Reflection and Recuperation

Birthday season has ended at our house. As I sit at the computer on yet another cold winter night with glass of red wine in hand and think over this whole crazy month, I look back at February with a feeling of nostalgia. The highs and lows as well as the lessons learnt, memories cherished and let it all wash over one exhausted Mom of three or more.

This week’s theme is recuperation. My whole body feels as if it’s been on a permanent adrenaline rush and now that it is all over, I can finally feel tired. My brain is even so tired that this self-confessed television limiting mama relented today and let my exuberant and increasingly demanding toddler watch Sesame Street leaving the half-finished dishes in the sink. Cuddling with my little guy on the couch as he squirmed closer to me grasping me in a chokehold and grabbing my face to say, “Audrey crying again?” I knew there was no way I was going to our weekly tykes yoga class and permitted myself to doze in between squeezes from a pair of chubby little arms.

The weather seems to mirror my mood. Gray and wet with snow falling in between large raindrops, it is the worst part of the winter season. However, it has been one amazing month. Even through the huge to-do lists and stressing about loot bags, I tried not to lose focus on the important thing, ensuring each of my girls felt special and celebrated this month. Fortunately, I think we did that. Actually, with Valentine’s Day thrown into the mix and my decision to celebrate it this year with the family, I hope everyone in our family ends February feeling a little more special.

More winter

More winter

Having kids with birthdays so close together can mean many things. Fights between siblings about who received the better presents or had the bigger party. Having to slowly wean my children off the belief that cake, cupcakes, chocolate hearts and leftover Christmas candy is not a third food group can be daunting. My own stomach is starting to reject the sugary temptations that still litter my kitchen cupboards.

My body may complain of sore shoulders and arms from carrying bag upon bag of food for parties, juice boxes, and presents back home but all of these things are unimportant when I hear Audrey say to me, “This was the best birthday ever!” Or when I saw the look on Elizabeth’s face as she splattered paint all over herself and her friends.  The look of awe and excitement in their eyes on Valentine’s Day morning when they discovered I had decorated the table and they could have chocolate with breakfast. These are the memories I hope they will cherish. Not the few times Mommy snarled at them to get ready faster as I tried to find my breath to calm down repeating the favorite phrase of Frank Costanza, “Serenity Now! Serenity Now!”

I hope they remember the carefully written cards I had placed with their now cherished (and put away for weekend use) new iPad Minis  that Mr. L insisted on buying them. Cards with cursive writing where I told them how much they were loved and cherished by their parents and how proud we were of them both. It is hard to believe these two girls are now seven and five years old. Smarter than I will ever admit and more loving than I give them credit for, Mr. L and I have now entered the era of the girl. I only hope their little brother survives it without being paraded in the neighbourhood dressed as a girl in order to amuse his two older sisters. What girls would do that?

The girls

The girls

Have I mentioned I also come from a three-child family? Two girls and a boy. My father said it best tonight as I complained about having to pick-up and dry three pairs of soggy mittens, an age-old adage that is so true, “what goes around, comes around.”

But how will I remember this past February? Full of birthday parties, surprises and balloons that are still bouncing around our floors? Or a time when a whole group of people, family, friends, neighbours and schoolmates came together to celebrate birthday after birthday. Where at a birthday party full of thirty-one children I had hands to help without even asking. At a family get-to-gether post birthday madness as I zipped around my house pouring drinks for immediate family and ensuring all the food was ready I saw my brother and sister who have been at odds for the past year finally have a proper conversation. Where cousins snuck off together to plan the best way to get us to open all the presents at once.  What I will take away from this busy, crazy and fun-filled month is a feeling of thankfulness. Thankful that my family is fortunate to have this many people who care about my girls being happy.

As we leave February behind (and hopefully winter as well) and enter into a new month it is with a resigned notion that although I got through one of our family’s busiest months intact, the hustle and bustle of holiday/birthday season will be missed.

What are your memories of February?

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Another day. Another birthday.

Feb 22, 2013

It is snowing lightly and I remember heading to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning. Torn between not wanting to leave Elizabeth who had just turned two but leaving her in the capable hands of our live-in caregiver at the time, Mr. L and I entered the phase of our lives where our little family was about to become larger. The only pregnancy that was not fraught with health complications although painful sciatica and grumpy emotions, Audrey was not in a hurry to arrive and the planned c-section was as close to forty weeks as possible. Not being an emergency, we were bumped for a poor woman who had labored for forty plus hours. Finally, into the OR I was wheeled and in no time, we had a mad, screaming tiny 6 lbs 6 oz baby. She quietly settled in my arms and nestled in. At one point during our hospital stay I told Mr. L, this one came out mad and she will not be afraid to state her feelings.

