Making Halloween Safe AND Fun [ + a giveaway!]

If we were to be really, really honest, couldn't we agree that Halloween and trick or treating is really for parents? Stick with me on this: 

Is there anything better than your adorable, squishy babe dressed up as a little scary monster or very sad bunny? Nope!

Is there anything better than convincing your attitude-filled 7 year old that doing full-face makeup (using your eyeshadow, red lipstick & eyeliner) so that he can be a zombie, while his little brother is rocking that Ben Affleck/George Clooney as Batman vibe? NOPE!

Is there anything better than sitting on your floor and sorting through the bags and bags of loot your kids managed to collect (and that you're totally going to be eating once they head off to bed).  Heck, no!

Halloween is one of the rare times that parents get to enjoy being silly and fun with their kids and dressing them up in the kind of costumes and outfits they've always dreamed of (just me? doubt it!).

In our house, our first Halloween with our son was 7 years ago. I found the cutest costume, dressed him up, had family over (seriously!!!) and took him out to a grand total of 4 houses before he lost his cool. But you know what? It was totally worth it! I was never been more in love with those squishy cheeks than I was the night he was a baby monkey.

Over the years, Halloween has become an even more fun family activity. I've thrown Halloween parties; had kids on the street do tricks for treats (they honestly didn't know what to think of me!); spooked up our front walk so much that kids were afraid to visit (oops!); been mom to a duck, Cookie Monster, Power Rangers, a 'ginger ninja', and Iron Man;  and I've had SO MUCH FUN doing it!

And really, don't get me started on the pumpkins. Pumpkin carving is 100% set aside for parental fun in our house. And by parents, I mean my husband. Check out some of his handiwork:

(And to be fair, my kids have just as much fun deciding on our pumpkin theme and watching my husband carve it!).

My boys are a bit older now and they have friends on our street that they like to trick or treat with (with parents in tow, of course!). But the magic and fun of Halloween hasn't been lost. They still LOVE picking out their own costumes, letting me help them get ready (because let's face it, costumes are getting more and more elaborate!) and heading out to collect as much candy as possible for one special night.

As a parent, I've also learned a lot about making Halloween just as safe as it is fun.

Let me tell you a little story about my own scary Halloween experience (and how it has changed the way I view Halloween and trick or treating for my kids):

When I was 8 years old, dressed as a cheerleader (as I was every single year, with the exception of the year that I had to be Little Red Riding Hood because it was the only thing that would fit over my snowsuit!), I was allowed to trick or treat with my friends as long as I was in sight of my parents, who had my little sister in tow. 
I was thrilled and having the time of my life! I could taste that freedom! About 10 minutes before we were going to back it in for the night, I saw a girl I knew from school trick or treating across the street. I couldn't get her attention so I decided to run across the street and grab her. I can't say I exactly remember what happened but I do remember screeching tires, screaming and - in the end - a bumper just a few inches from my head. Thankfully, the car stopped just in time and I was not hit running across the road. I was an extraordinarily responsible kid, but the excitement and fun of trick or treating over road all the safety tips I knew & regularly obeyed. 

That might be the reason I want my kids to love Halloween (I certainly had trouble enjoying it after that scary incident), but it's also the reason I am absolutely dedicated to make our trick or treating experiences as safe and incident-free as possible.

There are a few things that are now mandatory for Halloween night - they don't take the fun away from running all over the neighbourhood with their friends and collecting more candy, chocolate & chips than they could ever dream of, but they do ensure we are having the BEST and SAFEST night.

