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!

(Video) Mom 2.0 2016 – While Mom’s Away, Dad And The 4 Kids Will Play

Mom 2.0 Summit 2016

Going to blogging conferences is so important for not only me, but my whole family. It gives me an opportunity to step away from parenting and my work, and gain some much needed perspective.

I always walk away with new insights as well as new opportunities. Although I miss my kids and my husband Mike, I head back into our home refreshed and ready to dive back into the trenches.

Mike also really enjoys the one-on-one time with the kids. Although it is a lot of work, he really loves the change of pace and is so encouraging for me to go.

This was my second year attending the Mom 2.0 Summit, while my husband stayed home with our four kids. This year took place at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel. There, I was inspired listening to and learning from other bloggers, vloggers, celebrities and influential women with powerful careers.

Although I was inspired the whole time and absolutely loved being with my tribe, my mind often wandered to my family, wondering what they were up to.

So Mike decided to set up a GoPro so that I could see what they were up to.

You will see in the video that Rita Wilson was one of the speakers and also surprised us by singing a song from her self titled album, which you can find on iTunes and Amazon. Also, we had a surprise guest MC the Iris awards. You will have to watch to find out who it was!

Thank you to Kia Motors America for helping us arrive in style. Also thank you to Carter’s for the generous and tasty dinner, with the breath-taking views at the beautiful Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel, and follow Nesting Story on Facebook!

Finding Inner Peace, Embracing The Mom Guilt And Simplifying My Future

Mom 2.0 Summit 2016

Blogging is an emotional job. My career is centered around me being vulnerable to the world on an regular basis. I measure the success of my career based on constant feedback from strangers on the internet and occasionally in person. Sometimes you know you are really hitting a nerve when you receive some controversial feedback. It’s part of the job.

I am an open book by nature, always willing to share. I have learned over time that I am a very strong person, and aside from the occasional comment that stings, I am able to let any negative energy that comes my way, bead off of me like droplets of rain.

I take in the positive energy and continue to pour it all out, in hopes that I can reach that mom that is struggling, and longing for a connection, so they feel a little less alone, and a little more normal.

Heading into my second Mom 2.0 Summit, I made the conscious decision to have a few small goals: make one perfectly fitting brand connection, meet a few of my heroes, and foster friendships while building others up. I completed my list. But the biggest goal was to walk in open. Open to feedback, open to learning and open to friendships, but especially, I would be open to being inspired and find my direction for the next phase of my career.

On day one I think I was so exhausted from travelling from Toronto to California that I was emotionally numb. I went through the motions and hopped into bed that evening ready to recharge and prepare myself to be inspired and take it all in.

That’s when it began. That morning sparked a theme that stood out to me for the next two days and ended in a (positive) emotional breakdown on the final day.

The first story that really impacted me was listening to Lauren Bayne, the founder of Offspring Advertising Agency interview Alli Webb, the founder of Drybar. The entire discussion was masterfully conducted by Lauren Bayne, including the surprise interview she had secretly recorded of Alli Webb’s boys discussing her success and how they view her. Yes, I was a blubbering mess.

Allí Webb - Drybar

But listening to Alli Webb describe her humble beginnings, how Drybar took off, and balancing a busy career and motherhood really impacted me. Her unapologetic success left me feeling so much more secure in the success that I have already experienced, and the path that lays ahead of me.

Later that day, I soaked up every word from a panel of powerhouse women comprised of Catherine Coleman, Christine Lu, Shannon Marby-Rotenburg, Yifat Oren and Jennifer PrinceGo ahead, click on those links, I dare you. Your mind may explode from how accomplished they are. Hint: one is an astronaut.

Inspiring women

Listening to these motivating women talk about how they both run their incredibly demanding, but rewarding careers while still being mothers, was so important for me to hear. Some days they find the balance and other days they want to cry. But it always takes a village, lists and support from their spouse, or close friends. They have messy closets that they can never find the time to clean, and they often struggle with re-entry when they arrive back home after work.

Each agrees that their career makes them feel happy and satisfied, and ultimately a happier mom. Everything they said resonated so much with me, and I walked away realizing I am doing a pretty damn good job of balancing my career and motherhood. Even if there are days that are a little rockier than others.

The truth is, the week leading up to leaving for California, I was struggling with a lot of guilt. I not only try to live a guilt-free motherhood, I preach it. I experienced so much mom-guilt when I had my first child and promised myself that I would let it go and be secure within my parenting experience.

But I was embarrassed, and frustrated with how much guilt I had been feeling. It finally dawned on me after listening to all of these other successful mothers. Maybe a bit of mom guilt isn’t such a bad thing.

I had lived in a state of survival for years. From the days that our son struggled with a language delay. To our second (surprise) baby, to the ultimate surprise… twins.

This constant scramble and barely keeping my head above water, left me at times, feeling robotic, always wanting to escape for a break. Yes I loved my children, and they have always been my world. But I was always craving me-time so badly, that whenever I was away from them, I was emotionless. I didn’t miss them.

Part of me was hiding this lack of emotion from everyone else. Was I a monster? No, I was a burnt out mother.

