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How To Pack For A Conference & Free Packing Checklist

I am about to head to my tenth conference, and this week I am heading to my fifth Mom 2.0 Summit conference.

Over the years I’ve really been able to turn packing for a conference into a craft and have picked up many tips along the way. I’ve also learned hard lessons from real life situations, like forgetting all of my makeup once, so now I rely heavily on a checklist. Which you can download here:

On my last trip I was told to check my carry-on at the gate because there was no room and the airline lost it! No more carry on case for me.

I filmed me packing for my trip to Austin, Texas and have added lots of packing tips, including what to bring to a conference. Enjoy!

My Simple Heirloom Easter Table Setting

Last weekend we had our first family get together for Easter. It was an impromptu, last minute early Easter gathering. As I cleaned our house, getting ready for our guests, table decor ideas were coming to me.

I knew I didn’t want to spend any money on new decor, or fresh flowers, nor did I have time to head out and shop. So, I decided to get creative and use what I already had.

I started to gather items from around our house… carnations that were still hanging on from a bouquet I had put together for a photoshoot (the hydrangeas had already bit the dust), faux greens and basic terracotta pots that I had purchased in the fall from Michaels for our Autumn centre piece, linens from our pre-kids-days, crystal handed down from my grandmother, 1950’s milk-glass plates and salad bowls passed down from Mike’s grandmother, and a simple white rabbit I nabbed from the shelf of my office.

You can find vintage mid-century 1050’s milk glass dishes on Etsy.

I began setting the table…

To break up all of the white with the table cloth I decided to sandwich the robin’s egg blue napkins between the dinner plates and salad bowls.

When it comes to Easter and Halloween I prefer to stay away from the overly themed decor and go for a natural and neutral look that reflects what is happening with the foliage outside.

But I just couldn’t resist adding my little office bunny to the centrepiece as a nod to Easter.

To complete the look I added a white carnation to each table setting. I was so happy with the overall look. It was simple, fresh and reflected the season. Watch the entire transformation unfold here…

Laundry Room Reveal – Our Dream Basement Laundry Room

This post was created in partnership with LG Electronics Canada Inc.

When I walk into a space I can immediately visualize the potential and how I would transform it. When we were hunting for a larger family home over seven years ago I had to do some major visualizing when we walked into our current home as the perspective buyers. 

The entire house had been painted dark blue and dark brown. To say it was somber would be an understatement. Despite the gloomy décor I could picture it all, and the large backyard and big unfinished basement sold me. 

Initially we didn’t know how long we would be living in our home. Although spacious and near the school we loved, it was a builder house and a bit cookie cutter for our tastes. We had always discussed moving further into the country and finding a home that was a little more unique. 

But as the years have gone by, we have fallen deeper and deeper in love with our house. But what has really sold us on it is the fact that we decided to break that cookie cutter mold, turn it on its head, and make it our own.

The first big change was to create a large dream laundry room that would function well for our family of six and the perfect location for it was in our basement. This meant that our old laundry room, which straddles our kitchen and garage, is now a dedicated mudroom. Double score!

I had always envisioned a laundry room that is warm and pretty, yet very functional, and I truly think we have achieved just that. 

We were able to hide the existing electrical panel with MDF and Metrie trim. Then we painted it the same colour as the walls to have it blend in. 

I had always wanted a focal wall with a bit of relief from so much cabinetry. A floating shelf with decorative items on it has brought some colour and personality into this room. I was able to find all of the accessories and stool for our laundry room at HomeSense.

I fell in love with these plant art pieces as soon as I found them. The green brings some much needed freshness and life into the room, making you almost forget that it is located in our basement, especially when there aren’t any windows.

For the tile backsplash we opted for peel and stick tiles. We had never tried them before and wanted to see if it would be worth the time saved. Although easy to install they were more expensive than regular tile and we probably wouldn’t choose to use peel and stick tile again.

Opting for grey cabinets from Ikea was also a great way to bring some colour into this space. The Ikea laminate countertop gives the illusion of butcher block, but it is a lot more durable and budget friendly. I love how much warmth the countertop brings into the room.

We chose to hang our ironing board on the wall and left space for a future drying rack.

I think the biggest annoyance our family experiences with all of the laundry we accumulate as a family of six is the finished loads sitting in laundry baskets, waiting to be folded, hanging around our house. Once we complete washing and drying all of our four kids’ clothing, we have filled four laundry baskets. Those baskets were constantly taking up floor space in our laundry room, or overtaking our dining room table.

A simple wall-mounted wire shelving system has solved that problem. Having a dedicated home for all of our laundry baskets has been a dream come true!

