My Love Affair With Blogging (And What's Next?)

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Blogging began as a hobby for me in 2007, as a way to stay connected to my family and friends. This little blog of mine was the perfect platform to share my stories and pictures of my children as they grew from infants, to toddlers, to children. I never expected my blog to be anything other than a hobby, but it turned into something more; a career, of sorts, where I continue to write about the things I love, while earning an income—and giving back to the community whenever I can.


The opportunities I've had have been nothing short of amazing—being featured in magazines, making appearances on television, co-hosting radio shows, emceeing events, speaking at conferences, and writing great reviews and giveaways for businesses and products I love to promote and support. It's certainly been one memorable experience after another. 



I've attended conferences from California to New York City to Miami, I've danced with the Rockettes in Radio City Music Hall, and my family and I have received amazing perks when we travel

It has been incredible, and I'm thankful that my passion grew into something bigger than I thought possible. But... the most important thing about this journey is that I have made some wonderful friends over the years in this community. 

I've heard inspiring people speak in front of me, like Katie Couric, Brene Brown and Martha Stewart. I've gone to a cocktail party with Mario Lopez, I've shared wine with Wolf Blass, and I've talked beer with Tom Green, but the friendships that have lasted over the years? Priceless.

Blogging for Yummy Mummy Club is also so rewarding—I'm surrounded by talented, smart, business-savvy women on a daily basis.

The thing I'm most proud of, though, is when I am able to help others, especially children. I may not blog about my kids as much as I used to, but I will always be a strong voice for them and for all children, and I will enthusiastically support organizations that benefit children and their well-being.

A highlight for me was being asked to be a CHEO blogger. As a mom who has had a child stay  in CHEO three different times, this hospital is very near and dear to my heart.

I was hired to be Volkswagen Canada's blogger during the 2012 24h Tremblant charity event that also benefits sick children, and I was honored to be a part of that. It's incredible the good that comes from people getting together for a worthwhile cause.

I love reading about the wonderful things my friends are doing in the blogging community, too. Our voice is strong and the opportunities we have to use our voice for good are plentiful. 

If I had to give any blogging advice to a new blogger it would be this: 

Be true to yourself, write from the heart, tell your story, whatever it may be, have fun, and use your voice for good. Find something you believe in and try to make a positive change in your community. 

Even though there has been a shift in the blogging world, (less comments, more business opportunities) we are moving in the right direction, and using our voice for good.

I hope we continue to make positive changes around us, while enjoying the fun that comes with this crazy, awesome ride.
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Music To My Ears

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My children are are still young enough for me to cuddle any time I want to but they're also old enough to do a lot of things independently, like get dressed by themselves, brush their teeth, and help with household chores. (Although that last one doesn't happen as often as it should!)  Even though they're getting older every day—they are now five and seven years old—I remember their infant days as if it were yesterday. I recently watched my sister's wedding video, and I got so emotional. She was married in 2008, when my oldest son had just turned three, and my youngest was six months old. I couldn't believe how small my boys were. It brought tears to my eyes.

My baby boys and their adorable smiles and laughter caught on video was so heartwarming. I'd give anything to go back in time, just for a moment. The infant days are fleeting, really.

New parents go a little crazy when it come to taking pictures and recording their little ones, but you know what? It's absolutely worth it. I feel like, even though I have thousands of baby pictures of my boys, I still didn't take enough. And even though we captured them on video plenty of times, it still wasn't enough!

There is absolutely nothing more amazing or magical than hearing your baby laughing or seeing your children smiling. It's my most favourite sound in the whole world.

FIsher-Price just launched their new Laugh & Learn site where your children can watch webisodes, play fun games, meet the Laugh & Learn characters, enjoy fun apps about what's new and upcoming from Fisher-Price, and more. My little niece and nephew just love the webisodes.They're fun and educational at the same time—bonus! It's also adorable to see them laughing and singing along with the webisodes, too.

