{FAMILY} How I Got My Groove Back After Baby

Bringing a new baby into the world can be a beautiful, life-changing, monumental occasion – whether it’s the first, or the third time around. But the thing about having a baby is that it can also be all-consuming. Recovery from childbirth, adjusting to new routines, and surviving an insurmountable lack of sleep amongst the chaos that comes with caring for a new little human being can be overwhelming.

Your life gets turned upside down, and before you know it, a year has flashed before your eyes and you feel like you have nothing to show for it but the bags under your eyes and the remnant mama’s bits of what used to be your slammin’ bod.

But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and for me, that dim little shimmer of light that sat so far in the distance has finally come to fruition, and I’m ready to let that bright light shine.

working mom

With my previous children, I had always had the comfort of  job security when I was ready to return to work. But the third time around was different for me because I chose to work for myself. I didn’t know if the work would come when I was ready to work, and that terrified me.

Because of my fear of the unknown, I didn’t really ever stop working when baby #3 arrived. From the week she was born I was working on side projects, attending networking events and submitting proposals, eager to develop a small roster of potential clientele for when I was ready to dive back into the working world.

All the while, I didn’t let myself stress too much about what the future might or might not bring. I made sure to take time out to enjoy the little things – like the week I spent with my family soaking up this amazing view, completely unplugged.

working mom

But probably the most important thing that I did to get myself out of the post-newborn funk – my secret sauce to getting my groove back, was taking some time out for myself – to remind myself of who I am (and have always been) on the inside. To remember that I’m more than “just a mom”.

And as I explored my interests, took some time to reflect, and allowed myself to live a little outside of my comfort zone, opportunities began to unfold around me, and my dreams began to become my reality.

I’ve just returned to my adult ballet classes (after over a year and a half off). I’m still writing my newspaper column (one of my life-long dreams), and have recently completed some other pieces for print publications, and I’ve taken on some fantastic new clients through my business.

I feel like I’m back to being me – being BEE. I’ve finally got my groove back.

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{FAMILY} 5 Tips On How To Stay Sane as a Mom of Three

As a career mom of three, I’m constantly asked the same question: How do you do it all? And the answer is easy: I don’t.

The truth of the matter is, any mom who tells you that she ‘does it all’ is simply lying. It’s just not possible to give 100% of yourself to everything that you do. Doing it all (in the true sense) would be like riding a unicycle, blindfolded, while juggling 100 balls in the air with one hand. I don’t know about you, but for me, balls would get dropped.

But while I’m not ‘doing it all’, I do like to think that I’m successful at what I’m doing. Because successful moms don’t strive for perfection, they create their own definition of success. The key is to recognize that you can’t do it all, and to prioritize the things that you are able to do by the things that are most important to you.

Striving for perfection will drive you crazy, so why not strive for perfectly imperfect instead?

To keep your sanity amidst the chaos, here are 5 things that will keep you from completely losing your mind:

mom of three

1) Practice saying no.

Stop being a ‘yes’ mom and pick and choose your projects and events based on how they will be of benefit to you and your family. You can’t be everywhere all the time – learning how to effectively manage your time will play a big role in finding your own success. I know it’s easier said than done, I’m always the first to say yes when asked to work on something or attend an event, but if I say no to a few things, I find that I have more time for the things that need to get done, or that I love to do.

2) Take time out for yourself.

As moms we tend to put ourselves at the bottom of the priority list. But spending too much time meeting the needs of others can be draining. People always ask me how I could possibly find time for myself with a business and three children. I find the time because I make it a priority. A massage, a quiet hour of focused writing at a coffee shop, or even a short nap are enough to maintain my sanity.

3) Limit your children’s activities.

Extracurriculars can be extra time suckers – especially with multiple children, and I can’t even imagine how much busier it’ll get when my third child is old enough for after-school activities. As much as I’d love for each of my children to take soccer, dance, swimming, skiing, skating, piano, and karate lessons, I know that too much running around will drive me insane, so I limit each child to two activities (one that I choose, and one that they are interested in pursuing). It’s still busy but limiting the number of activities that they take allows for us to enjoy family time together too!

4) Accept help from others.

