Adopting a better food routine while on vacation

Last week we had our fantastic beach vacation and we were lucky enough to get a really good rate at the Residence Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront (thanks in part to the millions of points my husband gets from staying at a Marriott). A huge bonus to staying here was that the rooms come with small kitchens – so we could bring and make our own food! This may sound like kind of a pffffft thing to do on a vacation, but we don’t eat fast food, we all try to eat whole and natural foods that remember where they came from, I’m a vegetarian and I try to follow an Ayurvedic diet as much as possible. So, this was going to be a huge deal for us. Not only did it mean that our tummies  would be a whole bunch happier, but we would keep a lot of extra money in our pockets from not eating out every single meal.

We live in a small, remote city so the excitement that not only I but the kids had about getting to shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s was almost equal to the excitement of going to the beach. Actually we did half our drive to the beach and ended up in Charlottesville where we went into vacation mode by having lunch at the Whole Foods there. I got to dance through their buffet and the kids gorged on sushi and pizza. When we got to the beach the first stop we made was at the Whole Foods there. Normally I prefer to buy fruits and vegetables whole and then cut and prepare them right before we eat. But this time I took advantage of their wonderful selection of prepared produce. This way we could still eat fresh food, but I didn’t have to spend the time to prep everything (plus I wasn’t sure what we would have in our kitchen – found out when we got there that they had a stove but no oven which could have made some things interesting to say the least!)

I love Marriott Hotels – I’ve always had good experiences at every one I’ve stayed at. This one was no exception. Every single room is ocean front. It’s a relatively small hotel, offers free breakfast (which made the kids unbelievably happy and I had my stewed apple and buckwheat in my room), was very clean and the staff was incredibly friendly. Add to that the fact that we could do our eating there and it made for 3 very happy vacationers.

The kids had fun helping choose what they wanted to eat.



Fresh berries, guacamole, and OMG –  have you tried the mango-pineapple salsa? It’s to die for! I make mango salsa at home and this stuff is awesome!



A huge selection of pre-cut veggies and I also bought a veggie platter. I’d just put it out every time we came back into the room and the kids crashed in front of the TV. I was really impressed with how much they ate, and I had to refill it a few times.


Even pre-sliced cheese for their afternoon cheese and crackers.







We saved HUNDREDS of dollars by doing this, had really happy tummies, and it was really not much work at all. The kids were really happy about the food they were eating and never once asked to eat out. We were there 6 days with all the signs for food around and every time they were hungry they asked to go back to the room to eat the food we had brought. It totally changed the way I vacation with them.

It also allowed us to go out for dessert feeling guilt free (because we were on vacation after all)



Actually, Whole Foods helped with one of our desserts as well:


Strawberries and whipped cream – oh yeah!!!

In case you can’t tell, Whole Foods is my absolute favourite place to shop. I always liken it to skipping through a Disney movie – I always expect the woodland creatures to dance out and join me in a song. It is a happy place! My kids share my love for this place, so the three of us got a lot of enjoyment out of being able to  make such good food choices!




Bucket List Check Off – Horse riding on the beach

I don’t even remember the first time I was on a horse. I do have a memory of the first time I thought I was going to fall off a horse though! I was about 4 and riding Chubby with just a blanket on his back and someone was leading me around. Chubby took one of those grand shakes that horses do and I thought I was going to shake right off. I think the only thing that stopped me was the fact that my little legs were spread out in a Thelwell like fashion and that Chubby had what had to have been the highest withers and backbone ever grown on a horse.

My whole life I have wanted to go riding on the beach. Growing up in Alberta I didn’t see how it was going to happen unless I was somewhere on an exotic vacation (which never seemed to happen). So, it remained quietly on my bucket list waiting to be filled.

Thursday we were on the bike trip from H-E-double hockey sticks when we passed what looked to be empty corrals on the sand. Naturally we had to stop and see what that was about. It was, in fact, about Virginia Beach Horseback Riding and they were going to be giving rides Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So, Friday afternoon the kids and I headed over and booked our 5pm ride – the earliest ride we could get. It was kind of windy and there was rain in the forecast but we booked anyway and crossed fingers and hoped for the best.

5 pm finally came around and we were assigned our horses and ready to go. The guy doing the payment asked us several times if we were sure we wanted the hour long ride instead of the half hour one that everyone else was doing. There were black clouds coming and he said he was pretty sure we would be coming back in the rain. The kids were adamant they wanted to do the hour-long one, and I have spent more hours than I want to think about shivering on the back of a horse so we were good to go.

Jacob’s horse had FOMO (fear of missing out0 and took off to be with the other riders, but Jenna’s horse seemed to be in need of a nap and would not go above a snail’s pace for anything. I stayed back with Jenna and the trail leader was ahead with the others. I hadn’t mentioned I knew how to ride (I have found that if I say that I’m experienced they give me the greenest, meanest horse they have and I just wanted to enjoy my ride). but I guess he figured we were ok behind by ourselves.

I have always said that my most valuable life lessons I have learned with my horses. This time was no different. I have been working on surrendering control. Much as I like to think I don’t have control issues (those of you who know me can just be quiet here) it turns out I actually have waaaaay more than I ever thought I did. To top that off apparently I’m also much, much more of a helicopter parent than I like to admit. I actually think Jacob rode ahead because I was so busy yipping at him about how to keep his horse looking ahead that he got tired of it.

The great thing about riding a horse is you can’t really control anything. You can kid yourself that you’re in control of the horse, but really the horse just decides whether or not to do what you’re asking. You also can’t just (usually) allow them to completely take over the journey, so somewhere in between you have to figure out a way for you two to meet some sort of balance.

Well, Jenna’s horse didn’t want to be doing this ride at all. We were heading into the wind, there were only the two of us left and good old King decided he’d just had enough. At first he just stopped. Dead. In his tracks.


I stopped too and then was stuck with a difficult decision as to what to do next. Do I keep my horse walking hoping that King would decide to catch up? That didn’t seem very likely as King only really seemed to want to head back home. I figured if I turned around to head back for her King would also take that as a sign that the ride was over and he’d find his fast walking feet and stay ahead of me. This was when I had to let go. Let go of my desire to control and to helicopter Jenna. She had to figure this out herself. I could tell her what to do (kick, turn his head forward), but she had to do it herself. She sat there kicking and crying (brought back memories I tell you) and I just had to sit there. Then Barry, the man leading the ride, saw what was going on and cantered back, grabbed King’s halter which was under his bridle and force-marched him ahead.



Problem solved and I could go back to my serene ride.


Jenna rode up to me a little later and said “Mommy, I’m so glad I didn’t give up earlier. I wanted to and I was crying and crying. But I kept at it and that man helped me move my horse and now I’m having so much fun.”  Which pretty much sums up my obsession with horses. They are the most frustrating creatures ever at times. But a lot of the time that’s because I’m working on my own agenda instead of working with the horse (not always, sometimes you just get an ornery little bugger). But, when things are good it’s the most soul freeing experience I’ve been able to find.

So, this has been checked off the bucket list, but it’s an experience I hope to share many more times with my kiddos.