HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017

HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017

A very happy new year dear readers!!! I hope the holidays were restful, meaningful, and full of joy. As I sit down to write this blog post, I am surrounded by boxes as we prepare to move our family into our brand new home!

2017 was a year of adventure and change, and today I thought it might be fun to look back at some key moments from the last year that had a huge impact on me and my family- so I invite you take this somewhat sentimental trip down memory lane.

1. I launched and grew my YouTube Channel

I had been dabbling in YouTube in previous years, but last year was the year I really committed to my channel. What I have loved about YouTube is the conversations I have started with other moms who are seeking balance and beauty in their lives- particularly, I have loved the conversations on my videos on Should a Mom Work and Should You Cruise With Kids. And I loved collaborating with Rachhloves on her kids’ rooms, and my reveal of my Tale of Two Houses project. Video is just so much fun and I look forward to more of it in 2018.

2. We sold our house

We always knew when we moved into this house our family would eventually outgrow it. And since we have expanded fairly rapidly since we have moved in (6 children in 8 years!!!) the time just felt right to move forward and sell. I will miss this house so much, and grateful I got to leave my mark on it in a meaningful way with all our renovations! Literally every single square inch was tackled. Here’s my living room and kitchen, my master bedroom and bathroom, my basement, my home gym, my laundry room, and my backyard. I think I am going to miss that backyard most of all!!!

3. I started coaching moms

As I shared in this blog post, it has always been on my heart to one day help moms beyond interior design. A quick background on this: when I started my career, when I would go to a cocktail party or even of any kind, people would find me and pick my brain about their kitchen remodel, or ask where to buy a good sofa. But as the years went on and I had 6 children in 8 years, the conversations at parties and industry events would always turn to how in the heck I managed to balance things. So I knew eventually I would do more on this but it was always a little foggy to me how.

I have just launched my first 6-week coaching program, and am excited to grow this new arm of my business. Stay tuned for more info in 2018!

4. I spoke to 1000 students at a major conference

This one will go in the books as a huge breakthrough for me both personally and professionally. I was invited to give the opening night keynote at Catholic Christian Outreach’s annual conference between Christmas and New Year’s called Rise Up. I spoke to 1000 Catholic University students from across Canada, and spilled quite a few things about myself I wouldn’t exactly voluntarily tell you if you know what I mean. But I did- and “all my secrets” as my 8 year old called them, are forever recorded here if you are interested in watching my talk on involving God in your plans.

5. I completed some really fun sponsored makeovers

I had the pleasure of working with a few brands this year on some amazing room makeovers, for some amazing homeowners. This bathroom, this laundry room, this kitchen, this kitchen, and more! So grateful for the partnerships I have made over the year, and how interior design can really transform a family’s life!

5. We celebrated 10 years of marriage

For our tenth wedding anniversary we decided to really do it up and celebrate. We renewed our vows, and gathered some friends together, and partied. My husband asked if I could live our wedding over again, or our anniversary party over again, which one would I want to do? And honestly, I would do our anniversary party over again! Because when you marry someone, you’re celebrating the promise, and the hope, and the joy in a new commitment. But in an anniversary, you are celebrating survival, you are celebrating commitment, and we got to do it with all our children present which was honestly just the best. Take a peek at the festivities here.

6. We are having another baby!

When we sold our house, we just felt so sure that it was the right time. Lots of people told us we were crazy for selling in the winter, right before Christmas, and that we would get so much more money if we waited until the Spring. But something kept telling me to keep on course- I had such a strong conviction that selling at the time was right. Well, God of course has the best plans, and His timing is pretty amazing. We found out we were pregnant with baby #7 the night before we signed the papers on our house sale- i.e. we had no idea we were pregnant when we listed the house for sale. Finding out we are growing our family again is probably my favourite gift of 2017.

It was a year of wild adventure, and I am so grateful to you for coming along for our journey. Here’s to a year of hope and more adventure for us all in 2018!!!!