I’m constantly feeling overwhelmed as a mom of three, yet I have a bad habit of saying ‘no thank you’ when help is offered. When my husband offers to take over with the bedtime routines, I tell him I can do it and then rush around to get it all done myself. My parents are always offering to take the kids for the night and I kindly decline, worried that my busy little trifecta might be a burden on them. Accepting help from others will allow us to enjoy a little rest – which I’m sure we could all use.

5) Lower your standards.

Your house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean all the time, and no one’s going to die if you order pizza every once in awhile. I remember thinking it was so important to cook gourmet, perfectly-balanced dinners each night, have the house perfectly clean before bed, and never have the laundry basket more than half full. And then I had kids.

If you try to do everything yourself, you will lose your mind. Accept that you can’t do it all, let others help you, and take the time to smell the roses. Because you only live once, so make the most of it.

{FAMILY} The Truth About How I Broke My Toe

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I get very little sleep. I’d also like to make it known that sleepiness causes accidents. It’s a fact. So when I tell you this story – when I confess the truth about how I really broke my toe, be nice.

Alright, you can laugh out loud at me – I did. Because when something this ridiculous happens, you might as well laugh it off and tell your friends about it, right? So here it goes…

I had been working on a few work-related projects on my computer, when I realized that it was almost time for my mom to come over and watch my kids (a rare parents night out was on the horizon – distraction #1). I quickly plopped my baby into her exersaucer (because, baby #3), and pulled out the beast that is my built-in vacuum cleaner, ready to power-clean like I do when expecting guests in my home.

Baby was screeching like a pterodactyl so I was rushing to get the job done. Barefoot, hungry, and overtired, I glanced sideways at my squawking child while thrusting the vacuum with all of my force.

To and fro, side glance, to and fro.

I forcefully pulled the vacuum back towards me while my eyes were focused on the baby, and as I heard the crunching sound of my toes getting mangled into the suctioning vortex of the vacuum head, my life flashed before my eyes. I immediately fell to the floor like Will Ferrell when he gets hit in the jugular with a tranquilizer gun in the movie Old School, cursing and gagging from the painful impact of what had just happened.

It sounded exactly like I had vacuumed up small pieces of Lego. The mangling, crunching sound of my toes snap crackle pop-ing as I fell. I was sure I had broken each and every toe, and that I would never walk again.

As as I rocked in agony, the first thought that came to my head was – “I am such an IDIOT! Who DOES that!?”

I paused as my eyes welled up, and then I burst out laughing. As tears streamed down my face, I cackled like a wicked witch. After a few minutes of hysteria had passed, I cocked my head to the side to see my judging child, staring blankly at me with disappointment in her eyes.

I survived (physically anyways). But the problem with having a broken toe is that it is an injury that is hard to hide. As I hobbled up to my daughter’s school the next day, a fellow mom called out my name. “Hey Bianca!” she called out from across the school grounds, “What did you do to your foot!?” I waited for her to get closer, flashed an awkward smile, and replied, “The other guy did it.”

She looked at me, puzzled.

As always, I had failed at the delivery of a common saying (I had meant to say, “You should see the other guy!”).

I’m a terrible liar, so I told her the truth – that I had sucked up my toe while vacuuming, and that my pinky toe was blackened and broken.

I watched as she burst with laughter, and then covered her mouth, and then frowned sympathetically, and then returned to laughing again.

“I know,” I replied. “It’s ok to laugh, I did.”

So there you have it. The truth hurts sometimes – but nothing like the sting of a broken toe, or the bruise of my ego whenever I have to explain what really happened to my toe.

how i broke my toe



{FAMILY} Creativ Music Centre: Piano Lessons For Kids

I have always had a love for music. Growing up, musical lessons were always a part of my life – from violin lessons, to singing lessons, to piano lessons – which I stuck with for almost a decade. Listening to music was an inherent part of my everyday life – I awoke each morning to a music-blasting alarm clock, I listened to music in my headphones as I walked to school, and as soon as I arrived home, my music was playing as I did my homework and played with my toys. At night, I couldn’t fall asleep without some quiet background music to lull me to dreamland.

Now that I’m a parent myself, I not only share my love for music with my children, but I see great value in having them engaged in some sort of musical lessons. I believe that learning how to play a musical instrument teaches children patience, discipline, and coordination, while enhancing their motor skills and boosting their self esteem.

