Friday, June 28, 2013

Grouse Grind 2013

A few days back I asked Gary if we could hike the Grouse Grind as a family on his first day off of work.  He thought I was crazy in the sense that it would be so hard with our kids.  I thought it could be a total disaster but if we never tried, how would we know? It's an awesome challenge, and besides, the view and ride coming down would be really fun.

My goal was for us to at least go to the 1/4 mark and then if we could do the whole thing, to do it in 2 hours. Kai was amazing.  Almost 7 year olds must have the perfect body for hiking?!  Koen had a good attitude (phew, you never know with that guy) and just kept going and going.  I carried Nya on my back for the first 3/4 and couldn't do it anymore. I was exhausted and sooooo sweaty.  Nya was happy.  So, Gary took her and we continued on.

We did it!  1 hour and 45 minutes.  Awesome.  So proud of the boys.  Even though Gary and I know them best, we were both surprised.  You just never know unless you try....I seriously finished last of our group (although I do think carrying Nya was just a bit more tiring!!).  I thought that I would be able to keep up with my kids until they were teenagers or something. Great.  We better hike the West Coast Trail sooner than later:)

Here is a quick video that Gary put together of our hike.  Some photos are from my iPhone and the rest is the GoPro.  You'll see a bit of `Kai Cam' going on.   Had I known he was putting together a video I may have thought for a second about what I was wearing but oh well.  And as for `Drago', Gary says that most people would get it.  I did not. I learned something today.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our Big Trip!

All right, folks! The trip that we decided to do about a year ago is now just a week away!  In case you are interested in what we are doing, or would like to plan a trip to SE Asia with YOUR family, here is some info:

1.  Where are we going and why?
The reason we are doing this trip is two part.  We are visiting our friends and we have always wanted to travel internationally with our family.  Like, multiple trips.  I spent time in Africa and Gary has gone to South America several times (and also spent the first 3 years of his life there!).  My hope is to spend a longer period of time in Africa in about 5 years.  We would really like to immerse ourselves in a culture and contribute in some way.  At this time, with a one year old, a shorter 3 week trip is what will work best for us :)

We are going to the Philippines first for two weeks.  We will be spending time with our friends, Jen and Andrey, who live and work there.  They live in Cebu and the three places we will be going in the Philippines are: Cebu, Moalboal and Bohol.

In Moalboal, we will be staying in a treehouse!
Below, you can see how close Bohol is to Cebu.  It takes about 2 hours by speedboat to get there. We will be going to the south end by Alona Beach.

{We will be staying just off the beach here.  The photo is from :}

After two weeks in the Philippines, we will fly to Bangkok to stay there for one night and then take another short flight to Chiang Mai.  We will be in Chiang Mai for one whole week.  It is in Northern Thailand and is not a beach location but hopefully we'll be `beached' out from the Philippines and ready to eat a whole lot of Thai food, check out the Elephant Conservation (I hope it's `elephant friendly'), enjoy a massage and just explore!

2.  How long does it take to get there?
The trip to Manila is 16 hours (includes a 1.5 hour stopover in Taiwan).  We then have another one hour flight to Cebu.  The hardest part is that we leave at 2 am.  It was either that or have a 30 hour trip.  I went for the shorter trip leaving at a bad time.  Not sure if that was wise.  I'll let you know :)  The flight from the Philippines to Thailand is about 3 hours I think.