Five years later, my passionate, life-embracing superhero has tested my patience as a person but is also the most loving and life-filled child. When she smiles and welcomes you into her circle, you run with open arms. When she bats her big brown eyes at the little boys, they all scramble to play with my curly-haired ball of energy.

Younger girl

Younger girl

When planning her birthday for this year, she was insistent we invite her whole kindergarten class. No pleading to perhaps invite just the junior kindergarten class or only the girls would do.

“But Mom,” she pleaded “I play with Amar and Grae and Emma. How do I choose?”

Her list of social acquaintances are huge and in truth when watching her, she does bounce from boys to girls to her age group and older. Always ready for a lively game of tag or hide and seek she can switch between playing house to superhero ninjas without batting an eye.

So, we invited the whole class. All twenty-eight students. In an attempt to include cousins and family friends for both girls we decided to invite the world. At the end, we had thirty-one kids confirmed. Thankfully the location we chose was an indoor playground and we smartly made the decision to have it private, meaning the whole facility to ourselves for two hours. Little Goobers is the place to go for young kids who have huge parties! It is clean, safe, huge and reasonably priced.

In any case, my Audrey was the happiest five year-old running between different social groups while eating pizza and cake. Her proclamation that it was the “best birthday party ever!” was well-worth the effort.

Having pizza

Having pizza

Whenever I think of Audrey turning five, I see elements of the girl she will become. Although still emotional and dramatic, she is starting to learn how to express herself and is very much considerate and kind to those around her. Her sensitivity to her own feeling and those around her will serve her well. Her ability to stand up for herself as well as the focus and drive to get what she wants will shape her into a force to be reckoned with.

When people ask me how I picture my little girl, I tell them, “a hockey player in a tutu.” A girl who loves Barbie and princesses but can knock down anyone who stands in her way. How much do I admire these things about her!

Happy Birthday my younger girl! May your year be full of fun, more laughter (and less tears) and love.

A Birthday Wish For a Daughter

Feb 20, 2013

Birthday week is in full swing at our house. The last couple of weeks have flown by as I order party balloons from Party City, double-check RSVP lists, hide secret presents and organize loot bags from The Loot Lady. As much I like planning things for the kids, this is exhausting! But only four more days and my reward at the end will be a huge glass of wine, putting my feet up and a bubble bath. I already have Sunday night planned out, unless I fall asleep.

Not only do Elizabeth and Audrey have their birthdays and parties this week, we started festivities for other birthdays last weekend with an adult only dinner for my Mom and a quiet but hour-long drive to my in-laws for my father-in-laws birthday. The month of February is worse than December in some ways and I do not look forward to opening up all those credit card bills in March! On top of all of this, RRSP contributions and taxes need to be handled as well as organizing all the kids spring and summer activities. Needless to say, strategies for trying to keep calm and organized are key for me this month.

However, today is my elder girls’ special day. Elizabeth is growing up so fast, I seem to barely be able to hang on to try to remember the moments when she will still crawl into my lap or bite my lip in frustration and then amusement as she tells me “I’m brushing my hair myself – it hurts when you do it!”

Once in a while I catch a glimpse of the girl she will become. A certain phrase or look on her flawless olive complexion which is wise beyond her years, and then she hears “Gangam Style” starts shaking her bum in an awkward dance in all of her uncoordinated merriment and I see how young she still is. Her innocence is precious to me and I protect it all costs. She has never known real hurt or disappointment. She has been loved and cherished by those around her. A girl who questions everything and is curious about life and loyal to those she loves. She reminds me of a pleasant summer’s day basking in sunlight and singing off-tune a pop song she heard somewhere.

My favourite memory of her from this past year is after school one day late spring when the weather was pleasantly warm, she got out her bike as we went to pick-up her younger sister from the nearby preschool. With her blue helmet on and streamers flowing from the handles, she did not care her training wheels were still on or she was getting a bit too big for the bike. Hopping on she began leisurely pedalling down the street, ensuring to stop at every corner until I caught up pushing Jacob in the stroller.  Telling her it was okay to go ahead I noticed her weaving back and forth on the sidewalk. Worried she would tip over I picked up my pace only to hear her well-projected voice singing as she looked all around her clearly enjoying the moment.  Hanging back, I watched her as she slowed down and then sped up again until finally she stopped and without a care in the world went to pick up a few dandelions scattered across the grass. She did not care we had to be anywhere, in that moment she probably did not even remember. All she cared about was her bike, her song and the dandelions. My birthday wish for her as she turns seven is that she keeps some of that wonderment as the world (including myself) pushes her onwards. Happy Birthday my elder girl!