To celebrate the launch of this new site, Fisher-Price is hosting an AMAZING new contest called the Best Little Laugh! This contest will be celebrating the insanely-cute, over-the-top-adorable smiles, giggles and laughs that make us smile, too. Seriously, children laughing and babies giggling is music to my ears, and can turn any frown upside down!



To enter the contest (I'm sure you've got the perfect video or picture of your child smiling and laughing!) go to: www.fisherprice.ca/bestlittlelaugh and... good luck!



Disclosure: I am part of the Fisher-Price Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.
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Why Twitter Sucks

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Twitter is all sorts of awesome, and I'll blog about the many reasons why, one day soon, when I'm off Twitter long enough to be able to do so. (Kidding. I'm hardly ever on Twitter! Haha!)

However, there a few reason why Twitter is not awesome. 

Like the times you send out a tweet saying: 

It was love (lust, whatever) at first sight.
And your sister replies, telling you she's going to go buy the very dress you're planning on buying! 
I don't think so! That's just not going to happen, little sister.

Now we'll see who makes it to Banana Republic first. Challenge ON.

Happy weekend, friends—have a good one!
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Tips For Traveling With Children: From What To Wear To What To Pack

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I was only a few months old the first time I traveled on a plane. I lived in Greece the first year of my life, and every second year after that, my parents would take me to Greece for the summer. I have fond memories of Greece, and of traveling with my family. From Florida to Maine to England, I enjoyed every vacation and the memories from each trip.

Now my boys are avid travelers, too—from flying to road trips, they're got the travel bug like their mom. They're on their third passports, already. My children are easy and laid-back little travelers, which makes it much easier on me. I think traveling with your children at least once a year is very important. Travel really is "...the only thing you buy that makes you richer." Even though we often go to our favourite resort in south Florida every winter, each time we go, we leave with new wonderful memories to last a lifetime. It's become sort of a second home away from home for my boys.


I have learned a thing or two about traveling with young kids, and this is my travel advice to you:

Dress comfortably: Wear your most comfortable pair of jeans, a pair of lulu's, or a dress that no matter what position you end up in, will not fall off, or expose any body parts unintentionally. You'll be bending over and picking things up off the floor a lot, and you'll be using the tiny bathroom on the plane, so dress accordingly. Also, dress your children in the most comfortable of clothes, too. Loose pants, a t-shirt, and remember to bring a sweater—it's always cold on the plane! 

Pack a smart carry-on: Listen, I know you might be tempted to bring five hardcover novels with you, but don't. First of all, you will not get around to reading them all, so just pack one, and pack it in your suitcase. You won't have time to read on the plane, if more than one child is traveling with you. The carry-on essentials are: snacks, snacks, and more snacks. Also? Snacks. Surprise your kids with snacks they'll love and include something sweet, too. Treats like their favourite chocolate bars will be your best friend, trust me. Just make sure the snacks are peanut-free. Other important things to pack? Books, notebooks, and pencil crayons. Leave the markers at home. Make sure you have packed a change of clothes for each child in their backpack, and an extra pair of socks. Surprise the children with new little gifts you know they'll appreciate. Sticker books are great, and keep them busy. The most important item in each child's backpack, or in your carry-on? Their DVD player/DS/ipad mini. And make sure  to download all their favourite shows, movies, and games before you leave. You'll be set! Oh, and don't forget the earphones and a little pillow for them to rest their heads. 


Don't leave home without: The most important thing to bring with you on your vacation? Your iphone/ipad/DVD/DS chargers. That should be the second most important item you pack, right after the passports. Don't leave home without them!

Get creative: Sure, your children will be busy having fun on the plane—they'll be enjoying their healthy and not-so healthy snacks you've packed for them while watching their favourite movies, but maybe you should give them something fun to do, too? When we travel without daddy, they write letters to him, or draw him pictures about what's happening so far on their journey, even if we're still on the plane. This makes them happy and keeps them busy. Think of new games to play and ask them to keep a travel journal, of sorts. (If they're old enough to write; pictures will do if you're traveling with young ones!) 

