Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

A quote I came across said `It's not a happy person that is thankful; it's a thankful person that is happy'.  Doing these Thankful Thursdays has truly helped me to maintain perspective and allows me to focus on the positive.  I encourage you to try it!

Thankful for....

1. A boring husband.  What?  Yes.  This is written by the author of `1000 Gifts' which I base my Thankful Thursdays on.   Here's just one excerpt in case you don't read it:

''The man who imagines slipping his arm around his wife's soft, thickening middle age waistline and whispering that he couldn't love her more.... who imagines the manliness of standing bold and unashamed in the express checkout line with only maxi pads and tampons because someone he loves is having an unexpected Saturday morning emergency'.  

This is my husband.  I remember him walking the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand early in the morning just for this purpose.  Also, i know that no matter what I look like (I look CRAZY in the morning), he couldn't love me more or less.

2. THE FACT THAT GARY HAS A SMART PHONE.  This is huge folks.  I have been asking him to get one for over a year.  He just got a free Samsung one and he has a cheap Bell plan but it allows for unlimited texting.  This is so important to me.  A teacher does not have time to email or call but just the fact that he can let me know when he leaves work or I can ask him quick things in the day is huge.  It reminds me of the good old days of when we started getting to know each other over the ancient way of msn messenger or ICQ or whatever it was.  He would flirt with me by sending me a million side hug emoticons. Ha.  Yay for communication.
(Excuse the ridiculously boring messages with lack of get the idea)

3. Brotherly love.  There are more smiles and laughter than screaming and crying.  They call each other `bro' and `dude' and it is pretty cute.

4. Organ donation.  This is a heavy one.  I found out this week that Paul passed away from a brain bleed at the age of just 42. I met Paul and Hester 13 years ago when we were in the same care group.  I am very sad for Hester and their children and they are in our prayers daily.   They were able to donate his organs to 5 individuals and for that, I am very thankful.  Here are a few pictures of Paul (with one two of his four children) that I took about 3 years ago.
5. A buddy for Gary to watch sports with.  When we were dating, I sat there and would watch basketball or hockey with him just to spend time together.  There is a very small chance that I could or would sit and watch a full game at this point in my life.  I have realized over our marriage that one really important thing for Gary is to have that down time where he shuts his mind off.  In front of the tv.  I think he's probably sleeping in this picture, actually.

6.  Our bathroom calendar.  I've made one every year for 4 years.  I love it.  I love looking at the past years memories.  I have it done by Shutterfly and there are pictures of people on their birthdays too.  The kids love it as they can see whose birthday is coming up.  I just finished making my 2014 one this year and I always get one made for my mother in law as well.  PS If you order one (approx $20 which includes shipping), one month later they will send you a promo for a free calendar so you just need to pay the $6.99 shipping.

7.   Our  FREE ($60) stroller.  We have a double that we have used for about 4.5 years and I LOOOOOOVE it.  However, our single was stolen years ago and when Nya was little, I found this Quinny in our alley!  We live in a nice neighbourhood and I can often find nice stuff in the alley. Oh boy, I sound like my dad.  Anyway, the reason they were getting rid of it is that it had two flat tires.  The tires need to be ordered from England.  This stroller is worth hundreds of dollars.  We ordered the tires for $60 and voila!  We don't use a stroller often anymore, just  for walking around looking a Christmas lights or walking to Extra Foods, but it sure is nice to have one!
(Can't rotate, sorry!!)

