelle, you are the best! <3

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Question of the day

What is new in your life?

A letter to Ashton on his first day of Pre-school

***I wrote this letter to Ashton on his first day of Pre-school last week, but didn’t post it, mainly because I spent most of the the day crying.  I’m better now! :)***

 

My sweet little monster,

Well, it’s finally here, your first day of pre-school!  I am certain that I am 100% more anxious about this than you. For the past 3.5 years, you went to Carolle’s house for daycare.  You loved Carolle and she loved you like you were one of her own children. I never worried about you with her. I knew you were safe, having fun, learning a ton, and most importantly being loved. Now, Daddy and I are dropping you off at real school. A place filled with teachers and children we don’t know. We are starting a schedule that is new for all of us. With that comes uncertainty and of course, a bit of anxiety for me (and maybe for you too!)  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to think Mama is unhappy, because I am not. I am really excited for you to start preschool because I know without a doubt you are ready for it. I know you will thrive in the new independence.  I know that you have been ready for this experience for a while, it was me who held off putting you in school last year because, well….because you are growing up so fast and I still look at you like you are my little, tiny baby who needs me for everything and I didn’t (and still don’t) want you to grow up so fast. I know growing up is inevitable and I know that there is only so much that Daddy and I can teach you in the evenings and on the weekends, there is just SO much for you to learn outside of what we can teach you.  There is this whole, great big world out there and I know you are ready to start soaking it all in and I am excited to watch this happen!

So, this morning when you are confused as to why Mama is home and waking you up, it’s because I took the day off of work today. I wanted to be able to drop you off on your first day of school (something Daddy usually does) and I knew I wouldn’t be able to go into work because there would be a lot of tears (mine not yours.) After I hug and kiss you and leave you at school…I have some hopes for you today, as you start a what will be many years of school and education….I hope that your first day is met with your usual zest and curiosity for life, I hope that you love your new teachers and meet some great new friends. I hope no one is mean to you.  I hope that you don’t get scared and cry because you are in a new environment that you are not used to. I hope you have fun and laugh and I hope you learn something new.  All day I will be wondering what you’re doing, if you are okay, if you are having fun, making friends, and eating your lunch. I know I worry too much, but how can I not–I’m your mama and I love you.

Always remember that no matter how old you are Ashton or how independent you become, you will always be my baby.  So go off my little monster, grow, learn, have fun and be awesome.  I can’t wait to pick you up and hear all about it tonight!

Love you always,

Mama

Here are a few pics of him on his first day!

Preschool collage

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Question of the day

Parents…does it get easier as the years go by?

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One Sentence per picture

Happy Friday my friends.  How are you all doing?  I am REALLY excited for the weekend and counting down the hours.  I have 20 minutes before my next series of meetings starts so I thought it was just enough time to check in and say hi.  I think today is a one sentence per picture kind of day, don’t you think?  I thought I’d share with you the last 10 pics I have on my phone and give you a little snap shot into my life lately, since I have been so great at posting 😉

              Pretending to ride a bear is actually pretty fun!

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Ending our weekend away on the best note possible!

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Meanest Mama award goes to me for not letting him play with electronics!

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This hasn’t happened since he was a newborn!

 

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A fun day at the park!

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The cure for a lazy summer day is a sand box and toys.

 

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We have a gnome living in our backyard tree.

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With this delivery,we now have every published Dr. Seuss book for Ashton!

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“Mama, you can’t catch me!”

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We break the rules and get the lollipop first!

 

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Well, that’s it for this edition of One Sentence per picture!  Have a great weekend!

 

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Question of the day

Tell me one good thing that happened to you this week!

Ashton’s first race

Hey friends, I hope you had a great weekend!   I am really excited to tell you all about Ashton’s first race yesterday. There is a local race near us called the Worcester Firefighers 6k that started back in 2000 after 6 firefighters lost their lives battling a fire at the Worcester Cold Storage.  Since it’s inception, this race has been a huge local draw.  They also offer a Youth 1k race (0.62 miles) and I thought this was the perfect first race for Ashton.  Not only would he get to race, but the money goes to a great cause, a win/win for me!

