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Mum's the Word

Momspiration: Kate Gertner & Sarah Deitcher Of Play With Pieces

Get to know...

Kate Gertner and Sarah Deitcher, Co-Founders of PLAY WITH PIECES, the innovative baby play mat company that combines stylish design with safe materials for your little one. Kate and Sarah sit down for a photoshoot with Trish Mennell Photography and talk finding inspiration for their designs, working together as friends and how they balance motherhood.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a mother? Biggest joys? Biggest challenges? 

K: There is really nothing better than hearing your kids laugh.

S: It really is the biggest joy.It’s the best; but being a mom is hard, and there are so many challenges! Fifty percent of our phone calls revolve around sleep, or lack there of—who’s sleeping, who’s not sleeping, how do we get more sleep, how do we get our kids to get more sleep? The other 50% is about our work. But, at the end of the day when all your kids want to do is to show you something new they’ve learned or have a quiet snuggle on the couch, you suddenly forget about everything on the to-do list and want to freeze time forever! 

Q: What have you learned about balancing motherhood with your careers?

K: Motherhood really is a balancing act. Sometimes you won’t be able to make it home for bedtime, or you need to take a phone call when you’re on sandbox duty. We try to do the best we can. Sometimes that means spending an hour on the phone parked outside our respective houses to can finish up a work call so that when go inside, we can be present with our kids. 

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Play with Pieces? Where do you draw inspiration from for the designs?

K: We are both really design-oriented people. There was nothing out there on the market that we wanted to live with everyday in our homes. We draw a lot of inspiration from vintage rugs, and combining them with current trends.

S: It became a style dilemma that we were determined to solve, and we knew we couldn’t be alone in our search.

Q: How is it working together? Do you have any tips for friends going into business together?

K: The funny thing is, we weren’t really friends before we went into business together.

S: Well, we were new friends.

K: Yes, we were very new friends; we were actually set up on a "blind mommy
date".

S: We had both recently given birth—I think Teddy was three months and Grayson was one month—and we met at Terroni and had ate pizza while our babies slept under the table in their bucket car seats.

K: I think we maybe shared a salad too.

S: The mushroom one, obviously.

K: We became really good friends fast; we had a lot in common and basically talked about going into business together from day one (though many ideas were tossed around before the play mat). So we don’t bring 30 years of friendship baggage into our business partnership. It was the perfect clean slate.

S: For business and friendship – ha! 

K: Find someone you like (like, really like) because at the end of the day, it’s just the two of you (in a makeshift office) and the idea you came up with together.

S: And like any relationship, it’s all about trust. Ideas will come and go and your business will evolve, but you need to go to bed at night knowing you can trust your partner.

Q: How did you come up with your kids’ names?

K: Theodore just happened to be a name we really liked. We are into traditional names and especially loved that it has a cute short form – we call him Teddy. For my second we were looking for a B name to honour my husband’s mom. Bennett was so perfect us because it felt formal but still fun (and not so common). At home we call him Mr. B.

 

S: My husband and I have always been drawn to names with English heritage. Having a short-form that we loved was also a must for us.

 

 

Q: Do you have a go-to family restaurant in Toronto?

K: Mildred's Temple Kitchen for their Bluberry Pancakes.


S: Terroni or Cibo—basically anywhere that serves pasta and where we can
make noise.

Q: What's your favourite family vacation?

K: We spend a lot of time in California because we have family there; Abbott Kinney is like a second home to us. California is so kid-friendly (aside from the time change) and what is not to love about being on the ocean?

S: My husband’s family has a home in Vermont. I love being surrounded by so much greenery! It’s my happy place—and when mama’s happy, everyone’s
happy!

Q: How do you find time for yourself? What's your ideal girls' night?

S: We are both pretty low key (right Kate??). Ideal girl’s night involves a long delicious dinner in a cozy space, with lots of laughter and some musical chairs so you get to talk to everyone. Also, there must be dessert and tea— Earl Grey for me and peppermint for Kate.


 

Q. With the power and influence of social media such as Instagram, how do you draw the line about what you think is appropriate to post of your children? As a mother, do you enjoy and/or find it beneficial to share photos and videos of your family on social media platforms?