8.  Living life to the fullest when I was single.  Even though I was working full time, I had so much free time!!  I did things like taking `Learn How To Play Ice Hockey' lessons (no, not just to meet guys but it was part of the reason) and totally worked on my skating skills.  When I was living in Vancouver, I would bike over the Cambie Street bridge every Saturday morning to facilitate a PAINTING class in Yaletown for a Seniors Home.  This is hilarious because I have zero idea how to paint.  We would just select pictures from calendars and try to paint them.  They loved it.  I quit my job teaching and I went to Africa.  I took a train across Canada (like all the way across).  I would go to the gym 5 times a week.  Maybe it's because I was single or maybe because I was young, but wow, so much time and energy!!!!
{Lynette and I at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Dec. 2004}
{Doing the Sea2Summit, our first adventure race}

9. My puffy black MEC vest.  I have had it for about 12 years.  Yup.  My faithful friend or `vest friend' as Gary would joke. It's been to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and it comes with me on our daily walks around the neighbourhood.  So great for temperature regulation:)
(Here I was wearing it in 2004 in Kenya.  It was cold there at night!  This was what I ate every day by the way, ugali and sukuma wiki).

10.  Beautiful sunrises.  One benefit of being up at 6am every day (NOT BY CHOICE!!) is seeing some amazing sunrises.  True beauty.

Always something to be thankful for. Always.

Love, Louise

Monday, November 25, 2013


If I wasn't such a chicken I would go flying with my dad.   He flies often and pretty much any sunny day.  He sends me pictures that make me want to go up but I won't.  I think three of my sisters have done it but I just can't.  He has a GoPro mounted under the plane so I get shots like these...Gary is planning on going up to take photos one day but so far it's been hard to find free time to do so.  Also, I'm kind of okay with that because I will feel so sick with him in the air.

{this is from this morning off of the Broken Group near Ucluelet/Bamfield off Vancouver Island}

Last week, my dad flew into Langley airport and biked to our house (he has a collapsible bike in the back of his plane).  Yup, he's crazy like that.  When we drove him back to the airport, Nya and Koen each got a chance to `drive' the plane.
Joanne (my dad's wife) pointed out that Koen is very similar to my dad and it was a sudden realization for me.  It is so true.  I've often wondered where he got his personality from and I see a lot of my dad in there. Eager, friendly, impulsive, immersed in activities and not seeing what's going on around him, chatty, sensitive, confident.  

Hope you are having a good week.  I've got a Kai Bear sick at home today.  Not my favourite.

Love, Louise

Friday, November 22, 2013

18 Months Old

My baby is 18 months old!  I do love this stage as she is becoming so much more verbal and really gets how things work in our home.  She knows if we are going out, she grabs her boots, coat and hat.  She knows to put her finished cup in the sink.  She loves washing her hands after using the toilet.  She is so confident on the stairs and I love having no more baby gates in the home. 

The biggest change this month is that she is now in underwear.  It's adorable and it makes her petite 22 lb ish body look even smaller:)  She still isn't comfortable telling others she has to go and so she needs to be asked (she will tell Gary and I though).

Another big change is that she is putting words together.  The cuteness of her voice is so great.  She loves to ask where everyone is and it's so cute when she calls for Koen. `Oooooooooh-en!  Are you?'.  It's also cute when she says `thank you' because it's `doo doo'.   Oh yes, and she calls herself `Aiya'.

My favourite part of this stage is SHE IS SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT.   She also naps for 2 hours a day (12-2pm).  I have slept well for a month now and yesterday I saw a cute newborn  baby and thought `Oh, I want one!'. Yikes.  I feel very content and happy with our family where we are now.  I do think it is a possibility that we would adopt in a few years when Nya is a bit older. 
The biggest challenge with her now is she screams if she wants something from the boys and she constantly goes `Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!' when we are driving and it drives me crazy.  Like, very crazy.  She does sometimes hit me in the face and when I say `No' she runs and puts herself in time out.   Then we talk about being gentle and she hugs me and says `orry'.

Her favourite thing is to cuddle on someone's lap with her bubi (any receiving blanket) and read a book together.  She especially loves Opi and Grandpa and pretends to talk on the phone with them all the time.

She is starting to play with Koen a little now and it's very sweet to see him being so good with her.  He does love making her scream in frustration (what brother doesn't love that) but he also does invite her into his room to play with the stuffed animals together.  They also love having the wildest, splashiest bath together.