Yesterday morning we left the house at 10 am to drive to Institute Park in Worcester where we picked up his bib and shirt.  It was a super quick process and everyone was really sweet.  His first bib number was #792

2015-06-14 10.23.59He fueled for the race with a tootsie pop! Just kidding, he has chocolate chip pancakes that he and Robyn made earlier in the morning! 🙂  This race has a lot of fun features like a DJ, clowns, face painting, a moon bounce, a silent sports auction and a free BBQ in the park for everyone after the race.  

Since we had about a half hour to kill before the race, Ashton requested some time in the moon bounce so he got nice and sweaty before we even started the race! It was getting HOT (in was about 90 degrees when we started the race) so I was pumping him full of water to make sure he was hydrated and I got him all sun-screened up as well.

We spent some time watching the firetrucks raise the flag over the finish line, which was really amazing to see!

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Then, the MC called all the youth runners to the starting line and we made our way over there. I had to snap a few pics of him on the starting line.

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The MC for the race was awesome, she was getting the kids to sing and dance while we waited for the horn to go off.  Once it did, we were off!

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I love that the race has free pics, I love that it captured Ashton’s excitement as we started the race.  He wanted to hold my hand the whole time…who am I to argue with that??

He started off really strong but towards the turn around area, he was losing steam and saying how hot he was.  We stopped and I was carrying water for him just in case which I was glad I did.  He took quite a bit of water and then said he wanted to walk.  We walked for a little bit and then he asked me to carry him.  I didn’t want his first race experience to be a bad one, and it was SUPER hot out, so I grabbed him and started walking.   Then of course he said, “Mama, run with me!”  So, that is what I did…up a hill, with a  32 lb toddler on my hip. And…this is the picture of us crossing the finish line.

unnamedThe whole race was over in a matter of 4:35, but it’s a memory I will never forget.  We just ran our first of what I hope is many races together!

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Ashton said he had a lot of fun and asked if we would do it again….music to my ears!  I think we will wait until the Fall though, since running in this heat is not ideal.  After the race, none of us we up to sit out in the blazing sun to have a BBQ, so I grabbed Ashton a little ice cream cup and we headed back to the car to cool off and head home.

All in all, this was a really special race and I am just so happy to be able to share something I love so much with my boy.

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Question of the day

For the parents–have you raced with your kids?

For non-parents–do you remember your first race?

A bad week

I try to keep this blog light and fun, but let’s be honest, life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and one thing I am always is transparent, so you are going to hear a little bit of about the dark side of life and what I experienced last week.

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For those of you who have been with me for a while, we often talk a lot about balance and trying to find it in our everyday lives.  Lately I feel like I’ve been really slacking in this area of life.  Last week was probably one of the worst weeks I’ve had in my organization in almost 9 years.  As many of you guys know, a few months ago I took a new job within my organization.  When I started, there was a team of four of us. As of last week, I’m the only one of the original group still here. My boss took a “six-month rotation” in another group that has the potential to become permanent (I’m not actually expecting her to return,) one of my coworkers moved to another team and one suddenly quit last Friday leaving just me and a new “temporary”/potentially permanent boss with no marketing experience. Couple that with a very highly visible project that I had to have implemented by today and an agency that was late with all of their submissions and a review team that kept making changes, I worked late every single night last week and even throughout the weekend. I was stressed to the max, not sleeping well, and even had a tight neck from stress. That’s not much for balance if you ask me.