But I think our favourite new addition has been our new LG TWINWash®with LG SideKick™ pedestal washer. Mike and I actually look forward to doing the laundry now. Mike has the LG SmartThinQ®app on his phone, which notifies him when a load is done. The capacity is amazing, allowing us to move through our family’s laundry faster.

The LG SideKick™ has been used constantly for everything from sandy gloves brought home from school to a red shirt here and there. I love that I don’t need to waste water when I need to wash a small load and I can easily separate an item while continuing to wash the rest of our clothes. The laundry set is also Energy Star efficient making using it easier on the environment and our pockets!

It’s safe to say we are absolutely head over heels about our new laundry room. Breaking the rules with our home’s layout and making it work for our family has made us fall even deeper in love with our house. I cannot wait to continue with the rest of our renovations we have planned and take you with us on our family’s journey.

To learn more about LG home appliances, visit www.LG.ca/UltimateLaundryRoom.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by LG Electronics Canada Inc. While compensation was provided in form of trade, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of LG Electronics Canada Inc.

It’s time to call out the elephant in the room – yes, that meme is me

Ugh.

I didn’t want to have to write this post, but, I feel like I need to address the elephant in the room. More for you than for me.

Yes, that meme of a woman in a hospital bed who just had twins, but is photoshopped with two puppies and a dog is me.

Yes, I know.

Yes, my photo was stolen.

Yes, I can understand why you’d feel like your privacy had been shattered.

Let me start at the beginning.

Last spring, Mike turned to me a couple days before I was leaving to California for work and said, (with an “I have to tell you something” look in his eyes), that he’d come across a meme of me. He proceeded to tell me that he stumbled across a meme made of one of my photos.

He figured out that it had been stolen and used in a Reddit competition where the person photoshopped Mike and our twins out of the photo and replaced them with dogs. Then the photo was stolen from Reddit and turned into a meme.

“Here we go again,” was the first thought that came to mind.

You see, I’ve had photos stolen before. Some along with full articles I have written. They’ve been published on big sites that you would be shocked to hear, either used for ads, or views.

I’ve had photos of me with my big pregnant belly stolen and circulated through pregnancy fetish groups.

I’ve even had my pregnancy ultrasounds stolen before by people faking a twin pregnancy. This one has oddly happened more than once.

Each of these times Mike has sent a scary, “we are going to send our lawyers after you,” letter which has resulted in the photos being taken down.

So when I was shown this harmless meme, which didn’t include my kids and was actually kind of funny, I acknowledged the skill of the photo-shopper who won the Reddit contest, that I was thankful that our kids weren’t in it and admitted it was annoying that once again my photo was stolen.

But the meme had gone viral. It was too big to take down, and I had a choice to make… do I fight this? Or do I have a chuckle and an eye-roll and get on with my day?

I chose the latter.

To go after it and have it taken down would require spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyer fees and even then it might not be taken down. Listen to this podcast from Criminal and someone else’s experience trying to do just this: Criminal Podcast – Homewrecker

I chose to be a blogger and a content creator. I chose to share my story and my photos. This career isn’t for everyone. But it is for me.

I am an open-book and a storyteller. My passion for telling my story was born from a place of loneliness and longing for connection during my twin pregnancy. I get that sharing my story also means that I am opening up my life to opinions, and exposure.

I have thick skin.

For me, putting up with comments, the occasional troll and being turned into a meme, is better than heading to a 9-5 everyday. I tried that, and it didn’t make me happy. This job does. Sharing my story with others and maybe helping them through a dark place makes it worth it.

I am used to the internet at this point and it’s devious ways. I’m okay putting myself out there. But you better believe I am going to be fiercely vigilant when my kids start using social media, which by the way is a long ways away.

I totally get why you would feel exposed if that were your post delivery photo vandalized and shared millions of times. You didn’t choose to share your story as publicly as I have.

I so appreciate that you want to tag me, screen shot it and fill my DM’s inbox letting me know about this injustice. But let me save you the time…

I know.

So, what can you do about it? How can you help? If you want to tell a publisher that it is a stolen photo and they don’t have permission to use it, go for it! If you want to report the photo on Instagram and Facebook as stolen, please do! Thank you by the way, because this really does help.

But please resist tagging me, or letting me know.

In the meantime I’m good, sitting here in the meme hall of fame, sharing my story and building a supportive community.

Was I Being “Body Positive” Or Destroying My Health?

I love my body. I love that it has carried four babies, two of them being twins. I love that it has birthed my children. I love that it has scars and stretch marks and dimples. It has many and it is the road map of my life. When you really think about it, a woman’s body is incredible and can do incredible things.

