Nesting Story’s 2015 Christmas Vacation Album

Hello from sunny Florida! We had a very fun, but low key Christmas while on vacation.  We started our Christmas opening stockings, then opening presents with all four kids and grandparents. From cool socks, to a Mip, purses and everything Inside Out, we had some pretty happy kids.



Opening presents with grandma

Opening presents

Twins Christmas 2015

After opening the presents we headed off to the pool to cool off in the Florida heat.

Off to the pool

After Mia and Everly’s naps, some down time and a chance for the kids to play with their new toys, we decided to go out and grab some ice cream before our Christmas dinner.

Christmas Ice cream treat

I took this opportunity to snap some photos of each of our kids, and I feel like I was able to capture their personalities in each photo.







and last but not least, Everly!


Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Don’t forget to follow Nesting Story on Instagram under the hashtag #nestingstorychristmasvacation for lots of additional vacation photos!

4 Ways To Spend Less Money Over The Holidays And Still Enjoy It With Your Family


This is a special guest post by Jennine Yool, Financial expert and mom of four.

Over the weekend my husband and I managed to do something that I could count on one hand the number of times we’ve done over the past three years. Wait for it…we got out shopping just the two of us! Since adding a third and then subsequently fourth little one to our crew, getting out kid-free is a pretty rare event in our house. When my husband James and I do manage to get a sitter, it’s usually after bedtime. Typically, the last thing either one of us wants to be doing after a long day is rushing to the mall to run around just before the stores close. But, this past Saturday was different. The daycare our littlest two girls go to part time offers an event near Christmas they call “Shopping Day.” Whoever came up with such an idea is a genius. So with four free hours to ourselves in the middle of the day, we set out on a mission. With detailed lists in hand, we avoided the malls, but ended up at a number of the big box stores, and managed to get nearly everything on our list for our kids, as well as our niece and nephew. By the end of it we were wiped, but felt accomplished that we stuck to our lists. We hadn’t gone (too) overboard and had even managed to really enjoy each others company while we were at it. It did get me thinking though as I proceeded through the checkout line at a toy store, that the holidays do have a way of adding up.Four kids

I couldn’t help but think of the financial impact this time of year can have on families, so with that in mind, I’ve compiled my top four tips on how to spend less (and enjoy more) this holiday season…

1. Simplify. This first tip is one that our family has been really embracing over these last couple of years, and one that I would continue even if the financial impact wasn’t there. In an effort to raise generous, grateful and not overly entitled children, we have seriously scaled back Christmas as years have gone by. This tip is going to mean different things to different people and look different for everyone. But tangibly at our house, it came down to two things. Firstly, setting a gift buying budget (and sticking to it) and secondly, embracing an idea that I heard a few years back that I kind of fell in love with. It’s super simple too, which is a huge bonus. Each child gets “something they want, something they need, something to wear & something to read.” Easy. Simple. Love it!

2. Price match. This tip is one that I feel like a lot of moms I know already take advantage of, but is especially great to be reminded of this time of year. Stores like ToysRUs, for example will match ANY advertised price. I frequently see parents scanning shelves at the grocery store to price match using flyers or apps on their phones. But the entire time I was toy shopping, I didn’t observe a single person price matching. And remember, aside from the dollars you’re saving on the item(s) you’ve price-matched, you’re also saving yourself the time, energy and gasoline of driving around to other stores. Always a bonus.

3. Shop kid-free. Until this past kid-free shopping trip, I’m not sure I would have fully appreciated the value in this one. But I can’t help but wonder how much “stress spending” I’ve done over the years in an effort to keep my kids quiet, content and entertained while I’ve been out shopping. Since becoming a mom, trips to the mall are more of a marathon than a leisurely outing. The goal is to get in and out as quickly (and quietly) as possible and in doing so, I know there’s no way I was paying close enough attention to price, quality, options, etc. This is one time to call on Grandma and Grandpa, or even another family to swap childminding for a few hours. Once you’ve lined up a sitter, get out with your spouse, grab (or bring) lunch and turn the afternoon into a bit of a date. You won’t regret it!

