Simplify for 2018

I have decided that this is the year I actually do it. I simplify. I get organized.

I won’t call it a resolution because if I do, it FOR sure won’t happen.

Two things really sparked this for me. First, our long-awaited basement renovation is finally starting this week. I cannot begin to describe how excited I am about this. The basement will essentially be a playroom/family room/guest room with laundry and a small bathroom.  I am thrilled that all the kids toys and books will finally have a permanent home (as well as the husbands extensive vinyl collection) but the basement was full of crap. Like SO. MUCH. STUFF.  Basically our entire childhoods were boxed up and living down there. We have moved it all out now but it is taking longer to go through the piles of things and purge then I had ever imagined. We have taken about three van loads of stuff to donate and I am sure we will be sending at least three more soon. Getting rid of massive amounts of stuff I have been holding on to for literally decades has been hard but very invigorating and I have decided to continue the purge throughout the house and, dare I say it, my life!

Serendipity is my friend. The other day I was scrolling through the ‘gram and I stopped at Emily Ley’s account (a fellow twin mom and mom of three). She is the founder of the Simplified Planner and also the author of A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living. She was offering a free e-book for her Simplicity Challenge when you sign up to her mailing list (find it here without signing up) so I printed it out right away. There are so many amazing tips in there and mixed with the goals that I had already set for myself, I have come up with a list of ten ways I will be simplifying my life in 2018.  Again, not a resolution. Goals.

  • Clean out your bag- If you are like me, I carry around a ton of stuff in my bag. I change bags frequently but somehow all the junk just migrates. I am now trying to keep my bag more organized by keeping makeup and bits and bobs in a pouch so that everything is contained and there are no random hair ties and lipsticks floating around the bottom of my bag.  I am using a cute Kate Spade pouch similar to this one. If you like the look of your pouch, you are more likely to use it!
  • Purge your wardrobe and make it look pretty– I went out and bought a bunch of new velvet hangers at Homesense in an attempt to fit more in my fairly small closet. In the process of replacing all my bulky wooden hangers, I took literally every single piece out and had to hold it in my hand and look at it. If I didn’t think that I would wear it soon, I threw it in a pile to donate. For my drawers, I pulled every single piece out and dumped them all on the floor- when I reached for piece to re-fold it, I had to make the same decision.
  • Buy better, not more– Now that I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff, I have decided to try to cut down on impulsive, fast fashion purchases. I plan on keeping a list in my yearly planner (more on that later) of items that I want and really do my research to find exactly the right piece. Maybe it’s from Zara or maybe I will have to spend more, but it will have to be the perfect piece to make it into my newly arranged wardrobe.
  • Make a list of books you want to read this year– If you are a regular follower of mine, you know that I am a bit of a book addict. I buy a TON of books… more than I can ever realistically read. I need to curb the spending on books so I have decided to make a list of books I want to read this year and try to stick with it.
  • Clean out the pantry- If your house is like mine, you pantry or wherever you store your dry goods becomes a total disaster. Stuff gets crammed in there and soon enough, you are buying repeat items because you have no idea what you have. Cleaning it out, tossing anything that is too old or expired and arranging it so everything is visible will help cut down on unnecessary purchases. Also- you may find that you have some items that you can donate to a local food bank!
  • Weekly Meal Planning– Another way to avoid purchasing more food then you require. Planning meals cuts down on expense and food waste. I used to be very good at this but in recent years, life with babies got in the way. Really excited to get back to it!
  • Family calendar- My husband and I both have work events and separate social events that we need to keep track of in addition to appointments and activities for the kids. Sharing a calendar on iCal means that we always know what everyone is up to so we don’t double book. I have found that being able to see how the month is shaping up keeps me from getting overwhelmed and enables me to make sure that everyone gets to where they need to go.
  • Use my planner– Every year I buy a beautiful planner and every year it gets woefully neglected. The most successful year I had with a planner was when I used it more as a journal and a goal keeper then to track appointments (which are on the shared iCal calendar anyway!) This year, I received a lovely day per page planner from Paper Source  (pictured below) for Christmas. The day per page give me lots of room to take notes, make lists and write down random thoughts.
  • Purge that junk drawer– Don’t lie and say you don’t have one. Everyone has one somewhere in their home. For us, it’s in the kitchen island and it is where rubber bands and batteries go to die. Clean that puppy out and you will realize how much garbage has accumulated in there and how good it feels to say goodbye to it (until next year when it is full again!)
  • Go through the kids things every month– this may seem excessive but when you have three rapidly growing and changing kids, it really helps keeping their clothing and toys from getting out of control. I do this especially with the twins stuff, as once they outgrow something there is no need for me to hold on to it anymore (no more babies coming our way). I usually divide the purged items into a pile for charity and a pile to sell at a consignment store (if you live in Toronto, I suggest Merrily Merrily for consigning)