HOW TO SIMPLIFY HOME AND AUTO INSURANCE

HOW TO SIMPLIFY HOME AND AUTO INSURANCE

When I was a child, I dreamed of what my life would look like as a grown up. I dreamed up what kind of a house I would have (a red brick house with a white picket fence), the kind of car I would drive (my dream car when I was 12 was a pink convertible), and of course what my husband and kids would look like (I still pinch myself sometimes when I realize that I have 6 amazing kids!!!)

While my car isn’t pink, my adult reality has far surpassed my dreams:

But of course, what I never realized as a child was the amount of work that goes into taking care of a house or a car in your adulthood. From regular maintenance, to unexpected damages, to legal papers and getting home and auto insurance, the actual process of owning a home and a car can sometimes feel a lot less dream like.

As a busy working mom, I am always looking for ways to streamline my life, and save time and energy. So today, I am teaming up with the Canadian home and auto insurance company Esurance, to help make this important aspect of owning a home and a car a little less stressful.

While the “grown-up” realities of owning a home and a car aren’t always easy, getting the best home and auto insurance for your family shouldn’t be hard. Here are a few ways that Esurance makes the process of getting the right policy for your family an easy one.

1. It’s fast and efficient

With Esurance, you can get a car and home quote online quick and easy. There’s no waiting on hold for a phone representative. You simply fill out your information on their website, and are directed in a comprehensive manner the best options for you. Inputting your responses online means that you can do this virtually anywhere- on your phone, in line at the grocery store, or on your laptop while holding your baby. Sometimes my life can get really hectic- and filling out a form at a time that works best for me is just so convenient.

2. It’s competitive

Esurance is changing insurance for the better, leveraging technology to reduce some of the costs that encumber traditional insurance companies. With an award-winning website and innovative tools, tech-savvy consumers can save money with Esurance through a myriad of incentive discounts for those who qualify- check out 10 ways you can save on home insurance here. I also appreciate that the website does a really great job at explaining EVERYTHING in detail, in regular language, that I can understand. Being able to understand all of the options available to me helps me with feeling less overwhelmed, and takes away the stress of knowing where my money is going.

3. It’s reliable

As a part of the Allstate family, Esurance is a reliable choice for insurance, offering anytime, anywhere service just a click, call, or tap away. When you are dealing with things as serious and unnerving such as the theft of a car, or unexpected damage to your home, it’s comforting to know that there is is someone there for you who is going to have your back. So regardless if you’re a first-time homeowner, or a sawdust seasoned home owning pro, Esurance offers support and advice for all.

As an interior design professional, I get to help my clients realize a lot of dreams. From beautiful furnishings, to personalized art, I love helping families thrive at home, and design a life they truly love. And while I don’t like to dwell on some of the unfortunate things that are a reality of home and auto ownership, it is important to be prepared, and feel empowered in making decisions that will help your family thrive.

For more information on how Esurance can help your family thrive, visit www.esurance.ca 

A special thanks to Esurance for partnering with me on this blog post. I do a lot of research to ensure that any brand I partner with is going to help your family thrive- so please know opinions are my own. 

DO YOU NEED A BREAKTHROUGH?

DO YOU NEED A BREAKTHROUGH?

Hello!!!!! First of all, big time apologies for the lack of blogging over the last little while. As I have shared over on Instagram, my family is going through a brand new transition, and that has occupied quite a bit of my time.

We are moving. And our decision to move was not made lightly. We really discerned, prayed, strategized, and thought hard about our decision. It is scary to break what is familiar, and what is safe.

But in order to move toward our ideal lives, we must take action. Growth does not happen by wishing and hoping. It happens as a result of ACTION.

Do you have big dreams in your heart but aren’t sure how to do them amidst the grind of raising kids, running a house, and taking care of yourself? Do you want to make big changes in your life but have no idea where to start? Do you have goals that you have had on a list forever and FINALLY want to see completed? Are you overwhelmed, exhausted, directionless, and wish a fairy godmother could come and help you out?

I want to help you.

I have been thinking long and hard about how I can help more moms realize their dreams, feel less overwhelmed, and simply just live their best life possible. So I am happy to announce I am starting a coaching service, specific for moms who want to follow their dreams but not sacrifice their families at the same time.