Here's what I insist on (based on advice from the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs):

  • No Candles: We love carving pumpkins (correction: my husband loves carving pumpkins!) but with a clumsy mom (me!) and even more clumsy 5 year old in our house, candles inside our pumpkins are a recipe for disaster. That's not even taking into consideration all the teeny-tiny tots who will climb our steps for a treat on Halloween night. Instead, we use a flashlight inside our pumpkins.  Using a long lasting battery like a Duracell Coppertop Battery helps keep them powered all night long.
  • Be Visible: My older son is now 7 years old and really loves the idea of being a zombie, which I'm fine with, as LONG as he is visible. To mitigate the arguments, he wears reflective tape on his ripped zombie jeans so he can easily be seen by motorists. Alternatively, our littlest one wore reflective tape on his Batman cape so he could be sure to be seen while fighting crime [and collecting candy!]
  • Flashlights Light The Way: Everyone in our Halloween trick-or-treating group has a flashlight with fresh Duracell Coppertop batteries so they can see. This is extra important when creeping up on spooky houses that are dimly lit! We also make sure we stay on the sidewalk, in well-lit areas (our own neighbourhood) and and only visit homes with their lights turned on.
  • Strength in Numbers: As I mentioned, my kids are getting older. So, while there is always a parent with them, we also make sure they walk in a group. There's safety (and fun!) in numbers!
  • Know Where You're Going: We always discuss our route before leaving the house. That means everyone knows what streets we are visiting and where to go should we ever be separated (thankfully they will have their own flashlight to help light the way!). We do not zig-zag across the street and we certainly do not go on any routes we have not discussed ahead of time Planning a route and sticking to it helps in ensuring that the most candy is collected in the safest way possible.
  • Parents Check First: As tempting as it is to bite into a chocolate bar mid-route, all candy and chocolate has to be inspected by mom and dad before it is eaten. Yes, this definitely means that we will taste test some as well, but better safe than sorry I always say:)
  • Fresh Batteries: Between our flashlights for every child and adult, flashlights or battery-powered lights inside our pumpkins, and all the other spooky extras that we power up on Halloween night, having new & fresh batteries on hand is a must! As always, our go-to is the coppertop brand - Duracell - that we trust the most.

I am a huge believer in ensuring my children are safe and empowered. By talking about our rules (and reminding them of why we have those rules!), having the right safety tools ready to go (including the long lasting power of Duracell batteries), being prepared with plenty of Halloween bags and a bunch of Halloween candy ready for the cute trick or treaters that will be at our doorstep, and making fun & safety a priority, our Halloween evenings go off without a hitch.

And yes, BE HONEST, Halloween really is for the parents. Sure the kids get the candy, but we get the memories we make as a family on Halloween and the knowledge that our kids are having a great experience as well. Even though I have yet to wear a costume and humiliate my kids (although I'm not above it, they just beg me not to!), being out in the neighbourhood with friends, seeing my kids be silly and have an absolute blast is always 100% worth it!

Now I want YOU to have the same fun and safe experience that my family has on Halloween! My friends at Duracell are giving away a Halloween trick-or-treating safety kit which includes:
  • Duracell Coppertop batteries
  • Coleman flashlight
  • Wearable reflectors
  • Flameless candle

It looks pretty awesome, doesn't it!?

This amazing prize pack care of Duracell Coppertop Batteries can be yours by simply entering below! I know you will be as obsessed with the lasting power of Duracell as I am and hopefully inspired to have a memory-filled and super safe Halloween experience!!

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Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Duracell Coppertop batteries, as part of the #TrustedPower program. In exchange for this review, I have received special perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.

The Worst Part Of Parenting

Let's get really real about parenting, shall we?

"What is the worst part of parenting for you?" 

That's the question I was recently asked and set out to answer. 

In this particular season of parenting, while my boys are 7 & 5 years old, it's dealing with constant arguing. My kids argue with each other and with me about EVERYTHING. It is nails on a chalkboard and I can't figure out how to get them to STOP THE FIGHTING!

Anyone have some good advice for me about how to get my kids to get along or at the very least STOP FIGHTING!?

[And yes, you're getting SUPER real talk here because I am makeup free and rocking some pretty gross hair. You're welcome]

Print Your Memories [+WIN!]

When was the last time you printed out a photo and hung it up?

Still thinking?

Ya, I gotcha!

