Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thankful Thursdays

Thankful for...
1. Being able to sell kids clothes at Once Upon A Child.  It is a lot harder to sell used clothes online now as there are just so many sites out there.  It isn't worth my time to post individual items anymore and although I donate some, I do need to make some money to buy them more.  I brought a bin of clothes there and they took about 40% of the items I had and I got $36.  Awesome.
2.  Special pieces of jewelry from my mom.  She bought us several big items when we were younger.  My sapphire ring when I turned 18 years old and my gold plated Seiko watch when I graduated.  I think I will do something like that for my kids.  Kai may have said he'd keep his Lego watch and ask for a phone instead when he graduates :)
3.  Sibling Love. Melts my heart.
4.  Stickers.  I love moo.com and if you've ever thought of getting nice business cards or stickers, please do so through this link :)  You'll get 10% off your order.  I have their business cards as I love the rounded corners and thick material. 
5.  Sunshine + snow.  Great, great combo.  It's so nice and warm out there, I will be sad to see the snow go.  Sort of.
6.  Fudge.  So easy to make.  Made some for book club but it got postponed due to the snow....guess I'll just have to eat it! PS How many of you have ruined baking by using your iPhone for recipes and getting sidetracked while online?????
7. Deals.  I've given up on ever buying second hand shoes for the boys.  Now, I buy them through Sears as they have their KidVantage program.  If these shoes don't make it while one of the boys can still wear them, I can get them replaced.  I got them on Clearance and then an additional 30% off. 
8.  Smoothies.  I think I've said this one before but it's such a great way for me to get more fruit and veggies in my diet.  I have Temporal Mandibular Junction Dysfunction (TMJ) and therefore cannot eat a lot of fruits and veggies (I need softer food) so this works really well.
9.  Nail polish!!  I just started being `fun' about 3 months ago.  I bought about 30 new OPI nailpolishes for $12 off of the Bidding Wars Site.  I put on a new colour each week and it makes me feel good.  I'm not a big makeup and hair person but for some reason, I really love wearing nailpolish.  I think now that I have more energy (aka Nya sleeping!!!) I can spend more time and energy on myself.  
10. A husband who tries to watch `The Bachelor' with me.  I usually watch with my friend Leah but the snow kept us apart.  I could do a whole post on how absolutely terrible the show is (and especially this season) but won't do it now.  It's terrible. 
11.  BONUS ONE: Snow tires!!!  I wish we had invested in them a long time ago.  I remember when I was 9 months pregnant with Koen, we did not have snow tires.  We could not make it out of our alley on Christmas day to go to the Chapmans.

I hope you are having a good week!!
What is one thing you are thankful for?!! 

Love, Louise

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What is YOUR Social Media Preference?

{Sleeping Babe.  I think she must dream of ketchup and slides and shoes.}

I recently started using Instagram (which is where I got that picture of Nya from).  I don't know that I'm using it the right way yet but it's a whole new world there.  I usually just post a picture there and then also on facebook at the same time.  I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to use some hashtags in there but haven't delved into that yet.  Such a novice :)  

My question for you is the following:

If you had to put the following social networking sites in order of your love for them, what would your order be?

TWITTER
BLOGS
 P INTEREST
FACEBOOK
INSTAGRAM

This is my order from greatest love to least;
1. Blogs
2. Facebook
3. Instagram
4. Pinterest
5. Twitter 

My reasoning?  I love the authenticity, depth, and learning from blogs.  I love the messaging, staying in touch with friends and family near and far, and free advertising (for GC Photography) on facebook.  I love the beauty of Instagram but lack the depth.  I love the inspiration on Pinterest but rarely do anything with it.  I love the witty comments on twitter (I'm not witty which is why I don't use it but I do have an account).

Okay, so I'm curious...which ones do you spend most of your time on? What's your order?  Did I miss out on some big ones? Maybe You Tube?

PS This is going around on facebook right now...



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How Much Is Your Hydro Bill?