3.  What sort of preparation was needed?
a. Flights: We booked our flights about 6 months ago.  I used orbitz (through cheapoair I believe?) for the international flights and hopefully that was a wise decision, we will see!  For the flights throughout the Philippines and to Thailand we used Cebu Pacific and within Thailand we used Thai Airways.  We didn't always go for the cheapest options, we went for convenience and shortest flights for the most part. 

b.  Hotels/guest houses: We booked hotels and guest houses based on recommendations from our friends Jen and Andrey who live there, our Lonely Planet guidebook, and for Bangkok, the closest to the airport with a breakfast included.  We used Trip Advisor to confirm whether they were recommended or not.  They range in price from about $25-$100/night.  We went for air conditioning and enough room for 5 people which is not easy there!  We used for booking when we could.

c.  Immunizations:  This is where I hemmed and hawed a lot.  Did I want to go through a travel clinic?  We checked to see what other people got for their travels to the two locations that we are going to and ended up just going through our doctor to get the vaccinations and then my sister, a public health nurse, injected us :)  We just got all of Koen and Nya's immunizations up to date and then we all had Hep A vaccinations.  We will get them their boosters in 6 months so that they are covered for life.   This saved us $100's of dollars.  I also bought a lot of medicine to take along.  I know you can get a lot there but just in case...

d.  Passports: Nya needed one and Gary needed his updated.

e.  Travel playpen: we got the Phil and Ted's Travel Crib.  Second hand.  We used it over Spring Break and it worked well.
f.  Packing: If it was just Gary and I, we would need just one suitcase.  With the 3 kids, it adds a lot.  We are up to 3 suitcases and a small backpack for carry on each.  I'm tempted to add another suitcase but we will see....The travel playpen is in one of the suitcases.  We are also taking diapers etc which I know you can get there but I'd rather just bring them if we have them.  Each of the kids will have a backpack as their carry on with treats and toys and books and a change of clothes :)
We are also taking a small stroller along but I'm hoping to use the Ergo most of the time for Nya.

g. Clothing: A big concern of mine is being cool but also protecting our kids from the sun.  The boy all have their swim shirts and I finally found Nya an affordable  long sleeved bathing suit. No itsy bitsy bikini for her!  Our super white kids  need to be covered:)  They will also be wearing dorky hats.  Also, I had to figure out my bathing suit situation.  Apparently those extra 15 lbs aren't leaving on their own so I bought a couple of new bathing suits off of Land's End.
h.  Mosquitoes: I don't really know how bad they'll be but we're trying a few different things.  We got some bracelets, the clip on repellent version etc.  We'll see!  

4.  What's the weather like there now?
Both Cebu and Chiang Mai are very similar right now.  I'm sooooo glad it's in the low 30's.  I can't do much higher than that :)

5.  How much does a trip like that cost?
For the three weeks, this is the general cost of everything:
a.  Flights and transportation (8 different planes): $8,000 
b. Accommodations and food:  $1,000.00
c. Extras: tours/activities/immunizations/passports etc: $1,000.00
TOTAL: $10,000

6.  What camera(s) are we taking?
We will be taking one of our 5D's (not the Mark III) and two lenses.  The 50mm and 24-70mm.  We will also be taking the GoPro.  We are also taking our travel laptop for some editing and emailing etc.  Gary is trying to convince me to get a tablet before we go...
My plan is to blog once/week so we will see!  We do have wifi in each place but I'm not sure how good it will be.  We will see!

And to any burglar thinking of coming to steal our Mark III or anything fun, it won't be here AND we'll have people house sitting :)  I always think about that when blogging, that a `bad guy' is reading this.

7. What are we excited about?
Nya: being outside and being around people. And water.  She loves the water!!!
Koen: everything.  Especially mangoes.
Kai: Pad Thai, snorkeling, treehouse hotel
Gary: a new culture and seeing friends and changing up our routine
Louise: seeing my kids explore a new culture, good friends, good food, and beautiful sights!  I do have my diving license but won't be doing any diving...I think snorkeling will do just fine.

8.  What are we nervous about?
Nya: I don't think anything makes her nervous but I have a feeling she won't like being restrained in any way on the airplane!!
Koen: riding an elephant
Kai: riding an elephant
Gary: that my wife won't survive the plane ride (he jokes), but really just all transportation.
Louise: being exhausted taking care of the kids and not having any down time.  Oh please let them sleep so I can sleep!!! And safety.

