Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wedding in the Rain

{A picture of my baby girl will have to suffice for this post:)}

Yesterday we photographed a wedding.  It was for one of the sweetest and most beautiful couples but it was one of the most challenging weddings, photography wise, to date.  I am so thankful for our years of experience and equipment as I know that because of that we got some great images.  It was dark and raining very heavily for most of the day.   Gary and I were also working alongside 3 videographers which adds another dimension especially when working in tight spaces or when we are juggling umbrellas and extra equipment for the rain.  Although I was freezing and soaked by the end of the night, I felt good about what we had done.   Usually we shoot at 1000+ ISO for about 20% of our images and yesterday, we were at 1000+ ISO for about 90% of them.   I am so thankful for camera bodies that can handle that high ISO with lower noise.   I am also thankful for a bride and groom with an amazing attitude and a very large umbrella (The Umbrella Store on Granville Island to the rescue!).

I have many sessions left for the next few months and I'm really hoping that the weather improves so that it won't become a scheduling nightmare.  We will see!

Anyway, I hope you are having a good weekend.  I'm spending 6-8 hours today just culling (going through all of them and selecting the ones I will edit) wedding photos.

Love, Louise

PS Good things happening on the marriage front!  Will update on that later...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

Last week I started Thankful Thursdays so here we go....

1.  A moment with the two youngest  playing together nicely.  Both are pretty goofy and energetic so I can only see things getting more tiring:)  I hope that the boys develop a close relationship with their little sister.  I know she's a lot younger than them but she's doing a good job keeping up with them!
2.  Koen's imaginative play.  When something happens, he wants to quickly show his stuffies.  These two (Lowly and Scooby) are in the finals for the week long Stuffies Amazing Race.
3.  A king size bed.  
4.  That I rarely need to set my alarm clock!!  I mean, I still get up between 6-7am every day but listening to Nya talk in her crib is a lot nicer than the alarm.  As a sidenote, I have had my Sony Dream Machine since grade 6.  We bought it at Target in the states.
5.  It was supposed to rain this past Saturday and even had the threat of thundershowers.  We totally lucked out and had an amazingly sunny day photographing a wedding!    I love this field.  It is at the entrance to Bedford Landing in Fort Langley.
6.  Subbing on Friday it was Buddy Day.  I took the grade 9 class to meet up with the grade 3 class at the primary school.  I got to peak in next door to see Kai with his buddies!  The funny part is that Gary was also with his grade 9's visiting grade 3's so Kai had both parents there checking on him:)
7. A husband that works hard every day (he's been teaching for 13 years, that is exhausting my friends!) and yet has energy to wrestle with the kids and then help get them off to bed.  Excuse the boys bedroom.  I wish I could say it didn't usually look like that but it does thanks to Koen.
8.  Dark Chocolate Enrobed Mangoes.  So amazing.  Gary picked them up from Costco and I love them.  Gary often purchases the `splurge' items for food as I'm too cheap too.   In case I didn't say it already, soooooo good!!
9.  Green spaces to play at and ride our bikes around.  Although we live in a very densely packed neighbourhood, I am thankful for the pockets of green to play in!  
10. That moment when we see the car pull up and Gary and Kai are home from school!  The kids love to run out to greet them.  I should also say that I am thankful that Gary doesn't mind driving one of the ugliest cars in our neighbourhood :)  It was my first car and I've had it for 12 years.   It does the trick and has a few more years left in it!
So much to be thankful for!
Love, Louise

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our Marriage After 8.5 Years

Gary and I have been married for 8.5 years now.  I would have to say we are currently at the toughest part of our marriage so far.  Up until this point it was not hard to be married.  Now, it's taking some more work.  Gary can be annoying and apparently I have my own issues. Ha. I know I'm opinionated and say what's on my mind :) My sisters would say I was bossy.  I know I am.  Isn't that normal for the oldest child?! :) I have a REALLY hard time not saying what's on my mind and I don't want to stop and think things through. 

Now I do have to give Gary credit.  When we were dating, he didn't pretend to be someone he wasn't.  He had the exact same annoying habits that drove me bonkers.  I've been annoyed with the same things since day 1.  Do I need to change? Maybe a bit, but he can work on it too.  

I think the main thing is that he is the safe person to take my frustrations out on.  I haven't slept properly for 1.5 years, the kids can sometimes fight all day long, who do I take it out on? Him.  I have kids hanging off of me all day long, do I really want Gary hugging me?  Not so much.  