** Bonus- Take time for just you every day. Even if it is just a 10 minute shower, a 20 minute bath with a glass of wine or a walk or bike around the neighbourhood. Clear your head away from the family. It will make you a happier parent, partner and human!

 

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Holiday 2017- Portable North Pole

My kids are already going nuts for Christmas and it is still over a month away! The twins and their big brother are so excited for Santa to come it is basically the only topic of conversation with the short people in my house. I was thrilled when I heard about the app Portable North Pole. This ingenious website created personalized videos from Santa to the little ones in your life so they can hear from the big man himself if they are on the naughty or nice list!! My eldest son was so so enthralled but the message he received- we watched it three times in a row! This year, Portable North Pole has also published a book “24 Sleeps Until Santa” which is available across Canada, including  Indigo and Amazon.  In the book, Santa Claus helps impatient children pass the days until Christmas with a game!  Each night, he hides the key to his magical world in the illustrations. The reader must find the key on each page, hidden among the magical elves and animals as they prepare for Santa’s busiest night of the year! It is beautifully illustrated, fun and exciting for the kids and last but certainly no least 5% of the proceeds go to local hospitals!!! My kids love this book and we will probably read it every night until Christmas. The three of them take turns pointing out the hidden keys on each page.    

I want you to win  a copy of “Twenty-Four Sleeps Until Santa” to read with you little elves !!!!

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    ** thank you so much to Portable North Pole for providing me with a book for my little ones and a book to give away to my readers. As always, all opinions are my own. SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave

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Holiday 2017- Five ideas for family fun in Toronto

 

I love to share the fun and magic of the holiday season with my kids but there are SO many options these days that it can get a bit overwhelming. Here are five wonderful options in Toronto this year that have caught my attention!

 

Black Creek Pioneer Village– On weekends November 18- December 23rd, Black Creek transforms in to an old-fashioned Christmas village. Complete with food, music, tree trimming and wagon rides, this is the perfect tradition to get you in the holiday spirit. In December, meet Santa and feast on a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings (the first three Sundays in December)

Toronto Christmas Market-  I first visited the Christmas Market in its first year and I LOVED it. My parents were in Europe at the time and I was so envious of them getting to see the holiday lights and enjoy the markets in Paris. Over the last several years, the market has become incredibly popular, so much so that there is a charge attend on the weekends ($6 per person after 5PM on Fridays. Children 2 and under are free) It can be insanely busy on the weekends and in the evenings, but if you head out early enough it can be a really enjoyable outing for the whole family. There are market stalls, tons of fun food options, a giant Christmas tree, music and of course SANTA! (November 16 –  December 23, 2017. Closed Mondays)

A Christmas Carol (Soulpepper)     – For many families Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is required movie viewing. To expericec the tradition in person, check out Soulpeppers’ annual stage production. Audiences also enjoy free entrance to the Toronto Christmas Market via the Cherry Street entrance. (Show runs from December 7th-24th. Best for ages 8+)

A Christmas Carol (a Ross Petty Production) – For a more lighthearted musical version of Dickens’ classic, check out this production. Ross Petty’s shows are based on the traditional English pantomime, which means lots of audience participation and inevitably at least one character in drag. I loved going to these as a child and I can’t wait to take my own kids! (Show runs November 24th- December 31st at the Elgin Theatre)

Holiday Bricktacular at LegoLand Discovery Centre (Vaughn Mills) – Legoland is Mecca for my eldest son. What better way to celebrate the holidays (and fill those long days between Christmas and New Years) then with Lego! Write a letter to the Master Model Builders, test your little ones skills creating Lego holiday decor and just have a blast. ( Legoland Discovery Centre is located in Vaughn Mills. Check the website for dates and ticket information)

 

What are your favourite family holiday traditions?????