4. Plan. This one is easy to say, but I realize it sometimes gets lost in execution. Planning ahead saves me from running to the grocery store on the way to a Christmas event, grabbing a fruit or veggie tray, and ultimately paying for someone else to do what I could have done myself at home. I get that there’s always going to be times that convenience is well worth the extra cost, but whenever possible, I try to make from scratch an appetizer or dessert to share and bring; that way, I know exactly what’s in it and can cater the recipe I decide to make to what’s on sale that week.


What do you do to make the most of your resources during the holidays?

With a Degree in Economics and nearly eight years selling mortgages in the Greater Toronto Area, Jennine strives to provide her clients with the education, rates and individuality tailored financing solutions necessary, to assist them in making informed decisions about their future. Interested in learning more? Contact Jennine Yool at You can also follow Jennine’s financial tips on Facebook.


Our Family Is Driving To Florida For Christmas… This Should Be Interesting

Nesting StoryEvery few years our family changes it up for Christmas and we drive (yes you heard me right) from Toronto, our home, to Florida. This is a tradition that started when I was young. My parents would drive all six of us in our station wagon and head to Sanibel Island, Florida for a couple weeks. Although the drive can be a big crazy, long and stressful, we see it as part of the adventure.Nesting Story Older Brothers Photo

My siblings and I in Florida in 1987… I am the cool thumb-sucker in the front.

Mike also loves this tradition and we have continued it with our kids. We have made the two day drive with our older children, but never all four. This should be interesting.

So, on December 14th we will be leaving our home just outside of Toronto at 3 a.m. and making our way through, Ontario, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and then Florida. We will be spending one week at Disney World and then head on to our family’s favourite spot, Sanibel Island.

Sanibel Island to me, is Christmas. It’s just beautiful filled with Christmas lights. I will include a lot of videos, photos and blog posts with everything from packing to travelling and our vacation.

So, I won’t be doing a gift guide this year, or a lot of Christmas decor posts like previously. We are going to shake things up a little and make sure we share everything from tips, meltdowns and lots of memories!

Don’t forget to follow along on Facebook and Instagram so you don’t miss a thing!

This post and trip is not sponsored, it’s been years in the making. As always, I will let you know if sponsors are added.

Our Christmas Album From 1 – 4 Kids, the Memories Despite the Stress

IMG_2655Merry Christmas from the family behind Nesting Story!  I thought it would be fun to create an album of each Christmas from 1 – 4 kids.  Wow, have we grown and have such full hearts!  Looking back I think out of all six Christmases we have been parents,
2014 has been the least stressful.  Shouldn’t it be the opposite?  Maybe we are seasoned veterans at this point!

Our very first Christmas as parents was both exciting and stressful.  Although it was so much fun to move the focus of giving from one another to our son Holden who was six months old at the time, it was also difficult navigating the busy family get togethers with a child who was suffering form major separation anxiety!  On Christmas eve we raced Holden over to the emergency room because he woke up from a deep sleep after a busy family dinner screaming hysterically for no reason.  Once we pulled up to the entrance, Holden had fallen fast asleep so we decided to head home.  We quickly came to the conclusion that Holden had a night terror.  The following two years of Holden’s life he would suffer a night terror about once a month, often after a busy social day.

collage 2009 2

Christmas 2010 We drove for the first time as a family to Sanibel Island, Florida.  My parents have a time share on Sanibel so I grew up spending Christmases in Florida.  To me, that is truly Christmas.  We would make the long, stressful but exciting drive from Ontario to Florida competing to see who can spot the first palm tree.  Crossing the bridge from Fort Myers to Sanibel at sunset and arriving on this magical island void of streetlights but sparkling from all of the twinkly Christmas lights.

That Christmas, although we were surrounded by my family in Florida, Holden was still very nervous around anyone other than Mike and I.  Our favourite memory from that holiday was taking early morning strolls on the sandbar just the four of us (I was 33 weeks pregnant with Beau).
collage 2010Christmas 2011 welcomed a new member to our family who was filled with smiles.  at ten months Beau was on the verge of walking.  This was her pre Beau the Destructor phase.  Mike and I were going through a lot at this time.  We had spent the last year working very hard with Holden on his language delay and his sensory processing disorder.  To say we were stressed is an understatement.  The stress on us as parents as well as our marriage was huge, but with lots of perseverance and the most incredible support from Holden’s speech therapist and our families, Holden’s speech caught up and he started to truly enjoy life.collage 2011Christmas 2012 we once again drove to Florida with intentions of a sunny fun filled holiday.  At the end of driving day one Beau became violently ill and by the time we arrived on Sanibel the next day she had been sick multiple times each hour and was living on orange Gatorade.  Thank goodness my dad and family friends who were in Florida with us were doctors.  This stomach flu which made the rounds to almost every family member transformed into a brutal chest cold which took hold of Mike and Beau.

