Family Winter Memories 2017

Hey, Readers!

It has been a while since I have shared some of the memories my family experienced during the beautiful seasons we experience here in Canada’s capital. Now that winter is about to make way for spring in just a few days, I thought I would let your in on some of our favourite moments of winter.


Reese Speaks Snowball Love Photo 2

Christmas held many fun memories for our family, but there is more to winter than the holiday season. It is about getting out and enjoying what this frozen season brings.

My other half dragged my butt away from my laptop on many occasions to get out for a run. It snowed on most days we tied up our runners to hit the trails. Though the white fluffy stuff made this workout a bit challenging to pull off, we were thankful for our shades and (somewhat) cleared paths to trek along. The best part about the snow was that it made the scenery around us beautiful, allowing us to marvel at the views around us.


Reese Speaks Running Canal Collage Photo


As the snow piled up in here in Ottawa, we were able to spend some fun times in our backyard oasis. The VPs had a ball marching around (because the snow was as high as my knee at times), flopping about and playing with snowballs together.


Reese Speaks Kids Winter Play Collage Photo


While the VPs were outside, I decided to have a bit of fun, too! I began embracing being in front of the lens more often. I used a handy tool to give me an assist to make some of these shots happen.


Reese Speaks Reese Snow Fun Collage Photo


The sun decided to smile on us many times this winter, giving us some unusually warm days. We got the VPs outside to hit the neighbourhood sledding hill. They loved racing down the hill on their sleds and could have stayed there all day long.


Reese Speaks Maya and Cous Sleeding Day Photo 2


There were also times we ventured away from our neighbourhood to take in winter in downtown Ottawa. I took the VP of Cuteness ice skating for the first time at City Hall and she did not want to get off of them.


Reese Speaks Maya Mom Skate Photo 2


We also took in Winterlude and some of the other sites while we were strolling around the area. I was even able to snap a shot of my eldest on our way home. The snow covering objects and buildings gave the city a sense of beauty that only happens at this time of the year.


Reese Speaks Winter Out on the Town Collage Photo

I tried to capture a bit of the gorgeousness of the season. With the temperatures rising and plunging so often this winter, nature decided to show off what it could do leaving some amazing scenes to snap shots of. I have to admit, the frozen fish shot still makes me laugh whenever I see it.


Reese Speaks Winter Nature Collage Photo

This winter was full of fun and surprises. The thermometer dipped and soared, and with the VPs being a bit older, they got to experience winter more on their own. Though throwing, sledding, and skating make for fun times, we are all on pins and needles waiting for the ice and snow to recede, allowing for the first buds of spring to appear. I can’t wait to be able to show you what my family gets into when this season (finally) appears! Thanks for the fun times and the sweet memories, winter!

Dish with me: What is your favourite part of winter?

Until my next post, Readers!


Feeling at Home at the Courtyard by Marriott Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West!

Hey, Readers!

It had been a while since I had been home to see my family in Toronto. Since my aunt who I have not seen in about a decade was visiting “Grandma” (it’s actually my mom but she does not answer to this since she no longer has kids) for a few weeks, we decided to go home for a weekend to see her and my other family members! Instead of staying with one of my relatives, we decided to stay in a hotel. After doing a bit of research of hotels close to Grandma’s home, we decided to book a room at the Marriott Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West.


The Courtyard by Marriott Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West boasts the following amenities for its guests:

  • Free high-speed Internet
  • Fitness Centre
  • Pool
  • Airport Shuttle

They also have four different rooms available to book:

  • 2 Queen-sized beds guest room
  • 1 King-sized bed guest room with a sofa bed
  • 1 King-sized guest room with a Whirlpool bathtub
  • 1 King-sized suite with a sofa bed.

We felt that the 2 Queen-sized beds guest room would work best for our family since it had two beds that were the same size we could all sleep on and enjoy.

After our long drive, we were so happy to reach our room. My little ones made short work of making themselves right at home in our room. They made sure that their entourage was comfortable and that our clothing was put away in their proper places. There was plenty of room for our clothes and my collection of shoes.


The next things the kids and I had to try out were our beds and I am a HUGE fan of a tall bed. Each bed was firm and comfy. I had so much fun climbing into our beds every time I wanted to sleep or wanted to sit back and relax. As you can see, my kids found our beds adequate for our stay.


This was one of the nicer bathrooms I have had in a hotel room in a long time. I loved that there was a privacy wall between the vanity and the toilet. There is literally enough room for three people to be in the bathroom at the same time (if this was necessary) without bumping into each other. The counter had so much space. It was able to hold all of our toiletries along with those that are complementary to the room.


