Monday, April 28, 2014

Nya At Sendall Gardens

When the kids are nearing their birthday, I usually take some time to get photos of them. Poor Koen is in January so it's always tricky, but Nya, well her birthday is in May and it's soooo pretty out!  This next week I have plans to take photos of Nya in an orchard with apple blossoms.  She loves her tea parties so I hope to set one up for her there.  I know to some it might seem a little excessive but I love documenting milestones in my kids lives and if it ends up being super cute, why not?  I also learned today that having her seated at a tea party might be a little bit easier than running after her the whole time.

{So in love with the lighting in this exact spot!}

Tonight as we were finishing up dinner I asked Gary what he thought about going to Sendall Gardens so that I could take a few photos of Nya.  I have a special birthday dress for her tea party photos but I found this other tutu one second hand and wanted a few of her in it.  Besides, the lighting was perfect!  Sunny with clouds.

The boys had so much fun running around there.  Kai actually asked if he could have his birthday party funny.  It's because they love racing leaves down the waterfall there.  Nya did not nap today and did not have a very cooperative afternoon but fortunately she was all for looking pretty :)  If I wanted her in a certain spot, I asked the boys to go there first.  She wants to do whatever her brothers do.  The rest of the time she was just running, running, running.

{Picture the boys huddled together with grumpy faces on the other side of this bench.  It's the only way I could get her to sit there for more than a second.}

By the way, to any of my photographer friends, my camera is always set to RAW so I never check the setting but today it was set to jpeg accidentally.  I haven't edited jpeg's in years but I think they still turned out well:)  I just felt super awkward in Lightroom trying to adjust different sliders.

{Outtake below:)  She was pretty cold so we went into the greenhouse that they have there.  It's nice and warm and that's where the rest of the photos are from.}

Nya, how old are you going to be? `I'm TWO!'.  Isn't she sweet?!

{Really it was just go, go, go the whole time.  Here are a couple of behind-the-scene photos.  She will do whatever the boys do....}

So glad that we went last minute to get a few photos. I love them.  Hopefully what I'm envisioning for her tea party photos in the orchard comes to fruition (ha, so punny).  I think we may have to do evening photos there as I'm LOVING this light.

Hope you had a great start to the week!  We did.

Love, Louise

Friday, April 25, 2014

Make Your Home a Safe Place: Marriage Advice

This is a second in a series of posts on marriage. The first covered the topic of respect. To summarize: choose to respect the man in your life.  He may do things differently and that's okay.  Actually, it's good, could you imagine if there were two of you?!

Today's post: men can be insecure and need to come home to a safe place where they are built up. 

Make Your Home a Safe Place: Marriage Advice

They don't need fake things said, but just focussing on the positive things and encouraging them works wonderfully. This isn't something that I didn't know I just didn't really practice it. I didn't think Gary (my Mr. Confident Pants) was insecure so I asked him. After a few ridiculous answers, he gave me some real things that he does not feel confident about. I've always known to say positive things about my husband in public but I think I really needed the lesson on building him up at home. It's so obvious, but I'm human and hormonal.

Make Your Home a Safe Place: Marriage Advice

Let me give you a few examples of how I have not done a good job of affirming Gary.

 I'm all about using my time wisely. I like to make sure everything that needs to get done is done before I sit down to relax or have fun. That's my style and I know it doesn't mean it's the right way to do things. I can be really annoying to live with. I ask Gary several times a day `What are you doing?' when I'm working in the office and he's elsewhere in the house. Sometimes I am just curious about what he's doing and sometimes, well, I'm implying `Are you using your time wisely?  Is there something else you could be doing?'.  What a way to make him feel crappy (like he can't live up to the 1000's of things I want him to do) and like home is not a safe place (I can't relax because Louise will only be happy if I go, go, go).  No one wants to be watched and evaulated 24/7.

Make Your Home a Safe Place: Marriage Advice
{This was right after the ceremony and one of the happiest moments of my life!}

Or, what about the fact that I lived in a sleep deprived baby fog for years and I just became so bitter. I would be jealous that he would get to go off to work and have `fun' (I know it wasn't really fun but it sure seemed way more exciting) while I was stuck at home feeding, changing,  and disciplining the kids while cleaning the house.  He would come home and I wouldn't want to ask about his day. I didn't want to hear about anything he had done because I was just jealous. By not asking, and not caring, I was basically saying that he was a low priority in my life and he didn't matter.

Make Your Home a Safe Place: Marriage Advice

One of my goals is to make him feel appreciated and supported.

Only 25% of men feel actively appreciated by their family. I asked Gary if he felt appreciated and he said `sometimes'.  I would like to change that to `always'.  It's amazing what happens when you are appreciated. At dinner each night, we rotate between two things. One night we say our highs and lows of the day. The next night, we need to choose someone that we appreciate and say why. Last week, Gary said that he appreciated how clean I keep the house. Do you know what that did for me? I spent the entire week ironing and vacuuming a little more happily.  I even went the `next step' and vacuumed where I don't normally like under the bunk bed. Like, all the way under the bunk bed. I know this sounds ridiculous but it's just how an example of being appreciated made me feel a bit better about doing the day to day. I definitely see the difference in him when I know he's feeling appreciated.