Because Mike and Beau were stuck inside, Holden and I were out and about making the best of our holiday.  My favourite memory was after the sun went down each night Holden and I would head out together to explore, popsicles in hand.  We would watch the snails that would emerge after dark  and then head to the club house watching the older kids play ping pong, all while having long uninterrupted conversations… something we weren’t able to do a year before.

collage 2012Last year was a bit of of a write off.  Ontario had just been hammered with a massive ice storm a couple days before Christmas and we were still cleaning up from that.  I was so nauseous and we were still wrapping our heads around the news that we received on December 23rd… twins were on the way!!!  Looking back I am disappointed at how little photos I took.  Beau was so cranky on Christmas morning, probably from her over-excited brother waking her up too early!
collage 2013I’m not sure if it was the absence of pregnancy nausea, being forced to always be two steps ahead now that we have four kids or that our stress threshold is much higher now but despite Mia and Everly having colds (once again) we had a wonderful Christmas!  We had our moments of all four kids being over tired and screaming the whole drive home from family gatherings and  babies having bouts of stranger anxiety, but I found myself taking everything in stride.

We didn’t hide our litter of children under a rock either!  We actually packed everyone up (despite the mess it always creates) and crammed into our van to watch our local Christmas lights show where the elaborate lights on a home co-ordinate with the radio station we tune into.  This has become an annual tradition for us.  The older kids were full of enthusiasm Christmas morning and were patient while we each took turns opening presents.  The first thing our sweet Holden did when he arrived at the tree full of presents was start helping Beau find one with her name on it… heart officially melted!

collage 2014

What I can take away from looking at all the past Christmases of us being parents?  There will always be stress.  A lot of parents have commented to me that their favourite thing about my blog is reading about the chaos and stress that happens behind the scenes.  It makes them feel like what they are experiencing as a family is normal.  I am always happy to share the very real side of our family; I think it is so important for parents to stick together and share their war stories.  When the stress hits, especially during the holidays, just breathe and remember that it is completely worth it with the incredible memories you are left with!

Happy Holidays from Nesting Story!

5 Ways to Child Proof Your Christmas Decorations

photo-71.  Make it interactive.  Now that we don’t currently have any kids in the toddler phase I am able to redirect our kids and enjoy putting decorations on the bottom half of our tree again.  We purchased a small artificial tree for the kids so they have a tree they can hang their colourful character ornaments on and rearrange as many times as they’d like while the big tree stays in tact and looking its best throughout the holidays.  I also added twine and clothes pins to our garland on our stairs to pin cards we receive from family and friends.  The cards that I don’t mind the kids taking down I hang lower on the string.stairs

2.  Go soft.  This one is a no brainer.  Find Christmas decor that is plush and soft to incorporate into your holiday theme.  Its also great to hand these pieces over to the kids and let them decide where they’d like them to go.soft

3. Put it behind glass.  Mike HATES sparkles.  It is actually a phobia of his.  I have learned over the years that instead of fighting him on it, to try to keep potential sparkle bombs from exploding in our house.  This being said, we have adorable and very sparkly snowmen that I keep safely enclosed behind a glass cupboard door.  This way we can still enjoy them but the sparkles stay put.  You can also take those beautiful glass ornaments that you used to be able to put on your tree pre-kid era and pile them in an apothecary jar placed on your counter or table.IMG_2542

4.  Swap it out.  When creating this birch tree bucket piece I used battery powered lights and skipped the plug ins.  I also used a white felt piece of fabric to act as snow, much tidier than if you were constantly cleaning up dirt from a poinsettia.bucket

5. Find Precious looking plastic.  Finally the retail stores seem to be getting the hint.  I am seeing more and more beautiful looking plastic ornaments that you would think are glass.  These are great substitutes for those beautiful vintage glass ornaments you had to pack away when junior started motoring.precious plastic