To be honest, as much as I love taking photos, I am the worst for actually printing and hanging them. In fact, the last time I printed a photo was for this:

If you have been following my family, you would know that these pictures - currently adorning the front hallway of my home - are from almost 5 years ago. That's right. The last time I printed a picture was 5 years ago. Oof.

I suppose it is merely the digital age that we live in but it seems so passé to even consider printing out our photos. And yet, having photos on display is one of the things that gives me immense joy each and every day. I love seeing those happy memories in full view - the ones that make you smile each time you see them.

For me, one of those pictures is this selfie (shocker!) that my family took while we were our on a boat during a week that we rented a cottage this summer. 

I don't know that the picture itself is particularly amazing, but the memories that it brings back are absolute perfection. A week of sun and sand, boating on the water, swimming off the dock, bonfires & marshmallows. It was a week of connectivity and togetherness that really made an otherwise boring summer something to remember fondly - one of those family times that made us all a little more connected.

I knew I wanted to print out this memory but, again more honesty, the chances of me running out to the store to print it, finding the perfect frame and getting it up on the wall are pretty slim. And so I just tucked it away digitally...until I heard of Canvas Factory.

Here's what I love [and truthfully exactly what I need if I am ever going to print out my photos!]: 

1) Canvas Factory allows you to choose your digital photos for printing SO EASILY (you can even choose from Facebook or Instagram... that's such a bonus for this social photo sharing mama!)

2) I was able to order my canvas ONLINE with a few clicks of my mouse. REALLY. It was so easy!

3) It comes ready to hang. I don't have to search for a frame that's the right size. 

4) The canvas is such high quality. It is wrapped beautifully and the colour quality is perfection.
Perfectly wrapped - no corners sticking out or distracting from the awesomeness of this photo!

Easy to hang! I promise... I did it MYSELF (and that never happens at my house!)
5) Your photo gets delivered right to your HOME! YOUR HOME! I was in yoga pants and a bun when it was delivered, people. That is exactly what I'm talking about. 

So, in reality, it takes the excuses out of not printing your photos because Canvas Factory has made it so uber-easy to get your precious memories wall-worthy in just a few clicks of a button. AND they have built-in filters and options that make this selfie-queen's heart sing!!

Now my precious cottage memory now hangs proudly in my upstairs hallway, right between my kids' bedrooms. A space that has been vacant of anything for the entire 6 years we have lived in our home! 

I get to pass it multiple times each day and each time it puts a smile on my face [and it puts a smile of the faces of my boys as well]. I am not sure what took me so long, but I'm so, so, so glad I finally got around to not just printing but also hanging our family photos!

And now I want the same for you! 

Thanks to Canvas Factory, one lucky winner [Canada & US only] will be getting their own Canvas Factory print to proudly display in their home. Let's get printing and displaying those memories!!!

I know you will love your Canvas Factory print - and cherish those memories everytime you look at them -  just as much as I do. 

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This post and giveaway are sponsored by Canvas Factory, however all opinions are my own.

The Blogging Advice that will Change Everything!

It's no secret that blogging has changed my life.

To be honest, I felt trapped in the career I went to university for [teaching]. I loved the kids and being in the classroom, but I just couldn't imagine it being the only thing I did in my life. Then I found blogging and it changed everything. 

If you think I'm exaggerating  then check out this video about how mom blogging changed my life. 

Now, seven years in, I think it's time for me to share some of the lessons I have learned in blogging. 

There are so many schools of thought when it comes to blogging. I've spent a lot of time listening to others talk about what it takes to become successful in the blogging world and got such mixed and varied advice.

"Experts" will tell you to focus on advertising and affiliate marketing. "Experts" will tell you to work your connections for sponsored posts. "Experts" will tell you that they have the secret to making your posts go viral [they don't. I promise]. "Experts" will give try to suck you into 'get rich quick with blogging' schemes. And I have to admit that I've gotten sick of seeing "experts" suck people into the belief that blogging is a sure-fire way to become internet famous and internet rich. Some of them might be right, some of them might be wrong. But here's one thing I know for sure:

Blogging is not a get rich, get traffic, get popular QUICK game.