K: For the first year with Teddy, I really made a conscious effort not to show his face on social media; I would post little snippets here and there but nothing too revealing. Then, our production samples arrived the same day I gave birth to Bennett. Suddenly, we found ourselves in need of a readily available (and free!) baby models, so up our kids faces went, all over our Instagram feed. However, we are very respectful of kids and our customer’s kids on instagram. We always ask permission to post (or repost) and we understand that everyone has different levels of comfort with what they want to share on social media.


Q: Any last words of wisdom for our fellow new moms?

S: Drink water. Eat well 80% of the time. Have sex. Mind your own business.

 

Ani + Wren Go To New York

When we think New York, we think of the infinite things to see, do and eat. Whether you are a fashionista, a food enthusiast, an art junkie, or a lover of Broadway - there is something for you.

Traveling with little ones can feel overwhelming with the unpredictable schedules, long packing lists and impatient kids. But traveling can also be fun and exciting for kids of all ages with all the new experiences, sights and most importantly, family time.

Lani and Lauren are veterans when it comes to traveling with little ones and last month they gathered everyone up for a trip to New York! 


Let’s talk travel…

We all know this isn’t your first family vacation but we have to know. What essentials do you pack in your bags and what do you leave behind? Do all the kids get their own bags? Tell us the secrets to making the prep time as painless as possible for all the moms out there.

LAUREN: I have one rule when I pack - I don't bring more than 1 suitcase for all my 4 kids. I try to order or get supplies (diapers, wipes, etc.) wherever I am going. Otherwise I only pack what outfits my kids need (and at the end of the day, they end up wearing the same thing over and over...). When I only had one child, she got her own bag with the cutest outfit changes (like 4 per day...). Things change once you travel with a full crew of toddlers! My other tip - be organized!  I pack about a week in advance so that it's done and I'm not stressing the night before. I also always pack a carry on with a change of clothes, medicine, and a few other essentials in case their suitcase doesn't make it! I also pack for myself in advance ... I hate doing anything last minute!

LANI: I am the worst packer ever, and now with a kid it only makes it worse. I have no idea how Lauren does it, I am convinced they all share underwear lol. I typically pack myself in 1 large checked bag, and then squeeze all of Marc's and Xander's stuff in another large checked bag. Only tip I have that helps reduce some bulkiness is that I usually order diapers, wipes, swimmers, snacks to the hotel in advance, so I don't need to lug it all with me.


How do you keep the kids entertained when you travel? How do you feel about screen time as a distraction, and how much is too much?

LAUREN: When we travel I don't worry about limiting screen time - it's really all about survival! I always stock up on crafts, games, activities but I also make sure to put a few new games or movies/shows on their iPads to keep them entertained.

LANI: I agree with Wren. Marc and I were so hesitant to introduce screen time to Xander before the age of 2, but then we had a 10 HR flight to Hawaii for the Xmas break and it was our life saver!! #iPads4Life on flights, anything to keep your lil one happy and entertained. We try to limit screen time during our daily routine, so he doesn't become reliant on it, but like anything in life, everything in moderation right 

 

 


What are your go-to snacks to pack for the kids? For yourself?

LAUREN: One of my kids is celiac, so I pack a lot of gluten free snacks from some of my fave brands (Made Good, Annies, Simple Mills) I also always pack fruit, veggies, pizza bagels and bring my son a few gluten free meal options. Also candy as back up (lollipops, gummies, etc.) for meltdowns/bribery!

For myself I try to pack nuts, Kind Bars ... things I can eat quickly but that will fill me... when traveling with kids who knows when I will get to eat, pee, etc.

LANI: On travel days I try to pack mess-free snacks. I like to keep things clean and tidy, OCD styles, so I try to avoid messy snacks/liquids. Crackers, cheese strings, apples, cereal, and raisins are my go to. Let's be real though, you can never avoid messes with kids, but a girl can try!

In terms of snacks for moi...Non-pregnant Lani gets unsalted almonds, and gum! Pregnant Lani gets salted almonds, licorice, Xander's Ritz crackers, and who am I kidding, a bagel and cream cheese!! 