Make Your Home a Safe Place: Marriage Advice

Trying to avoid saying `Why are you...' or `What are you doing?' and instead listen, encourage, and support them. Watch your reponses. You know when you are frustrated and you know you can say one thing that will hurt them? Don't do it. Let them know you believe in them. It's sometimes hard and no fun to be the one to start the nice cycle – putting in the work when you might feel they aren't. If I support and affirm Gary then in turn he is more appreciative and commicative and understanding. It's not all roses around here, but our marriage is definitely getting stronger.

Make Your Home a Safe Place: Marriage Advice

So, ask the man in your life (boyfriend, husband, father, brother) if he feels appreciated at home. Then, ask him what he is insecure about (I told Gary what I was insecure about to get the ball rolling). It can be very eye opening. You can encourage them in these areas and make sure you don't say something that will absolutley crush him.

Hopefully there was one little nugget of encouragement in there for you.  If anything, it should make you feel better about your skills as a partner because I'm not the easiest person to live with.

Have a wonderful weekend.  I don't mean to sound all cheeesy but make sure you let people know what you appreciate about them.

Love, Louise

As always, I'd love to see you on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Please pin here for later:

Is your home a safe place for your spouse? Do they feel supported and appreciated?

`Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.' Philippians 2:3-4

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Thankful for:

1.  Our new trailer hitch.  Our van didn't come with one so Gary and his dad ordered one and installed it themselves.  This is for our bike rack that we will need this summer.  So thankful they could do it themselves and save $!

2. Exploring nature with the kiddos.  It's my happy place.  Seriously.  Walking along a path in the forest is one of my favourite places to be.  Other places include tropical beach and mountain top (but not with scary heights).

3. Bubbles.  What kid does not love bubbles?  Must get another bubble machine.

4.  Book club.  I'm part of a book club with some women from church and it's been good for me.  I love to read. Love it. I miss it.  On Saturday I was feeling overwhelmed with so many social things throughout the week and just no break from the kids.  I went to my room for one hour with a book and a coffee and it felt amazing.  By the way, I was totally crying in the last chapter of this book.  It's a good one.

5. Siblings.  I may have said this before but I love how these guys know eachother so well.  This means that they can push each other's buttons but they can also help each with love and support.  Koen still hasn't figured out how to smile on command :)

6. Hair clips in Nya's hair.  She let me!  She wore it for an hour!  How is it that my baby girl took the longest to grow out her hair?

7.  Almost 9 years of marriage.  Next month is our anniversary.  We'll have to go big for the 1-0 next year :)  We were planning a bike trip but the place we want to stay at is booked until mid July so I think we will go later, maybe in the fall.  It's looking like a nice dinner out will be our celebration.

8. A bike seat!  A friend from church lent it to us and we've used it several times already.  There is something so sweet about hearing Nya behind me singing and saying `Weeeeee!'.

9.  A great teacher for Kai.  We had student led conferences yesterday and it was great to see what he has been doing and learning.  He has an amazing teacher and I respect and appreciate her very much.  I should probably get a picture of Kai with her before the year is up!
{Kai showing off his skipping skills. Nya chose her outfit}
{Kai teaching Koen about composting.  So cool that they have this outdoor area upstairs outside their classroom.}

10. Easter dinners with family.  It is always very busy for each holiday as we have every single family member (31.5 Dekens and Chapmans not including us) living nearby.  This is a blessing and I am thankful (most of the time!).  It's fun to have big cousins on Gary's side and lotsa little ones on my side.  I can learn from my sister in laws and I can empathize with my sisters.  

11.  Bonus one: Gary running alongside Koen while he learned how to bike without training wheels.  Gary had just finished a 5km run and then I suggested the bike ride.  Koen can bike but can't start on his own so Gary had to run alongside.  Go Gary go!  

I really hope that you can find some things to be thankful for.  I feel like when I go about my life with the mindset of looking for things to be thankful for, it really helps to keep those negative thoughts away.  Just saying :)

Have a great weekend!  We're almost there!

Love, Louise

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

23 Months

Oh my.  One more month til my baby is TWO.  I love looking back to see where the boys were at this age.  Here's Kai and Koen. They are all very similar with their vocabulary but Nya is definitely the tiniest of the three!  I haven't weighed her but I'm assuming she's just 25 lbs or so.  She frequently says three words together like `Mommy thankyou dinner!' or `Koey did it'.   A difference is that the boys would throw themselves down and say `No' when they were upset where she will have a high pitched scream if the boys are bugging her.

She still loves singing Happy Birthday and Jesus Loves Me (she loves the `This I Know!' part).  She also tends to sing a song that I made up that goes `I love Nya, I love Nya, Yes I do! Yes I do!' to the tune of `Are you sleeping?'.   I love listening to her singing each night through the monitor.

