Friday, February 26, 2016

Choosing to Live with Less

For years I have had the desire to downsize the amount of stuff we own. When we bought our first home in Toronto we were operating with about 1100 square feet total, and owned way more than we needed. I would attempt to get rid of things, but was never all that successful. Though we manage to keep a tidy home, things get hidden in corners and closets and before you know it the accumulation of items is out of control. Why do we own so much?

These days we live in a consumer driven society. Earn more, spend more, own more! Bigger homes, faster cars. We fill our closets with the latest trends, and then shop seasonally for clothes that society tells us we "need". We work, work, work to spend, spend, spend and our priorities seem to be way out of whack.

Personally my biggest issue with too much stuff and too many commitments is the way that they control my life and my time. Instead of focusing on my husband and children I get caught up in organizing and cleaning a big house full of stuff we don't necessarily need. My view really changed last summer when we spent two weeks living our 17' Boler as we travelled around Vancouver Island.

Stamp River - August 2015
Camping in Stamp River. Port Alberni, Vancouver Island

Living in such a small space and moving around frequently forced us to bring only the items that we really needed... or thought we needed. We discovered over that two weeks that we didn't even need everything packed into that trailer and could have brought much less with us. Each day I was content to lay down with our napping baby and read a book, rather than scroll mindlessly through social media posts. We were all happy and relaxed, and as soon as I got back to that big ol' house of ours, the stress of maintaining all of that space and "stuff" came rushing back. 

I found myself losing patience with my daughter while I was trying to clean and organize and all she wanted to do was play. My priorities were seriously misdirected, and I knew I needed to address this head on. Not only did we have a lot of stuff, but our children had far more toys than they truly needed.

Over the course of a summer outside, camping in various locations we noticed our daughter was far more happy and confident when out in nature playing with the dogs, sticks, rocks, dirt or just a ball. She listened better and used her imagination more. We would build, discover, swim, splash and just be - so why not have less toys that keep her busy inside and spend more time experiencing life outdoors?

Ucluelet - August 2015
An afternoon climbing, throwing rocks and just "being" on a beach in Ucluelet

As we prepare for our move to the east coast, we are selling the majority of our possessions. Our focus is on items we no longer use or need, and items that it would cost more to ship than it would be to replace. We would like to not spend too much shipping stuff across country, and of course attempt to live with less as we travel in our trailer for a few months.

From owning less, I hope our whole family also finds less desire to buy items. I'd rather collect memories than tangible items. 

When looking back on my own childhood I remember time spent with family more than I do the items they bought me. Not to say I wasn't thankful for the gifts I was so lucky to be given, but my fondest memories of Christmas are of the time spent with family. Annual trips to the tree farm to chop down a tree and decorate it while watching classic Christmas movies, and visiting with family and friends we only saw a few times a year. 

So many people are trying to understand what we are doing. Why are you getting rid of everything? Will you be able to work when you get out there? The whole purpose of our move is to completely change the way we live. No, we won't be making the same money we did out here, but we won't need that much money. Our goal is to be mortgage free, consume less and live a much more simple life. When boredom strikes I would much rather set foot outside to explore with the kids, instead of heading to the local mall to spend money or buy more items that will not bring us happiness.

In beginning this journey, I have heard from others who desire to simplify their lives as well. I hope that in sharing our experience, I can inspire more people to do the same. If you're looking for further inspiration, I suggest the following blogs:

Have any of you thought of simplifying your life? What does it mean to you?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Happiest of Days

It may seem that with this lifestyle change we are giving up an awful lot, but we're more focussed on what we'll be gaining - more time together as a family. What excites me most about this is having more time with my best friend, the man that I picked to spend the rest of my life with. A friend of ours once told us him and his wife said they agreed to spend their lives together, not their evenings and weekends. That stuck with us and I'm looking forward to more time with Brett, especially today when we celebrate his birthday!

When I first met B, it was obvious to me right away what a good person he was. He loved his family, and was a good friend. From the very beginning Brett was loving, accepting and always made me smile like nobody else could. 

NYC 2007
Our first photo together - September 2007 - Grand Central Station, New York City

I feel so lucky to have him as my husband. He puts up with my crazy ideas, but he's right on board with me when it comes to how I think we should spend our time as a family. There is no one else I would rather be on this adventure with.


I can be goofy with him, be the truest version of myself. He's supportive and is all the things I am not. He makes me strive to be the best possible version of myself. 

Most importantly, he is the best Father in the whole world to our two sweet babes. Seeing him with them makes me love him even more, though I never thought that was possible.

Nanaimo - August 2015
Camping in Nanaimo - August 2016

This year's birthday will be different than those from the past. Nothing big and fancy, just good quality time together. That's all we desire these days - enjoying every moment together, especially while these kids are tiny. 

Happy Birthday Brett! The three of us have plans to spoil you with love, attention and lots of delicious food and treats. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday Wanderings: Time in the Sun

From a young age, I have had the desire to travel and see as much of the world as possible. My parents would take my brother and I on vacations as often as they could and though we never crossed seas together, I always enjoyed exploring the places that we would visit. There is so much to learn by spreading your wings and opening your mind to new places and experiences and it is so important to both of us to teach this to our children.