Being that I add up all of our utilities for the year for our business taxes, I'm aware of how much we spend on everything and I always try to reduce our usage to save money.   We spend an average of $1.80/day on our hdyro bill.  Our heat is set to 19 C in the day at 18 in the night but our kids rooms are set to 15 C which use baseboard electric heat.  Our room is set at 10 C :) We try to keep lights and computers off.  Is it worth it? Well, I don't know.  We probably save about $0.50-$1 a day...is that worth it? Well, that's about $20/month.

I love seeing how much we use each day (laundry days cost us an extra $1).  I also love comparing to neighbours with similar houses and give myself a little high five for being consistently under their usage :)

(Light blue is our usage, dark blue is for our neighbours)

(I love seeing how much we use each day.)

I just signed up for `Team Power Smart'.  If you reduce your usage by 10% over 12 months, they give you $75 (plus, just think of your bill being reduced by about 10% each month).  I'm not sure how much more we can save but I will try!   Here is our usage, for home size, number of occupants and type of heating.  Pretty good! 


Have you ever checked out your daily usage?   Do you know how much you spend on average per day?  Anyone going to join `Team Power Smart' and try to reduce their usage by 10% this year? 

Hope you are having a good day!

Love, Louise

**PS Added later: Did you know the two greatest energy suckers in your home are water heating and home heating?  There are some great tips here to figure out how to reduce them.   We always wash our clothes in cold water and replace our furnace filter :)**

**PS Added later: I didn't know earlier but both our furnace AND hot water tank are gas which obviously affects the numbers.  This would add an additional $1 (summer)-$2 (winter)/day.   I think I can still compare with the neighbours though as our houses were all built by the same developers.   I've now lowered our nighttime temperature to 17 C, maybe we'll go lower?  What is your nighttime temperature?**

Monday, February 24, 2014

Snow!

This weekend was relaxing.  

Friday we went to the Chapman's for a birthday get together.  They have get togethers about once a month for birthdays, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mothers Day, Fathers Day etc.  I'm thankful my family doesn't do it as well as it would be way too busy for my liking.  I like ample time for our family of 5, but at the same time, value our kids knowing their extended family.  The kids have fun but we pay for it the next day due to too much sugar and staying up too late.  Next time, we will leave earlier as it's totally not worth it to push Nya past her bedtime (she also did not nap that day).  Their kids are all way older so we are always the first ones leaving.  

We got up at 5 am on Saturday to watch the Men's Gold Medal hockey game (PVRed the first hour).  The women's game was way  more exciting and intense for me.  Kai went to a birthday party and it was just a really low key day.  

I also did our business taxes so it's nice to have that out of the way!  They are trickier than personal taxes but I've been doing them for about 5 years so I'm used to it now.   It's crazy how little we make after seeing all our business expenses year after year...I don't know how long we will continue with GC Photography. Our business insurance alone is $700/year.  I am hoping to go back to teaching part time once all the kids are in school although that is still years away.  Maybe I'll go back sooner if I can get a great position.
{May be my first win!  Please note my nail polish, loving this colour although really, I'm just a bit obsessed with purple}

We have had non stop snow since Saturday which is kind of fun!  The kids went tobogganing and we had Ani and Izzy over for a bit and they joined them.  I thought that today would be a snow day for sure, but nope!  

{Kai Bear had impetigo and we didn't know as none of my kids have had it before.  Bad, bad mommy.  I'm usually uber cautious about my kids not spreading any infections and keeping them home.  He is on antibiotics now (oral and topical) and it healed up soooo quickly.  If you ever see blisters around your kids mouth, go to a doctor to get treated immediately!!  Parenting lesson of the day.  Yuck.}
{Poor Koen, this is his smile.}

Well, Nya is refusing to nap so my break is a short one today.  I guess the downfall of a potty trained toddler is that she keeps calling for me saying she has to poop. This is the second time in an hour....