 

 

   


Now let’s talk New York…

What are some of your favourite places to take the kids?

LAUREN: I love NYC with kids! Some of my fave places ... Central Park Amusement Park (only in the summer), also Central Park Zoo! Gazillion bubble show (it's really amazing!) and definitely go see a broadway show (I recently saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Frozen) and then they get to see Times Square. Cool Mess is fun (make your own ice cream), Dylan's Candy Bar and my girls love the American Girl Store (make an appointment if you are booking "services" for the dolls - cue eye roll). If your kids read the Eloise books definitely take a trip to the Plaza.

That all being said, sometimes some of the best things in NYC are spontaneous. I took my daughter last year with her friend. We went to Eataly and took out some food and ate outside in this little public area across the Flatiron. There was a Facebook Lego group meet-up (random!) but our girls had the best time eating pizza and watching/ helping them build!

LANI: Central Park Zoo was a hit. He loved seeing all the different animals, and running around from 1 exhibit to the next. Also Central Park Amusement Park was fun, because there were a handful of rides for toddlers, and he loved watching his cousins play all the games.  

 

Marc's sister lives in Connecticut, so we also always try to get some family time in to see her and her kiddies. We like taking the train because Xander can move around vs being trapped in a car seat for 2 hrs, while enjoying the view from the big windows.

 


What about some good kid-friendly museums/art-installations?

LAUREN: I went to the Kids Museum which was a great rainy day activity. The MET and MOMA also has kids specific tours.

LANI: With a 2 year old, it's more about the simple things in life. We did a lot of searching for rocks in central park, and spotting  yellow taxi cabs on the busy streets of NY. Maybe next year when he is a little older, we'll hit up the American Museum of Natural History to check out those dinos!!




What are your go-to kid-friendly restaurants?

LAUREN: I don't usually go anywhere kid specific ...I find we end up eating anywhere around where we are. Room service always is requested for at least one night!

LANI: Samesies, I basically just copy what Lauren does with her kids lol.


What are your favourite spots to hit up when the kids are asleep?

LAUREN: My bed ;)

LANI: Noo come on Wren we are more fun than that. We love Avra Madison for dinner on the Upper East Side - their fresh branzino is next level good, and the zucchini chips + dip are not to be missed. Carbone, because why the hell not, best Italian in the city. We also usually go to Quality Meats, because we tend to stay in that neighbourhood, and they have a good wine list and steaks. 

 

 


What are your go-to stores for the kids? For yourselves?

LAUREN: In Soho, there is a Uniqlo, the Converse store, and Melissa (those amazing shoes for girls!) all on the same block. I also love Crew Cuts (JCrew for kids) - there is one on Madison.

For me, I love love the shoe Department at Bergdorf's... I have a shoe obsession and that is the best place to give into it!! I also love the Reformation store and Intermix in Soho.

LANIFor Xan, I've ordered some great stuff online from Little Giants Giant Shorties, they have really cool pieces for little boys. I've never had a chance to get to their flagship store in Brooklyn, but it's definitely on my to do list next time we go :)

 

 

Intermix is my jam in NY.  Their assortment is so well curated in NY, especially in the Soho store- Laur and I always do well there! I also love Otte, it's a NYC-based retailer, and there are several locations around the city. Brand roster is amazing, and I am always so impressed with the sales staff and their customer service.

 


Highlight of the trip?

LAUREN: Spending time with the fam, grandparents, cousins! Nothing better than having everyone together ;)

LANI What she said ;)

 


Number one advice for traveling with kids?

LAUREN: Try to be flexible ... when we travel I don't care as much about bedtime, naps, eating healthy ... let go of your rules and try to enjoy!

LANIYou gotta go with the flow. Traveling with kids can often be unpredictable, so don't sweat the small stuff, and just try to relax and have fun. I find we always end up having the best time when there are no concrete plans and we decide to just do something spontaneous ;)

Momspiration: Ali Budd


Get to know...