In fact, most people who start a blog won't keep it up because they don't see a dime off of it or very much traffic for that matter within the first few years. 

That's why it's so important to me to start talking about my blogging journey. It hasn't been a straight path to any type of success. It still [even after 7 years] doesn't earn me a full time income. There are periods of time where I make exactly NOTHING off my blog.  

However, I got some fantastic advice early on in my blogging career and it was a game changer for me. 

Your blog in and of itself is not likely to ever be your main money-maker.

Say WHAT?!?!?!? Mind. Blown.

But it is SO, SO, SO true.

The amount of clicks and traffic it takes to make money off of advertising and affiliate links is generally not worth it if you haven't been in the blogging game for years [and even if you have been in the game for years that doesn't guarantee blog income!].

And that advice helped change everything about the way I looked at my blog and how it makes me money. 

So here's the real deal. Blogging itself doesn't make me much money - maybe a couple hundred dollars every few months. 

But I do make money BECAUSE of this blog. 

And that is absolutely replicable for you. 

I'm really excited to talk about how blogging has changed my life, my career path, made me new friends [real life ones too!], and opened doors that I could have only dreamed of 10 years ago. 

The truth is that every single opportunity I have had for financial gain and opportunity over the past years can be directly linked to my blog. 
Every. Single. One.

So, yes, I don't make much money off my blog but I make money BECAUSE of my blog. 

Because I have built a true readership, real connections, and authentic relationships I have been able to have life-altering opportunities.

It hasn't happened overnight but it can really happen - I'm living proof of that. 

To help me tell you my story, share my experience and create success for you [however you perceive success], I have created a YouTube channel. There, I will be giving you all I've got from my years and years of trial and error. Some of it is advice, some of it is actionable "do this now!" content, and some of it is just heartfelt and real - but I know that it's valuable and will make a real difference in your blogging journey - new blogger, seasoned vet or somewhere in between.  I've called it Mom Blogging 101 and it is a growing collection of everything I know and can share with all of you.

I've embedded my Mom Blogging 101 playlist below. 

Check it out and let me know what you think. Let me know what kind of content YOU want to see me cover on there and how I can help you as you set out to make your mark in the blogging world! 

And hey, if you like it, I would love to have you follow me over on YouTube as well!

The Reality of Being a Mompreneur [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post by Melissa Haddad, mompreneur and owner of MH Virtual Assistant Services, who inspires me daily! As you read, I am sure the story of how her business came to be, and came to be successful, will inspire you as well!


Do you remember when you were younger, going to the park and jumping on the teeter-totter, but you were the only one sitting on it until your friend hopped on for a minute and then left to go down the slide? This is what it feels like running my own business and still being mom and running a family and all the things that come with it.  

I am married with two children, my daughter is 9 and my son almost 6.  My husband is an amazing father, he is attentive, playful and there for me and our children…he is my rock.  He works two jobs, his full time job as an IT professional in a law office in downtown Toronto and he also officiates hockey.  He has a third job of being my “IT guy” for my business, although he doesn’t get paid for that…he was “voluntold”.  So going back to my point about the teeter-totter, my husband is the friend who hops off to go down the slide.  He is there when I need him, but has to leave to do other things.  During the winter we refer to myself as, “the single married mother of two”.  I always love when he is around as he helps me with the kids…he is that second pair of hands, eyes and ears, but as with all great things, they don’t last and I am left alone to fend for myself.

I started my business as a Virtual Assistant after my second layoff in 6 years. Just before my first layoff, I only had my daughter and life was much easier with just one child.  She was young, my in-laws watched her all day while my husband and I carpooled together into Toronto.  

When I lost my first job and landed another one a mere 5 weeks later and only 10 minutes from home, I knew I found a job for life…until it wasn’t.  