I had been wanting to sign my daughter up for piano lessons for quite some time, but was unsure as to where to send her that would be fun, engaging, and effective. I wanted to find a music school that offered an array of musical options, but that was close to home and affordable. When Creativ Music Centre reached out to me to see if I would be interested in having my daughter try out their lessons, I couldn’t wait for her to get started!

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I had heard about Creativ Music Centre from fellow parents, but didn’t realize how expansive their musical offerings would be. Housed in a state-of-the-art facility in North Vancouver, Creativ offers a variety of music-related services including: pop star parties, music lessons (drum, guitar, piano, vocal), and music clubs (acapella, jam sessions, ultimate glee camp). Creativ’s motto is to create Music With Imagination, striving to provide opportunities for people of all ages to experience music – through learning music, recording music, performing music, or just having fun!

After reviewing the options together, my daughter decided that she wanted to try piano lessons, and we signed her up for the Jump Start Package, which includes:

  • 6 weeks of lessons (30 minutes per lesson)
  • 6 weeks of instrument rentals 
  • choice between piano, guitar, vocals, or drum lessons
  • Cost: $149

As we arrived for her first lesson, the first thing that caught our eye was a sign that read “Please Touch The Instruments”. When I read this, I knew that we had come to the right place.

Creative Music

Creativ Music

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Immediately my daughter weaved through the instrument displays, tapping on drums, fingering piano keys, and strumming guitar strings – all while wearing a huge grin on her face.

Creativ Music

When her piano instructor called her name, she hopped into his classroom, eager to get started.

When we returned home from her first lesson, we immediately set up her rental piano so she could show us what she had learned. After only one class, she was already playing a recognizable tune – Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and oozing with excitement and self confidence, she practiced and practiced.

Creativ Music

Her enthusiasm was contagious, and she soon had my husband sitting by her side on the piano bench, eager to mimic the same tune. With her guidance, he mastered the song as well, and they both couldn’t wait to learn more.

After her second lesson, she was learning a second tune, and starting to learn how to play a song using both hands.  I was surprised at how quickly she was progressing, and she was loving the variety of the music that she was learning.

By the end of week 4, she was reading music – able to identify the notes on paper and on the keyboard.

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We’ve just finished our sixth week and my daughter is now familiar with the basics of music. She can read the notes, and can play 4 songs (some with both hands). I asked her what she thought of her piano lessons and here’s what she had to say in her own words:

The place where they teach me piano is really cool. I like that I can touch all of the instruments, and my teacher is really fun and nice. Next time, I hope I can also try singing lessons! – Emma, 7 years old

If you’re looking for a fantastic place for your children to participate in an all-inclusive, interactive and engaging musical experience, Creativ Music Centre has it all. We are so thankful to have had the chance to experience their lessons, and look forward to continuing on in the Spring.


Disclosure: I was provided with lessons in exchange for providing my honest review of our experience. The words and opinions are completely my own.

How To Win At Working From Home

As I nestled into the corner booth at a local coffee shop to begin my work this morning, I had an epiphany. It hit me like a slap in the face – I had suddenly realized that it has been just over 2 years since I left my corporate job to become a work-from-home mom.

2 years since I took the breath-taking, heart-racing leap from the cushy comforts of an in-office nine-to-five career, to a financially-risky, part-time, home-based job. I remember being anxious, scared, and hopeful about working from home – wondering if I had finally found the work-life balance I had been searching for. I remember writing about my first week as a WAHM and listing the challenges I anticipated I would face in my new work environment.

And now here I am – a recently self-employed mom of three, doing what I love from my home office. And while there are definitely days where I feel like the pendulum is vigorously swinging in one direction, I feel like I’ve come a long way from where I was 2 years ago.

working from home


So for those of you who are considering a similar transition, or who need some tips on how to make it work, here are some things that have been working for me (so far):

1) Schedule Time To Work. Like an outside office job, it helps to determine what your hours are. This will help you to manage your projects and complete them efficiently. Working with a young  baby at home can make it tricky to keep a consistent schedule so I have one day a week where I have my parents watch the baby for a few hours so I can work at a coffee shop – uninterrupted. It’s amazing how much work I can accomplish when I know I have 2 hours of time to myself. This also helps me to schedule business meetings – knowing I have at least one day/time when I won’t have to have a little one in tow. If you don’t have daytime help, allocate some hours in the evenings when your babies are in bed (I do this as well). Pour a glass of wine or stew a warm cup of tea, put on some quiet music and force yourself to focus.