So, now we have to put in some serious work.  You know, try to communicate better so that things don't escalate.  Make each other more of a priority.   My friend recommended this `Radical Marriage' series put on by Village Church so we are watching one per week together.  I am starting to read `The Power of a Praying Wife'.   I wish it was easier to have a good marriage but maybe we appreciate it more when we actually have to work on it.  

Some people are slightly mortified that I share private things on my blog and that I'm so open.  But you know what?  I want people to know that they are not alone.   I love hearing words of advice from others.  I love getting an email from someone saying that they are going through the same thing.  If we are too scared to be ourselves, then how do we learn from each other?  How do we really know the people in our lives?  Obviously I don't share the things that Gary and I argue about or the problems I may have with others, some things are meant to be kept private.  However, the fact that we are struggling a bit and really need to work on our marriage is not private.  

Wishing you all a lovely week.  
We went for a family jog last night (Kai biked, Nya and Koen in the jogging stroller).  It was kind of dorky but very much needed.

Love, Louise

PS Any marital advice is gladly appreciated :)  Words of advice, books, podcasts, whatever, I'm in!

Monday, September 23, 2013

16 Months Old

My baby is 16 months old.  Man, she is adorable.  I love the ages 1-2.  Sooooooo cute!!!  Not just their little toddling bodies but their personalities are hilarious.  Here was Koen at 16 months.  He was similar in personality but had more hair and less teeth than Nya.  Oh, and here's Kai too.

Cuddles with mommy and wrestling with daddy
Playing with her brothers and trying to take their cars and stuffies
Her blankie.  She's not attached to one in particular but needs a receiving blanket to sleep with.
Milk.  Bottle and breastfed still.
Her belly button
Being outside
Climbing.  She is very confident on the stairs.
Pretending to shoot things
Playing cars
She has 12 teeth and no hair.  I believe she is around 22 lbs.  Size 4 shoes.  She can't wear pants unless they are elastic/leggings because they will just fall down.  She says; mama, dada, grandpa, pipper (zipper), hewoh (hello), bye bye, uh oh, dah (dog) and ower (flower).

She is happy and easy going.  She is pretty gentle and smiley.  She mostly sleeps through the night unless teething.  You know the three or so days that it takes for the tooth to actually pop through?  Those are the bad ones.
All right, the kids are desperately trying to get outside so I can't even think straight so I will end now.  Happy 16 months baby girl.  You are my sunshine.
Love, Mommy

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

Right now I am reading `One Thousand Gifts'.  Let's be honest, I'm skimming it which I never do with a book.  The writing is not my style with it's non stop reflection, questions and description, but I appreciate the premise.  `Intentionally embrace a lifestyle of radical gratitude; and slow down and catch God in the moment.' (Ann Voskamp).  I know she has great nuggets in there and maybe sometime I will go back and really delve into each chapter.    For now, with a teething toddler pulling on my leg, I will skim:)

 Every Thursday I am planning on blogging 10 things I am thankful for in photos.  I'm going to try to do things other than just `my kids' `my husband' etc.  Little things that I might not always think of but that I can see in the day when I actually look for them.

1.  Belly buttons.  A source of fun and a reminder of a special bond. For those who haven't read the `Belly Button Book' by Sandra Boynton, you might want to.  Bee Bo! 
2.  Koen's Bubi.  He has been Koen's faithful companion since he was one years old.  He has comforted him after many owie's and helps him drift to sleep each evening.   Koen rubs the right ear under his nose.  
3.  Prayer.  Sometimes it's all you can do.  Koen is our little prayer warrior.  Nya just knows how to fold her hands :)
4.  Chocolate in the freezer just in case of emergency.  And, double bonus, it was on sale. 
5. Memories of my parents love for one another.  This photo was from one of our many walks up at Green Lake.  My parents were an amazing example to us of how to love, support and encourage one another.  We never doubted for a second the love that they had for each other.
6.  Fresh basil growing in the garden.  Any slight breeze carries the smell inside on a summer's day.  I love my pesto.
7.  Easy and affordable access to medication whenever and wherever we need it.
8. Comfy pink hoodies and matching pink sparkly nailpolish.
9.  Comfy socks to hug your feet as fall approaches.
10.  Painting Nya's toenails for the first time and then smiling while the boys ask to have theirs done too.  
11.  BONUS ONE: Thankful for my sister Maria!  All my sisters really, but this week I am so thankful we are both work at home moms.  When we need someone to watch our kids for 2 hours for appointments/field trips etc, we are each other's go to.  I think.  I go to her anyway :) ha.  

That felt good :)  Maybe you should try it!