Hope you had a great weekend  and got to enjoy the snow a bit.

Love, Louise

PS I used to update a blog for my dad when he jet skied up to Alaska.  He will be starting on a new adventure soon and is taking the reigns on updating himself.  So, the grammar won't be pretty (sorry dad) but the photos will be.  You can check him out on the link on the side for Jack's Adventures.  


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thankful Thursdays

Thankful for....

1.  Being able to celebrate my oma's 86th birthday with family. She came out from Alberta and us local grandkids had a small party with her.  Her late husband, Louis, is who I am named after.  He died about a month before I was born.  My name was originally going to be Patricia Joy but then they named me Patricia Louise.  Yes, I go by my middle name.  Patricia is my other Oma's name.   I love my extended family!


2.  Butter chicken and naan bread.  Next time, we will order 10 naan breads I think. Sooooooo good.  Sorry, not a very appetizing picture, I had no time to think, just had to eat!!

3.  Google.  I'm a firm believer in trying to answer all of your kids questions (well, along with guiding them to try to figure it out for themselves)  and as smart as I think I am....

4.  The patience to bake with Nya this morning.  By the way, great cookies!  Recipe recommended by my sister, Jackie.  Giant Ginger Cookies.  Full of butter and sugar but a yummy change from the regular chocolate chip cookies!

5.  Our leather couches.  We were given this couch as a wedding present from 5 couples that are very special to us (all of Gary's groomsmen and their wives).  It is so practical and I would recommend that anyone with kids have leather couches....so great for any spills.  I would say we spend more time on this couch together as a family than anywhere else in our home.  So many cuddles and stories.

6.  Awesome neighbours.  We've gotten a few free things from them and this week Nya scored a dollhouse!


7. Looking forward to future trips.  The plan is for Disneyland next year but Kai would love to do something a little more cultural so we are rethinking where we will go. As a family we would love to go to South America and Africa but we will need to save for about 4 years for each trip.  I wanted a `cheaper' trip that would still be something really fun to look forward to.  I LOVE planning for trips.  Our bottle fund is not longer going towards Menchies, we Menchie-ed ourselves out on groupons.  It is now our trip fund!

8. A way to make a little extra money.  I'm babysitting my nieces for just 3 hours a week while Maria works.  I'm not a person who would ever want to have a daycare but 3 hours a week is just perfect!  My sisters and I do free child watching for each other for dates and appointments, but for work, we pay each other.  As a side note, I am going to be looking for childcare for Nya just one or two days a week starting in September.  I would love it to be someone that I know and someone in the Clayton area...please send me an email if this is something you may be interested in.


9.  Nya's smile.  I love a good smile!!  I really thought I would marry someone who was super smiley but, well, when he does smile he really means it, I guess :)

10. Being able to attend Koen's preschool activities.  On Valentine's Day, they danced with their partners and then he did the Danish Dance and Kid's Polka with me.  Very sweet.  I have cuter pictures but didn't want other kids faces in it :)

I keep thinking that I am going to run out of things to be thankful for!  I know that sounds strange maybe but I've done about 200 so far.  I really hope that I continue to do this.  It really does make me reflect on my week and all I have to be thankful for.

Have a great rest of the week!  Almost the weekend...

Love, Louise

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

21 Months

Nya will be 21 months old on Saturday.  It seems she has grown into a young girl so quickly!  I sort of feel like she's out of the toddler stage, especially because she doesn't wear diapers (except for sleeping) and she's talking so much more.  She's my little sidekick and we are incredibly thankful for her.


She is the one we will likely be tested the most with in regards to patience.  She is loud.  We are teaching her to say `no' instead of screaming when the boys bug her.   She often doesn't know what she wants but we know it's the opposite of whatever we are doing.  She must wear boots, hat, coat and have her phone (old cell phone) if we are leaving the house.  


She loves to bug the boys.  She will turn off the Wii when they are playing.  She will grab Koen's cars and run away as fast as her little legs will carry her.  However, she loves her brothers, `Doey and Dai'. 