2) Learn When To Turn It Off. Separating work from life is a difficult task – especially when the two are based out of the same location. One thing that I find helps is to have a room or space in your home that is allocated as your office space. When you’re ready to work, go to your place and do your best to stay focused. When your work hours are over, close the door, or leave that space just as you would leave your office to go home at the end of a work day outside of the home. Keep your family updated on your work hours, and keep your unwashed laundry and dirty dishes out of sight (out of sight, out of mind, right? – kind of).

3) Get Out, Get Connected, Get Inspired. When you work from the confines of your home, it’s easy to become an introvert. While communicating primarily by email is sometimes more convenient, it helps to schedule in-person client meetings and coffee chats. Having face-to-face interactions with adults can be rewarding – both professionally and personally. Take it one step further and join networking groups or workshops that hold regular in-person meetings. I’ve attended a few Mom CEO Academy and LOCO BC events and plan on making it more of a habit in 2015.

Are you a work-at-home mom who feels like you have it all figured out? If so, I’d love to hear your tips and tricks too!

working from home

Dear Mastitis: Don’t.


When you’re pregnant for the first time, no one tells you about it. Perhaps on purpose. It could be because women who have had it before are so haunted by the experience that even uttering the word “mastitis” brings on dark and disturbing flashbacks. Because even the thought of it elicits feelings of fear, anxiety, and toe-curling pain.

Full-fledged mastitis is no laughing matter. It can be worse than a bad flu, and in severe cases like actress Jaime Pressly’s experience, it can even lead to a 7.5 hour surgery to remove abscesses and breast tissue that have formed as a result of an extreme case of untreated mastitis.


What is it? Mastitis is what happens when milk builds up in your breast (often referred to as a “blocked duct”, but isn’t actually a physical blockage) causing inflammation, and even infection. It amazes me that something that sounds so simple, could be so physically torturous.

Side Note: do NOT Google “mastitis images”. You can’t unsee some of the images that come up. I’m serious, JUST. DON’T.

It is said that one in ten breastfeeding moms experience mastitis. Based on those odds, you probably think you’re safe, right? Not necessarily. I’ve had it three times – once with each child (so far), and not just the mild version.

A few weeks ago, we went on a little out-of-town jaunt to visit family. On our first night away, while I was nursing, I noticed a little tender spot on my breast. I knew immediately what was coming, and I lost sleep over it that night.

The thing about mastitis is that it starts slowly, and then progresses at the speed of light. You flirt with a little tenderness, and then it slaps you in the face. All of a sudden it hurts to have your t-shirt graze the agonizingly painful spot. You feel light-headed, and start to shiver uncontrollably. A fever comes on, and nausea creeps up your throat. This may not always be the case, but this is how it has always been for me.

Thankfully, there are ways to get rid of the torturous infection. And while mastitis is worse than any of the other things I hate about nursing, it too shall pass.




Swimming Lessons: Overcoming Failure

Swimming lessons are not optional for my kids. With a rushing river steps from our door, and regular family outings on our boat, learning the life skill is mandatory for the kids in our household. Unfortunately, what I thought would be a quick and easy accomplishment for my firstborn, has become a seven year battle.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…or take a break and try again in a few years?

In the beginning, swimming lessons were fun for my oldest. When she was 6 months old, a group of my mommy group friends and I signed up for Mommy and Me swimming classes. Each class, my girl splashed and giggled with enthusiasm, her sparkling eyes begging for me to dunk her head under the water again and again. Unfortunately when she was 1, I returned to my full-time job and found it difficult to keep up with the lessons, so I put them on hold.

We did our best to take her swimming regularly, but our visits to the pool were few and far between. When she was 3, I decided it was time to start up the lessons once more. Unfortunately, her love for water had dissolved, and the lessons were everything but enjoyable for her. She failed Tiny Tots 1 – the entry-level swimming stage. I enrolled her again, and again she failed. After 6 failed sessions, I decided to give her another break. Why beat a dead horse? She’ll come around eventually.