She has started being interested in Dora which I'm happy about.  Not that I like Dora but if she isn't napping, I would like for her to sit and watch Dora for 10 minutes.  My days of being able to edit photos during the day for an hour or two are pretty much over. She mostly loves to play `Tea Party' and run around outside.

 She is a good eater in that she eats most things but definitely not as much as the boys did.  She is only napping every other day now.  I don't bother fighting it and I just don't put her down if she's had a nap the day before.  She is also getting up by 6 am most days.  She was going to bed with a bottle each night (I know, naughty me) and has somehow been able to phase it out on her own this past week. Phew!

She is very loud and vocal in our home but tends to be a bit more quiet and snuggly when we are out with others.  If I can predict her personality in a few years from now, I see her to be an amazing blend of Kai and Koen with an extra dose of goofiness.  She is a very happy girl.  She just spent the last half hour giggling away saying `Hi Wawouise' (Louise).

She loves Koen and calls him `Doey' (because we call him Koey).  When we leave him at preschool she cries for him for a loooong time.  `Doey preschool, Doey preschool...'.

I love this age.  I am happy to be through the newborn stage and the whole not sleeping phase.  Usually I get baby fever when the youngest is one and I'm so not there.

Hope you have a lovely week.  I'm looking forward to hopefully doing Nya's 2 year pictures this weekend before the craziness of May begins.  Does anyone know where I can find  a cherry blossom tree in bloom that has branches lower to the ground? With gas being 149.9, I am not driving around looking for it :)

Love, Louise

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Do you remember my New Years resolution? It was to make Gary a greater priority than our kids. More than that,  it was to work on our marriage. It has been going well and I just wanted to share one major thing that I learned this past week.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Thankful for...
1. Our trampoline.  I had to buy it new because it's very hard to find one this small (7 feet across) :)  This is the third year we've had it and we only put it up for spring and summer.  It's the perfect height and size for Nya.  The boys still use it too although it pretty much turns into a wrestling arena for them.

2.  Plants and flowers that we can grow.  Koen was sooo excited to see how much his bean plant had grown over the past week.  Wow!  Gary will be planting his vegetable garden this weekend and I've already planted bulbs so we'll see what happens!  It's so great to live in a climate where things grow so easily.

3.  Our Easter Tree.  I'm not into crafts.  A group crafty activity?  Not something that jumps out at me.  However, our Women's Group at church was doing it and I thought I might as well try it out.  It was much better than I thought...sitting around a table together talking and crafting.  I could even do it again.  Every day, the kids pick an egg (numbered 1-12) and inside is a picture (donkey, prayer, crown, coins etc) that we hang on the the tree.  Then we read the part of the Easter story that corresponds.  They love it and it's a great way to go through it leading up to Easter weekend.  The picture was taken before we started and we're on day 8 already.

4. Bottle donations.  We've been gifted several large donations of bottles and I'm so thankful!  We don't actually have much recycling of our own (maybe just one wine bottle every 2 weeks?!) as we don't drink bottled water or juice or pop or beer.  So ya, we have to definitely walk a lot to collect them or we get donations from others.  Our disneyland fund is up to $60 :)

5.  Our mixer.  I remember when we got married I was against it.  I wanted a hand held one like my mom had.  However, I quickly found out that this thing is soooooo useful. LOVE it. It's 9 years old and going strong. Wow.

6.  A short wait at the passport office.  Koen's was expiring so I finally got it all filled out and pictures taken.  We went to the passport office at 8 am when it opened and were done in 15 minutes! So great! 

7.  Funny things kids say.  Nya was complaining that her popsicle was too cold.  Koen said `What do you expect? They are called popsicolds for a reason'.   Another funny thing?  Kai just got home from school and was running towards the bathroom saying `I learned how to draw a grasshopper today!' and Koen said, `With your pee?!!!'.

8.  So many parks around our house.  We have about 5 within walking distance.  It's fun when I babysit Georgie and Kenzie because we go to a different one each week.  They are also building a very fancy park a couple of blocks from our house which includes tennis courts, gardens, water park etc.

9.  Neighbourhood friends.  The next door neighbours have two boys who are a year older and younger than Kai.  They love to play sports.  They play hockey for about an hour a day when it's nice out.  Growing up on an acerage, I missed out on having neighbourhood friends and I'm glad to see that my kids get to have it!

10. 24 hours away.  I wouldn't say it was super relaxing the whole time but it was just nice to worry about myself for the most part.

11. Bonus one:)  Vij's at Home cookbook for $2!!!  I've wanted this one for a while and when it came up on Bidding Wars (facebook site) I can't believe I got a $40 book for $2.  Perfect condition.  We already made a vegetarian meal (potato and pea a samosa on toast!).

I hope you are having a good week.  Mine has been about a 7/10  which is pretty normal :)

Love, Louise