So there you have it!  I think I covered most things. Let me know if you have any questions, tips or words of advice :)  

Go Team Chapman!
Love, Louise

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Almost There

All righty folks!! No more blogging around here as we are in full trip preparation mode!  Oh, and I'm exhausted.  Like, really, really tired.  Nya's molars are taking FOREVER so I'm up with her every night once or twice.  Not long, maybe 10 minutes, but still.   Gary still has to teach first aid all Thursday and then has grad night, but after that, WE ARE ON HOLIDAYS!!! 

I will post tomorrow about our itinerary and all that jazz.  

This past weekend I had my last photo session for a whole month!!  I still have a bunch of sessions to blog though...Then, we went to the new MEC store in Langley.  The boys both tried the climbing wall but didn't get too high.  I'm thinking we may have to start preparing them now for the fact that they may be riding an elephant in a few weeks :)
It's weird being at home with all three of them.  I know I sound mean but if I set them up with school work every day, at least then they don't fight.  They are very physical with each other and there is totally a time for that but not all day in our living room.  So ya, a lot of separate activities for them and I may have done a really bad parenting move.  I said if they played Pokemon for 30 minutes without fighting, I would give them a chocolate.  I was so tired and just needed a break from the fighting.  It totally worked.  Now they want a chocolate for all their good behaviour which is not going to happen. 
We've been doing little `field trips' like going to the library and the pet store.  They LOVED the pet store.  I used to take Kai there when he was little.  We spent a lot of time there, Nya loved all of the animals.  We will be doing several animal related things on our trip so I know they will love it.

All right. Sleep well.

Love, Louise

Saturday, June 22, 2013

School's Out!

{Thank you for all of the comments in the last post.  I knew you were out there!}

Our Kai Bear has finished grade 1!  He had a great year and is looking forward to grade 2.  His report card had comments about his ability to lead and be inquisitive and entertain his class (`Mommy, I'm known as the class clown!).  He did so well in everything and as usual, the one thing to work on would be his neatness/focus with writing and drawing.  Can't be good at everything!  He excels in math and loves it so we will be working through a grade 3 math book this summer :)   More importantly, it is so great to see that he works so well with others as well as independently.  That he shows self control and eagerness.  I should mention that at home, there may not be as much self control with his brother around...  
I saw his first report on the last day of school.  He didn't work on it at home so I had no idea what it would look like.  I should let you know that he decided to do in on tarantulas because I don't like them at all and they gross me out :)  Look what he did!

Koen (or `Look Mommy, I'm Darth Maul!' below) just finished preschool.  He still has another year of it.  He is soooooooooooooo ready for kindergarten being a January 2 baby...I feel bad for him.  He knows all his letters and the sounds they make, can put some 3 letter words together using magnets, can count up to 115 and recognizes numbers up to 100.   He has started adding and pretends to do multiplication (Mommy, what's 140 times corn?  Nothing!  I ate all the corn!).  He, like his brother, does not enjoy writing or drawing.  

{And the rest are just iPhone photos...}

Koen is...a little more `spur of the moment'.  He doesn't really think ahead with any of his actions or words, he just goes.  He is the one we really need to watch out for safety wise.  He is silly and energetic and loves learning.  He is very excitable and loves his daily cuddles.  He doesn't ask too many questions but he will talk.  All. Day. Long.

The moment Nya turned one and started fighting Koen for toys, Koen fought back.  Nya will screech and scream and Koen will grab.  These two are now in a new stage.  I'm so glad that they got along so well for that first year.  This should be interesting.  We have to make sure that just because Nya screams the loudest does not mean she gets what she wants.

