Traveling with young children may seem scary, I get it! I know many parents who avoid traveling altogether, because they fear how their children will be, when confined in a small aircraft, away from their comfort… More
As many of you know, our family moved from Toronto to Tampa 4 1/2 years ago because of my husband’s job. Florida has become our home and it’s where my oldest son spent most of his life and where my second child was born. As much as we have loved the endless sunshine and being surrounded by beautiful palm tress and white sandy beaches, our plan is always to return to Toronto to be closer to our families.
Keeping that in mind and really unsure of when that date will be, my goal lately is to take as much advantage of this lifestyle as we can before we move on from this chapter of our lives.
Here are a few things that I have listed on my Florida Bucket list to do with my boys (in no particular order):
1. Go to the Beach more often
There are so many beautiful beaches around the Tampa Bay Area and it is ashamed that we don’t go nearly as often as we should. Prior to this year, we probably went 3 to 4 times a year or when guests came to visit. This summer, my goal has been to go at least once a week or every two weeks. Once we move back to Toronto, the ocean will be a lot more than a skip, hop and jump away.
2. Watch the sunset on the beach with my boys
We are only half an hour away from the beach so I would love to take the boys one evening, grab dinner on the way and have dinner on the beach while the sun is setting in the horizon. One day they will probably want go be sharing this experience with someone special in their lives as I did with their dad in some of the most beautiful places in the world. For now, I would love them to be the special people that I get to share this experience with before I pass that baton to someone else.
3. Try stand up paddle boarding
We were able to check this one off the list when we got back from our Portugal trip but I would definitely like to continue exploring it as a sport. I found it extremely calming and relaxing when we were out in the water.
4. Continue to explore all the amusement parks
If there is one thing that Florida has, it is definitely an abundant amount of amusement/themed parks from Disney World to Busch Gardens to Legoland to Crayola Experience and so many more. The first year we moved down to Florida, we immediately went to Magic Kingdom at Disney World. Let me tell you, it was everything BUT magical, nor was it the happiest place on earth. However, we learned from our lesson and got much smarter and attempted it again 2 years later. A little pre-planning made the world of difference in our experience. We had a blast every time we went. So far we have been to Magic Kingdown; Epcot; Busch Gardens and we always have an amazing time. We visited Legoland this past long weekend and my boys still rave about it EVERY SINGLE DAY!
5. More weekend trips
My kids love staying at hotels. I’m not sure why to be honest, because for the longest time, I struggled at the idea of sleeping in a room that has been used by gosh knows how many people. But I guess they think of it as a place away from home and it means we’ll be spending most of our time doing fun activities, which is true. Florida has some great spots for quick getaways that I’d love to take advantage of prior to our move. So far, we have been to Sanibel Island, Miami, Jacksonville, Naples, Orlando (Disney) and St. Augustine (the oldest city in the US. A quick side note: it wasn’t that old. LOL). Here are a few places that are definitely on my list for future weekend getaways: Anna Maria Island; Key West/Florida Keys and Seaside. We always have such a great time on these short weekend trips and the memories we make on them are priceless.
6. Rent a boat and spend the afternoon out in the ocean
I feel like you really should be in or around water as much as you can when you are this close to the ocean. So a day out in the ocean on a boat with family and friends sounds like a lot of fun to me. I would prepare lunch to eat on the boat, try fishing (which is really not my cup of tea, but hey, why not) and perhaps convince the kids to go tubing.
7. Weeki Wachi
(Picture from http://hernandoconnects.com/buccaneer-bay-weeki-wachee-springs/)
I discovered this place on the Labor Day long weekend as we went with a bunch of friends and I can’t tell you how amazing this place is. It was on my list of things to do but now that we have gone, I want to take every guests that visits us here and take the boys as many times as I can. This is such a neat little place with plenty of fun activities for everyone. There is a live mermaid show, a wildlife show, canoeing, a spring where you can swim in, multiple water slides that drop you into the spring, a kids area and you can even rent a float and float along the spring soaking up the sunshine. During our visit, there was a manatee in the swimming area so we were able to dive under water to see it in person. That was pretty cool!
8. Watch a Rocket launch at NASA
We recently watched Elon Musk launched a Tesla up into space on the news and the boys have been fascinated with rockets and space ever since. We have visited NASA in Houston but not in Florida. I am actively monitoring the launch schedule on their website. Once there is a rocket launch that is aligned with our schedule, we will definitely be packing our bags and heading to the space coast. I can’t wait!