Ali Budd, President of Ali Budd Interiors, the award-winning interior designer with a serious knack for transforming any home into your home of your dreams. Ali sits down for a photoshoot with Trish Mennell Photography and talks to us about all things motherhood, the importance of taking time for yourself and so much more. 

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a mother? Biggest joys? Biggest challenges? 

Watching my children grow up and seeing their amazing, hilarious and distinctive personalities come to life has been an incredible joy for me. I look at them (when they aren't whining) and my heart could explode. Literally explode. They have shown me how to see things in a different light and are definitely a constant reminder of what is important in life. When I became a mother, my own mom looked at me and said, "Only now can you truly understand how I feel about you." It was completely true! Unconditional love like no other. 

 

Q: We know you're busy running your interior design firm, Ali Budd Interiors — what have you learned about balancing motherhood with your career?

When I'm at work, I try and remain completely focused on work. When I am with my children I do my best to make sure they have my full attention. I am very upfront with my clients initially to make sure I manage their expectations — I don't take meetings in the evening or on weekends. That is my time to be with my family. I have found that people ultimately really respect it.

I have always found it helpful to have an open dialogue with my children about what I do, why I do it, and why I love it. I've explained that there are other people that need mommy's help. They come to my office all the time to see what's up and I hope in time they will understand that everything I am working so hard for is ultimately to make sure I can give them the best life possible. 

I feel proud that my daughter is growing up watching me try and fulfill my professional goals, and that my son can see that women can at once be successful business women and compassionate mothers. The two aren't mutually exclusive. I should also mention I have an INCREDIBLE village which I utilize all the time. 

Q: Do you find that your personal style has changed since becoming a mom? 

My style has definitely evolved over time, but I am not sure it has anything to do with being a mother. I love fashion and I love getting dressed. I'm a product junkie! I don't think you need to be all leggings and tees when you become a mom (although of course around my house, that's exactly that you'll find me in!)

 

Q: Where did you find inspiration for your kids' names?

Joey's name (my daughter) came from Dawson's Creek. I could totally lie about it but that's where I heard the name and we always loved it. We actually called her Blair in the hospital for 24 hours but it just didn't seem right. She was way more of a Joey (also why I encourage people not to order their monogrammed stuff until after they have had their baby!) 

James was named after my father who very sadly and suddenly passed away when I was pregnant with him. I knew I was going to have a boy, but in the sadness and shock of losing my dad, I couldn't even think about what to call him. I went into labor very early and the nurse who signed us in also signed her last name to all of our documents. Her last name was James which was my father's middle name. It was a done deal in that moment. I actually don't even remember discussing it, we just knew! 

Q: Quote the funniest/worst thing your child has ever said. 

There are SO many. My kids say the most hilarious things. The other day I spilled water on James and he was very upset I got him wet. I told him I was so sorry and he looked at me and said, "Mommy, I will forgive you but I won't forget." He is three years old...

Q: Do you have a go-to family restaurant in Toronto?

I would love to name some cool, amazing place where my children eat with chopsticks and use cloth napkins. Not the case! My kids' favourite spot in the city is United Bakers, a very family-friendly, dairy restaurant in Midtown. They eat mac and cheese and French Fries and sprinkle cookies and we are in and out in 30-40 minutes max most of the time. 

Q: What's your favourite family vacation?

Miami. It's close and so easy with the kids. I'm very much about group parenting — I have lots of friends that go down at Christmas time as well and my kids love it. 

Q: Favourite Sunday night tradition? If not, any fun family tradition?

I sing a song to my kids every night before they go to sleep about all the people that love them. Mommy, daddy  and the dogs are always in the song and then every night we switch out different people. Also, every year, no matter where we are, my kids wake up with a room full of balloons on their birthdays. I love celebrating the day they were born. 

 

Q: How do you find time for yourself? What's your ideal girls' night? 

I am a single mother, so I am pretty on most of the time. My kids go to their dad's every other weekend and that's usually when I take some time for myself. Like I said before, I have an incredible supportive and involved family and group of friends. They are all extremely involved in the lives of my children and I couldn't do it without them! My kids have a great father — he is very active in their lives. I also have a live-in nanny who is beyond helpful.