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How to survive a road trip with kids

Every year, we drive our trusty Honda Odyssey minivan to visit family outside of New York city. I look forward to this trip with a mix of excitement and dread. We are going to beautiful place to visit people we adore… but first we have to get there. 9+ hours in the car with three kids. Here are some of my tips for surviving a long road trip. These are not Pinterest style suggestions, these are #realtalk.

1.) ALLLL the tv shows and movies.

When we are at home, especially during the school year, we have very limited TV time during the week. When we travel, all the rules are  thrown out he window when we! Need to stop whining and fighting in the car? TV! Need to keep them quiet at a  restaurant? TV!  It’s not going to destroy their brains and it might just save your sanity.
Target Happy
2.) Bribe

We do a Target run as soon as we hit the border. Each kid gets to pick out
one toy as a treat and bribe to be good in the car. We also tend to pick up some not so good for you snacks there as well. Sugar won’t destroy their brains either  (as long as they brush and floss after all- I am not totally negligent)


Treat time

3.) Naps

This may seem like a no brainer but if you are on the kind of holiday where it is possible to stick to your kids regular nap schedule DO IT! They will be happier and you will have a much-needed and deserved break. If you are like me, your natural instinct is to pack as much sightseeing and fun into a holiday but cut yourself some slack. It’s your holiday as much as the little ones and you don’t want to get home more exhausted then when you left (hope springs eternal)

Storm King

 

4.) Schedule something that you want to do
We did a lot of things that the kids really wanted to do (swimming, eating junk food and visiting farms and zoos) but we also made sure that we fit in something that we really wanted to do as well. This year, we went to Storm King, an incredible art centre featuring massive outdoor sculptures. It was completely child appropriate but it was for the parents really!

 

Burger King

5.) Manage your expectations

No vacation is perfect, in spite of what you see on Instagram. Prepare yourself as much as possible all the while understanding that all your best laid plans will implode at least once. That is what happens when you travel with kids. And that is what wine is for.

 

What are your best tips for road trippin’ or just traveling in general with kids???

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The Pull-Ups Potty Promise and a Giveaway!!!

June is Potty Training Awareness Month and we are making the Potty Promise to ditch the diapers!!!

 

  I wasn’t sure that they (and I really mean “I”) was ready for this particular milestone but the twins’ teacher had been telling us that they were ready to start training. Then one day our daughter wanted to wear her cute new “unders” … and well, that was that. Once that kid has decided on something, it’s happening, regardless of mommy!

I had a really hard time potty training my oldest son and the entire experience was incredibly frustrating and anxiety ridden for all of us. I vowed that I would not let it get the best of me the second time, even with twins!

I have learned a lot from potty training three kids and here are my top five tips!

  1. Make sure your little one(s) is ready. Take the Potty Training Signs of Readiness Quiz  to make sure that now is the time to start. There is nothing worse than pushing a child into training when they are really not at all ready, emotionally or physically. However, don’t assume that just because they are young they aren’t ready. Some children are ready at 18 months!
  2. Make sure they really understand the difference between Pull-Ups®  Training Pants /Underpants and diapers. In our house,Pull-Ups® are considered to be underwear and the twins try to keep them as clean and dry as they would underwear.
  3. Be consistent. Don’t go back to diapers during the day once you have introduced underpants and/or Pull-Ups®. The twins know that diapers are only for night time these days and love to choose their own underwear and Pull-Ups® patterns. This autonomy makes them feel like big kids and they are so proud of that!
  4. Make it fun but don’t depend on bribes. Check out Potty Training Games and Tools for some cool ideas. Keeping the mood and tone of training fun is a key to success!
  5. As a parent, don’t stress the small stuff. Your kid will learn to pee in the potty. They will not be going to high school in a diaper. Don’t worry if they have an accident in the grocery store. No one is judging you. This is a small blip in the parenting journey. They will get it and you will make it through. You got this!!!