She loves to make sure all doors are closed and has learned how to open the doors for the rooms upstairs...


All of this is so normal for her age and I'm glad that she is asserting herself.  It's so awesome seeing how they learn to figure life and themselves out.  I remind myself of this when she MUST HAVE WHATEVER KOEN HAS or whatever major event is happening in her life.


When I ask her what she wants for dinner, she always says `Ketchup!'.  She loves her dips.  I would say she is a pretty great eater!  So thankful for that.  When she is supposed to be going to sleep, we will often hear her in the  monitor singing `Happy Birthday' or saying `Food fight!'.   She loves to brush her teeth.


She doesn't watch tv yet but (this is ridiculous), loves to watch Phineus and Ferb with the boys.  `Berb!  Berb!'.  She loves to wash her hands but does not like it  if her sleeves, or any part of her, gets wet.  Clothes must be changed immediately :)  She loves wrestle time with Gary and gets right in there.


She doesn't leave my side easily.  We are working on this and she is trusting more that I always return.  The only places I leave her are the church nursery, day care once a week, and sometimes at grandma's house.

{We were practicing wearing a headband and she thought Scooby wore it better}

She loves a good book.  She also LOVES looking at pictures of herself and loved ones.  Her frown can easily be turned upside down if we go outside (or give her an m+m...oh boy).


She is very sweet.  And strong willed.  I love this little bundle of awesomeness.  I loooooove this age, even though it can be tiring.  They are just so adorable with their words and smiles and cuddles.  Love you, Miss Nya (We actually call her Aiya as that is what she calls herself).

Hope you are having a good week.

Love, Louise



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sentimental

I'm sentimental so I love to keep things that have a special memory attached.  However, I also really do not like clutter so I try to get rid of anything that does not have too great of an emotional pull.  Sometimes I have such a hard time getting rid of one of the boys outfits when they outgrow them but I'm thankful that they can be passed on to my nephews so I still see them.  I've thrown out all of my old high school notes but have held on to numerous journals (although I really hope my kids don't read them!).  It's sometimes hard deciding `Is this worth keeping?'.  

This makes me think a lot about the kids toys and what I should keep for when they are older. They play daily with this Scooby that was Gary's when he was little.  They call him `Weirdo' because his face looks a little different than most Scoobies (is that the plural?) you see these days.  Gary's parents still have all of his matchbox cars and Little People (remember the camper?! They have it) and my kids play with them when they go there.
In Nya's room, I have my old teddy bear, hair brush, and piggy bank.  I had bought her a really cute piggy bank and then just started using my old one because of all of the memories attached.  I wish I had my old cabbage patch doll, Hannah.  Hey sisters, do any of you have it?!
I feel such a connection to my mom when I brush Nya's hair with that hairbrush.  Yes, she has hair now.

Do you have any special items for your childhood that you are holding onto?  What items belonging to your kids will you hold onto for them?





Monday, February 17, 2014

Do You Grumble?

Do you ever grumble?  Do you complain?  I do.  I'm reading a book right now, Boundaries, and I have realized something new this past week.  It isn't rocket science but it has changed my perspective.

We need to let our boundaries known, in love, to those around us.   We don't want to hurt someone (I'm such a people pleaser!!!), so often we won't let them know that what they are doing or saying is bothering us.  I'm fine communicating with Gary but there are other places in my life where I really need to be confident in expressing my thoughts and concerns about how certain actions and words affect me.  Otherwise, I will just get more and more bitter.

A small example of this happened today.  I was getting our windshield fixed and the guy was going on and on about which chips were the best and worst and how to tackle each one.  Meanwhile, I had the two kids being CRAZY and whiny at my feet.  I could feel my blood pressure rising and thinking `Can he not see that I can't listen to him while these kids are driving me crazy?'.  You know what, maybe he just doesn't get it.  So, instead of trying to be `nice' and pretending to listen while exploding inside, I said, `I'm sorry, I'm really exhausted.  My insurance covers three chip repairs so I'll let you decide which ones to fix.  You are the expert!  We'll be back in an hour. Thank you.'. Phew.  Exhale. Out of there.  It's easier to do this with people that you are not close to, what about those you are close to?

