{FAMILY} The Benefits of Saying “No”

For many parents like myself, hearing the word “No!” is like hearing a small child drop an F-Bomb in a public place. It’s cringe-worthy. We teach our children to say “yes mom” or “yes dad”, and to only respond with a “no” when something harmful or unpleasant occurs. Perhaps this is why the negative response has such negative connotations (besides the obvious).

I was walking through a local market with my children recently, and as we walked past the bakery, my children began to chime in unison, “Please, mom, PLEASE can we have a cookie!?” I cooly responded with a “no kids, not today” and we continued on our way. As we passed the bakery, the man behind the counter exclaimed, “Wow, well done! You said no and your kids didn’t make a big deal of it. I rarely see parents say no to their kids these days.”

At first the comment surprised me. It seemed like a no-brainer – saying no to treats is a common occurrence in our family (although we definitely balance our restrictions when it’s acceptable to indulge on sugary treats).

As a self-employed business owner, I’ve also had a hard time with saying no. The unpredictability of contract work can be daunting, making it easy to accept every opportunity that comes my way. But I’ve quickly learned that saying yes to everything doesn’t always result in a positive outcome. I soon realized that overloading my plate would actually have negative results. Here are some of the reasons why saying “no” can actually be a good thing:

1) More time. If you reduce your yes’s and only accept tasks that you are sure you can manage, it will be easier for you to balance your busy schedule – and even set a little time aside for YOU!

2) Take charge. Saying no to your children teaches them balance, and keeps them well-adjusted. It is important for them to learn that they can’t have everything they want. Sometimes the answer will be “no” and that’s ok.

3) Do what’s best for YOU. Saying no to plans with friends, potential clients, or playdates for your kids can be tough. But being honest will lead to happier choices, and ultimately lead to a happier you. If you don’t think you can handle the extra workload, or night out, or kids at your house, it’s better to just say no than to commit to something that you really don’t want to do.

Saying no to your children can be a teaching moment – an opportunity to learn about responsibility and how to deal with disappointment. It can free up some time for the things that you really want to do, and can alleviate a lot of the stress that comes with being a parent.

saying no

{FAMILY} What Makes A Mom

This year I had the opportunity to work on the fourth annual Leading Moms event – a day full of inspiring talks from extraordinary moms. As always, the speaker lineup was filled with an array of  diverse women, all invited to share their stories and experiences with an engaged audience. Every year, whether I’ve attended as a guest or as a member of the event organizing team, I’ve always left the event feeling connected and inspired, and I’m sure this year’s event did not disappoint.

While I was unable to attend the actual event this year, there were some negative comments shared on the event’s site that left a bad taste in my mouth, so I wanted to share my thoughts.

One of this year’s speakers was Morgane Oger, a transgender activist, leader in social change, and mom of two young children. Some commenters questioned her validity as a “mom” and challenged the Leading Moms event team on the choice to include a trans mom on the panel of speakers. And everyone is entitled to their own opinion – if they don’t like the choice of speakers, they are not obliged to attend the event.

Haters gonna hate.

When the speaker lineup was first revealed, the thought that Morgane was a trans mom didn’t even cross my mind. My only thought was that I was excited to hear her story, to learn more about her perspective as a mom and the experiences, struggles and successes she had faced on her journey towards motherhood.

I can understand the fear of the unknown. I know that not everyone is inclusive, and that some people feel the need to express themselves when they are strongly opposed to another person’s opinions and perspectives. But what I will never understand, is the need to attack another person’s personal choices – choices that in no way affect their own lives – in a way that is so hurtful, and on a platform that is so public.

Many poisonous words were slung on the topic of trans moms, but what bothered me most about the backlash was the argument that the only thing that makes a person a mother is the ability to physically give birth to a child. As an adoptee, this comment hit me on a personal level.

In my eyes, it is not only the hours that it took to push a baby into the world that makes a person a mother, but the hours – days – years – lifetime – afterwards that earns the title of ‘mom’.

There are so many babies who are brought into this world by women who did not intend to become mothers. And if those children were as fortunate as I was, they were connected with people who devoted their lives – their hearts to those children. People who committed to nurturing those children, loving those children, and providing for those children unconditionally. And those people are equally as deserving of the title of ‘mom’, or ‘dad’, or ‘parent’.

Not everyone can have babies naturally. And not all people can love and care for a child naturally either.

A person can become a mom biologically, or emotionally – how that mom came to be is not what matters. What matters most is that the child who calls that person “mom” knows that they are loved.

A lifetime commitment to loving a child unconditionally – that is what truly makes a mom.




10 Must-Follow Instagram Moms

I’ve always had a passion for photography – growing up I had dreams of building an in-home dark room where I could watch the liquid solutions bring my photos to life in my own darkly-lit space. My walls have always donned snaps of my favourite photographers, and I’ve taken photography classes to learn more about the art. But as time passed and priorities shifted, my dark room dreams never became a reality.