My breaking point however wasn’t so much all of this “other stuff” that was happening at work (although it definitely attributed to it) but rather the fact that on Thursday night as I was brushing our teeth with Ashton, he asked if I was going take a bath with him (he asks this question every single night during brush time) and I almost always say yes to which he responds, “Yay, that makes me so happy Mama!” However, my agency was late getting me something and I had a very quick window with which to review the piece and get it back to them, so I said that I couldn’t because I had to get some work done.  Well, he had a breakdown of epic proportions which made me feel like the worst person on the planet. This wasn’t one of his “I’m going to fake cry so I get my way” breakdowns, this was a gut wrenching, heart breaking sob. He kept crying and saying, “please Mama, I want you to take a bath with me, why don’t you want to take a bath with me, please Mama, please?”  Talk about a punch to the face.  Was my job really more important than spending 15-20 minutes in the bath with my son, something that I do almost every single night?  I was so stressed that I couldn’t see beyond this little boy asking his mama to spend time with him because I was so focused on just trying to get this work done that I completely crushed my little boys heart, talk about feeling like such a failure. I ended up saying screw work and took that bath with him and it was worth the additional 20 minute delay of not reviewing my work so that I could spend time with my boy.

I’d like to say that this was a one time incident at work, but these are the types of things that are happening more and more in my job and I’m struggling to find the right balance between doing my job, doing it well and also balancing night-time with my family. I know I’m not the only person who deals with these struggles, we all struggle with balance on many different levels, but I have never felt this bad at work, I can count on one hand the number of times in the past 8 1/2 years that I said I had a bad day at work.  Busy? Crazy? Chaotic? Yes, but not BAD.  Everything went to shit last week and it was so emotionally and physically hard on me that I literally collapsed on Friday night and I slept so hard that I don’t think I moved the entire night (which is a rarity for me). I don’t know what I’m going to do about this right now other than to try to strike a better balance between the number of nights that I have to work after I put Ashton to bed and trying to actually spend more than 5 minutes talking to Robyn at night and maybe even watch a show that we enjoy together.

I know that we are in a very busy time at work with launching new products and indications but this clearly is not the situation or the work/life balance that I signed up for when I took this new job. I’ve talked a lot to Robyn about the situation over the last couple days, which says a lot because we don’t typically talk work once we get home, but how long do you stick something out?  How does that timeline change when you really love the work you do but the environment is just chaotic? Is it like this everywhere in this function?

What I love about Robyn is that he sees things like this very black-and-white. It’s probably the only thing in life that he says there is no gray area for him, and that is family.  I guess if you’re going to see something black-and-white, the strength of the family and the importance of that is probably the thing that you want to see black-and-white. He just wants me to be happy, he wants me to come home and not be exhausted, he wants me to be able to enjoy my time with him and Ashton and not have to work every single night and feel stressed that my work needs to get done over spending time doing things together, and generally he wants me to just have more energy at the end of the day.

I don’t really know what I’m saying or what I’m going to do, it’s hard when you actually enjoy your job but the environment is just not exactly ideal.  I’m hoping that maybe in a couple of weeks things will settle down and get better, but I also can’t count on that either, so I may have to make some difficult decisions in the coming months.  I’m trying to be objective right now and open to seeing how these things play out.  I have to be realistic that it’s going to be uncomfortable for the next couple of weeks or months until my new boss gets his footing and we hire a new team member and I have to just try to go with the flow as best I can while trying to also maintain a balance at home of spending not just a certain quantity of time with my boys, but focusing on being present and the quality of the time I spend with them. Lately I’m so worried while I’m spending time with them about all that I have to get done after we put Ashton to bed that I’m not really living in the moment. I know a lot of us find ourselves looking to the future and not being present, but it something that I’ve been terrible about lately and I really need to focus more on the present instead of worrying about the next couple of hours.  This will not only help my sanity but be better for all of us. The last thing I want is for Ashton to have memories of me stressing out in front of him over work or picking work over spending quality time with him, because really, as much as I love my job, I love my son and my husband much more.

I would love any ideas opinions and suggestions on ways to find better balance because clearly it’s something I’m still struggling with.  It’s weird, I go through these ebbs and flows and I swear sometimes I have it under complete control and life seems to work like a well oiled machine and then something completely throws us off track and everything becomes so chaotic and I feel like I’m starting from square one again trying to regain that balance.

Okay, well that’s it folks. The good news is I do feel better this week. Things aren’t perfect, but I don’t feel like I’m in a constant state of flight or flight–so I guess that is progress, right?

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Question of the day

Suggestions? Any words of wisdom?