Now, having found our stride, being done having kids and finally moving out of survival mode has unlocked that part of my brain and my heart I was so carefully protecting.

So, this time when I went out the door, with my feelings of guilt fighting with my feelings of freedom, left me confused and uncertain.

It finally dawned on me that that feeling of guilt, was a good thing. I had re-emerged from the murky waters of survival mode, and could actually feel again. I was missing my children and longing for my husband while also enjoying the independence of travel and being with my tribe.

On the final day, many of the layers on the onion had been peeled back. I felt exposed and vulnerable. I was feeling many emotions, something that was fairly new to me.

I decided to walk into a panel about work/life balance, thinking it would be the perfect fit. This panel was moderated by Jessica Shyba and it included Ryan Hamilton, Christina Brown, Danielle Walker and Roo Ciambriello. Again, click links = mind blown.

IMG_2604

Then each, again described their triumphs and failures while trying to create some kind of balance in their parenting/career journey, all with incredible stories to tell.

But then they said a few things that hit home so hard, it was like a hot spear had been shot into my chest. “Look at everything you are working on. If there is something there that is not making you feel happy, then it’s not the right fit.” Also, “learn how to say no,” and “no,” can be a complete sentence. “Don’t apologize and never use the word just.”

Well, let me start by saying that the apologetic Canadian that I am really needed to hear that.

As the panel concluded, and they opened the room up for questions, I immediately shot my hand up. They asked me to head up to the front and hold the mic. Oh shit. Here we go.

I could feel my cheeks getting hot and my voice shake. Damn these new emotions.

I started by adding what I have learned the hard way. When success started to put my husband and I on separate pages, we started dating again. Going on a date every week has been huge for us and has created a safe-guard for our marriage.

Then, I launched into some more difficult areas of the business that I have sometimes found hard to navigate. Each of them were so kind and quick to give me practical advice that I really needed to hear.

I was told later, by one of that panelists, that I almost had all of them crying.

After this session finished, the tears came. By the time I got back to my room and watched the video my husband had sent me of my son getting his yellow belt in tae-kwon-do, I was sobbing. I felt like Jerry Seinfeld; “What is this salty discharge? Oh my God, I care.”

I finally regrouped, but it took so long that I missed the red carpet for the Iris awards, so this quick selfie in the elevator will have to do.

Mom 2.0 Iris awards bcbg

I left California changed. Okay with my parenting and career decisions, embracing my mom guilt and having a clear focus for my blogging future.

Sometimes you can be so in it, so in your bubble that you loose all perspective and become numb. It is so important to step away for a bit and soul search. Let your guard down and be ready to be inspired, motivated, encouraged and pushed… even if it causes you to shed a few tears.

Don’t forget to follow Nesting Story on Facebook so that you don’t miss a thing!

10 Reasons Why Disney World’s Art Of Animation Resort ROCKS!

Disney's Art Of Animation LobbyThis past Christmas, My husband and I drove all the way from Toronto to Orlando with our four kids for a vacation of a lifetime. After lots of research, we decided that staying at the Art of Animation in the cars suite would fit all six of us best. It was incredible, magical, and worked beautifully for all of us, even our 18 month-old twins. Here are 10 reasons why Disney World’s Art of Animation ROCKS. Our vacation and this post have not been sponsored. As always, all opinions are my own

1. The food is out of this world. Disney’s Art of Animation’s (DAA) restaurant, Landscape of Flavors, is set up cafeteria style. You grab your tray, and head to different stations to build your meal. The build your own burgers, pasta and omelettes and unreal. This dining option works well with kids too. You can sit inside, outside, or even take your meals to go up to your room.Dinner outside the Landscape of Flavors2. You feel like you are inside several Disney movies. Our family stayed in a Cars suite, which was on one end of the resort and my parents stayed in a Little Mermaid room on the other side. To walk from one end to the other, it takes about ten minutes. Throughout the entire resort, there are groupings of buildings that are themed differently: Cars, Little Mermaid, Lion King and Finding Nemo. There are whimsical characters scattered around the resort that were perfect for photos and climbing. You truly feel like you are inside Disney movies.Disney's Art Of Animation characters3. The best pool for young kids. The Big Blue Pool, which is Finding Nemo themed, is the biggest pool in Disney World. But what made this pool extra special for us was the gradual entry. This meant that our older kids could swim around (with floatation devices) while our twin toddlers could run in and out of the pool while my husband Mike, and I supervised them.Big Blue Pool4. It doesn’t matter if your kid is melting down. There is constant action and music going on around DAA, especially in the restaurant. This is perfect for kids ages 0 – 10. Visiting the parks is exhausting, especially for young kids. So it is understandable that your little one might have a little meltdown by dinnertime. But between the music drowning them out and looking around the room and seeing all of the other exhausted kids, it really doesn’t matter.

5. The rooms are baby-proofed. Unlike the second location we stayed in in Florida (and had to spend the first day baby proofing), our kids were able to go straight in and enjoy the entire space without Mike and I having to chase them around and set limits. The space isn’t huge, so there wasn’t anyway we could start closing off areas. Tip: We rented cribs ahead of time from Kingdom Strollers. They were at the front desk waiting for us when we arrived.