Love, Louise

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Parenting Rule # 337

Don't giggle when your child discovers their nostril for the first time.  It may be cute at first but will definitely become embarrassing.

{Me: `Nya, where is your nose?'}
{Nya thinks to self: `I know what mommy thought was really funny last time!'....}
What a monkey.
Speaking of this monkey, she is teething.  Really it's a non stop process and she is the worst teether of all of my kids.  This molar right now, tooth #12, is brutal.  She is grumpy and not sleeping well which means I am grumpy and not sleeping well.
But, she's cute.  Even when her finger is up her nostril.

Love, Louise

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Go Lions Go

The day that Kai has been eagerly awaiting finally arrived today!  He was able to go to the BC Lions game.  He has actually been twice before.  Once when he was 18 months old and we made it to the half.  Last year he started vomiting on the skytrain on the way to the game and continued to be sick so they didn't make it through the game.  Today, although he had a cold, he was good to go!

Gary and I are so blessed to have all of our family living in the Lower Mainland.  Although having 32 family members (his side and mine) can be busy with birthdays and anniversary's seemingly happening every week, it is a good thing as there is a lot of love and support for our kids and us.  We are thankful...most of the time :) 

Gary, his two brothers, his dad, and 6 of the 10 kids all went to the game.  The Lions won and fun was had by all.  I think.  I wasn't there.  Koen knows he can go when he's 5.  He had a football game with his stuffies while watching the game on tv.  He is so sweet.  We also had about 137 cuddles.  He is a great cuddler.

{Mackie, don't be too excited!  Mackie is more into dancing than football so not too sure how she felt about it all..}

Aside from the game, today was a bit crazy.  Nya woke up with a fever and covered in a crazy rash, head to toe.  I took her to three clinics and found one that would be open at 10 am.  I had to babysit in the church nursery so Gary stayed home with her and took her to the doctor.  She has a virus that is apparently going around.  Poor girl.  She is very, very tired, with a slight fever and a bad rash.   No other symptoms which is good.  She should be better in a few more days.  She doesn't look so friendly does she?  Poor babes.

I hope you had a great weekend!  This is so random but I painted my nails a fun sparkly pink and it makes me happy.  Simple things:)

As Kai would say, `good' is not an appropriate word for grade 2 as it's so boring so maybe use `spectacular' or `amazing' instead so......I hope you have a spectacular week!

Love, Louise

Friday, September 13, 2013

Life is Good

I feel so much better this week!  I think that reflecting and figuring out what needs to happen makes a huge difference.  Also, because I wasn't sure if I should get back into teaching, subbing has been so good!  If you're not sure about something, try it!   Subbing just once a week has been so great and I will not be doing more than that, especially as we have two weddings coming up which leaves me with about 30 hours of work afterwards for each one :)

 Today I subbed Science 10 and Biology 11 which was very fun as those were my old classes.  Also kind of fun to look at the lab next door and see Gary and his class doing an experiment.  It's where Gary and I met; we started teaching science the same year.    I will definitely miss forming those connections with students as a big group of people I am currently connected to are old students of mine:)

The kids are enjoying daycare so that is good as it is a priority to me.  Phew!
{Nya feeding herself breakfast.  She's my little bud.  We all love her like crazy and like I've said 100X, she brings us so much JOY to our house}

The video below shoes Kai getting Nya up from her nap.  I missed the part where he got her out of the crib but he is very helpful.

The older the boys get, the more I realize how different they are.  Kai is more serious, athletic and loves to know how everything works.  He excels at math and reading.  We did not choose the school Kai goes to based on academics, we chose it based on developing his whole self.  However,  I am thankful that there is a Math Enrichment program that he can be part of as he did most of grade 2 math last year and I want school to be challenging for him (in a good way).   Sometimes I think of all the cool things we could study if we home schooled (based on all of the kids current interests and questions etc) and I'm pretty sure I would do an awesome job of it :)  But for now, we feel very comfortable and happy with our current decision.  Kai gave school a 9 3/4 yesterday so I think he's a pretty big fan!
{Koen counting all of his cars.  Apparently there are 66 which is a crazy amount but I think we've just bought 3 brand new?  Also, he has played with them for 1-2 hours daily for almost 2 years now so they are well worth the investment!}