Our night at the Ice Hotel

Happy Friday my friends, today I have a long post for you, so grab a drink and sit back and relax! 🙂 So, last week I posted about a little getaway we took. A few months ago there was a Groupon for a deal we couldn’t pass up. It was for a night at the Hotel de Glace (which means hotel of ice) in Quebec. It was designed in similar fashion to the original ice hotel in Sweden, which we saw a documentary about many years ago.

Robyn and I have talked about wanted to go to an ice hotel ever since seeing that documentary.  The Hotel de Glace is the the only of it’s kind in North America, so it was much more convenient for us than hopping over to Sweden. However, it is also pretty pricey (usually $350+ per night), which always dissuaded us from going. However, this deal made it super affordable. I texted Robyn about the deal, asking if he wanted to go, fully expecting him to say no, mainly because we have never left Ashton before, but surprisingly he said yes. I immediately called my Mom to see if she would be free to travel to us and watch Ashton overnight. We knew that leaving him for the first time was going to be hard (for us) and we thought it would be easier for him to be in our house. My Mom of course agreed and we started planning our trip.

On Monday morning after Ashton had his breakfast, we headed out. We knew it was going to take us around 7 hours so we got comfy! The drive was pretty uneventful, the roads were fine and most of the time we were the only car on the road, I don’t think we saw more than a dozen or so cars for the first five or so hours of the trip. We made a stop for gas and lunch on Vermont before we crossed the border. I drove the first 5 ½ hours and then turned it over to Robyn to take us the last 1 ½ hours and I took a quick cat nap.

We arrived just before 5 p.m., checked in and made it just in time to get in on the last English tour of the night. Our tour guide Pierre was AWESOME and he talked about the history of the hotel, which was created in 2000, and each year the hotel changes its theme. In 2015, in celebration of the 15th anniversary, the theme was traveling through space and time. You could see this theme pulled through in every aspect of the hotel from the lobbies to the themed suites.

walls 2

walls 1

Pierre then went on to tell us how the hotel is constructed every year. First, they have to wait until temps are in the 20’s for two days in a row, which happened on Nov 15th this year. Then, the teams assemble metal forms for the walls that act as molds for the rooms that are filled with snow. Eventually the snow is packed tight and form walls that are 4 ft thick. They make the ceilings and various archways out of snow bricks. Each of the rooms, which include the bar, a two story ice slide, chapel (lots of marriages happen here each year–see below,) ice sculptures and the sleeping rooms are the created by artists and ice carvers.

wedding

He then went on to tell us about all the lighting in the hotel, which is mainly done via LED lights that don’t emit heat but provide great mood lighting.

lighting

The whole process of building the hotel occurs 24 hours a day for about 6-8 weeks and is a huge undertaking by everyone involved–but it is sure worth the effort as it was spectacular to see the details.

Inside the hotel, the temp is around 20 degrees. As we were walking around, everyone is bundled up. I have to say, it was warmer inside the hotel than it was outside. Let me tell you, we may have WAY more snow in MA than Quebec, but the temps in Quebec were in the negatives and it literally took your breath away. Now, I will admit that I am not the best judge of temperature because once the temps drop below 70 you can bet that the phrase “I’m so cold” comes out of my mouth at least twice a day, but in the 10 years I have been with Robyn, I have heard him say he was cold twice, yes only TWICE-and one of those times was during this trip. He is that guy that doesn’t wear a jacket in the Winter because he is never cold, so for him to say it was freezing, you know it was no joke! Thank goodness I had all winter running tops, hat and gloves on so I stayed pretty warm (see–all that money we spend on running gear can be used at other times!!)

After our tour, we were able to walk around all the grounds, which are left open to the public all day (including the sleeping rooms) until 8 p.m. when the staff prepare the sleeping rooms for the overnight guests. We took advantage of this and went into all the rooms taking over 100 pictures.  Don’t worry I won’t share them all, just a few so you get the gist.
rooms 1

After that we had to attend a mandatory training on how to prepare for the night in the ice hotel. They went over all of our gear, how to prep our sleeping bag, how to get in and out of it, things we should do prior to going to bed, like soaking in the hot tubs to get really warm and then completely drying off in the saunas and using the heated indoors facilities to get our clothes ready for the evening.