At the time of my second layoff, I had my son and my daughter and they were just about to start school, my daughter going into grade 2 and my son just starting JK.  I had made plans through the school to have after school care for both of them which I had until 6:00pm, but when I was laid off, I began to worry…so many thoughts and it all revolved around the unknown.  “I can’t go downtown to work, my husband works downtown, the school pick up is at 6:00pm, there are GO train delays and then what about paying for daycare, I’ll have to pay for GO and daycare, I will only be working to pay for those things, not to mention the time spent travelling and the rushing of the day to get dinner, then homework and then bed…okay what about retail, can’t do that because my husband referees hockey most nights and weekends and then I have to work nights and weekends with no time for the family…”  Yep, all of those things made me consider all my options…downtown, retail, in-home daycare and finally my own business.  The only best option was my own business; everything else had MANY downfalls.

So, fast forward to February 2, 2015, I had taken the leap to start my business and by the grace of God, I got into a government funded program called the Ontario Self Employment Benefit Program.  This paid me Employment Insurance benefits for 42 weeks and taught me how to run my business and I was able to keep any money that I made from the business and not have to declare it through EI.  Unfortunately this is not an option in Ontario anymore.  Having said this, my group was the 56th group out of 58 and many of the people from the groups had to go back to a part-time/full time job.  This was not an option for me, so I took the bull by the horns and have rode it to success.  

Now it hasn’t been without a lot of work and A LOT of time spent planning and working on the business, so much so that my daughter within my first year said to me, “Mom why do you sit at your computer all the time?”  I wish I could say she was exaggerating, but she truly wasn’t.  I worked most evenings and weekends, but it was truly a give and take.  I was able to get the kids off to school in the morning, start working at 8:30am and pick them up from the bus in the afternoon and continued to make dinner and help my daughter with her homework after all, they are the reason I started my business, so any available time was going to have to be spent working in order to make this work and not fail.

Just before I hit my first year anniversary, I decided, I have worked hard enough and positioned myself well with my clients to be able to take the weekends off.  Not all the time, but it was a work in progress.  Since my husband is gone most evenings in the winter and many weekends too, I had to be with the kids on the weekends and work during the evenings when the kids went to bed.  The first summer of being in business, I had no idea what things were going to be like and since I was getting money from the government, I decided to put the kids into day camp.  It was for 6 weeks and my in-laws took them for another 2 weeks.  

I wasn’t that busy with client work, but busy enough with building my business, so when this summer came around, I was thinking that I didn’t need to spend the money, I would keep them home and work around them…not a chance.  Have you ever tried to do some sort of home renovation, whether it was painting, renovation or evening gardening, with kids around?  Yes?  How did that work out for you?  Well, it was a disaster for the first 3 weeks of the summer.  I was busier than I ever thought I could be…on most days I was working the same amount of hours on client work as I did when the kids were in school.  So, I looked at my options which were each set of grandparents and they helped me tremendously…many people don’t have that to fall back on, so I am VERY grateful.  It really does take a village.

I have learned many things with running a business and a family…it’s a balancing act.  

A business coach said to my mastermind group many times, when you run your own business there is no work/life balance like when you were in a corporate job, it’s all life.  This is so true.  

There are days that I am busy, some days that I am pulling out my hair and going to cry because the crap is hitting the fan and there are days that I can do some work and then sit on the couch to catch up on my favourite TV show.  No matter what type of day it is, I still get up in the morning, get the kids ready for school, walk them to the bus and then pick them up after school from the bus stop, make dinner and help them with their homework.  They are the reason why I started my business at home and they are the reason why I continue.  

The most amazing thing is, I have clients that understand that.  I get to choose my clients just as much as my clients choose me, maybe even more so because I am upfront about having my children and the responsibilities and obligations I have and if they don’t understand or have other expectations, then they are not the right client for me and vice versa.  When I was in corporate, I didn’t have a choice about anything, everything had to “fly up the flag pole” and things were stressful…all the time.  Now, of course there is stress, but I can make my own decisions because if I don’t like how something feels, I drop it like a hot potato.