I love being with my girlfriends. They are absolutely my lifeline! I don't care where we are or what we are doing — we just laugh. A lot. My favourite girl time ranges from being at the cottage, backyard hang outs, fun dinners out or mini getaways. My girls make my heart happy. 


Q. With the power and influence of social media such as Instagram, how do you draw the line about what you think is appropriate to post of your children? As a mother, do you enjoy and/or find it beneficial to share photos and videos of your family on social media platforms?

On my professional Instagram, I am extremely selective about the images I post of my children. I rarely post pictures of their faces and if I do, it's occasionally and only in stories. I have a private, personal account with limited followers where I post pictures of them so that my family and friends can see. I don't use Facebook or any other social media.

Social media is at once, very powerful and very scary. I love it as a business tool, but there is no way we can completely comprehend the impact it's going to have long term on this generation. For the most part, I'm going to let my children navigate what they want out there about themselves when they are old enough to make those decisions. 


Q: Any last words of wisdom for our fellow new moms?

You are doing an amazing job and the universe gave you the baby you are supposed to be a mother to. Period, end of story. There are no coincidences in this department. Someone said to me, our job as parents is to raise good adults, not good children. I carry this with me and try to remember it always. Also, really, I have no wisdom on this — but does anyone? I think as mothers if we follow our gut and do what's right for our children, that's all we can do. 

 

Meet The Rebels Behind The Rebel Mama's Handbook For (Cool) Moms

Aleksandra Jassem and Nikita Staleny are two REBEL MAMA’s who just published the ultimate girlfriend’s guide to early motherhood. No bullsh*t, no judgment, just the parenting book of your dreams.


Q: How long has this book been in the works for? 

We started writing the day our Kickstarter campaign wrapped — May 4th, 2017. The book launched online on May 4th, 2018! We can honestly say it was in the works for exactly 365 days!

Q: If you could describe the book in exactly 3 words, what would it be? 

Chill. As. F*ck. 


Q: What is your favourite tip/piece of advice from the book?

Ignore people’s opinions about what you do in your “leisure time.” ;) 


Q: Are you gals on the same page in terms of parenting or do you have any differing styles or philosophies? 

In parenting, (as in life), Nikita is slightly higher strung and Aleks is slightly more rebellious. We try to keep eachother in check as much as possible though. It’s a good balance. 

 


Q: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you tell yourself as a first-time mom? 

“Relax babe.” You can’t waste your life worrying about every single thing or you’ll miss out on all the good stuff. Relax, trust your gut, and enjoy the ride!

 

 

 

SHOP THE REBEL MAMA's HANDBOOK FOR (COOL) MOMS 

Momspiration: Carly Burnett

Get to know...

Carly Burnett, Creative Director and Co-Founder of TKEES, the sandal company that's on everyone's radar this Summer. Carly and her kids sit down for a photoshoot with Trish Mennell and talks to us about all things motherhood, finding that elusive work-life balance, and so much more! 

 Q: What Is The Most Rewarding Thing About Being A Mother? Biggest Joys? Biggest Challenges?

The rewards are endless. I'm the luckiest person in the world to have my infectious kids. They make me a better person. They give me purpose. Life is simply better with them in it. I'm continuously mesmerized by how interesting, thoughtful, creative and quirky they are. 

With all the good, naturally comes challenges, but Jesse and I tackle them individually. We have learned not to be reactive, and treat each problem with our kids with patience and understanding, so they can benefit from their mistakes, and not develop anxiety over them. Always a work in progress...


Q: What Have You Learned About Balancing Motherhood With Career?

It's always a work in progress. I know balance is key, but not always perfectly attainable — I'm [only] human! We never really kept our kids at home, even when we travelled for work. We often just took them with us, especially now that they are a bit older. We want them to get a good glimpse into what we do, and all the hard work we put it. It teaches them value, and that you need to work, work, work to get what you want. 

Believe it or not, Jesse and I have not been away from them for more than a week at a time. We can't stand it! In the end, I LOVE to work and I LOVE being a mom, so I make sure that I do both the best I can. My mission is to kick-ass at both of them! I won't settle for anything but.  

Q: How Does Your Family Inspire You? Does It Reflect In Your Business?