For finishing grade 1, Kai picked `sushi' for his dinner.  So, we went and got a party platter.  We probably needed more food because the kids just pounded them back.  Nya had a harder time eating them but enjoyed the rice and avacodo.
Koen got to pick dessert for finishing preschool.  We haven't gone yet but we will go to Menchies on a sunny day this week.
I should say for Ms. Nya.  She has changed.  She REALLY wants to get her own way.  Do not try to take off her shoes.  Or take her away from the stairs.  Or take away her toothbrush.  Or try to hold her hand while she walks.  She now walks independently for at least two blocks.  She loves life and wrestling and being outside.  She is still long and so thin.  She has continued to use the toilet and has even gotten to the point where she will walk to the bathroom and grunt so we know she has to go!
And, I am ready for our trip!  Well, still have to get a few more things (mostly medicine).  People's responses are always one of two:

1.  That's a long flight and it will be so hot there.  You are crazy.
2.  That sounds so fun!  Can't wait to hear about it.

Obviously I prefer to hear #2.  I know it's not going to be easy.  I don't even know if I should bring a book with me because I truthfully don't know if I will get to it based on the traveling we've done with our kids in the past.  However, we are adventurous and love trying new things and I think it will be totally worth it!

I had my last session today.  Well,  in Whistler we are doing some extended family photos for our family but then that's it!  Well, and I guess Gary is taking photos at grad, but then that's it! :)

Have a wonderful weekend.
Love, Louise

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cuteness. Stress. Hockey. Life.

Okay, there are 11 days until we are on holidays.  This is crazy.  We are going to Whistler first.  I know, crazy timing to go right from Whistler to the Philippines but we are going with my extended family and will come back for a night in between.  I never usually say when we are going somewhere but we will have several people house sitting so I feel better about it...I hope to blog about once/week on our trip.

There is a lot going on now.  I am wrapping up all photography sessions from June.  One more wedding package to mail off and then one more family session this Saturday.   I have two sick kids (Kai has a double ear infection) so both Kai and Koen have stayed home the last 2 days. I still had them doing school work each day :)

In case I forget, my thyroid levels are fantastic and taking vitamin B complex daily has really helped my emotional stability.  So far.  We'll see how it does in the next few weeks :)

I think I'm a bit stressed about our trip.  I feel a bit anxious about the plane ride there.  We leave at 2 am with 3 kids.  Oh man, I hope Nya is okay.  Otherwise, we will have some very unhappy people around us.  Thank goodness I'm still breastfeeding, that is the only way I could soothe her.  Well, that and arrowroot cookies. 

I'm also a bit stressed about photography.  I know I'm decent at it but the past few months I've been very critical of myself when I'm editing the photos.  Should've increased the aperture, should've lowered the ISO, should've used a different lens, should've done this pose, should've done this family combo etc.  I don't care about our own personal photos that way but for clients is does tend to stress me out.  It's funny because I'm pretty confident in all other areas of my life.  Maybe it's because I'm self taught?  Maybe because there's just so much more to always learn?  Maybe because I compare myself to others work? Maybe because you are working with so many other people all the time who are judging your work?  Maybe because I expect more of myself?  I'm a confident mom and teacher and wife and even though my body is not what it used to be (`Kai: Mommy are you SURE there isn't a baby in your belly?'), I'm not insecure in those ways.  Just needed to say that part as I've been struggling with it more recently and trying to figure out what to do. I guess I just need to keep in mind that people hire me for ME and what I do so they know what they are getting and I'm not going to magically make something happen that isn't `me' right? Right?!!

All right, here are a random bunch of photos from the past week:)

Nya recently modeled the Blossom Hat for Simple Things.  Kim is a local designer and I love what she does.  I also really love this hat because it allows her to see very well and yet covers her ears nicely.  And seriously, the reversible option and gorgeous fabric?  Awesome.  So fun to take pictures of my little girl. 
{She also makes the pdf pattern for the booties that Nya is wearing.  Nya has worn these booties for 6 months and I love them for the early walker because they aren't clunky on her feet.}

For Father's Day, our usual unspoken limit is $50.00.  Well, this year I went a little wild.  Usually Gary purchases all of our electronic equipment but I knew this was something that he might like even though he had NEVER mentioned it.  I asked several of his friends and my dad (who has one) and they helped me decide what to get.  I did get an LCD screen and extra battery for it.  I hope that he can use it on his school hikes as he is no longer `allowed' to bring our DSLR's (my rule) and then also as an underwater camera while we are in the Philippines.