All righty, someone is trying to crawl into my lap...must go.

Love you Nya!!!  You are adorable and you are teaching me more and more about patience:)

Love, Louise/Mommy

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

1.  Garbage bag in the van.  I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous but Gary has always been against it and he would rather take garbage out of the van each time.  I never have hands free to remove garbage so it piles up.  So, after almost 9 years of marriage, I am now 'allowed' to have a garbage bag because our van has a holder for it.  Ahhhhh.  So great.

2. Itsy Bitsy Spider book.   Nya gets one book on the potty and this is now in the rotation.  I was soooooo sick of Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Goodnight Moon.  We giggle on this page every time because the insect has an ice cream cone.

3.  Costco's Return Policy.  So great.

4.  My grey boots. Love them.

5. Flannel Sheets. This is another thing that Gary was not for but I tried it out and we love it. We love our bedroom cold so this is a great way to stay warm in the winter!

6. New crafty ideas.  I don't love doing crafts with my kids but Koen had this idea and it was fun.  If you do this, it's easier to use vehicles without tread in regards to cleaning:)

7.  Nya's voice.  So cute.  She has taken to saying `Daddy. Are you?'  `Mommy. Are you?' `Bubi. Are you?' (meaning where are you?).

8. Cute pictures of my kids.  I love walking by them multiple times a day...remembering their sweetness on sometimes more difficult days.

9.  Ladies Morning Out.  One great thing about being a work at home mom is being able to go to Bible Studies/women's groups.  If anyone is looking for one, we meet on a weekday morning and there is childcare and coffee and snacks:)  Oh ya and if you want, there is a running group from 9-9:30.  Email me!   On that note, if anyone is interested in trying out a church, come to ours!  Link is here. If you have kids, the kids program is amazing.

10.  A new vacuum.   I didn't realize how bad ours was until I saw how much I could collect in this canister:)  There is something very satisfying about emptying out a whole canister full of dust and debris.  Not my favourite way to spend money but I did save $50 on it.

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

PS Thank you to those that have commented or emailed me about my thankful thursday posts. I appreciate it!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Super Cute Christmas Picture

Love these kids. So much.  Isn't this sooooo cute?!  I know we got our family photos done already but I wanted a Christmas one of the kiddos.  We did this Saturday morning at 8:30:)
Big thanks to Kristin for letting us inherit her `JOY' letters!
PS Kai had to quickly put his hand there to hold the `O' or it would've fallen on top of Nya.  Nya however, would freak out any time Kai touched her letter so the timing of this was perfect :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

It's not easy to admit that I struggle with jealousy.  Not for many things...but sometimes I have these huge pangs of jealousy. What am I jealous of?   People who have mothers who want  to come and watch their kids.  It comes up DAILY.  `Oh my mom took the kids' or `Oh my mom comes to help me' in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening etc.  Talking to all the grandma's at the park with their grandkids (Oh I just like to help out! Oh, they couldn't afford daycare so I do it!) or the grandma's bringing the preschoolers to preschool each day.

 I don't know why it drives me so crazy.  I do have people to help me if I ask for  it, I know that, but I think it's just the idea of having someone who wants to help and is able to do so at any time and asks to help.  It's not a big inconvenience in my life to have to bring our kids with us everywhere, but I just sometimes think about how it would be different.  I know a lot of people don't have moms who are available or want to be available for their families and I'm not alone in this.  It's just something I hear Every. Single.  Day. and I get this hit of jealousy and then it passes.  It's weird.  I used to miss the conversations with my mom (we talked all the time) but now with a busy household of three kids I miss what would have been her practical help.  If it didn't come up in almost every conversation I have with fellow moms, it wouldn't be on my mind so much.

The reason I say all that is because I constantly need to remind myself of all that I am thankful for.  So, this week, this is what I'm thankful for.