Everything I do is for them. I want to impress them every day. What they think and feel has a tremendous effect on me. They have made me a fuller, tougher, more consideration person, and all this plays into work. 

Q: You Work With Your Husband — Do You Find It Difficult? How Do You Separate Work And Personal Life?

This is always the #1 question everyone always asks me when they hear I work with my husband. My answer...it just works! I don't know any other way. It's not always fuzzy bunnies and rainbows, but we always look for solutions when we run into any kind of conflict. We work through it like any other couple, or business partners do. The trust and admiration we have for one another is endless. He's my best friend, my brilliant business partner, killer dad to our kids, and one hell of a cook. Pinch me.

Q: Has Your Personal Style Changed Since You've Become A Mom? 

Not so much. I have always been super casual and into basics, I'm a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl. I've always been a tomboy at heart and it shows. The word formal scares me!  


Q: How Did You Come Up With Your Kids Names?

Jensen was named after the racecar driver Jenson Button. Sienna was originally named Senna, after Ayrton Senna, but one of Jesse's younger brothers' first names is Ayrton, so we just added an "I" into her name to make it Sienna. Her middle name is Indy, after the Indy 500. Can you tell my husband likes cars?! Everyone calls her Senny. I don't even know how that happened, but it stuck.

Q: Quote The Funniest/Worst Thing Your Children Have Ever Said

This was a recent one from Sienna...

Sienna: Mommy, my bellybutton has the same name as a car. 

Me: What's that?

Sienna: An Audi! 


Q: Do You Have a Go-To Family Restaurant In Toronto?

Terroni.

 

What's Your Favourite Family Vacation?

St. Barths.

 

Q: How Do You Find Time For Yourself?

Time? What? Honestly, the only real time I have for myself is from 5:30 am - 7:00 am, 6 days a week at the gym. I love it. It's my outlet. 

Q: With The Power And Influence Of Social Media, How Do You Draw The Line About What You Think Is Appropriate To Post Of Your Children? As A Mother Do You Enjoy Or Find It Beneficial To Share Photos And Videos Of Your Family? 

If I could come back as a photographer, I would in another life. I love taking photos and my kids are natural subjects in my universe. I love sharing them with the world in a tasteful way, of course. They're extensions, and better versions of Jesse and I. Why not show it? I won't post pictures just for the sake of posting. It needs to evoke a positive feeling. 

Q: Any Last Words Of Wisdom For Fellow Moms?

Don't read all the books out there on how to be a mom. Trust your instincts and do it your way, and don't compare yourself or your children to others. It's a waste of time and never accurate! 

Read Our Interview With Mama Mio Skincare

Ani + Wren recently did any interview with one our favourite beauty brands — Mama Mio Skincare! Keep reading to see our feature on their blog. 

This week on the blog we chat to sisters-in-law Lauren and Lani Levy founders of fabulous maternity style company Ani + Wren.

Their core philosophy is that pregnant women should feel confident and beautiful, rather than feeling like they’ve settled for clothes that don’t truly reflect their personal style. A philosophy Mama Mio are completely on board with.

From working with family, to beauty essentials read on for more! Plus scroll to the bottom of the page to find out how you can win a 9 month supply of Mama Mio goodies!

 

Your maternity wear is some of the most fashionable available for Mamas‐to‐be! How did the idea for Ani + Wren come about?

We came up with the idea for Ani + Wren when Lauren was expecting her first child 6 years ago! She really struggled to find clothes that fit her pre pregnancy style. Lani’s background is in fashion – so we came together with this concept of creating a stylish boutique that caters to expectant moms with a mix of curated contemporary brands and bump friendly non maternity brands that work before, during and after pregnancy. The whole idea behind Ani + Wren (a play on our names!) is for women to feel amazing when they are expecting – this is an exciting time but we understand that not every women feels their best when they are pregnant – we want them to walk in our store and find pieces they love that make them feel incredible!

What’s it like working together as sisters‐in‐law?