But lately… lately I have been letting it down.

Before twins I always had a negative relationship with my body. I got angry when it wouldn’t shed pounds. I covered it up because to me it wasn’t ideal. I starved it and overtrained it and cursed it when it didn’t perform.

During my twin pregnancy everything was stripped away, and my one job was to grow and incubate my babies. I felt my body stretch, my hips seperate, and my heart race. But despite the pain my girls thrived. My body did it’s job.

During those days as I lay on the sofa with a pillow between my knees I made myself a promise. I promised to thank it. I promised to care for it and treat it the way it deserved. That meant losing the weight I purposely put on during my pregnancy, feeding it the right foods and strengthening it. But above all, I would rehabilitate my body with love.

I did. I followed through with my promise. It was a journey but I kept my promise.

You can read about my body after babies journey in my popular blog post: What Having Four Kids (Including Twins) Has Done To My Body and My Confidence.

At least until last year.

Last year I had a couple of life events that shook me. I was stressed and started to reach for food as comfort. I overate at every meal and every snack. I gave myself constant stomach aches, (which is really risky for me because in the previous year I suffered from Diverticulitis), but in the moment while I ate I felt numb and numb felt good.

Besides, a trend was building that was telling me that curvy was good. That adding on some extra weight and embracing it was actually the kind thing to do for my body. Or at least, that was how I was interpreting it.

But I didn’t feel good.

So I’d try to be mindful of my portions and ramp up my exercise and then it would fall apart.

I began posting on Instagram, along with almost everyone else, photos of my curvier body and how I was embracing my curves and buying new clothes to fit the new me.

But I didn’t feel good.

I was out of breath, was getting light-headed often, I had a sore back, and felt lethargic. So I’d try again with a new goal of caring for my body better, (which for my small 5’2″ frame meant shedding some of those pounds), and I shared this goal of health online. The response? Some positive, but I also received some blowback because the goal I was after wasn’t popular. This threw me and once again, and I stopped.

Was it guilt that I felt? I’m not sure, but I felt like I was doing something wrong.

But I didn’t feel good.

In January I turned 36, and I started to notice my body felt stiff. Really stiff. I initially joked that it was just my age, but 36? Really?

So, a few weeks ago I decided to be really honest with myself and step on a scale. Yes, a scale, which in my opinion, can be a great tool for some if used properly. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe what I had done to myself. What about the promise?

Enough was enough. It was time to make positive changes for my health and make sure I protected what I knew was right. I went through my social media and unfollowed anyone who I felt was making me second guess my goal. It wasn’t anyone else’s fault that I had lost sight of my goal of health, but it was making me second guess myself.

I’ve made sure that what I was doing to move more was on my terms and left me feeling satisfied and proud. I am working out every morning. Sometimes it’s ten minutes of stretches and abs. Other days I hop on my treadmill and run while watching Netflix.

I am taking my time to pre-cook my meals days in advance, and slow down and enjoy every bite and today my gut health is better than ever. Don’t worry, I am enjoying indulging on our weekly date night and here and there. But not everyday.

Today I am choosing love. I am choosing health.

I have lost seven pounds, and plan to shed more.

I’m happy and I feel good. I’m climbing the stairs without getting winded and my body feels more flexible.

I think some really great things are coming out of the current body positivity movement. But somehow along the way balance was lost and a bizarre version of reverse body-shaming has begun. I fell victim to this trend and I am 36.

I worry about my three daughters entering a world where the conversation is so one-sided. I want them to love their body at all stages of their life. I want them to know that we are all different and our relationship with our bodies is a personal one.

I want them to treat their bodies the way they deserve to be treated. I want the goal of health to be important to them.

You can be curvy and be healthy. You can love yourself and still chase a goal.

Body positivity should be a movement based on knowing yourself, accepting other people’s choices and cheering each other on. Body positivity should be about listening to your body and knowing when it is in a season of grief, healing, growing another life, rehabilitation or renewal. Body positivity should be about knowing the difference between embracing health and settling into a body that may not be thriving.

Above all, body positivity should be about supporting each other, knowing that what may work for one person may not work for another. That one person may need a strategy or a diet to battle inflammation or digestive issues, and that a scale can be a great tool for one person, but a torment for another. Body positivity should be about erasing judgement and saying I support you and your journey towards health.

I am choosing what’s right for me. I am choosing to chase health, and happiness.

I will be documenting my journey on Instagram and I’d like you to join the conversation and follow along there.

My friend Ana at Bluebird Kisses has also written an article on this topic. I’d love for you to weigh in and let me know what you think about this current trend.