To kick start this new chapter in my business, I am offering what I am calling a “Possibility Mom Breakthrough Call” (borrowing from the title of my upcoming book The Possibility Mom), and in this call I will help you:

  • clarify what is important to you
  • help you find more time, joy and freedom
  • assist you in designing a life with a lot less overwhelm

Calls will be 45 minutes in length and here’s the best part- they are 100% FREE.

But they won’t be free forever : ) 

To book your time with me, all you have to do is click here and answer a few questions to get you all set up. At the end of our call, I’ll be offering some options how we might work together further.

These calls will only be available until December 31, 2017. So don’t miss out- book your time here.

I want to help you live your best life possible, uncover and articulate what is unique about you, and help you craft your ideal story. So if you have ever thought the following:

  • I want to start a business but have no idea how with small kids at home
  • I’ve been a mom for so long and want to pursue personal passions but don’t know where to start
  • I work too much and want more balance so I can actually spend time with my family
  • I’m tired of being overwhelmed, there must be another way

I promise, I can help. As a working mom of 6 who for too long chased dreams that weren’t really mine, I have been in that uncomfortable place of knowing I needed to change but did not know how.

I promise, there is another way.

I am so excited to start this new chapter of my business, and if you’re with me, book your time right here.

WHY EVERYONE NEEDS A MENTOR

WHY EVERYONE NEEDS A MENTOR

I've been running my own business for the last ten years. (Sidenote: I honestly cannot believe it has been ten years. I feel like I have literally blinked and it happened). In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing, Literally no idea. I just kept chugging along, trying things, failing at things, etc. And while I loved experimenting and figuring stuff out, I didn't love how I wasn't exactly making any money doing it! In the first years of my business, profit was non existent. 

With small kids at home and a husband who worked in ministry (i.e. money was not exactly growing on trees), we knew as a family we had to make some changes, especially if we wanted to live in the expensive city that is Toronto, Canada. 

Through mutual friends, I was introduced to a lovely lady named Candice who worked as a corporate strategist. At the time, I had no idea what that meant- but it had the word strategy in it and I knew I was lacking in it, so we embarked on a trade agreement where I decorated her house and she provided business coaching. 

The results were amazing. And as the years progressed, I continued to work with coaches both on a business and personal level, who helped me to understand my strengths, poke holes in my business model, and overall, make me a better person and business owner.

I really do believe that everyone can benefit from a mentor- here are a few reasons why:

1. YOU CANNOT SEE WHAT YOU CANNOT SEE

It is really hard to be objective about yourself and your business. Especially as entrepreneurs, where you essentially give birth to an idea and you raise it up like a baby, you can be protective like crazy just like a mama bear. This closeness to your business can make it hard to see gaps, holes, struggles or limitations. Sometimes criticizing a business can feel like criticizing you- so to have an objective outside opinion is really valuable.

2. YOU ONLY KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW

We grow from people who know more than us- it is simply just a fact. To think we know it all is just not a strategic position to take! To learn from people who have been there, done that, invested hours, have failed, have succeeded, and more is a much more efficient way to grow than trying to learn it all on your own! 

3. MENTORS OPEN DOORS

A mentor can open doors (and unlock doors that you may have glued completely shut or created barricades against, lol) to worlds you never knew existed. A mentor can help with a mindset shift that you cannot get out of, a mentor can paint the picture of possibilities that you never knew existed, and a mentor can open your mind to completely new ways of thinking. It's pretty incredible and inspiring what the right mentor can do for your life.

I am really grateful to the mentors I have had over the last ten years. If you're interested in finding yourself a mentor, or learning about the benefits a mentor may provide you, I am taking part in a really fun online summit called the Success Mentor Summit hosted by Claire Diaz-Ortiz! It features some pretty amazing speakers including Jeff Goins, Donald Miller, Jon Acuff and more. I'm speaking about "Failing Your Way to Success" and I am so excited to share this inetrview with you!!!!! To learn more, click here,

BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING GUIDE

BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING GUIDE

My friends, I did it. As I shared recently on the blog, I was really determined to not leave back-to-school shopping to the very last minute. In years past, I was the mom staring at empty racks of school uniform clothing, going to multiple stores to try and find Bento box lunch boxes because everyone was sold out- and you’d think I would learn from past mistakes but nope! Every Labour Day weekend you would find me in the exact same spot, scratching my head as to how it happened yet again #lol.