Thankful For...
1.  The fact that Nya is potty trained!!!  I'm so proud of my little girl.   Now that she seems like a big girl,  I love seeing her personality really emerge.  As pointed out by others, I can see that she is very observant like her big brother Kai.  She will just take in all that is happening.  However, like her big  brother Koen, she has a real zest for life and isn't afraid to just jump onto the top of people wrestling.  

2.  My sister Trish coming to the rescue!  Kai forgot his lunch this week and his school is a good 15 minutes away.  I had stuff baking in the oven and did not feel like packing up the kids, spending $5-10 in gas and an hour of my time, to bring him his lunch which he shouldn't have forgotten.  I would have but I would rather not.  I thought of my friends living in Fleetwood and then remembered my sister is on maternity leave and lives just a minute from the school!  She graciously made a huge lunch for him and he thought it was awesome because it contained just a few more goodies than it would normally have :)
3.  Gary's homemade croutons.  White bread toasted in bacon fat. Yup, seriously bad for you but so good on a caesar salad.
4.  Cute moments between Nya and her dada.  She loves him so much.  PS This was shot at ISO 2500!
5.  This family being okay.  We grew up in the same church family and school.  They were in a huge accident this past week and although there is a lot of recovering that needs to occur, they are safe.  Thankful. (This photo is a couple of years old:)
6.  Beautiful fall weather.  As a photographer, I am so thankful for beautiful (not raining) days.  It just makes everything so much easier!!
7.  A year full of wonderful memories.  I'm currently making my 2013 book and it's so great to look back and see all that has happened.  I'm also thankful that I have everything recorded in my blog, makes it so easy to do!  The kids LOVE looking through these books and I think it's important that they have their childhood recorded somewhere.  Or various places :)
8.  Playing outside.  Kids always find something to do.  We don't have much of a yard but they will race up and down this sidewalk for about an hour each day :)  Nya tends to just go, go, go and not come back.  Getting her in the house again is not my favourite part of the day.
9.  The creativity of kids.  Koen still plays Amazing Race daily with his stuffies but now he has brought in a new game to his daily repertoire.  He plays `Trick or treating' with his stuffies when Nya goes naps.  It is quite elaborate and I don't understand it.  I do know it keeps him very busy :)
10. Koen's cuddles.  One of my favourite things of the day is when Koen comes up to me and says `I need a cuddle'.  He just climbs right in my lap and I love it.  This isn't a cuddly picture because my hands would be full but here is my Kokies.  Koen is not the observer.  Koen is one who dives right in and fully immerses himself into whatever activity he is doing. He has no awareness of what is going on around him and often runs into trees, signs and people.  When we go for a walk, I always need to be aware of what he is doing.  Just last night he ran headfirst into a tree while giggling and running after Kai.  I'm curious to see what he will be like in school. He is already showing an interest in math, just like his big brother, but I think recess will definitely be his favourite:)

What are you thankful for today?


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mexican Potato Casserole

Here is another great recipe from Mennonite Women Can Cook.  I think I tripled the recipe and added some more ingredients (tomatoes, green onions).  It's so easy, tasty, kid friendly and affordable.  I made it during Nya's nap and then just warmed it up before dinner.  If I don't do it this way, things get very crazy around here from 4-5pm.  Koen gives it 100 thumbs up!
PS Make sure you serve with sour cream and salsa:)
{Picture is terrible but it tastes good.   Yes, we started before Gary and Kai were home.  The joy of basketball season is upon us!}

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Potty Trained!

This is so crazy but Nya is potty trained and she's not even 1.5 years old!  Either girls are way easier to potty train or doing some EC with her really worked sooo well.  Think of the savings economically and environmentally!
When we go out for an hour at a time, I leave her in underwear.  I'm not sure yet if I will leave her in undies for the church nursery or daycare as I don't know if she will actually tell someone other than Gary and I.
She still wears a diaper at night, but ya, so impressed with her!
Now that I've said this, watch her totally pee her pants:)

Go Nya Go!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Philippines

We did take time to reflect today for Remembrance Day.  