  

To help you make the #PottyPromise this month, Pull-Ups® and I want to give you your own Potty Partnership Starter Kit!

 

PullUps_StarterKit_Boy

 

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** Giveaway runs until June 30, 2017.  Eligible for Canadian residents 18+, excluding QC**

*While this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

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Better morning nutrition with Greens Plus!

Being a parent is hard work. No surprise there but I am always amazed at how my health and diet suffer while taking care of three crazy little ones. I never have time to eat a proper breakfast in the morning- sometime it is just coffee and whatever scraps that the kids refuse to eat (and if I am being honest, sometimes stuff that has fallen on the floor). In an effort to see that the grown-ups in the house do not come down with Scurvy, my husband has started making smoothies in the morning. They are the perfect on the go breakfast- quick, nutritious and portable. The only think that I felt that we were missing was some added greens, so we have added a scoop of Greens Plus from Genuine Health to our morning blend. Greens Plus is formulated with 23 plants and essential nutrients and helps keep me going all day.

There are so many delicious smoothie recipes out there, but one of our FAVOURITES right now is the Hello Sunshine Smoothie, created by Joy McCarthy, a holistic nutritionist

Smoothie 1

  • 1 peeled orange
  • 1 peeled kiwi
  • 1 cup cubed pineapple
  • 1 peeled banana
  • half a peeled lemon
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 scoop Greens Plus
  • 1 cup coconut water

(This recipe serves two and we add a scoop of Flax as well!)

Smoothie 2 Smoothie 3

Not only do we love this recipe, the kid do too! Giving them a glass in the morning (however messy) sets my mind at ease knowing that they got an extra kick of veggie power going into their busy days!!!

 

 

** I was provided with this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own**

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Summer in the City- Possibility Camp

This time of the year everyone is looking for fun and entertaining things for the kids to do during the summer break. I would like to tell you a little bit about Possibility Camp.

Possibility Camp

 

The mission of Possibility Camp is to bring out the potential of girls to make positive impacts on the world around them. This program empowers girls ages 8-13 to become leaders, social entrepreneurs, and change-makers. 

Through fun and experiential learning, Possibility Camp will help instill a strong foundation of skills and values to help girls to develop empathy, identify societal challenges, generate creative ideas, design prototypes, and build self-confidence in a group setting.

The Program is based STEAM thinking (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math).   and among other activities, participants will  get an insider’s view at the Telus innovation centre and learn about cyber and internet safety through the internationally renowned Telus WISE program.

This Summer’s Possibility Camp will be taking place  runs Mon, 17 Jul 2017, – Fri, 21 Jul 2017, 9:00AM- 4:00 PM at Ryerson DMZ Zone Learning

I would like to offer my readers 20% off the camp with the code: Friendatstrollingthecity

Girls need to be empowered now more then ever to take pride in themselves and to see themselves with strength and self confidence!

GIRL POWER!

 

 

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Spring Style- Gap x Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is coming to the big screen on June 2nd (Watch the kick ass trailer here) and The Gap is celebrating the ultimate example of Girl (Super)Power with a capsule collection of Wonder Woman inspired gear for women, babies and kids. The iconic logo, lasso, head-piece and the old school red, red white and blue outfit are all represented. So fun for the warrior women in your life!
Here are my favourite pieces!

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Toddler Favourites- Two Years Old!

Toddler Favourites- Two Years Old

Leapfrog Number Lovin’ Oven– We don’t have room for a play kitchen in our house so this little talking oven is a real life/spacesaver

Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway Set–  SOO happy that I kept all the tracks and trains from the twin’s big bro ( are they ever expensive)! They love them as much as he did.

Megablocks Big Building Bag– WOW do all three kids enjoy these. The twins are well on their way to being  master builder and their brother loves helping them make elaborate constructions! Next stop- LEGO!

IKEA Lockig Potty– Cheap and cheerful. Let the potty training fun begin.

“Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”– This is a favourite book in our house and a fun, rythmic way of teaching the alphabet.

Beanie Boos– All three kids are OBSESSED withe these big eyes plushies.

 

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