Don't leave home without (part 2): Pack a little first-aid kit. Remember band-aids, polysporin, alcohol wipes, Gravol, Tylenol, Advil, vitamins, bug spray (depending on where you're going) sunscreen, aloe lotion for burns,  and a thermometer. And your patience. Always pack your patience.


Be flexible: When you're on vacation and away from home, no matter where you're staying, be flexible. Children will be off their routine, so go with the flow. My children have taken many naps under palm trees with beach towels as their blankets. If I love falling asleep to the sound of the ocean waves under the breeze of a palm tree, I'm positive my children enjoy it, too!





Ask for help: If you have to walk across the airport to catch a connecting flight, and you've got young kids but no stroller with you, ask for help. Oftentimes, you'll be able to hitch a ride with someone riding a golf cart type vehicle (do these things even have a name?) to get you where you need to be faster! This is super fun for the kids. 

Get a room with a balcony: Assuming you're traveling somewhere where there's an ocean, get a room with a balcony and an ocean view. There's nothing quite like waking up to the sound of the waves and seeing the endless ocean in front of you! This way, if you children just want to hang out in the room for a few hours because they're tired or not feeling well, at least you'll still feel like you're on vacation. 




Stay at child-friendly resorts: One of my favourite things about traveling to a resort like the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa is the fact that Westin hotels are very child-friendly. My children enjoy the free (and absolutely delicious) breakfast buffet, they have great lunch options, and there is a Kids Club. Even if the kids don't partake in the Club activities, they'll receive things like a beach hat and bag upon arrival. The kids love being treated like special guests! They also offer great toys for the beach and pool, from noodles to shovels and pails, which means less packing for you.



Travel with your entourage: I've traveled alone with my children, I've traveled with my husband and the children, and I've often traveled with my entire family with me—parents, sister, cousins, grandparents. The more family members that travel with you? The better. Having an extra hand is always a good thing. It means you can run to the bathroom without having to drag the children with you. It means you can actually drink your pina colada while it's still cold. It means you can even jump in the ocean and swim without a care in the world, if only for a few minutes. Traveling with a lot of family members is fun, too. It adds to the vacation experience!

Get out there: As much as we love the resorts and hotels we stay at, and even though we don't have to leave, I love that we can just get in our car and go exploring the city we're in. Whether we're heading to our favourite restaurant for dinner, going to our favourite shopping mall, or visiting the Miami Zoo, it's fun getting out while we're on vacation, and exploring.

Be the photographer: Take an endless amount of pictures, both with your real camera and with the one that's on your phone. I usually bring my good camera down to the beach with me on our first or second day of vacation to get some really good shots and then take the rest of our pictures with my camera on my iphone. Remember to ask someone to take a picture with YOU and your children, too!



Do it for the kids: We went to Great Wolf Lodge last summer as part of our Niagara Falls trip, and the kids just loved it. I mean, seriously loved it. It may not have been my number one destination of choice, but seeing my kids so happy in the water park made me feel like there was no better place to be on earth. What makes them happy makes me happy.

Take it easy: If you're not willing to give up your usual routine of blow-drying your hair every morning, you'll have to wake up extra early to take care of yourself while you're on vacation. Or, just don't stress about your hair and sleep in if you can. Another tip: keep your hotel room, house, or wherever you're staying neat and tidy. Before I go to bed, I make sure I have all the clothes and swim wear ready to go for the next day. 

Don't overpack: I know—this is nearly impossible. I have a hard time not packing my entire closet with me when I go on vacation and I never know what shoes to leave out. Just pack what you know you'll wear, what you love, and what looks great on you. Buy a great bikini cover up for the beach, and leave room in your suitcase for any new purchases you may buy for you and your children.

Stock up on healthy snacks: When we're on vacation, it is not always easy to eat a well-balanced, nutritious meal. We always go the grocery store upon our arrival and buy fruit, crackers, and granola bars for our hotel room, so we have a variety of healthy snacks ready at all times. (This is also cheaper than raiding the mini-bar!)

Relax: You've survived the plane ride and your children are having the time of their lives. Now it is time for you to sit back and try to relax... enjoy the view... sip a yummy drink... and relax. You're on vacation, after all!