9. Attend a Gasperilla Pirate Festival
Can you believe we have lived here for over 4 years and never attended any Gasperilla events? For those that may not be familiar with Gasperilla, once a year, pirates invade Tampa Bay aboard the majestic pirate ship “Jose Gasparilla,” kicking off a full schedule of pirate-themed events. There are a lot of street events that typically involve a lot of alcoholic beverages which I am not particularly interested in. However, I would at least like to attend the children’s Gasperilla parade with the kids, with them all dressed up as pirates collecting treasure/beads. We planned to attend last year but my little donut got sick the night before so we didn’t end up going. However, it is definitely on our list for this coming year.
That is it for now guys! I am sure I will be adding more to the list overtime. If you have any additional recommendations, please let me know in the comments below.
Recently I got the opportunity to design my kid’s playroom as we relocated my husband’s home office to the spare bedroom upstairs.
When designing a space, one of the first questions I always ask myself and my clients is How do you plan on using the space or what purpose will it serve you and your family? Once you have this question answered, it will be a lot easier to plan your space. In my case, I wanted this room to be a one stop shop for my kids. That meant they would use this room for: playing; reading; arts and crafts along with doing their homework. It was important for me to keep all their stuff contained in one room instead of being scattered throughout my house, which was the case prior to having a separate and enclosed playroom.
Once you understand the functions that the room will serve, it is important to prioritize that list and identify your must haves. In some cases, you might not be able to accomodate everything for various reasons such as space and budget. My priority list is as follows:
- Plenty of storage: storage was extremely important as we come from a big family so my boys have accumulated quite a bit of toys over the years. The last thing I want is for those toys to end up in my “adult” space.
- Ample space for them to play and build. They have a lot of toys that require building such as race tracks and lego so I wanted to make sure they have enough space on the floor to do so.
- A large flat surface: Both my boys love to draw, color and and since Lucas is now in elementary school, a table or a flat surface for him to do his homework was definitely high on the list.
- Have a library: We also encourage reading in our family and typically spend about 20 to 30 minutes reading to the boys after school so I wanted an area for their books and if possible a little comfortable reading nook.
Once I determined my priorities, I measured the size of the room and planned accordingly. This is how I tackled my priority list above.
- I opted for these cubes from Ikea as it offers plenty of storage and I knew I could neatly separate and store their toys in baskets so they are hidden.
- I divided the room into two: one area for playing and the second area for doing artwork, crafts and homework. The play area, I knew I wanted a rug to create a comfortable and defined space for them to sit and play with their toys, whether it is building a block tower or watching their hot wheels run down a track.
- The second area I opted for a large coffee table to be used as their workspace. Just a quick tip: using a coffee table was a lot cheaper than kid’s furniture.
- For their books, I used a few picture shelves and mounted it on the wall. I opted for wall shelves as it occupies less space. Since this is a multi function room, I wanted to make sure the room did not feel cramped or too busy. For the storage cubes, instead of using all square cubes with 4 cubbies (2 on top and 2 on the bottom), I used one long one with 4 cubbies in the same row. This way I could use it to create a custom bench. Throw in a few pillows, a blankie and a stuff animal and you have a cute little reading nook.
Voila! That was my space planning process. Now, everything after that is a matter of design and finishes that you select to bring the room together. I originally painted this room a beautiful navy blue color that I absolutely loved. My husband took one look at it and said “it’s nice, such a boy’s room”. And that my friends killed it for me. I guess I didn’t realize having a gender neutral room was also high on my list, not to say that blue is meant for boys. I am definitely not someone who thinks blue is for boys and pink is for girls. My boys rock pink all the time but in this case, it did feel dark and definitely had a masculine feel to it, so I repainted the entire room in a light gray. Since it is a kid’s playroom I wanted it to be fun and whimsical so I decided to have a feature wall using wallpaper. This one from the Hearth and Hand collection by Joanna Gaines fit the bill, neutral but playful. Since the walls were pretty neutral, even with the pattern on the wallpaper, I wanted to play up all the bright primary colors that are in my kid’s toys. I purchased this bright geometric triangle rug and displayed some their brightest toys as part of the design element. Then it was simply adding a few final wall decor and the room was complete.
Having this playroom has made the world of difference for us as a family. My kids spend most of their time in this room while I cook, clean or work. The most important thing is that their mess is contained in the room and not spread all over the house, which is a total win for me! They do a pretty good job at tidying up at the end of the night but for whatever reason they or I couldn’t get to it, I simply close the door! Life is good!