There is something in particular that makes me grumble.  I have realized that it is UP TO ME to address it.  I mean, I knew that, but now I really know it and am challenged to do it.   It starts with the fact that I'm not very good at asking for help and I am working on it.   I think because I struggle with that, I am very sensitive to people's responses when I do ask.  It drives me crazy when I ask someone for something and they respond with `Well, I have ______________ (insert 10 things they are busy with) but I guess I can do it'  or `Well, I think I can make it work' (said in a tone of `this will be a pain in the butt but...).  It makes me feel like they really don't want to help but will because they have to.  I often feel like them helping me would be item number 2,000 on their list of things they'd like to do.

What would be a better way to respond?  Let me check my calendar and I'll get back to you.
And, if you need to say no?  No problem!  I don't expect people to help all the time.  Just say, `I would love to but that date doesn't work for me.' or  I'm sorry, I can't.

I would rather hear `I'm sorry, I can't.' than `I guess I could make it work'.

End rant. Does this bother you too?  Maybe I'm just too sensitive.  However, if these responses hurt me, I need to be clear on it and let them know.  It's up to me.

If you find yourself grumbling or complaining this week, I encourage you to think about WHY it causes you to grumble.  Maybe you haven't let that person know how something makes you feel. Maybe you need to make your expectations/abilities/boundaries clear.  So important in work situations too, right?

Have a good week, friends.  Gary's basketball season is over which is bittersweet.  I will say that having him home to make dinner tonight while I walked with a friend was AWESOME.  I haven't posted cute pictures of the kids in a few days, must get on that!

Love, Louise

`Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body...' Ephesians 4:25


Friday, February 14, 2014

Change Me

Yes, it's that day.  Valentine's Day.  My kids are adorable and awesome (and sometimes smelly and  gross) and I love them a whole lot.  However, today's post is dedicated to Gary.  My goal for this year was to make him a greater priority than the kids.  This has done a lot for our marriage and I know that I can do so much more.

The biggest thing that has changed my mindset?  Six months ago, we were in a tough spot. I don't think Gary really knew how frustrated I was until I finally told him straight out.  I won't tell you that exact conversation but it was not a conversation that I ever thought we would have.  I had been thinking `He's so annoying!  He's driving me crazy.  Will he ever change?  We can't have a marriage like this anymore.'.  I just kept feeling like, `Well, he's not investing much so I don't want to invest.  He doesn't make me feel important so I'm not going to do anything that makes him feel important.'. Yes, I was selfish and tired.   At that point, you can either give it all you've got or not.  Thankfully I decided that I would start trying more.  More than I wanted to.  He agreed to try more too (he TEXTS me now, people.  This is huge.).

I read the first chapter from `Power of a Praying Wife' and it recommended that instead of saying and praying `Change him, God!', it's `Change me'.  What?  Yes.  I know I'm not perfect.  I know I'm a bit...bossy.  I'm a bit of a know-it-all in regards to running this household.  If I can change my heart (which was angry), that totally changes my mindset and outlook and everything will follow.  I needed to shift priorities.  I needed to give more (patience, love, time, energy) without expecting anything in return.

It is hard having three energy and time suckers.  I love them, but they can be hard on a marriage.  It's tough when you are just giving, giving, giving.   Thankfully Nya has been sleeping so much better, I really think it's easier to give when you've slept 6-8 hours in a row.  Also, as they get older, they get much easier to parent as their demands on me are fewer.

We are moving in the right direction.  There is more hand holding, more laughter, and more meaningful conversations (with better listening by both of us).  I would encourage you to make sure that your spouse is a priority over your children. A healthy, happy marriage is such a great gift.  To each other and to your kids.