After a good night’s sleep, our tummies were grumbling. Since we had a few hours before meeting up with family, we decided to grab a bite at the hotel’s eatery, The Bistro – Eat.Drink.Connect™. I loved the set-up of their seating area. There were tables for those who wanted to get a bit of work done while they ate as well as three banquettes for families or small groups of people to share their meal. Each of the banquettes housed a television set so you could catch up on the goings-on of the day while you ate.


Since we are used to a hearty sit-down breakfast on weekend mornings, we each ordered a scrambled egg breakfast. It came with strips of bacon, home fries, toast, and a cup of fruit (juice was separate). We were not disappointed with our morning meal. It was warm, yummy and ever so filling. This meal got us fueled well for our big day of fun.


While our food was cooking, I had time to check out the hotel’s business centre. This area of the hotel was for guests to work if more space is needed to meet and work. Boarding passes could be printed off, desks and chairs are available for guests to set up shop to work. It is a comfortable and spacious work area.


On the other side of the wall from the business centre was the hotel’s lounge area where guests are able to meet and greet friends. It is set up like a stylish living room with a roomy den side-by-side. There was so much room in this area that several groups could be there without feeling as though they would disturb each other. The two-sided fireplace was one of my favourite features of this room. It was warm and inviting. I wish it had a roaring fire in it when I visited, but the weather was too warm for it to be on.


Our weekend was such a whirlwind affair that we did not have the chance to check out the fitness centre or the pool area. We were sad to check out of the Courtyard by Marriott Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West at the end of our mini family vacation. We enjoyed our breakfast at The Bistro – Eat.Drink.Connect™, the business and lounge areas are great for meeting and working, and our room really made us feel at home. The next time we visit our family in Toronto, we will be sure to book another room here!

For more information about the Courtyard by Marriott Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West, you can visit them on their website!

Until my next post, Readers!


Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way by the Courtyard by Marriott Mississauga-Airport Corporate Centre West to write this post. I’m just sharing my great experience with you!


Birthday Wishes: Making Me a Better Me!

Hey Readers!

Today is my birthday (hooray!)!

Reese Speaks Birthday Pic 2


It’s been a bit crazy since my last post. After the New Year, the kids and I being sick on and off for what seems like an eternity, and keeping up with my day-to-day tasks, it seems as though I can (finally) breathe a bit more and share more posts here!

Now that I have rescheduled my ever-evolving schedule, I am able to see where I can make the time to do little things to make me an even better me from this moment forward.  I guess you can sort of call it a birthday gift to me from me! By setting these goals, I feel as though I am starting a challenge and then building on them as I achieve them. Here are some of the things I am doing or am going to start doing to make me a better me.

Tiger Push-Up, say what?!


Reese Speaks Workout Photo


That is what I said when learning this exercise move. After doing a book review at the beginning of this year, I realized I had to get myself into gear and do what I kept trying to do for the past few years: becoming more active. I took tips from a book for high intensity interval training (HIIT) to start a workout regime so I can get moving and grooving more than just on mundane Monday mornings. It is a series of different workouts to I carved out time to start working out during the week. Now I enjoy my ‘stories’ while I work up a sweat all in the comfort of my living room.

See the pic above? This is all I use to get my butt in gear. Why the card? It is so I can go for a trek to the library and borrow other books and DVDs to work out to. Not a lot is needed to become more active. It is more of a mental game to overcome than a physical one for me. I now am less winded when climbing the hills that lead up to my home with groceries and kids in tow, and I sleep more soundly as well.

Idle hands, my friends…


Reese Speaks Hobbies Photo


I like a challenge, so I decided to try my hand at two new hobbies this year: photography and flower arrangement. I have always admired how people are able to capture fabulous photos of how they view the world, yet for some reason, never got into it. Since having kids and then becoming a blogger, I have also become more of a shutterbug. I love taking pics of almost EVERYTHING we do! I then bit the bullet and got myself a proper camera to become even better at this craft!

As for floral arrangement, it another field I have always wanted to try. Putting flowers into a vase may seem like a simple task to accomplish, but is a whole art to doing it that I want to explore! I also want to learn more about flora and to cultivate more of a green thumb. This know-how will come in handy for the Big Day  my guy and I are planning, so I want to be able to put a few handmade arrangement together to decorate our space.