Elizabeth at Jack Astor's. Her choice for bday dinner.

Elizabeth at Jack Astor’s. Her choice for bday dinner.

How Sweet It Is

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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It is the day when we show our loved ones how much we appreciate them. Full of hearts, flowers and candy we try to capture the sweetest things in one full day. As a child I remember the excitement surrounding chocolate Hershey kisses and those cinnamon hearts as candy-grams were delivered to each classroom. The anxiety as I crept into adolescence about who would send me one and who would not. A couple of years in high school I remember a matching game, where you answered random questions and then on Valentine’s Day, based on your compatibility your “matches” were sent to you for girls to giggle over all spit out by a new fangled computer.

Valentine’s Day has been fairly quiet since high school. Mr. L not growing up in the sometimes commercial holiday bonanza that is North America, had a really difficult time accepting he married a woman who relishes and deep down expects some sort of token from her sweetheart. Some years I received a card alongside a box of chocolate he picked up at the local convenience store on the way home in an attempt to celebrate the day. Other years I received beautifully expensive bouquets, never fully living up to the pictures online. Giving him props for trying, I had accepted that Valentine’s Day was just a typical day and if anything was given, it would be a bonus. Until this year.

Reading Gretchen Rubin’s – Happier at Home, she described how she took charge of these emotional days and made them fun for her family. Having a revelation of my own, I thought, “Why should I have to wait for others to do something? I can do something.”

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Taking a page from this awesome book, I decorated the table the night before and made tiny croissants with chocolate drops melted into gooey goodness for breakfast. The girl’s lunches had a few sweets added and you know what? It was a wonderful start to the day! That happy feeling knowing my kids were excited about Valentine’s Day and just doing something for everyone to make things a little more festive is something I think we should have more of in our everyday lives. After school the kids excitedly went through every single valentine they had received and as I tucked them into bed that night, they told me it was the best day ever.

So this year, I hope you celebrated Valentine’s Day in your own special way and had a wonderful day!

Glass of wine please.

A crisp glass of chardonnay sits aside my mouse as I take the first deep breath the whole day. It has been one of those days where I feel as if a piano has landed on my chest and if I move ever so slightly, it may crush me. And yes, it is nearly 11:00 pm at night.

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Audrey coming off an epic weekend of dramatic encounters of the third kind, was still in the midst of trying to control those nearly five-year old emotional outbursts. Before I had a chance to take a sip of my lukewarm coffee this morning, we had endured screams about having to wake-up, her toast was cut into four squares instead of two triangles and then I made the mistake of asking her to get dressed to leave for school. Both girls seemed to have left their listening ears off  as they sauntered downstairs albeit dressed and proceeded to ignore the hot breakfasts I had placed on the kitchen table in favour of discussing when spring would arrive and planning where to place their newly acquired fairy door.

Raised voices later, as I tried to get Jacob ready hoping the girls would rally and get behind me in conquering Monday morning, they proceeded to argue over something. Elizabeth fully dressed egging on her younger sister and distracting her. Exasperated with both of them, I pulled the zippers down on their knapsacks, removed the popcorn money I had carefully placed  in their knapsacks and envelopes containing their Scholastic book orders the night before and informed they as of right now, they had lost all such luxuries until such a time I saw a huge improvement in their listening abilities.

Finally with all three bundled in the van, Audrey was ten minutes late for school. The ever calm Ms. M (best ECE teacher ever) took my crying girl inside nodding as I explained she was upset as she lost her popcorn money for the day. Calmly explaining that Mommy was right, she had made poor choices in her behaviour that morning, she smiled at me telling me it was okay to leave. Kissing Audrey’s sweaty curls, I told her I loved her and I was going to be at the school volunteering later that morning (for popcorn day actually) and I would check in with her then. She did not even look at me.

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After another lecture to Elizabeth en route to her school on the importance of listening in the mornings and not bothering her siblings on the way to her school, she nodded solemnly saying, “Yes Mommy. You’re right Mommy.” like a robot on auto-repeat.

Debating whether an automated response system was better than actual emotion, I chose to let things be and finally with Jacob’s little voice echoing in the quieter van, “my turn?” I took him to his school where after many “hold me tight!” proclamations I finally made it to my volunteer position at Audrey’s school.