6. It’s stroller friendly. As a twin mom, I am heavily reliant on our double stroller. DAA had beautiful wide paths, elevators and lots of space in the dining area and pool area to accommodate our stroller. We would even use it inside our room to contain our busy toddlers while they had a snack and we could get ready to head out the door. Stroller in hotel room7. There is always something to do. Aside from the pools, there is also a playground, a Lion King bones play area, evening outdoor movies and so much more. We spent a lot of our free time playing in the Lion King bone area, because our twins and older kids could safely run around and burn off energy.Lion King play area8. Taking the buses to the parks is so convenient. We loved that we could take shuttle buses to and from the Disney parks whenever we wanted. This especially came in handy when we had to shuffle our kids around one day. Tip: If you are going to bring a stroller, bring a folding stroller. Our double stroller which has to be taken apart when you fold it up became an ordeal each time we got on the bus. Between juggling twins and two older kids, it was pretty tricky. Lesson learned.On a Disney bus with twins9. The attention to detail is memorizing. I think this was my favourite part about DAA. I was constantly trying to take in every detail, from the plants shaped like coral to the patterns on the bedding. Even my four year old daughter would pick out light fixtures that looked like cones in the Cars building. Bravo Disney, bravo.art of animation details10. It makes you feel like a kid again. I tend to have my “mom hat” on too much, and forget to let loose and be silly with my kids. But there was something about seeing all of those characters from the Lion King and Little Mermaid that brought me back to my childhood. I may have even let loose a little.posing in front of mater

Don’t forget to read all about our drive to Florida, our Bibbidi Bobbed Boutique, Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom experiences!

Disney’s Magic Kingdom: How We Mastered The Happiest Place On Earth With Four Kids In Tow

Nesting Story at Disney WorldAfter a busy day at Hollywood Studios and some much needed rest for our twins, Mia and Everly, as well as myself, we were ready to head to Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Because the previous day didn’t go quite as planned, I decided to make sure we attacked the Magic Kingdom in a way that would benefit everyone.

Thankfully, my parents were on this trip with us, which meant that we weren’t outnumbered. We arrived by bus from our Disney resort, the Art of Animation, to a HOT and humid Magic Kingdom. Everyone was buzzing with excitement, but our four-year-old daughter, Beau, was in a funk. I couldn’t blame her, her last three days consisted of a 23 hour drive from Toronto and a full day at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Hollywood Studios. She was tired. In fact she had a couple melt downs at the front gates.

Once inside the Magic Kingdom, I worked hard at cheering Beau up, acting like a goof. She wasn’t impressed.

Mother and daughter at the magic kingdomFinally, a Disney cast member saw that Beau was grumpy and worked hard at pulling her out of her mood, while taking photos for our Memory Maker package (which I highly recommend).

It worked!MK_MSCINEMA_7551408437It was time to put my plan into action. We headed straight through the the park, past Cinderella’s Castle, to Fantasyland. There, we enjoyed all of the rides that we could include our 17 month old twins on.

Our first stop was “It’s a small world,” which we all loved, and Everly wouldn’t stop standing up and dancing. We thought it was hilarious.

We had a blast on the Dumbo ride…Waiting in line at Disney world

Dumbo rideThe kids, my husband, Mike, and my parents enjoyed the Carrousel, while I happily watched and took pictures (I get motion sick very easily)…Magic kingdom rideBy this point Mia and Everly were really tired. My mom and I stopped with Mia and Everly and had a much needed snack. Everyone else went on to enjoy a couple more rides. We continued on, choosing attractions in Tomorrowland, that included everyone, but eventually Mia was done.

It was time for lunch anyways, so we found a spot on Main Street, grabbed some hotdogs and took a break.

Suddenly, this amazing parade came out of nowhere and there was this huge dance party! We raced over and all broke into dance. It is our favourite memory of Disney World!

After our impromptu dance off, we walked over to Adventureland (my personal favourite). My Dad offered to walk with Mia and Everly while the rest of us went on a few rides including Pirates of the Caribbean. Once we came out, Mia and Everly were fast asleep in our stroller. They ended up sleeping for an hour and a half, (which was pretty good), while I walked them around and everyone enjoyed a couple more rides.

Twins sleeping in stroller at Disney World

By 2:30 p.m. we were faced with the decision of when to pull the plug. We had covered most of the park and we didn’t want to push the kids too far. Should we try to stay for the parade? Nah, we decided to end on a high note and get back to our resort in time to go for a swim.

Toddler at Disney WorldWe were very happy with our day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. We hope to do this all again in two years, and by that point our kids will be a little older and our experience will change with their age.

Our Disney World memories are discussed daily in our home. We had a blast and can’t wait to go again soon!

Watch some our Disney World memories here…

Don’t forget to follow Nesting Story on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss the rest of my posts about our trip, including Art of Animation and tips, as well as our two weeks on Sanibel Island. Stay tuned!

Our Florida vacation was NOT sponsored. This vacation has been in the making for a long time. As always, all opinions are my own.