With the arrival of our second child and two busy careers, swimming lessons were on our minds but fell by the wayside. Again, we did our best to take our kids swimming, and while they loved to splash and play in the shallow end of the pool, both children refused to submerge their faces in the water.

This past Fall, I registered both kids in Tiny Tots 1 together, hoping that my oldest would find motivation in helping her little brother. And with determination and a lot of assistance from her instructor, she passed. She was proud of herself, and I felt a huge sense of relief. My big girl was finally learning how to swim.

Drive, determination…and heartbreak.

With the pending arrival of baby #3, I again chose to give my girl a break from lessons.

With the approach of Summer, her friends began inviting her to pool parties, and it didn’t take long for her to realize that she was more than behind in her swimming skills. Her classmates were all doing cannon balls in the pool, practicing hand stands and wooshing down waterslides on their bellies, while my girl watched enviously from the sidelines in her swim vest. “I want to learn to swim like them mommy, I feel so embarrassed that I’ve only passed Tiny Tots 1 and have to wear a vest” she said to me one day, and I knew it was time to re-enroll her in lessons.

Now 7, my girl is too old to continue with the Tiny Tots sessions, so I enrolled her in Stage 1 lessons – the first level for school-aged children. I promised that she would catch up quickly, as the class was 5 days a week. She was excited to get started, and showed up for her first lesson grinning from ear to ear.

She jumped into the pool with her fellow swimmers, and awaited the first command from her instructor. “Ok kids, front crawl to the end of the pool and then dolphin swim on the way back. And GO!” Immediately, the kids dove in facedown, and splashed across the pool like a school of fish. My girl, who had just finally dunked her head in the water for the first time in her last class (nose plugged with her fingers), looked at the instructor in awe. “C’mon, let’s go!” the instructor persisted.

My girl began splashing and flailing her arms around as she waded across the pool. She tried to put her face in like the other kids, but each dunk resulted in a nose full of chlorinated water. She hadn’t yet learned how to breath underwater without plugging her nose.

Gasping and choking, she just kept trying. My heart sunk and my eyes began to well up as I watched my little girl try and try again.

And then it got worse…

As she approached the pool’s edge, a boy kicked off and his foot hit her square in the face. Already humiliated, my girl pursed her lips and tried her hardest to hold back the tears that were welling up in her eyes. She glanced over at me, and her face fell as sobs forced their way through her tiny pout. But she still didn’t give up.

It took everything I had to resist the urge to scoop her up out of the pool into my arms, but I wanted to let her decide when she was done – she was just so determined. So I watched wide eyed, my heart racing and my throat choked up with empathy for my baby girl.

From failing to winning, and what finally worked.

When class was over she rushed into my arms and sobbed uncontrollably. I hugged her tightly and told her how proud I was of her for trying so hard and doing her best. I promised that she wouldn’t have to return to that class, and that I would find a more suitable option for her. After a lengthy discussion with the head lifeguard (who explained that although it was indeed the beginner level for school-aged children, my daughter had happened to land in a class where all the children had completed all 4 levels of the Tiny Tots sessions and they just happened to be a more advanced group), I made the decision to pay the additional fees for private lessons.

Although the cost was almost triple that of the regular swimming lessons, private lessons seemed to be our only option. But costs aside, it has been totally worth it.

swim 2

After one session, my girl was bobbing under water without plugging her nose. Now five sessions in, she’s swimming on her back unassisted, dunking for rings without hesitation, and approaching the ability to do a proper front crawl. She’s actually learning how to swim, and more importantly, she’s loving every minute of it.

Signing her up for private swimming lessons was the best decision for my girl, and I’m so happy that I did it. Fingers crossed that my next two little ones will love the water from the beginning, but I’m also going to make more of an effort to enroll them in lessons earlier, and to keep it up regardless of the obstacles that might be in my way.