From that moment forward, the rest of the day sped by with delivering popcorn, rushing home to put the crock pot dinner on, picking up Jacob, lunch, nap and domestic chores while packing up skating items and prepping Jacob’s snacks and dinner for the babysitter.

Yes,  a babysitter! After many searches, we are trying out a successful candidate who did not run at my rambunctious bunch and seems to be a very kind, patient and general good person. She also does not charge an exorbitant amount. (See Desperately Seeking Resonably-Priced Babysitter)  Booking her Monday nights for the next couple of months while I take the girls skating seemed to be a lightbulb idea. The last few weeks taking Jacob have been nothing less than exhausting, manageable but exhausting keeping him away from random skate blades and ruining his attempts to get onto the rink yelling, “my turn!”

Catching up with Mr. L after the house is tidied, everything is prepped for the next day, dishes are finally done and lunches packed I relayed a rather elaborate story Elizabeth had shared in the van on the way to skating about a possible bullying incident on her bus. Concerned as this was her second time brining up being picked on by older boys, at the time I reminded to use her “Stop it! I don’t like that!” phrases, then tell an adult and finally that perhaps a note to the bus company/driver and Vice-Principal at her school would be a good idea. She resisted the idea coming up with her own plan on how to deal with the issue. Letting it sit for a bit, I checked the information to discuss with Mr. L later to get his input. Right away he seemed suspicious.

“How does she colour on the bus?” he asked.

Thinking for a minute, it dawned on me. Heading to our mud room to look into her knapsack, there was no paper or pencil crayons (or anything to draw with) both items that had been integral to her story. It appeared as if I had been duped.

“Wow,” I said to Mr. L returning to the kitchen. “She may have made it all up.”

Expressing our mutual concern over this new information, we decided to question her in the morning on where was the artwork she had been diligently working on seated in a bumpy bus. But part of me felt a little betrayed by my eldest daughter. If she had lied, not only had she made up an elaborate untruth, but could have potentially and inadvertently (as I do not believe she thought out the repercussions of such a lie) had me storming to her school’s office demanding they address the bully issues on her bus. Bullying is a serious issue and one which should not be taken lightly. Foolishly I had believed she had listened when we and her school had discussed bully issues. Well, perhaps she listened too well to the stories.

Mr. L although gravely concerned about her possibly lying, he was more concerned about the “Boy who cried wolf” factors rather than the lie itself.

“After all,” he proclaimed, “I lied as a kid all the time to get my parents attention and my Mom to fawn all over me.” Looking at him in shock and realizing you do indeed learn new things about your partner all the time, I huffed back,

“Well, I never did that!”

So, a glass of wine before bed tonight seems warranted as I marvel at the wonder of parenting and all that we have to manage. Tantrums, emotions and even tall tales. Learning how to tune into one child and manage them to attempting to teach another a very important moral lesson all while fighting a two-year old to put back on the shirt he has somehow managed to pull down to his hips because he is “too hot!”

Snow Day!

February 8, 2013

The countdown is on until Elizabeth’s 7th and Audrey’s 5th birthdays! This upcoming week is going to be full of chasing down final RSVPs, ordering cakes/cupcakes and buying decorations/loot bags for two different parties.  On top of that it is Valentine’s Day and my Mother’s birthday this week. As I have mentioned before, February is our family’s busiest month. That extra cup of coffee I am having after my quiet dinner may be well needed as I plan my to-do list.

Friday was a snow day. A massive storm piled 25 centimetres of snow in our front yard so Mr. L and I made the best of it. Heeding the warnings the night before of a possible shut down of well, everything, I awoke on Friday morning, pulled the sheer curtain back and seeing the blowing snow and the cedar tree in our front garden starting to bow in surrender to the mountain of snow in its boughs, I went back to bed snuggling under our warm blankets. A little while later our phone rang and the automated message confirmed my suspicion stating, “A message from your school board. Schools in your district will be closed for the day.”

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The kids were so excited to be out of their routine. Breakfast in pj’s! Playtime! No rush to go anywhere. Mr. L had wisely moved a meeting and had decided to work from home but even he was slow moving as his first conference call was mid-morning.So they played hide and seek while I did some mandatory clean-up with Jacob following his older sisters pretending to cover his eyes and count. I think he was the most excited to have playtime with his sisters. After a refereed version of the game, we baked blueberry muffins, something I had been trying to do all week and now had time, wrote out valentines for school and then all had a bit of downtime.