Cheesy `card' for Gary below.  By the way, I like this frame!  It's a cheaper option than the Organic Bloom ones I buy.  I got it at Michael's and could use a 50% off coupon so it was $20.00.  I think that I am most impressed with graphic designers as I am the furthest thing from it.  So excuse it's lack of awesome design and just appreciate the cheesiness of it.
Kai's Father's Day gift for Gary.  We may have found it at a garage sale for $1.
Koen has been wearing his Mario costume everywhere (even to bed!) and people think he is the cutest.  I didn't let him wear it to church.  Talking about church, we won the Father's Day draw they had!  Movie date night and La Senza gift card.  Yes.  La Senza. Church.  :)
And the pictures below make my heart smile.  I hope that all of our kids cook and bake and play sports and race cars.  Boy or girl, both doing the same things.  Love it.  
Kai Bear spending some time one on one passing with Nya. C.U.T.E.

Nya is not intimidated or scared of the boys, she gets right in there.  

Love the shot (ha ha, totally a pun) below even though she missed it :)
Okay, and since a lot of people read this daily and only about 1% comment, I would encourage you to leave a comment!!!
Come on, isn't Nya playing hockey cute?
Aren't you excited for our trip?
Do you also struggle with certain insecurities?
Do YOU have a GoPro camera?
Did you check out Nya on Simple Things?
Would you recommend anything for international travel with three kids?
La Senza gift card...what would you get?
Did you run around in costumes when you were little?

There you go. There must be something you can say :)

Love, Louise

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Strawberries and Celebrating Gary

First off, my very patient husband agreed to quickly photographing the kids again to get one with Koen's `normal' face.  Koen may have earned 7 chocolate chips for his relatively good behaviour.  I was then able to order a Wood Snap of them at 50% off with 2 hours to spare:) 
Lest you think our kids actually behave, below is what most of the pictures looked like.  Nya escaping with her tongue hanging out and the boys wrestling behind her.
And because she's one of the cutest little people in my life..
{Although Father's Day is tomorrow, we are celebrating it with Gary's extended family, and to me that means it's less about Gary and we don't really have time to just celebrate him with church in the morning.  I don't mean to make it sound negative, it's tricky with three dads (Gary, Dan and my dad) you run around like crazy celebrating all three?  Who misses out?  This year, my dad misses out.  Sorry dad, you are great!   

So, although Gary doesn't really care about having the day to celebrate him, we did a family activity.  Gary will still have to wait for tomorrow for his gifts:)    We went to Krause Farms here in Langley for lunch. I should note that our van was in the shop (yes again) so we had a very cozy ride in our car.  Good to know that it does fit a car seat and 2 boosters!}
{Here is Koen on the brink of a meltdown as he REALLY. NEEDED. HIS. WAFFLES. Oh, I should make note of the hats.  Our family is pretty much transparent.  We are as white as it gets.  I don't love putting sunscreen all over their faces and would prefer this dorky hat.  $2 for the boys hats and they are reversible. And dorky.}
{Nya just being cute}
{Kai is the only one in our family who does not like whipped cream. Crazy kid.}
{We engulfed our waffles.  Nya shared with Koen.  If you are interested, it is open from 8am-6pm I believe? and the waffles with strawberries and whipped cream are $6.95}
{We walked through the garden area.  You can actually purchase a vase  and pick flowers if you like....}
{The petting zoo area is now more animal friendly and you can't go in there and pet them.  You can look at them though. }
{Then the boys picked some strawberries.  It was going to be a bit of a disaster with Nya in there so I took her into the store.}

{I may have enjoyed my first ever wine tasting!  $4 to try 5 kinds and then if you buy a bottle of wine, you don't pay for the tasting.  I bought a bottle of apple wine.  The other ones were waaaaaaaaaaaay too sweet.  I think one day, Gary and I will do a wine tasting tour on bikes or whatever, that sounds fun.}
{It was during this photo above that Gary misplaced his mastercard.  We did not realize this until we got home and called Krause and they couldn't find it.  So, we cancelled it.  Then Krause called us back three hours later and they had found it!  Too bad we had cancelled it already,  I really appreciate them calling us.}
{Apparently Nya loves the sand.  She walks about 90% of the time now but when she was in the sand, she kept just flopping on to her belly and swimming in it.  It was so funny!}
{Someone is ready for the beach!}

I did also have two photo sessions today which I should work on right now.  Busy day! 