So this year, I wanted to make it simple for myself and happy to report that it was a grand success- I took my four school aged kids (and the baby) and we were done in an hour and a half. #momwin

If you are curious what we picked up, check out my newest video below! I share in it all the goodies and seriously- this year’s haul was awesome. 

If this was helpful, I’ve compiled where I got everything, plus some other fun treats I found in my travels in this neat little download below. Just enter your email and the list will be sent over! Happy back-to-school shopping! 

 

 





IS A CRUISE RIGHT FOR YOU?

IS A CRUISE RIGHT FOR YOU?

We recently returned from a week long Caribbean adventure on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. The ship was spectacular and my children had a pretty epic adventure. In my son John’s words, “it was literally the best thing ever!”

My husband and I, while we enjoyed various aspects of the experience a great deal, aren’t convinced that cruising is for us. There are things that I think every family should know before making what can be a fairly expensive investment- so I thought I would round up some of the things to consider if you’re planning a cruise experience. (And if you are looking for my candid thoughts both good and bad, check out my YouTube video here). 

To you decide if a cruise is right for you, here are some things to consider: 

1. DO CROWDS MAKE YOU ANXIOUS?

With six kids, getting from point A to point B anywhere in life is an accomplishment. So I really don’t like crowds and try my best to avoid them. By the nature of how a cruise ship is designed (like a mini city on water), crowds are inevitable, and I think unless you spend a ton of money and go for the exclusive level rooms / clubs / restaurants, expect to wait in line, deal with crowded elevators, etc. wherever you go. 

My husband is an introvert and I kind of feel like cruises are designed for extroverts! So do keep in mind your tolerance for crowds when you pick a ship- look for smaller ships for a less crowded experience.

2. ARE YOU A BUFFET PERSON, OR A SIT DOWN RESTAURANT PERSON?

Many cruises offer incredible buffets included with your ticket fee, with a great mix of healthy foods, treat foods, and cultural foods. 

I love me a good buffet, don’t get me wrong, but what I really enjoy is being able to converse at a languid pace with my family at the table and really just be present and have great conversation. It’s just not the same with a buffet with everyone getting up and down (and of course trying to balance kids plates and your own plates is a logistical experience).

While many ships have beautiful sit down restaurants, the sit down restaurants are often at an additional fee, so if you value a sit down experience be prepared to spend. Some ships offer value packages when you pre-pay for these specialty restaurants, so do look into that to save some money.

3. DO YOU LIKE TO EXPLORE CULTURAL HIGHLIGHTS OR GO OFF THE BEATEN PATH? 

While at port at a destination, you typically have one or two days, depending on your length of cruise. The ships do a great job of curating various experiences you can do while on land within these cultures, but they are definitely the “highlight reel” so to speak- definitely offering value, but you can only experience so much in a few hours. 

If exploring off the beaten path is more your jam, I think you could still do that within a cruise experience, but there is something to be said of slow travel days, spending time with locals like other resort or Eco-tourist type experiences can gain you.

4. DO YOU GET OVERWHELMED IN MESSY, SMALL SPACES?

As an interior designer, the space I sleep in, and having a tidy space, is really important to me. I knew it was going to be a challenge to live in smaller quarters than we are used to at home, but thought that we would be ok for a week. 

We were not. Clutter really impacts my anxiety level and I found it challenging to keep our room clean and our stuff organized. I would definitely advise looking into the cost difference between a standard room and upgrading to a suite, as this can have a large impact on the way you relax.

As I mention pretty candidly in this video, I am not convinced a cruise is the right fit for our family, but I would be interested to see what a smaller ship experience would be like, or if we returned to a larger ship, if the cost of upgrading to larger accommodations would be worth it to me.

What about you? Do you cruise and love it? Or are cruises not for you? Love to know in the comments below and for more of my thoughts traveling with family, check out these posts here and here. And for lots more thoughts on cruising, hit play below.