After our training was complete, Robyn and I decided to head into Quebec for dinner before coming back to the hotel for the evening festivities. We landed at a cool brew pub that makes their own beers and we both had a good meal (and Robyn ordered an awesome Maple dessert) before we headed back to the Ice Hotel.

dinner

Once we got back to the hotel, there was an ice carver outside preforming his magic!

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As part of our package, we got a complementary drink in an ice glass in the Quartz bar. You better believe we took them up on this! I got some fruity drink (mine was great) and Robyn ordered some special of the day (it was terrible) but it was really fun to drink from an ice glass–a first for both of us! Warning: the drinks we REALLY pricey, especially since you only get 2-4 sips.  Mine was normally $9 and Robyn’s was $12–those are expensive even by Boston standards!

drink at ice hotel

This bar was such a cool spot with little nooks all over the place for people to sit and enjoy their drinks. They even have a DJ playing music and people can dance on the dance floor.

bar

us at the bar

If you were to stay more than one night, you could also go snowshoeing, sign up for an ice workshop; have fresh maple syrup candy from their Sugar shack or go dog sledding among other things. Since we were only there for a short period of time, we didn’t partake in any of those activities.

If you don’t want to hang out in the hotel, wander the grounds or have a drink in the bar, you can head into the heated Celsius Pavilion where they have fires, board games and free Wi-Fi, along with popcorn, warm drinks and snacks.

After we had our drinks, we headed back inside to start preparing to go to sleep. We made sure we were completely dry, got all of our necessities and headed to our room where our sleeping packs were delivered and waiting for us. It was quite comical to get into the sleeping bags, Robyn made sure to document my attempts.

me in sleeping bag

I have to say, I was a bit skeptical about being able to stay warm in the sleeping bag since I am always so cold, but I was toasty warm. I followed all the directions the hotel gave us on what to pack, what layers to use, etc and it all worked perfectly. Sadly, I did not sleep well though, but that is of no fault of the hotel, I just cannot sleep well unless I am on my stomach with my hands over my head and clearly in the currently sleeping set up, that wasn’t happening! Robyn however slept like a baby!

We both ended up waking up just before 6 am and decided to quickly make a run for the Pavilion to get washed up (they have showers, hair dryers, etc) and then we had breakfast and checked out, anxious to get started on the long trek back home to see our little monster! We hit some traffic and had to stop for food because we both were getting HANGRY around 2 p.m., so it took us close to 9 hours to get home, but we both agreed this was an incredible experience that we would highly recommend to others who like adventure and off the beaten path kind of experiences!!

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Question of the day

Have you ever been to the ice hotel? Would you want to go? What is the coolest/most unique hotel experience you have ever had?

Three

Yesterday was Ashton’s 3rd birthday.  Three years.  While sometimes it feels like those years went by literally in the blink of an eye, there are other times that it feels like a lifetime.  He has changed our family so drastically that I almost forget what life was like before him.  When Ashton was born, I spent the first year writing down little everything and every month I would write him a letter with all the things he/we did together, the changes he went through, milestones, etc.  I would also write him a letter on his birthday with the hopes that one day he will sit and read what his mama had to say.

His second year I did the same thing with the monthly letters, but going into this year, I stopped the monthly letters mainly because a lot of it was repetitive and he isn’t changing as drastically week to week as he was from 0-2.  I still keep up with documenting important things like when he first used the potty (yes, theses are things that have gotten us really excited!) but I will always write him his yearly birthday letter.  So, I thought I would share with you his letter this year. But first, let’s look at him through the years! These are from 1 week old to 1, 2 and now 3 years! He has changed so much from the tiny little baby!