 I did just want to say though, that we really enjoyed our time at Krause Farms.  We've been every year but they've really improved it, and well, maybe it was just the sun and the strawberries (or wine!), but it was a great day.

I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating Father's Day tomorrow.  You should see the card I made Gary, well you will, I'll blog it.  And Kai picked out a pretty nifty present for him :)

Love, Louise

Friday, June 14, 2013

Need a Giggle?

Happy Friday everyone!
Love, Louise
PS This is what happens when I ask Gary if he can swap Koen's head from one photo  onto another :)  I really want to order a large print of the vertical photo (previous post) but Koen's face is just too ridiculous.

PPS On the topic of Koen, he used to always go `Woo woo!  Koen knows everything!' but after realizing that he didn't know the difference between weeks and days and also realizing that we shouldn't brag, he's always saying `Woo woo!  Koen knows some stuff!' in his sing songy voice.  It's pretty cute.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Road Trip and Summery Cuteness

EEK!!! My countdown says 19 days until holidays!!  I'm so giddy!  We are going to Whistler for several nights with my whole family before we go straight to the Philippines. 

 How am I feeling about our big trip?  The only thing I am nervous about is Nya on the airplane.  She likes to move.  All the time.  Does not sit still. Hopefully everyone is okay with that at 3am?  Oh boy.  It would've been better with her at 6 months OR at 2 years of age.  I will expect the worst and we'll see what happens.  It's not like it's just a 6 hour's 16 hours.   I still have at least two weeks worth of work and I'm working soooooooooooooo hard to finish as early as possible so that I have time to figure out what we need and how many suitcases (and their sizes) and all that jazz.   I already spent way too many hours figuring out a bathing suit for myself :)   If only I had time to work out to actually look how I want to in it...oh week of working out should do it right?! ha.  

I think I'm just so happy to be doing something different.  At dinner every night we talk about the best and worst part of the day.  The best part of my day the other day?  That I had a full cup of coffee. You know, while it was still warm.  That just tells you how extremely boring my life is at the moment.  

This past weekend, my sisters and I (and Nya!), loaded into a mini van and headed to Vancouver Island for my aunt's funeral.  My oma (from Alberta) was on our ferry so it was great to spend some time with her.  
It was not very relaxing as Nya is on the move.  I actually didn't get to `enjoy' the memorial very much as she was over tired and loud.  We just climbed up and down stairs while I tried to hear what was going on.  I was glad to be able to go though and to support my uncle and his kids.  
Apparently auntie Jackie carries a clown nose in her purse?  Why did I take Nya?  Well, Gary had a ball hockey tourney for Kai and already had to take Koen.  Also, I really don't want to mess up breastfeeding with her as I really want to be doing it on our trip.  I'm thinking that will be the only thing to get her to sleep on the plane. 
All of us on the ferry.
We had a few minutes to visit my other oma in her home.  It was such a short visit, I wish it could've been longer.  You can see that my sister Trish is very pregnant.  We get back from our trip the day that she is due.  I'm really hoping to be able to make it there for the delivery as support and photographer.  

And now, for some photos of my cutie pies!! I really want a good picture of them to hang up in our home.  I actually really like this product and want to order a large one of them (they have a 50% off promo right now).  Unfortunately, I'm not sure that we got `the one' that I want of the three of them but it might just have to do!  

I hope you are having a lovely week!!
Love, Louise