 Koen is eager, energetic, and imaginative.  He plays on his own all day but NEEDS to talk to someone all day long too.  So he'll play (usually racing cars) and then show me every 10 minutes who is in the lead or ask who I'm cheering for etc.   Koen is into Amazing Race Canada, Cars, and Tarantulas.  In regards to tarantulas, he wants to know who could defeat a tarantula and who a tarantula could beat etc.    It's a very boring conversation but we have it daily.  I just need to reiterate that Koen talks all day long.  Oh yes, he also loves to have the conversation `What is healthier?'.  He's into making healthy choices (example: on our trip he would often order salads when he was allowed to have anything!).  So, when I made them share a cotton candy from the PNE (over several days, I know, I'm crazy) we tried to figure out what was less healthy.  He came up with `poisonous berries':)  He is interested in adding more fat to his diet so he has more protection in his midsection when he wrestles with Kai.  When Koen jumped on Gary the other day he said, `Good thing you have so much fat daddy!'.
We had our friend Leah over for dinner last night.  It was our first time having Thai food since `The Incident' (food poisoning in Thailand) and it went well.  Leah sat next to Koen and got to talk to him aka listen to him the whole time.  Leah, Koen can't wait for you to come back again and catch more (pretend) spiders in the basement! 

This weekend I have two sessions that I am looking forward to which is great.  I'm going to be a lot better about only saying `yes' to what I love doing :)  

Finally, next month, Gary and I are going away for 24 hours!!! The pressure is high to have so much fun in 24 hours so we'll see what we end up doing :)  If you have any suggestions, let me know!  So far our ideas are hotels + hiking/biking at either Harrison, Whistler, or Vancouver.  I would say `camping' but Gary will be on a hiking trip all week before or after we get away.  

I hope you have a great weekend!  

Love, Louise

Monday, September 09, 2013

My Father's Daughter

I may have googled `midlife crisis' to figure out if that is what is going on.  I think I may be having one earlier than most people?!  I've made it through the `survive that first year and hopefully you'll get some sleep' stage and now have to think about what I want my life to look like.   I've been feeling off for the last month or so and even asked myself and Gary on multiple occasions if I was depressed.  But I'm not because I'm not sad or apathetic.  Something is just not right.

I have done some reflecting over the last month and realize I am my father's daughter.  I crave adventure.  And yet, I am my mother's daughter.  I love to just be home with the kids.  I need to have these two things in my life.
{I now have a scrabble partner!  So great for Kai as he loves words and math!}

Unlike some people, I like to be with my kids almost all the time.  I don't like leaving them and if we ever have a babysitter, you can bet I'm trying to get home as quickly as possible.  It helps when they are older.  I am okay leaving Kai and Koen overnight (for a couple of nights even although I've only done this twice?) and don't worry about them when they are at school/preschool.  Nya is still little though and I've never been away for her for more than 8 hours.  I want to be with her.  I want to be there for her.  I like being home and  having very few things on the calendar that involve a lot of visiting.  In small doses, great.  The four bbq's we had this weekend?  Totally nuts and I'm exhausted.  Seeing one to two good friends every week is so important to me.
I wondered if I needed to work outside the home.  Photography does allow that but in really small doses and usually on evenings and weekends.  So, I subbed.  It was good and I will continue to do it but it doesn't do anything for me in regards to making life feel more exciting or fulfilling:)  I think it will just be a way to connect with staff/friends, keep up my skills (it was like I never left) and make some money, of course!  Talking about subbing, I subbed for Gary.  He left good sub notes, in case you were wondering :)  I now know that I would never teach full time and fortunately we can afford for me to just work part time with photography and subbing.  I won't sub for more than one day per week though because it's not worth it to me to be away from my kids more than that if I don't need to financially.
I have always been quite adventurous and since having kids, things have changed.  For example, in my 20's I was adventure racing, kayak racing, snowshoe racing, quarterbacking a woman's football team, ran three half marathons, climbed Mt. Baker and Mt. Kilimanjaro, went scuba diving, left my job and went to teach in Kenya, hiked the West Coast Trail twice, the Cape Scott Trail and the Stein Valley, did a sprint triathlon, took a train across Canada (all the way!) etc.
 One of the things that Gary and I loved was always being outdoors and exploring.  This was one of the main things that attracted me to him.  The problem is, the last time we did an overnight hiking trip was BEFORE kids.  Eight years ago!!!!!   We always have to take the kids with us which makes it a different kind of adventure.  SE Asia was great but so exhausting.  Usually adventure invigorates me, with the kids it is fun but exhausting.