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We had arranged to meet a couple of other neighbour families outside mid-afternoon in hopes the snow would slow down (and to put the kids to work shovelling the driveways) and Mr. L joined us. The snow was so high in some areas, Audrey and Jacob could not move as they waded into the soft, but cold winter wonderland.  With the winds starting to pick up again and the snow still coming down, we decided it was time to head indoors where I had prepared hot chocolate, muffins and cookies for the “Waldie Street Crew.”

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The scavengers went to work on the spread as Mr. L disappeared for another work call and the Moms settled onto the brown leather couches relaxing as the kids bounced from the rec room back upstairs to the kitchen for one more sip of hot chocolate, J. casually mentioned, “you realize you have seven young kids running around your house right now?”

“It’s fine.” I responded with a smile knowing that the rest of my day would be full of tidying up nearly every room of the house. “As long as they have fun. How many times do you get a snow day?”  Hearing the air hockey table being turned on in the rec room and watching Jacob grab a half-eaten oatmeal chocolate chip cookie from a random plate running for the basement leaving a trail of crumbs behind him to join the big kids (who were deciding between watching cartoons or teaming up for a tournament), I felt lucky we were all safely snuggled inside on a snow day with the only worry being whether I would have to vacuum the entire house again, or just the kitchen floor.

Adventure and Relaxation – a parents dream! Part One.

Imagine, standing on a ski lift similar to a moving sidewalk and around you is the magic of large, fluffy white snowflakes gently drifting. The sky is awash in misty grays with streaks of blue. Your white ski helmet is covered with snow and it is cold out. You know it is cold because the bite of the wind on your uncovered cheeks. However, the rest of you is pleasantly warm snuggled into ski pants and jacket. Around you are other people, all on skis and snowboards, enjoying the winter wonderland and joy of skiing on such a wonderful day.

It is fairly silent with the freshly fallen snow insulating most of the noise except for the occasional “swoosh” of a nearby skier who has come close to the lift you are riding. Around you are hills and mountains peppered with trees lifting their branches as a child would to catch a snowflake. Then you hear it, “DAAAADDDDYYYYYYY!!!” It is the screech of a child’s voice from the bottom of a nearby hill. Again, “DADDDDDYY!!” echoes and you look behind you to see a fairly young child on skis stomping his two feet the best he can, fairly mad that his Dad has not yet reached the bottom of the hill. The person behind you (that you cannot really see as you cannot move on the lift) starts chuckling and then another and before you know it, a line of people are all laughing so hard at this little spitfire watching as his Dad skis down the hill his hands and poles raised in the air in apparent exasperation as the child continues to yell. Wiping a tear from my eye with a thick waterproof mitten I casually say to no one in particular, “and that is why our children are at home.”

Thus starts our adult weekend away skiing at Blue Mountain in Collingwood.

Ski Weekend

Ski Weekend

In general I enjoy taking my children with us to new places. I also enjoy a night or two away to recharge and sleep. Mr. L and I do not get away very often but when the opportunity arose with friends to go on a spa and ski weekend, we could not turn it down. Over the years I have found that getting away once in a while really helps Mr. L and I catch-up as a couple. Being parents to three or more, you more often than not are outnumbered and generally exhausted. Most days Mr. L and I manage to have a brief conversation before he escapes to our make-shift at-home gym while I write, play catch-up on everything and prepare for the next day. By the time we are both done our respective activities, one of us are dozing or in bed trying to re-charge our batteries. We have tried at home date nights and movie nights but as parents to young kids, oftentimes we are interrupted by someone in need of a hot water bottle, glass of water or who is not feeling well. We try to fit date nights in when we can. So, a night or two away is a delicious treat and indulgence that we fit in not too often (as our youngest is only two years old) but often enough that we have come to rely on them to help “save our sanity.” We look at these opportunities as a chance to relax and try new things together. This time it was skiing.

We are fortunate to live near some very nice but not too intimidating ski hills. A very popular resort town is simply called, Blue Mountain located in Collingwood, Ontario. A four-season resort town  in Northern Ontario, it has grown over the past ten years into a very pleasant weekend destination for singles, couples and families.

Mr. L is not a winter sports enthusiast. He weathers winter like an animal in hibernation, happy to stay indoors and very rarely participating in winter activities. He has yet to build a snowman, does not see why a winter walk is a good idea and counts the days until the weather is back up to a pleasant 15 degrees celsius. This year we took the kids tobogganing for the first time and he enjoyed it. Building on this momentum, when a ski weekend was suggested complete with lessons for all of us he reluctantly agreed caught up in the enthusiasm of the other three participants. He bought ski gear and hiding his nervousness concentrated on the other things he could enjoy like the restaurants, couples massage at a nearby spa and adult only time.