Greater Than Two

Until recently, I was a firm “never gonna happen” when it came to the idea of having more than two kids.
No, I’m not pregnant.
I’m not sure if it’s the holiday season, or the fact that my two year old has been a little more tolerable these days, or maybe because I’ve been around some really cute babies recently. Whatever the case, I have babies on the brain.
I’m not saying I’m sold on the idea of having another. The thought of having mastitis again makes me cringe. Multiple late night feedings. Unfolding clunky strollers. The agony of car-seat-arm, lugging the helpless baby everywhere I go. Childcare expenses. I can definitely do without all of those things.
But those little fingers. The newborn smell. The way my heart swells when I see my little loves hugging and playing with each other. Feeling the fluttery kicks for the first time. Watching my belly grow and hearing the heartbeat. Finding out what I’m having, and decorating the nursery. The warmth of a tiny soul rag-dolled on your lap. Locking eyes with a new little being who knows nothing more than the comfort of mamas grasp. Am I done with all of that?
My best friend of twenty years and I made the last minute decision to crash my mom’s Christmas party the other night (our moms have been best friends for equally as long, having met and bonded through their daughters’ friendship). Surrounded by a crowd of sixty-somethings, we soaked in the scene. Both my bestie and I have been blessed with one older girl and one younger boy, and both of us are not sure yet if we’re done.
“Are you girls planning on having another?” we were asked. We confessed that we weren’t quite sure yet.
“More does not always mean better…” started a longtime family friend (and mother of three). “Childcare with three is impossible, and you can forget about travelling as a family. All-inclusive resorts will only allow four to a room – no exceptions. And you’re not done parenting for a very long time.” I know she loves her kids, but I also know that she’s not afraid to share her opinion with open honesty.
“I’ve always regretted stopping at two…” piped in another friend of the family (and mother of two). “I so badly wanted to have three, but my husband and I divorced soon after having the second, and when I was ready for another, I just didn’t have anyone special in my life to make that dream a reality. I think it’s a personal decision, and for me, I didn’t have the choice at the time. But I wish I had.” I appreciated her honesty as well.
“You’ll realize very quickly that you only get older – and more tired – as time goes on.”
“But you’re still young, and you have such great kids.”
“They call it a million dollar family for a reason, honey. You have a girl and a boy. Don’t mess with it!”
“There are more health risks as you get older, so do it now if you’re going to…”
“More does not mean better. Seriously, remember that. Don’t just do it for more, because you’ll never stop having that feeling of wanting more.”
All great advice – and for it to come from women who have gone through it all, who have raised children to adulthood, and many of whom who are now grandmothers – they definitely know their stuff.
But I’m still 50/50. So many pros and cons. So many what ifs, and what-if-nots. How do you decide to bring another life into the world? And when is it enough?
I’d love to hear from the mothers out there who took the giant leap from two, to greater than two. How did you decide to continue on, to grow your family?
2 generations of besties, 20 years (and counting)

Random Things I’ve Learned This Week

Inspired by the crazy fabulous fantastically fun mommies gone wild weekend I’ve just enjoyed, I’ve decided to share with you some random things I’ve learned this week. Here are my top five:

These ladies rock my world
1) Never turn down a menu item that lists “lardon” as a main ingredient. I saw this on the menu last night (a few  dozen drinks in), and didn’t have a clue what it was:
“premium semolina macaroni, crisp lardons, soubise sauce, local camembert, black truffle tapenade.”
I jokingly asked the waitress what “lardon” was, and she said “bacon”. That’s right people, crispy BACON and macaroni & cheese with black truffles. Effing deliciousness. Dinner gave me a lady “lardon”.
2) Despite every effort made, alcohol + a group of mommies leads to endless conversations about kids and babies. I have been in so many group settings that have started with “ok, no kid talk tonight ladies” and have ended with “OK, let’s ALL try for another baby!”
3) “Beer before liquor, never sicker – liquor before beer, all in the clear.” I have spent many sleepless nights trying to remember this adage, and while it seems pretty simple when sober, it’s a different story once you’ve started drinking. Last night I started with wine, then on to champagne, a caesar, margarita, then finished the night off with beer. I didn’t get sick – so I believe I have officially busted the myth.
4) If you ever decide to make the fashion-forward decision to buy a romper, be sure to buy it one size too big. No need to explain, just do it.
5) Despite my previous belief, aromatherapy is not some hippie money making hoax, it actually works. I received a free aromatherapy add-on with my 90 minute massage today (yes, you read that right, read it and weep), and I came out feeling fuzzy-headed and fancy free. I will be scouring the shelves of Costco for the “relax” aromatherapy oils very soon.