We feel so lucky we get to work with one another! Lauren is married to Lani’s oldest brother so it’s family first! We spend a lot of time together and have developed a really great working relationship. We have different opinions and don’t always agree but we respect one another and always appreciate having someone else to bounce ideas off of! Plus it would just be boring to work alone 😉

What are your pregnancy fashion staples?

For Lauren, anything that is transitional is key. She has 4 kids all very close in age so all her pregnancy pieces had to be transitional from work to school pick up, to park play dates. Investing in some really great maternity jeans (with distressing or in a cute shade of grey or white was key) –paired with a cool loose top from one of her fave brands HATCH was essential. When Lani was pregnant with Xander she really gravitated to anything fitted – staples from Isabella Oliver or our own brand that we developed Cutler were styles that she loved! She would take something basic but always top it with a cool trench or wear cute shoes or sneakers to make it a bit more fashion forward!

Do you have a style icon?

We love celebrity moms that always seem to look chic wherever they go – Blake Lively has incredible style and is such a risk taker! We also love Jessica Alba’s everyday style – she always looks clean and cool and put together.

What’s the one beauty item that you always have in your handbag?

Lani always carries Sugar lip Balm in Rose in her bag – it gives that perfect light tint of colour! Lauren‐ always has bandaids (is that a beauty product??) … wherever she is one of her kids always seems to need one 😉

Do you have any exciting plans for the future of Ani + Wren?

We are always looking at what we can do next and how we can develop the business … we never sit still when it comes to growing Ani + Wren! We are currently looking at expanding the styles for our house brand Cutler, we are also in the process of completely re‐vamping our online site (aniandwren.com) … and we always toy with the idea of more store locations … so stay tuned!!

MOMSPIRATION: DANA GEALL

  

Instagram: @danakim_ | Website: Three To Be

TELL US ABOUT THREE TO BE AND HOW IT ALL GOT STARTED. 

THREE TO BE is a charitable organization that was inspired by my amazing children — Taylor, Cole and Brody who are now 10-year-olds (yes, they are triplets!). They were born extremely prematurely and as a result of that, they all have a neurological disorder called Cerebral Palsy.

As you can imagine, I was devastated when we got the diagnosis, but I was motivated by the love for my kids to do anything and everything to give them the most hope for a promising future. I wanted to bring awareness to neurological disorders as a whole and was just so passionate about raising money for research and therapies that can help kids like my own kids.

After eight short years, we raised over $5 million supporting the most innovative research programs. 2017 was our final year and I am just so proud of what THREE TO BE has accomplished and will forever be grateful to everyone who was a part of it.

 

WHAT ASPECT OF THREE TO BE ARE YOU THE MOST PROUD OF?                                             

THREE TO BE was a labour of love. It was so incredible to see our community come together for an amazing cause. I am so proud of so much but if I had to narrow it down to three things, here they are:                                                   

The first is that the research we supported in the beginning translated into a national clinical trial for children with cerebral palsy in the end. It was amazing to be a part of the journey and watch it grow from laboratory research to something that has the potential to help so many children and their families.

 

The second was our parent/caregiver support group called PAL (Parent Advocacy Link). PAL is a lifeline for so many families and will still live on. It was and will continue to be spearheaded by another mom. If you are a parent of a child with a neurological disorder and want to connect with other parents on this journey, add PAL on Facebook. PAL is my #1 place to go as a mom when I need advice on anything and everything. 

Finally, I am tremendously proud of the legacy that THREE TO BE has left behind for my children. When they are older, they will be able to look back and see what they inspired. 

 

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT BEING A MOTHER? BIGGEST JOYS? BIGGEST CHALLENGES? BIGGEST SURPRISES? 

My kids have made me so proud every step of the way. They are literally miracle children and have been through more than most people will go through in a lifetime. Taylor, Cole and Brody all need wheelchairs and help with every day things like feeding them, going to the washroom, playing, doing their homework, and everything in between.

The most rewarding thing about being their mom is seeing their expression and reaction when they accomplish something they have worked so hard to achieve. The pride that exudes from their entire body and their beautiful smiles makes me tremendously proud to be their mom. I get such joy watching them accomplish their goals.