I wanted to share with you a neat little idea I had for an activity that I could do with my boys and then use it as wall art for our house. I am also confident that this activity would strike up a conversation with our guests when they visit our home.
One of the many things that my husband and I share is our love for traveling. When we first started dated, we seriously listed out all the countries we have visited to determine who has travelled more between the two. LOL (we were such kids then). We both have done our fair share of independent traveling but have also taken some amazing and unforgettable trips together such as Greece, Italy and Iceland. Traveling is something we are both passionate about and plan to continue doing with our children. Having said that, if you’re a parent, you’ll know that traveling with children definitely has its challenges, from flight durations to time change, nap/sleep schedule, routine…the list goes on. As a result, we have definitely limited our traveling over the past 5 years. Both my boys have been on numerous plane rides, but for the most part, we try to keep our destinations within 3 hours of flying (with a few exceptions). Some of the places they have been to are: Dominican Republic, Toronto, Bahamas, Lake Louise, Seattle, and California.
My oldest child is 5 now and the youngest is turning 3 in a few weeks. For the first time, both my husband and I feel like we are ready to take on bigger adventures with them. This summer our family will be visiting Lisbon and the Algarve in Portugal for 2 weeks. While I am super excited about this trip, I am definitely nervous about it and no doubt, the stress level will be at its peak closer to the date.
With this trip and future trips in mind, I wanted to come up with something I could do with my boys to document the magical memories I plan on creating with them (yes, being SUPER optimistic here). I purchased a scratch map of the world online. Check out this one similar to the one I purchased. This one from Walmart and this one from Etsy both seem like great options as well.
Every country we visit, the boys can scratch that country off on the map to show where we have visited collectively as a family. I got the map framed at Hobby Lobby and now it is currently hanging in my office/dining room. Right next to it, I hung a Metal mesh grid panel. After each trip, I would let the boys select a few photos from our trip that they could print using our polaroid printer. They can then hang it on the grid using bullnose clips or mini clothes hangers. How cute is that? To add a little dimension and some fun to it, I wrapped a fairy string light that I picked up from Target around the metal panel. I want to make sure the photos are visible so lighting was necessary.
I love that this is something we could do together as a family for many years to come. It provides an opportunity for us to bond and reflect on our experiences and most memorable moments from our trip. Another thing I absolutely love about this idea is that a map is a pretty generic/standard piece of art but this is so personal and really reflects who we are as a family. If you know me and my style, you’ll know that I am a fan of making your home reflect you, your lifestyle and this is just that!
Now if you are looking to do something similar to this and not wanting to use a scratch map, you could also glue a map to a cork board sheet, get it framed (optional) and then pin the areas you have visited. I had a client once who collected pins from every city/country he visited and used it to pin his map.
Now all we need to do is start traveling and fill our wall with amazing memories! If you do end up doing something similar, I would love to see it, so please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your creation and memories. Thanks for following along guys!
Ok so it’s been a while since my last fab find post. Life has been a bit hectic lately between various ongoing projects, home renovations, mom life and family visiting from Toronto.
One of my favorite places to shop for household items is World Market. I love their eclectic collection of items. You can find a range of styles from modern contemporary to bohemian to South African influenced decor.
They are currently having a dining room sale (up to 60%) and it’s pretty fabulous so make sure to go check it out.
I picked up this live edge dining table this week with the 30% discount and will be using it to create a dining room/office space for a client who needs her dining room to serve multiple functions This table actually looks even more beautiful in person, with the live edge giving it that rustic feel; combined with the metal legs for a more contemporary look.
Here is the matching bench to go with the above dining table. Benches are a great way to save space if your dining room is on the smaller side. Often it would fit more people, great for kids and since there is no back, it visually occupies less space.
You’ll find these lantern pendant lights all over Pinterest and Instagram. At this price point, you just can’t go wrong.
I am also in love with the color and style of this dining table. It is a solid pinewood table. If you’re looking for a dining table to add to a farmhouse look, this would be a great addition.
I love the rustic detail and color on these chairs. If you’re looking for a subtle pop of color, these dining chairs will definitely do the trick.
If you would rather stay on the neutral side, then I would go with this chair. It would still add the character and charm to the space while maintaining a neutral palette.
I have loved these wishbone chairs for quite some time now. Its silhouette and ivory faux fur definitely adds glamour.
You can really never go wrong with a little mid-century detail in any space. Combined with the clear transparent color, not visually occupying much space, this chair is totally a winner. You have the mid-century detail while still keeping it simple and minimal.