Ash 0-3

My little monster,

Today you are three! I can’t believe I just wrote that number.  Three years ago I couldn’t imagine getting to this day, it just seemed so far off.  The day you were born, coming into this world a month early and not by your own choice, was a shock and whirlwind of events.  The weeks following were filled with so much awe and love, but your Daddy and I were in pure survival mode, literally living in 3 hour time intervals, hoping we would make it to your next feeding, diaper change, nap.  We hoped we would get to a day when we would know what feeling well rested felt like again and that we wouldn’t mess up too much along the way….and here we are now three years later and life looks a lot different.

You have changed a lot in this past year, but they weren’t as much physical changes, although you are growing taller at an alarming rate, but more internal.  You have become your own little person with a great deal of personality and spunk.  You have very clear likes and dislikes (which sometime change by the day) and love to voice your feelings to us about these things. Your intellect amazes me daily and I love to listen to you talk. You count to 30, you know your ABCs, and you speak with such clarity and vocabulary that strangers often ask how old you are.  Where did you learn all these words?

You have never met a stranger, you try to befriend everyone you encounter by saying hi, telling them your name, which varies from just Ashton to Super Ashton, and how old you are, which is so ridiculously cute to watch.  Where did this chatterbox come from?  Neither your Daddy nor I would ever be labeled as chatty, but we love listening to your view of the world, what you see, how you are now making up stories and improvising with us,  and the way you relate to the world is incredible.  You have full on conversations with us and sometimes I sit back and wonder when all this happened. When did you become such a big boy?

You are incredibly perceptive to those around you, feeling when someone is sad or upset and you ask “Mama are you happy?”  And if I am sad, you try to make me laugh with a funny face or a hug and kiss.  You are most definitely a comedian, which both makes me laugh but worries me for the future. I already see you trying to get out of doing things with humor and you and your Dad are already ganging up on me, which means I am in for a long road with the two of you 😉  But you are also incredible sweet and loving, when you turn to me out of the blue and tell me you missed me today or that you love me and want me and follow it with a hug and a kiss and I melt.

You have a love of books, a hunger I hope you carry throughout your life.  You choose your own books and often recite the words while we are reading them, your favorite being pretty much anything by Dr. Seuss.  You can hold the phone and know how to call Gramma or your cousins to video chat and you will play with your trucks and trains for hours.  You love music and hearing your sweet voice singing in the back seat when we drive home from daycare fills me with such joy.  You also have some pretty sweet moves, which make me laugh when out of the blue you start dancing.

Over the past few weeks, you have honed your skills on how to throw an epic tantrum, which has both impressed, shocked and made us laugh.  Your face twists and turns red, your tears rolls down your face and you squeeze your eyes so tight.  I know that you are learning through your emotions, but it is terrible to see you struggle, even for the briefest of moments.  You constantly keep reminding me that you are a “big boy” now, but you are still so little to me. I secretly love that you still want to be carried often, even though I joke that within the next two years, you will be as tall as me.  I happily pick you up and carry you, knowing that far too soon; you will not want to be held by me. I cherish these sweet times because you can be incredibly challenging. You have brought me to tears with this part of your personality.  You have a strong will and that can frustrate me to no end, especially since you rarely are this way with Daddy. I know it’s not really your fault; it is ingrained in who you are because you inherited it from me.  It’s the fiery Irish and Italian in you.  I just hope as you grow and mature that you will put that fire into something worthwhile and positive.

You are totally a Daddy’s boy.  Daddy can do no wrong in your eyes and you would rather be with him over anyone else.  While this makes me sad sometimes, I understand it.  Daddy is so much more fun than I am and I hope as you grow, you take all the very best parts of him and make them a part of you.  I know my time will come.  I am still the one you cry for when you are sick or hurt, so that gives me a bit of hope for the future.

My sweet, sweet boy, you have made me a stronger, more forgiving and patient person and I thank you for all you teach me each and everyday because I certainly would not be me that I am right now without these past three years of you.  I love you Ashton Liam…to the moon and back!

Love,

Mama

I will leave you with a picture of Ashton that I took last night when he got his very first bike! Sorry the lighting isn’t the greatest, we moved our cars out of the garage so he could test it out!  He was a VERY happy boy!

ash on bike

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Question of the day

Tell me something good about your week–or just anything at all you want to share!