 

The most challenging part of being a mom is watching my kids struggle with things that are beyond their control — usually having to do with mobility. It is hard when they cannot participate in something that other kids take advantage of. I just try to change things up so that they can participate in a way that works for them. It is all about making things happen!

The biggest surprise with motherhood is how we adapt to every situation. No matter how many curve balls have been thrown at us as a family, we have made things work with a smile on our faces (most of the time). In all honesty, if you would have told me this is what our life would have looked like 10 years ago, it would have been extremely overwhelming to handle. I do believe that the journey in getting you to the point you are at is what sets you up to handle everything. Motherhood is an amazing thing. You truly don’t know how strong you are until life gives you a reason to be strong and more importantly, strong is the ONLY choice you have.

 

 

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR KIDS NAMES?

Taylor Layla, Cole Eyden and Brody Max are my children’s full names. Their first names were names that we loved and their middle names are all after grandparents who have passed on.      

 

HOW DO YOU FIND TIME FOR YOURSELF? WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL NIGHT OUT?

I honestly set up time for myself the way you do when you have an appointment or a meeting. You would never cancel on a meeting with an important client or friend so why should you make that exception for yourself? This is also easier said than done ;)

I am divorced and remarried so on the nights that I don’t have my kiddies, it gives me the time I need to refuel and recharge for the next day. My husband, Jason and I got married in June 2017 and it was incredibly emotional and special. To watch my kids come down the aisle, dance with them on the dance floor and be a part of our wedding day – it was truly priceless. 

My ideal night out with Jason would be dinner and a movie. I also enjoy hanging out with my girlfriends — either at one of our houses or going out for dinner and drinks.

 

ANY FUN FAMILY TRADITIONS?

My house is a busy household and we always have much on the go.  It is nice to always spend time hanging out as a family before bed. We either have a dance party, do yoga/meditation (where they giggle the entire time), read a book together (the last book we read as a family was Wonder) or play games.  It is a good way to connect and have fun at the end of a long day.

 

 

A FUNNY STORY YOU WANT TO SHARE ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN/SOMETHING THEY SAID OR DID TO MAKE YOU LAUGH?

My son Brody is non-verbal, yet has so much to say. He has an amazing sense of humour. He communicates with a smile for yes and a pursing of the lips for no.  When he doesn’t like something you said or wants to get a rise out of you – he will give you the middle finger. In fact, I will never forget the first time he met his new school principal and yup – he flipped him the bird.  We were all laughing uncontrollably. 

YOU WERE NOMINATED AS A "MOMSPIRATION." WHAT DOES THIS WORD MEAN TO YOU? WHO IS YOUR INSPIRATION?

It is honestly so flattering to nominated for this. I think when you are tasked with the incredible role of being a mom you just do everything in your power to be the best mom you can be. People often say that they wouldn’t be able to handle the challenges I have been faced with – but like I said, until you are in a situation where you are forced to step up, you have no idea what you are capable of. I am no more special than anyone else. 

 

 

I have met so many incredible moms on this journey and they are my inspiration for sure. One mom in particular who is such a role model to me is Ellen Schwartz.  

When my children were diagnosed with CP many years ago, I read this book called “Lessons From Jacob” written by Ellen. It was a book about a mother’s journey with her son who has a rare, neurodegenerative disorder. I read each page hanging on to every single inspiring word that this woman wrote. This book was pivotal for me.

Through Ellen’s words I learned that A) I wasn’t alone and that B) Life could still be beautiful and full and hopeful even when facing obstacles that, at the time seemed impossible. I knew after I read this book that I had to meet this amazing woman. That was 8 years ago. My connection with Ellen is one that will bind us together forever. I am so grateful for our friendship and bond that we share and for the life lessons that she has taught me through her positivity and refreshing perspective on life.

 

ANY LAST WORDS OF WISDOM FOR FELLOW NEW MOMS?

Do not underestimate what you are capable of as a mother.  Life is all about surprising yourself and realizing your full potential. 

Also, try not to be too hard on yourself.  As women, we are built to take on a ridiculous amount of pressure and stress and it is easy to overwhelm ourselves. Just breathe and realize that whatever you don’t finish today can be accomplished tomorrow.

 xo