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Back In The Day

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Back in the day, I  wore Vuarnet shirts.

I spent hours perfecting the safety pins that went down my horribly awful high-waisted jeans.

I wore push-down socks, sometimes in two different colours, with my Docs.

I wore Stussy hats and shopped at L.L. Bean and I loved my desert boots.

I had Duckies for rainy days, and I tried for years to perfect the teased bangs look, like Samantha on Who's The Boss.

I used a lot of hair spray.

I had Converse, and Tretorns, of course.

I would wear my hair in a side low ponytail because it was cool.

I had a million hair bands.

I listened to WHAM!

My yellow Sony walk-man was an essential part of who I was. 

I shopped almost exclusively at Benetton and Esprit and I loved wearing gummy bracelets and mis-matched earrings.

There is so much I miss about my past.

I miss being in school, I miss the innocence, I miss homework, even. 

I miss that there was really nothing to worry about. 

I miss lunches packed for me every day with love.

I miss playing marbles, and going on bike rides with my friends. I miss summer camp, and dance class and recital day.

I miss my youth.

I miss the days of going into my favourite book store to buy the newest Sweet Valley Twins and Baby-Sitters Club book, and I miss the toys.

I miss the days when being part of school clubs were fun, and I miss after-school activities like track and field and fashion shows and dances on Friday nights.

I miss yearbooks, and the anticipation of seeing what your friends would write.

I miss the carefree days.

I miss the toys of the 80's: Cabbage Patch Kids, My Little Pony. Rainbow Brite, and Jem and the Holograms. Even Monchhichi. I also really loved Barbie. Especially Business Barbie. 

I miss summers in Greece, and reading magazines by the sea without a care in the world, while listening to U2 and Ace of Base. 

I miss my little red VW Golf, and that moment when I finally mastered driving a stick-shift in a white VW Cabrio.

Although I miss so much, the great joy about being a parent is seeing your children living their childhood right in front of you... and as an added bonus, you can sort of be a child again, too. I've spent hours playing LEGO again and I now have two new partners to play Super Mario Bros. with. It's all good. (And I try not to think about the fact that 

I sometimes long  for days gone by, but no matter what, there is nothing I love more than the present—I cherish every moment, truly, and I'm glad all I have to do is close my eyes to have all my awesome childhood (and teenage) memories come back to me. I remember it all as vividly as if it were yesterday.

What do you  miss about days gone by? 

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The Best Way To Shop Online

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After my children, family, and friends, the two things I love the most in this world are traveling and shopping. 

Can you believe I only just recently got an AIR MILES card? I am seriously weeping thinking about all the lost opportunities I have missed! Free flights, discounts on my favorite items from my favorite stores, and so much more. 

Anyway, I'm here to tell you I am now a proud member of the AIR MILES card carrying club! And I'm now an avid points collector, too. I feel like I have a reason to shop now, and this reason actually rewards me.

When I was introduced to airmilesshops.ca, I got a little excited. Okay, a lot excited. 

J.Crew, Old Navy, Gap, Amazon.ca, Banana Republic, Apple, Lands' End, Indigo.ca, Victoria's Secret, Club Monaco, Aldo, Nordstrom, The Body Shop, and The LEGO Store are just some of the AIR MILES participating stores, and I couldn't be happier. Those are pretty much all the stores I regularly shop at, in person, or online.  I'm seriously in shopping heaven here, you guys. The fact that I (and you) can earn AIR MILES from online shopping for the things we need? Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me. 

All you have to do is sign in with your AIR MILES Collector Number and shop! Then when you check out, you'll earn AIR MILES reward miles on your purchase. It's like an extra gift, for free, and then when you have enough AIR MILES? You can book yourself a nice little vacation. 

The AIR MILES Cash program launched last year and allows Collectors like myself to redeem miles at check-out at stores like Metro, Rexall, RONA, and Shell gas stations, too. I fill up my car once a week, so this is a nice consolation prize, considering how much I spent on gas!