With the introduction of the digital camera, and then later the SmartPhone, photography became more accessible to me. I was able to snap shots, edit them, and share them all through my phone. When I joined Instagram, I fell in love immediately, as it allowed me to not only share my captures with others, but to view and appreciate the photos of others as well. I now follow over 500 ‘grammers, and I love them all for their unique captures and shared passion for imagery.

But there are 10 moms whose photos catch my eye, inspire me to take better shots, and brighten my day with the beautiful photos that grace their Instagram feeds. Because I know many of you love to discover and share moms who are rocking this internet space, I thought I’d share my list of my top ten favourites with you (in no particular order):


Why I love her: I first discovered Stasha through her blog, The Good Life and was immediately captivated by her beautiful photos and popular “Monday Listicles” meme. When I started to follow her on Instagram, her true talent for photography became clear and I was hooked. Her photos are artfully unique, centred around her adorable little boy and her (now two) Newfoundland pups as they adventure their little island on the shores of the west coast.

Instagram Moms

Follow: @ETST

Why I love her: A friend introduced me to Kelle’s blog Enjoying The Small Things a few years ago, and her touching stories and colourful imagery had me obsessed. Her optimism, beautiful writing style, and bright outlook on life with three little ones (all the same ages as mine) keep me motivated and inspired to think positively as I navigate through this “one wild and precious life”.

Instagram Moms


Why I love her: Justine is a fellow Vancouver mom blogger with a keen eye for capturing those special moments with her little ones. She also happens to be a professional photographer (as you can tell by her exceptionally clean and cunning captures). Her photos are uniquely consistent with a formatting style that stands out from all the rest.

Instagram MomsFollow: @MAMAINBLOOM

Why I love her: I very recently stumbled upon Tania’s Instagram feed, discovered through the “Explore (based on people you follow)” section. Her photos are stunningly adorable, and upon first glance at her feed,  I could immediately tell that this mama had a talent for photography. A fellow Canadian, her mix of kid snaps and colourful landscapes keep me intrigued.

Instagram Moms



Why I love her: Monika’s Instagram feed is like a fresh bouquet of white peonies. Her photos are clean, crisp and artful, adding a refreshing dose of sparkle to my feed each day. She combines adorable photos of her sweet little man with her enviable fashion sense to draw in an impressive following of Instagram devotees.

Instagram Moms



Why I love her: If you’re not one of the near-half-a-million followers of Jessica on Instagram, then you’re truly missing out. Her series of photos of her adorable son and his trusty companion (#TheoandBeau) will melt your heart, with images so picture-perfect you’ll want to frame them and hang them on your wall. Her flare for capturing the heartwarming nap time shenanigans of her boy and his dog have thrust her into Insta-celebrity status, and her endearing photos of her newest little girl draw you in even more.

Instagram Moms


Why I love her: A local news anchor and fellow mom of three, Tamara shows her “glass half full” outlook on life through her bright, captivating photos of her adorable children. Her artistic captures prove that she is just as talented behind a camera as she is in the spotlight. Through her posts you can tell that her family is her world – and what a lovely world it is.

Instagram Moms



Why I love her: This mama-to-be is the owner and designer of the fabulous children’s apparel brand VONBON. While I love the photos she shares through the @VONBONAPPAREL Instagram account, her personal account is lovely as well. There’s nothing like seeing stunning bump photos of mamas-to-be, living vicariously through their photos as they prepare for the life-changing adventures of mommyhood to come.

Instagram Moms



Why I love her: Just as her handle implies, Cindy’s Insta-feed is full of glitter, sparkle and confetti, interwoven with picturesque photos of her children embarking on adventures outdoors. Cindy’s artistic creativity shines through each photo, many of which highlighting unique party decor pieces that are available at her shop. Cindy’s photos remind me of the joy and excitement of celebrating children’s birthdays, and of celebrating the special moments that we share with our little ones.

Instagram Moms


Why I love her: Kari is another Insta-mom I’ve recently come across through the “Explore (based on people you follow)” section on Instagram. Each photo beautifully encapsulates those little moments that we love to share with our little ones. Each frame-worthy photo elicits emotions that every mama can relate to, and each photo is taken with a creative and talented eye for a great capture.

Instagram Moms

While I’ve highlighted 10 super-fabulous mamas who are rocking my Instagram feed, there really is something special about each and every person that I follow on Instagram, so thank YOU for sharing your photos!

And if you’re not already following me on Instagram, here’s a little snippet of my feed too:


Why you’ll love me: I have 3 super-adorable kids and a dalmatian (ok I’m a little biased), and we spend lots of time snapping photos of our outdoor family jaunts. Oh, and I don’t post photos of smoothies, granola, exercise and #MeatlessMondays (because there are already so many fabulous photos of that stuff out there!), so if you’re looking for a little indulgence, come check out my feed 😉

Instagram Moms