We have explored so many wonderful places, individually, as a couple and as a family. For that reason, I would like to take the opportunity every Wednesday to share a glimpse at some of the past places we have visited. 

Today I'm revisiting a trip we took last February, to a location we will see again in April. 

Living in British Columbia, our winters are mild but they are also very grey and drizzly. Most people in this part of the world will tell you they are ready for warm weather and sun by the time February rolls around. So when B's sister moved to San Diego, we knew we had to go visit to escape the grey Pacific Northwest. This was also a chance for us to get away one last time as a family of three and make some really wonderful memories. We still talk about this trip often and we look forward to returning soon.

On the evening of February 11, 2014 we boarded a plane in Seattle and flew to San Diego. Upon arrival we caught the shuttle to our hotel, the Wyndam San Diego Bayside. We didn't know much about the hotel when we booked it other than the location looked great, it had an airport shuttle and the price was right. What we discovered, was it was even better than we had imagined.

When we awoke on our first morning, the staff at the front desk provided us with excellent recommendations for breakfast. We strolled over to nearby Little Italy for a delicious breakfast at Harbor Breakfast.


We beat most of the morning crowd and made it back to our hotel in time to grab the complimentary shuttle to the San Diego Zoo. This was fantastic for us as the Zoo was on our must-see list for this trip. It was nice being able to get there without any additional cost or hassle. 

If you plan on visiting San Diego and checking out the Zoo, we highly recommend going in February if you can. The weather was perfect and the Zoo was practically empty, as this is their low time. We spent a full day wandering around seeing almost everything on our list and never had to wait in any lines or battle any crowds. It was the most perfect family day together. 

San Diego 2015





The Zoo was the only item on our list that we absolutely wanted to do, so we were thrilled to do that on our first full day in town. This gave us the rest of our mini vacation to explore at our leisure and just enjoy some relaxed time as a family.

We ate delicious food (especially a lot of ice cream), played at Waterfront Park next to our hotel, visited Seaport Village to dine and ride the carousel, relaxed at a number of beaches and most importantly, spent time with B's sister. 

San Diego 2015
Ice Cream at Ghirardelli




Swinging at Waterfront Park

San Diego 2015

An afternoon in Seaport Village

Taking some time to just sit and watch the kites

Riding the Carousel at Seaport Village

San Diego 2015
A warm, sunny afternoon on Coronado Beach

San Diego 2015

A visit to La Jolla Shores

If you head to San Diego - make sure you check out the sunset in La Jolla. My sister-in-law took us to see the seals at the Children's Pool and watch the sunset and it was by far one of the best parts of the trip. Absolutely breathtaking! 

San Diego 2015

San Diego 2015

San Diego 2015

San Diego 2015

These moments we spent on the beaches of California, disconnected from the internet and social media are so precious to me. They are the types of moments that have encouraged this change we are making to live a more intentional life. To be present in the moment with our children, to own less and to experience more. In those moments we are more ourselves. I look forward to more time being goofy and exploring with my family. More moments like this...


Monday, February 22, 2016

When One Door Closes...

January 13th, 2016, a day we always want to remember. That day brought about a big change that at the time felt scary and uncertain. 

The morning started out pretty normal, taking it easy with the kids. After our baby woke from his nap, I left our 4 year old on our bed watching her favourite show while I took a shower. When I emerged from the bathroom, I was shocked to find that she was no longer alone. My husband, Brett, sat on the bed with her and by the look on his face I could tell the news was not good.

That morning he had been let go at work, for what we believe was a cost cutting measure. They paid him more than adequate severance, but it shook us to the core. We hadn't seen it coming and felt abandoned on the West Coast. 4 years prior, we had up and moved from Toronto to just outside of Vancouver for his company, leaving behind our family and friends, with a 9 month old baby. It had been rough, but his company was wonderful and we felt secure and confident in our decision to move.

When he was let go in January we realized that it was time to reassess how we were living our life, and what we wanted for our family. For close to two years, Brett had been commuting 3+ hours a day and putting in over 60 hours a week so that we could afford our big comfortable home and consumer lifestyle. Most of the time he spent with myself and the children was on weekends and the few family vacations we would plan each year. He was starting to feel as if he was missing out on our kids growing up.

While he easily could've gone out and acquired another job in his field we realized that, that was not necessarily what we wanted. We started doing some online research, followed by meeting with our realtor and investment manager and quickly realized that our options were greater than we had initially thought.

With a lot of research we confidently began to tell family and friends that we were choosing the road less travelled. Our plan was to sell our home, pack a trailer and drive from the West Coast of Canada to the East Coast to purchase a small home on a large piece of property. We no longer wanted the hustle and bustle of a busy life, but rather we desired a slower pace and more simplified life.

Walkins Wanders is our outlet to share our journey to that simple life, and our road trip adventures along the way. 

Family Photos - Oct 2015