Cracking spines and dogearing


Reese Speaks Reading Photo


Love the title of this section, huh! 😛 Books have always been a passion of mine! With the arrival of my kids, they have taken a bit of a backseat to diaper changes, breaking up grudge matches and the every day life of a family of five. Now that the kids are a bit more independent, I can finally rekindle my romance with the written word.

From DIY and how-to guides to mythology, myth & symbol and teen fiction, I love getting lost in these amazing worlds of wonder! So far, I have gotten through only three books since the beginning of the year, but my goal is to get through twenty books by the end of the year.

These are just a few things I want to do to make this new chapter of this life a fun and exciting one! There are so many adventures I want to take (and that I want to take you, Readers), and I can’t wait to do it all! As I blow out the candles on my b-day cake, I will be looking forward to the challenges life throws at me, and to overcome it with a smile on my face!



Photo credit: Benson Kua via / CC BY-SA

I hope, whenever you celebrate your special day, that it is the best day of your year as well!

Until my next post, Readers!


To Toronto and Back in 36 Hours

Hey Readers!

For those that haven’t read my bio, I have lived in Canada’s capital for quite a few years. Even though I have been here for a long time, I always say that Toronto is my home. Up until I was nineteen, it was my center of, well, everything. Since moving away, I don’t get to visit home that often, and it is a treat whenever I go back. The blogisphere gave me a rare opportunity to make a quick stop in my hometown this summer. By quick, I mean 36 hours. It was supposed to be only 24 hours, but I’ll explain more about that further on down in the post. It was action-packed, and a lot of fun!

Here is my entourage for this visit:


As you have probably noticed, the VP of Cuteness is not present for this adventure. She stayed behind with my other half and had a Dadu-Daughter Day filled with shopping, movies and relaxing.

Besides being excited about my “mission,” I was over the moon about this trip being the VP of Cuddles’ first trip to Toronto. We ventured to and from Toronto via train, my little guy’s new favourite method of travel, and he could not sit still in his seat. The Senior VP of the family was excited as well, but you would never guess it by the look on her face in this pic! I also love traveling by train. I love being able to use the train’s wifi to work or relax.

Since we took an earlier train form Ottawa to Toronto, the kids passed out in their seats about half way through our trip. I then took a break from what I was doing and took some pics of the scenery from my window seat. At this point in the trip, we were pretty close to the Lake Ontario shoreline. Despite the speed we were traveling at the time, some of my pics turned out alright.


After a few delays, we hit the Toronto city limits! Out of the three of us, I was the most excited. It was amazing to watch my son see my hometown for the first time. He loved seeing all of the cars, buses, and trains, as well as all of the buildings parks and green spaces (yes, there were a few) on our way to the station.


Once at Union Station, my big sis, Mandi, and my nephew, J, were on hand so my daughter could hang out with them while my little guy and I went to complete our “mission.” We had to cab through noon traffic (yes, that is a thing in downtown T.O.) to and from our destination. It was so good to see the sights and be a part of the energy that is Toronto once again.


Once back at Union Station, my little guy and I waited for remainder of my entourage at the “big clock”. This was to be a familiar sight on this visit home as we kept landing here throughout this visit.


After a LONG day, this girl needed to relax. We headed for the closest Second Cup for my favourite warm beverage: A Vanilla Bean Hot Chocolate! Oh, whipped cream was a must to mellow me out.


I booked an early train for my return back to Ottawa the next morning, so we made a mad dash back to Union Station. This race against the clock was made more challenging as the first five subway stations were closed for the weekend due to maintenance. We had to take shuttle buses to the next open subway station along with several thousand other people. Needless to say, we missed our train. After re-booking ourselves on a later train that afternoon, we decided to become tourists in our hometown! We revisited the same Second Cup at the corner of University and Front Streets to figure out what we were going to do for the next few hours. It was good to be able to take a moment to breath and let the stress of the morning go.


After our break, we decided to venture close to Union Station by strolling over to one of my favourite areas of Toronto: The St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood. We stayed along Front Street, and it was so full of life! My little guy decided to take this time to patrol the streets while protecting his aunt from danger. We also took in Berczy Park for a bit of a rest, and then some of the many hot spots along the way. It was so good to be back in this part of town. I really didn’t want to leave.




Since time waits for no one, our time in Toronto had come to a close. We were all sad to say our goodbyes and go on the train, but we knew we would be together with our family soon. I’m not sure who enjoyed this trip the most as we watched the Toronto skyline fade away into the distance. Now that my son has had a taste of Toronto, he cannot wait to go back, and my daughter is already suggesting for us to return soon. As for me, I am always up for a trip back home! I can’t wait to visit my hometown again.