Another item you have probably seen all over Instagram and Pinterest is this Juju hat. This is definitely a conversation piece and will add interest and a texture to your walls. They also have a smaller one here.
A great and simple way to update a kitchen is to change out your bar stools if you have an island or peninsula. The combination of wood and metal continues to be very trendy and would definitely add a modern touch to any space.
This bar stool is also a great option if you want to have back support, which in my mind is great (perhaps must have) for kids.
We all know how much I love the mix of metal and wood and this sideboard is just that. It offers tons of storage and would probably work great as a media console as well.
And now how cute is this gold rolling bar cart? This could easily be stationed in a dining room to serve drinks for your guest or be moved around if you’re having a more casual setting such as in the living room by the couch. I think this would be even more fun and whimsical used as a book case with an interesting painting/art hanging on the wall above it. What do you think?
I hope you take advantage of the sale before it ends. Leave me a comment if you found this helpful!
Initially, our move to the US was only supposed to be for a short period of time, and by short, I mean 12 to 18 months. We’re now approaching 4 years and still no signs of going back to Toronto. When we moved here, we sold our house and stored all of our belongings in my parents’ basement, thinking we would be back for it shortly. We packed 5 suitcases and flew down to Florida and started our new life.
When we started furnishing our apartment, my assumption was that we would be leaving most, if not all of the stuff behind by selling them or donating to charities when we return to Toronto. That meant I had to spend a lot of time surfing the Internet to look for budget-friendly yet stylish decor pieces.
Target quickly became my go to place for pretty much EVERYTHING! That is why I chose it for my first Weekly Fab Find.
Target currently has many beautiful and chic pieces that would elevate any home decor but for this post, I will focus mainly on the Living room. Here are some of my favorite items:
Velvet is definitely trending this year and this deep blue Cologne Tufted Trace Arm sofa is absolutely gorgeous and will add a pop of color and sophistication to your living room. I currently have this pink accent chair in our master bedroom. If you are looking to add a touch of femininity to a space, this definitely would be the chair for you.
I currently have a similar table to this metal and wood coffee table that I purchased from West Elm for over three times the price of this one. If you like the mix of wood and metal look, then this and the Berwyn Round Coffee Table would be a great option for you.
I also have a similar tulip Saarinen end table that I presently use as night table in my master bedroom. This Mid-Century 23″ Round bevel edge and Tulip Base End table from Target does not have the marble surface which I personally think is easier for maintenance and still looks very delicate and beautiful. If you do prefer a marble top, then this gold Marlton end table would be a nice option for you.
Can I just say that I absolutely LOVE the tripod floor lamp look and this one from Target is definitely a show stopper. I love both the clear and black base. If you prefer a wood base then check out this Oak Wood Tripod Floor Lamp.
Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I thought these oversized heart shape pillows would be fun to add to any space.
Above are some great throw pillow options as well.
These house bud vases are probably one of my favorite purchases from Chip and Joanna Gaine’s Hearth and Hand Collection that now sits on a shelf in our living room with some eucalyptus in them. They also come in white. These lanterns are also great additions for inside or outside of your home. I currently use mine for our outdoor table decor. I literally have 5 of these Cedar Magnolia candles scatted throughout the house. It makes your house smell absolutely amazing. This set of circle accent mirrors are always a great touch to every room.
Shop these Target items:
* If you enjoyed this post, please leave me a comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.
Decorating my boys room was a lot tougher than I had thought. I wanted their room to be stylish but also reflect their interests. I also felt it was important for my 5 year old to be part of the process. However, if it had left it up to him, I think there would be superheroes flying at you as you enter the room.
I gave the boys the option of choosing a superhero theme bedding or having a superhero wall decal above their beds. As you can see, they opted for the wall decal. They each got to choose their favorite character from a preselected list based on price point. My oldest chose Spiderman and my donut chose the Hulk. These are perfect because you can take them off easily if you need to relocate them or want to switch them out for something else. We also had this superhero banner from awhile ago when Lucas was in his own room. Of course he insisted on bringing it over to his new shared room with his brother.
I chose this navy blue upholstered platform bed from Amazon for their room because it complements the decor. More importantly, it is not something that they will outgrow quickly. The bed is affordable, stylish and easy to put together.