However, over the last few days,  many of my thoughts have been with those in the Philippines.

They have experienced so much loss and hardship in the few months since we have been there. A ferry sinking. A 7.2 magnitude earthquake, and now, a super typhoon with an estimated 10,000 people dead.  Along with that is the major destruction of homes and lack of food and water.   The coverage on tv is heartbreaking.

Our kids LOVED the Philippines and ask to go back several times a week.  The people are so friendly and it is a beautiful place.

In this photo, we were on Bohol island (where the earthquake epicenter was).  Behind us in the photo are all of the people that worked along the beach and knew Nya by name.  
Our friends, Jen, Andre and Ella are safe as they are on furlough in Canada right now.   That was Kai and Koen's first concern; `Is Ella okay?'.  However, obviously they are worried about their loved ones back home and it's hard for them to be away.
I have posted this on fb too but if you are interested in donating, here are just a couple of easy and safe links as every single bit counts.  Every dollar counts.

Red Cross

Salamat (thank you).

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

Thankful for....

1.  The fact that kids are so easily amused.  This was THE funniest thing ever to them.  Take a look at the second picture as I zoomed in to the yellow m+m.  Koen thought this was hilarious that he was upside down.

2.  Piles of Laundry.  This is one I need to remind myself of...especially since my kids (and husband) go through so much laundry and have so many stains.   My loved ones are nearby.  This is on my laundry room wall.  
3. Football games on a crisp fall evening.  Gary and the kids played while I had a mini session at Stewart Farms.  There were 3 other sessions going on there at the same time!  I love, love, looooooove seeing my kids running around in the fresh air.
4.  Movie and (frozen costco pizza because i'm cheap) pizza night!  We've been doing much better at being unplugged from 4:30-6:30 pm each night so we can just be with the kids 100% .  Yes, watching a movie might not count but when you end up all cuddled together giggling over a movie, it's good.  It was Monsters Inc.  Hey, not sure why gary is on the computer....
5. Playdates with sisters.  It rarely happens that we can all be together as we have two full time nurses but it ended up that we could on a Monday.  My dad also joined us which was nice!  These kiddos are great as are their siblings.
6. Gary's parents who enjoy going to our kids events.  Here they came for Koen's Grandparents Day at preschool where Koen is still rocking out his amazing singing skills.  Koen thought he looked very handsome.  I agree:)
7.  The song `It is well with my soul'.  It reminds me of my mom because she faced her illness and the fact that she would never meet her grandkids (other than Ani) or see 3 of her kids get married with such a great attitude.  She was thankful for what she did have.  I have it printed and in our kitchen.  The song was written after the composer lost his 4 daughters when a ship they were travelling on sunk.  I want this sung at my funeral too.  By the way, there are so many free printables on Pinterest.  You can just print them up at Costco for less than a dollar!  
8.  Meal Planning: Take 2.  We had another system but it took up room on our counter so let's see if this Martha Stewart adhesive that we can put on our fridge does the trick!  I bought this in a moment of panic as I was trying to buy lightscribe DVD's at Staples and not lose Nya and Koen.  
9. Toddlers in undies.  So cute.  I'm in the depths of potty training so must focus on the cute side :)  
10.  Sleepers with zippers. One of the things I would do differently, from when Kai was little, is I would ONLY buy sleepers with zippers.  SO MUCH FASTER.  Why would I want to fight and try to get every button matched up in a diaper change at 4 am or with a wiggly 17 month old at bedtime. 

I hope you are having a wonderful week!!

I'm just doing one session per week and teaching one day per week so I am able to get to all the things that I've been putting off for so long around our home. It feels good.  Now if I could only get motivated to exercise more....

Love, Louise