 In 4 years or so, we'll be able to do more overnight hikes with them where it won't be so much work, but in the meantime, I'm not getting a big enough dose of adventure in my life.  I want to hike and travel and compete and explore.  I often get jealous of people who have moms that are free and willing and want to be able to help out in any way. (Just want to note that I am thankful that my inlaws babysit when we have weddings to photograph!).
{Nya is teething and that molar on the bottom makes her have her tongue out all the time.  I love being home with Koen and Nya.  My buddies.}

So, what is preventing me from having adventure in my life?  

1.  I work every Saturday.  Next year, this is changing.  I will only work 1-2 Saturdays a month and just do several sessions on those days.

2.  Child care.  We don't have someone who can just watch our kids at anytime and I don't feel like paying $100 to go hiking for the day with Gary.  So.....I'm hoping to swap with a sister or two once/month or maybe asking Gary's parents as long as I ask for it enough in advance and drive out to Abbotsford to drop off and pick up.  Another option is to adventure with someone other than Gary :)  He can watch the kids and I can go on a bike trip with friends.  Or kayaking.  Or hiking.  

3.  24 Hours.  I need to find short adventures because I don't like being away from Nya for too long...she's still little in my eyes!

{Nya with grandpa above and Opi below}

And, we also need to think of good adventures with our kids.  Often, the progression of events goes like this:
1.  I would like to hike Black Tusk with Gary.
2.  We don't have anyone to watch the kids and they couldn't do that one.
3.  Let's do Lower Falls as a family instead.
4.  Nya needs to nap, let's just walk to Extra Foods.

{This is my breakfast every day.  Totally helped me lose some weight and keep it off.  Koen and Nya LOVE the spinach smoothie too.}

So, I think I've figured out why I am feeling the way I am and somehow I have to incorporate a bit more adventure into my life.  I don't even want to publish this because it seems like in some way I'm ungrateful for all I have.  I'm not.  I am so thankful, I just know a piece, an important piece to me, is missing.  Now that I know what it is, we can work on it :)

 I hope you are having a great week!  The sun is out, we are all healthy, life is good.

Love, Louise

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A Look Back

Yesterday was the first time in a really long time that I had nothing on the calendar!  As much as I always think I would look forward to it, I quickly realize that unless there is a good book to read, I just fill my time getting things off the `To Do If There Is Any Spare Time' list.  Boring!!  Yesterday? I went through our photos from 2008-2012 and deleted about 3/4 of them to clear space and then burn discs of them.  They are backed up in two places, but you can never be too safe!

First of all, I realized that I have way too many pictures of my kids.  Wow.

Secondly, I realized that it is so amazing that I have been able to stay home with my kids and experience every day with them.  I know I give them my all and although it's not always fun, it is good for them and me.  I know it is not for everyone and I never even considered what `the plan' would be when we had kids beyond going back to work part time after Kai was born.

This is perfect timing as I'm feeling unsure of what I want to do with my life right now.  I want to be with my kids but I do need something more.   I'm an adventurous person and when `decipher that illness' is the most excitement I have for the day, it's not that fun.  On that note, Kai has a painful growth on his chest that I had to take him to the dr. for this week....he's on antibiotics but they are not sure that it is an actual bacterial infection so I will bring him back in a few days.

So, for a fun look back, here are just a few random photos I found while going through the photos...
                                                       They were so cute and Bubi is in great condition!!
Below, Gary and I hiking Greendrop Lake.  I really need to go for a hike with my husband!  I love this picture.
Love Oregon.  That is what we are doing next summer.  Hopefully we'll find a solution to staying warmer at night.  LOVE Nehalem Bay State Park.
Love my boys.
Koen has such a zest for life.
Two weeks before Nya.  
And then there were three.
Gary has the great ability to nap anywhere at anytime.  Love you baby Nya!
We love Tofino.
And now, because we are running the race in one month (oh boy, better get running more than 3km again!), here is a look back at the last 5 years of the race.  This year I am not only running in memory of my mom but I am running for my friend Alissa.  I lived with her  for 6 months while I was in Kenya (we shared a bed and a hut and were the only mzungus, aka white people, that had lived within miles and miles) and she was diagnosed with breast cancer years ago and although she was in remission, it has come back and is in her hip.  She is younger than me and lives in Alberta with her husband and two kids.

2008 (Kai is 2 years old and I'm 6 months pregnant with Koen)
2009 (I was sick with Graves Disease and had to walk the 1 km)
2011 (baby Nya was in utero..just 6 weeks pregnant!)
2012 (babies Hannah, Isaac, Jack, Nya and Georgia joined our team this year!)

I hope you are having a great week.  
As much as it can be boring to be at home, I am so thankful that I can be there every single day for them and with them.

Love, Louise