{The first time I met Gary's family was at his niece Kennedy's birthday party 10 years ago.  I'm pretty sure he didn't even tell them who I was or that I was coming.  All I remember was that he made fun of his mom's pleather pants and I was shocked that he would say that to her.  I also realized then that that is how he shows people that he cares about them, he teases them.}
{Celebrating our birthdays before I left for Kenya.  Both of our birthdays are in August.}
{Hiking Stein Valley.  So beautiful, so difficult.}
{We got along so well on our trip to SE Asia this summer.  It was fun and exciting and something we would love to do more of with our kids.  When we told Kai that we were saving for Disneyland he asked if we could go to Peru instead :)}

What are we doing to celebrate tonight?  Once the kids are in bed, we are getting take out from a local Indian Restaurant .  We will hold hands and watch the Olympics.  I will drink some wine.  We will have bread pudding for dessert which I guess I should make now.  It isn't anything exciting but we will be together, and more importantly, wanting to be together.  You're stuck with me forever, Gary!

I hope you have a lovely evening.

Love, Louise

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thankful Thursdays

{This quote was in our `Boundaries' Study this week. I like it}

Thankful for...
1. Samosas.  We have a new local Indian restaurant (walking distance!) and they have 2 for $1 vegetable samosas.  I love them. I keep them in the fridge and have one a day.  It's probably not that healthy.  If you live in Clayton, try them out; Diamond Sweet & Restaurant.

2.  Skating lessons.  Kai gets to take skating lessons through the school again.  He's still not a natural but taking lessons when you are 7 is very different/easier than when you are 3!  They have play time for 30 minutes and lessons for 30.   Yes, I put him in a full cage, I don't want his teeth knocked out :)

3.  Buddies to watch skating with.  We were able to go and stay the whole time to help put on and take off skates.  Usually Koen has preschool but he didn't on this day.

4.  Selling our old washer/dryer.   My father-in-law fixed the old one for $20 and then we sold them.  Every bit counts!

5.  Gift cards.  I love gift cards for things that I would never spend on myself.  I would never go to Starbucks but being a teacher's wife (Gary is gifted gift cards and he doesn't drink coffee!) allows for me to go almost once/week! I usually go Sunday mornings on the way to church.  Also, we have 3 gift cards for dinner that we going to be able to use this year.  One with kids, two without.

6.  Gary involving Nya in the cooking process.  I most definitely do not have the patience for that.  She's tenderizing the pork to make schnitzel.

7.  Swimming Lessons. Love it. Passed it!  I wish I could continue to sign them up as they love to swim.  However, there's the whole cost and time thing.  I think I will sign them up again after spring break. Koen wants to be a life guard and I would love for him to be one, such a great summer job or through school etc!

8.  Bookmarks. I love having fun pictures as bookmarks.  Here's a keeper I found of Gary from his TWU years.  I love it because he's flexing which is so not him...he never flexes for me and is the opposite of vain....humble?  I think he was trying to be funny.  He's fine with me sharing, I asked :)

9.  Slippers.  The older I get, the colder I get.  I am seriously considering getting down booties from MEC.

10.  Kids Antics. I love that my kids are so different.  The boys would wear whatever I asked them to and they still do!! They don't care what they wear as long as it's comfy.  Nya is adamant that she always leaves the house with her hat and a coat of sorts.  She is very opinionated.  If I even open the dresser for a second, she will want to pick her whole outfit so I always try to do it when she's not around because her choices are obviously very random.  Here she wanted to eat a cheezie but couldn't push it into her mouth because she had these gloves on.  She refused to take the gloves off.  Yesterday, she insisted on bringing a helium balloon along in the van.  She's just very strong willed and I don't want to fight her unless it's actually something worth fighting for.

All righty!  I hope you are having a good week.  I leave you with the Serenity Prayer.  This was up in our home growing up (my mom cross stitched it) and the words are powerful.


Love, Louise