Arriving last Friday, our first planned activity was snowmobiling through Blue Mountain Activities. The bitter winds coming off the coldest couple of weeks this winter season, we were very appreciative of the snow mobile suits and zipped ourselves in after checking in and receiving mandatory helmets. Although delayed due to mechanical issues, the  hour ride was pleasant for first time snowmobilers and Mr. L (in the driver’s seat) managed on the well utilized path following the lead snow mobile. Although pleasant, next time I will take my own vehicle to avoid the jerky turns and bumps a back seat passenger endures! Our friends had done this activity a couple of years before and expressed disappointment the route wasn’t through the hills that had amazing views. The snow-covered fields though practical for less experienced drivers, was a little boring after the first thirty minutes and lower lying areas were awash in mud puddles from a recent thaw.

On the snowmobile!

On the snowmobile!

After snowmobiling, we drove a short distance to the Scandinave Spa. A series of hot and cold pools, this nordic day spa is popular for its water therapies. We had booked couples massages and arrived early, as recommended, to enjoy the full benefit of the therapeutic waters. Dusk was descending as we arrived and the steam from the hot pools floated lazily across the outdoor spa grounds. Wooden huts peppered the area and the silence was very welcome after the loudness of the snow mobile engines.

Scandinave Spa

Scandinave Spa

The reception was timely and friendly inquiring if we had come directly from snowmobiling. When asked how he guessed, he slyly smiled and said, “There is a certain aroma people carry after an hour of snowmobiling.”

Turning to each other we shrugged and then a certain odour became apparent. Gasoline fumes permeated off the four of us and seemed etched into every fold of our clothes. Grabbing our towels and robes, we headed to the large change rooms to disrobe, air out our clothes and get into the pools.

The water therapies at the Spa are  “widely recognized for their energizing and relaxing properties, there are many benefits associated with baths and hydrotherapy. In addition to cleaning the body, they improve blood circulation and promote the release of endorphins, known as the “well-being hormones.” More specifically, endorphins can help improve one’s physical condition and enable attainment of a better quality of life.” (Directly from the Scandinave Spa)

We were instructed to hit a heat source (hot pool, steam room or sauna), followed by a cold immersion and then a rest period in one of their relaxing rooms.

After finding hooks and disrobing we hurriedly got into the first hot pool. Chatting together, we were soon warned by the manager our voices were carrying and as the spa was for relaxation and silence we needed to significantly lower our voices. Glaring at Mr. L (who has a naturally loud way of speaking), we resorted to whispers or simply floating in the warm waters watching as dusk quickly turned to night. The only sounds were very low whispers of those people we could glimpse in between the constant patches of fog and steam rising from the water and the soothing hum of the waterfalls. Trying to follow the spa etiquette closely, we all decided to take the full experience of the spa and attempt the cold plunge. Interestingly, one is not too cold first coming out of a hot pool on a freezing evening, until your toes hit the coldest water making you wonder if it is possible to get hypothermia when in this water for even a minute. As you continue to immerse yourself, your body is in shock. Fighting my body’s initial flight response away from the icy dip, I pushed myself into the pool waist deep breathing deeply, splashed my face and arms and quickly grabbed my robe and slippers muttering obscenities under my breath in the quietest way possible. Careful not to run or allow my teeth chatter to bother another patron, we headed into one of the relaxation rooms.

The relaxation rooms were warm with rows of comfortable muskoka chairs. Encased by large  windows one could rest while looking out into the woods or simply drift into sleep. These heated rooms allow a rest period and let your body absorb the benefit of the hot/cold therapy.  After a period of rest, you repeat the cycle trying to ignore the frozen bath robes and towels as you move from a heat source (hot pool, sauna or eucalyptus steam room) to the cold immersion to a rest period. After our third cycle, it was time for our massages. Heading to the massage rooms, we all relished in the warm beds with heating pads and drifted off for a nap under the expert hands of our therapists.

Overall the Scandinave Spa was a very enjoyable experience and we will definitely return. One can only imagine the magical effect a place like this can have in aiding in relaxation and rest to its patrons. It certainly was a restful way to end a busy day. Next time, I may recommend (during the winter months anyway), a heating rack for people with robes. An icy and wet robe is not conducive to relaxation or warmth in the cold Ontario winters!