Redeeming from your AIR MILES Cash balance is also pretty easy. For instance, 95 reward miles can be redeemed for $10 off in-store at the participating stores across the country. (Reward miles can also be redeemed in $10 increments up to $200 daily, too!) 

For more information, visit airmiles.ca/cash. It really has never been easier or more fun to save instantly when shopping, while earning AIR MILES for your next trip to the destination of your choice! Shopping + Vacatiaon = PERFECTION!


Disclsoure: I received $250 in AIR MILES Cash. The opinions on this post are my own.
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Happy Father's Day (And A Gift From Philips)

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It's almost Father's Day! What does this mean? It means the school year has almost come to an end, and thank goodness for that because I am so over homework! I think my children feel the exact same way.
 
Oh, was I talking about Father's Day? Sorry! We celebrate Father's Day by giving dad a day off, a day to do whatever he wants.
I love surprising my dad and my husband with unexpected gifts, too, like leaving them with the kids for some quality time while I go shopping. I'm kidding. I love gifting them with something they might not think of buying themselves but something that's practical and well-made, too.
I am going to surprise the men in my life this Father's Day with the new Philips SensoTouch 3D wet and dry electric shaver. Wet or dry? A quick dry shave mean less time for the hubs in the bathroom, and more time for ME to shower in the morning, right?  I think I love this idea! 
Philips has given me a sweet basket filled with things the dad in your life will love. 
 
This Philips Basket includes:
  • The Philips SensoTouch (valued at $159.99)
  • A stainless steel travel mug 
  • A sleeping eye mask and ear plugs (perfect for business travel!)
  • A Blue Jays baseball hat for game night
  • A Face Buff Energizing Scrub


This basket is the perfect gift to give to your dad or your husband, no matter his style. Now that I'm made Father's Day shopping easier for you, you have time to bake a batch of his favourite cookies. Or, you know... buy some.
 
To enter to win this Father's Day Philips Gift Basket, just leave me a comment telling me what you love about your Father!
 
I'll pick the winner randomly on June 7th!

Good Luck!
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Everything Old Is New Again (And A Sweet Gift For 25 Of You!)

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Doesn't it seem that lately, everything old is new again? From hairstyles (side low ponytail, anyone?) to movies (sigh... The Great Gatsby!) the things I loved are coming back better than before. With certain exceptions (there can never be a re-make of Dirty Dancing!) taking a much-loved classic and making it new again is a very good thing.

This just happened to one of my favourite cereals—Honey Nut Cheerios! Honey Nut Cheerios has gone where they haven't gone before, and switched things up a little, while keeping what made us love them, all those years ago. What's new, you ask? Now, you can have Honey Nut Cheerios Hearty Oat Crunch for breakfast! Along with what you already loved about this cereal, it now comes with crispy oat flakes and nut clusters for a taste that so good, you'll want  breakfast for lunch and dinner, too. (I think I just invented my new diet!)




I received a box and within two days, my boys and I had finished it. They very, very enthusiastically loved it, and gave it two thumbs up. There is more variety in every bite, and every bite is so good, you really have to try it yourself to believe it. I don't kid around when it comes to breakfast—getting kids ready, fed, and out the door in time for school is no easy task, my friends. Feeding them a breakfast that's good for them, and one they totally love is a huge bonus. Also, I love this cereal and um, I ate two bowls this mornings. Is that bad? 

Anyway, I would love it if you tried a box yourself. 

Just fill out this form with your address, and we'll mail you a delicious box of the new Honey Nut Cheerios Hearty Oat Crunch. This offer is available to the first 25 of my readers who fill out the form. 

And trust me—you'll go nuts over how yummy it is! I guarantee it. 

Even if more than 25 of you want to try a box, you'll still have a chance to win one on the Life Made Delicious Facebook page on July 16th. 






Enjoy! I know you'll be as impressed as I was.


Disclosure: I am participating in the Honey Nut Cheerios Hearty Oat Crunch Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf of General Mills and received compensation as a thank you for participating  and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinion on this blog are my own.
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