For bedding, I took the boys to Ikea since you could literally make a whole day out of Ikea, from browsing through their entire show room, stopping at the kids section, playing with all the toys, eating and then going downstairs and actually finding your items plus way more than you came for. Lucas initially chose this flower bedding, which is so pretty and fun. I was blown away by his great taste. I loved all the flowers and color on it and was excited about figuring out how I was going to tie the flowers into the Spiderman and Hulk theme. Then his younger brother choose this blue stripe one. I am not sure what happened but last minute, Lucas threw back the flower bedding and just went with this simple navy blue set. I was a little disappointed but it was his choice.
It took me awhile but I eventually found this cute little night table for their bedside. It is also available here. It is round so no sharp edges which is great for kids (childproof). More importantly it has a little basket that could store all their stuff animals. My boys must have at least 10-20 stuff animals in their room at any given time and they usually ALWAYS end up on the floor. So having the basket is amazing because I could easily throw them all in there. Each night they would pick one from the basket to bring to bed with them.
One of my favorite items in their room is the paper mâché LED letters that I placed on top of their bed. It acts both a decorative piece and night light for their room. Overall the boys room came together pretty nicely and we are pretty happy with it. It is cute and stylish for mommy, and you definitely cannot miss the superhero figures on the wall protecting my boys at night.
January 12, 2018
On this day five years ago you changed my entire life! I still remember when the midwife placed your slippery 9 lb body on to mine and I started screaming “Oh my gosh, HELP! He’s slipping off of me!” like it was just yesterday. You were this wrinkly old looking little baby with swollen eyes, so tiny yet so perfect. I loved you before you ever entered this world. When I finally managed not to have you slip off my arms, I loved you even more, more than I ever thought was humanly possible.
Both your dad and I opted not to sleep that night. We didn’t really speak to each other because we were both exhausted. We just sat in silence and stared at you through the glass bassinet making sure we saw your chest go up and down the entire night. We didn’t know what to expect as first time parents. The one thing we did know was that we desperately wanted you to be healthy and strong.
Before you were born, I had all these ideas of how I was going to be the perfect mom to you. I was pretty certain I was never going to raise my voice at you, say things I didn’t mean, make empty threats, be overprotective, bribe you with candy or just give into whatever it is you are doing so I could avoid the potential of a meltdown . Well, we all know how that went!
Just like that, you are 5 today! Now you have to use an entire hand to show people how old you are. I know you’re pretty ecstatic about that. I know you’re going to continue to grow up a lot faster than I will ever be prepared for.
I want you to know that I am sorry for all the times I raised my voice at you when it was probably not justified or because I was having a bad day. I am sorry for the times where I was not able to give you the undivided attention you needed because I was preoccupied with something that was far less important than you are to me. I am sorry if I ever made you feel unimportant because there is nothing more important to me than you, your brother and your dad.
I hope that as you grow older, that you will not remember me for those moments but for all the tears I cried silently when you came home crying because someone at school was not nice to you; for all the guilt I felt for not being the perfect mom that I had hoped to be; for all the nights I chose not to sleep so I could watch over you and make sure you were ok while you were sick; for the countless hours I played playdoh with you despite how much I hate playdoh; for all the scooter and bike rides we took daily no matter how tired I was, for the endless hugs and kisses I gave you everyday; for the times I built courage to initiate our first conversation after a fight and for how I devoted my entire life to provide you the happiest experience I know how. By no means am I perfect, I have made many mistakes but I am only human. I am still figuring out this whole motherhood thing, so I hope that you be patient with me as I am patient with you. I promise you I will only get better with time.
Today we celebrate you, celebrate the happiness that you have brought into my life and the unconditional love you have taught me. Thank you so much for changing my entire life starting this day five years ago. There are going to be some bumpy roads along the way as you walk through life. I might not be strong enough to lift you up physically when you fall, trust that I will be there by your side. I am hurting as much you are hurting. I promise to provide you the support you need to get up and stand on your own two feet. Because I am your mom. Despite how tough some days are, I would not have it any other way.
This past Thanksgiving was the first Thanksgiving we spent in Florida since our relocation from Toronto. Every year Thanksgiving falls around my birthday weekend and for as long as I could remember, we have always travelled to celebrate my birthday. However this past year, we decided to travel the day after Thanksgiving and spent it with our friends in Tampa (Friendsgiving).
To celebrate our first American Thanksgiving, I decorated my entire table using mainly Chip and Joanna Gaine’s Hearth and Hand collection from Target, everything from candle holder to napkins, to napkins rings, flatware and lanterns.
Details on items used:
Hearth and Hand Collection
Cedar Magnolia Candle – I am obsessed with the scent of this candle
Crystal Wine Glass – I grabbed these from Home Goods last year but these wine glasses are pretty similar.