Working for yourself and being a business owner/entrepreneur is a lot of hard work and a lot of doubt, but if you are a tenacious person and are willing to deal with short term discomfort for long term gain, then do it.  I have always wanted to start my own business, but it was never the right time.  After being shown the door a couple of times within a large corporation, I decided I didn’t need another invitation, I was going to do it.  My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner in life, but we all have a road that was paved for us and we travel down it and we learn things along the way…I learned all that I needed to know to do what I do now, so really this was the path I was supposed to be on at this time.  My children were supposed to be this age and in this stage of their lives, we had made our plans the way they were supposed to be planned to prepare me for this endeavour…not to mention my last position ensured that I met all the people I had to meet to ensure I started off on the right foot.  

Just know that it’s scary and some days you may not make enough, but if you keep pushing and overcoming the obstacles you will be successful. IF I CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU!

Melissa is a real-life mom and business owner who runs MH Virtual Assistant, a virtual business that inspires clients to transform their business by creating efficient ways to conduct administrative tasks and documenting those ways for use by others, while building relationships with clients and their customers.

Want to hear more about Melissa & her business?

Reach her online at: 

On Instagram at:

On LinkedIn at:

On Facebook at:

Top Podcasts for Mompreneurs

Obviously I am setting out to age myself, but I have a new love affair with podcasts. I would listen to a podcast over the radio any day of the week. 

I have always been a fan of listening to experts - ask my husband, I'm constantly putting on my earphones and listening to a new webinar, Facebook live, or podcast. I truly believe that learning from those who have been there (and succeeded & failed) is the best way to ensure your own path to success. 

What I love about the internet is that it has opened learning up to all of us. None of us have to fumble in the dark when we have a great idea. There are so many stories of success out there that will guide new entrepreneurs through the difficult process of getting their product or information off the ground and into the hands of consumers. 

While not every podcast listed below is specifically focussed on entrepreneurial moms, they all provide the information, support, confidence-boost, and motivation that budding mompreneurs really need (and I should know, since I am one!).

So if you're like me and you crave information and inspiration from the best of the best, then these podcasts are for you:

This is Your Life - Ok, not specifically for mompreneuers but the takeaways from these podcasts are simply gold. I am huge fan of Michael Hyatt and his advice for working smarter, achieving success, and motivating yourself and others to soar high. I *may* have listened to every single podcast he has put out to date... 
Listen to this podcast if you're looking for actionable tips on productivity, marketing, and best practices.

Build Your Tribe - You and I might know her from TurboJam (oh ya, that was my fav at-home workout for years!) but Chalene Johnson is a crazy good social media marketer and I have learned a lot about just putting yourself out there with consistency and good content from her podcast. Added bonus? Short episodes - great for a quick listen when you grab a few minutes to yourself!
Listen to this podcast if you're looking for real life inspiration and social media tips & tricks that have been proven to work. 

Femtrepreneur - This is my newest podcast obsession. These girls are whip smart, full of killer information, and have some real life experience to back it up big time! If you are working as a mompreneur online, maybe even selling an online product, then this is the podcast for you!
Listen to this podcast if you're looking for advice from two current online entrepreneurs who are absolutely killing it and willing to share their success and mistakes!

Crazy Ambition - How to spend more time with your family, ditch overwhelm, go from frazzled to focus, and learn from some of the best. I firmly believe that learning from others is the absolute best way to grow yourself. This podcast brings you ideas and advice that can truly change your mompreneur life!
Listen to this podcast if you're looking for motivation and inspiration from real-life mompreneurs who have hit it big against the odds. 

Brilliant Business Moms - Two fab sisters interviewing some truly fab momprenuers. They are so relatable it feels like you're hanging out in your kitchen with friends, all while you're soaking in some really great mom/business knowledge!
Listen to this podcast if you're looking to learn from the best about running a business and a family and succeeding at both!

Want more inspiring parenting advice? Check out my list of top TED Talks for parents!

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