Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thankful Thursday

**I have been doing Thankful Thursday posts for about 8 months now.  One new thing we've tried with the kids this week is that if they are being hurtful to one another, they need to come up with things that they appreciate about the other person.  They can say it or write it out. If they are being ungrateful towards us, they need to come up with things that they are thankful for about us.  I know that focusing on the positive has worked for me so we'll see what happens with this.**

This week, I am thankful for:

1.  A freckled nose.  Inevitable in this family so let's just be thankful for it.  This is Koen's nose...you should see Kai's!  


2.  Dinner with my dad.  He is leaving on a big trip and flying his little plane to places where very few do.  Let's just say he needs to be prepared for polar bears.  He took my sisters and I out for dinner to say goodbye which was lovely.  You can follow his blog `Jack's Adventures' on the side of my blog.  His writing isn't pretty but the adventure will be!


3.  An easy transition for Nya into a big girl bed!  She hasn't even tried to come out. Awesome.  Cute. Adorable.



4. Norwex cloths for windows and mirrors.  Love it.  You just wet it with some water and it's good to go!  Ignore the finger prints on the buffet.


5. Koen's kindergarten day.  He went last week and he is so ready for kindergarten to start and SO. AM. I.  


6.  Our climber.  What a monkey.  I love that she can keep up with the boys.


7.  A teething 2 year old.  Much easier than a teething 1 year old.  


8.  A `new' car.  We have known for several years that we would need to replace `Penny' (my car of 13 years) and when this one came up, we bought it.  A 2009 Matrix. We got it for a great price (just under $7000.00 which came to $8000.00 with taxes and increased insurance) which was the range we were looking in.  This is also the reason why our summer holidays just involve camping this year :)


{Below is my first car, Penny, of 13 years.  I will miss her!!!  So many memories. She's not pretty and I've always been annoyed that she was gold, but seriously, she was great!}


9.  Winning prizes!!!   I won a prize pack from Breakfast Television for a basket full of amazing food and tickets to EAT Vancouver!  Gary and I LOVE food and will enjoy a date there this weekend.  Yay, free-ish date (boo for parking, tolls and gas)!  This was my second visit to Breakfast Television and again, they were soooo friendly.  They gave Koen, Nya and I a tour of the sets! 


10. Tomato paste in a tube.  So useful when you don't need a whole cans worth!  Also fun is that this was from our friend Jen when we were visiting the Philippines so it's a good reminder of her whenever we use it!


I hope that you have a wonderful day.  If it's feeling gloomy, I totally recommend writing down or just saying out loud, what things you are thankful for.   Or, at the dinner table tonight, get each person to say what they are thankful for.  It makes a difference, I promise!  

Love, Louise

PS Thank you to all who have voted (click on the badge on the side to vote!).  Tomorrow is the last day for the first week of voting.  The interesting and confusing part of voting next week is that you have to remember when you voted this past week because it has to be exactly after one week.  So, if you voted Tuesday at 10am, you would have to vote after the next Tuesday at 10am for it to count.  HOpefully that makes sense?!  




Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Nine Years

Today Gary and I are celebrating our nine year anniversary.  Up until this ninth year, I thought marriage was easy and I never really thought about it.  Parenting was hard (I still think it is so tough) and that is where my focus went.  Somewhere in the fall/winter, things became difficult for us.  Maybe it was just me, but I think years of sleep deprivation, putting Gary after the kids and taking care of three young energy suckers, took it's toll.   Frustration grew. The fun was long gone.  I started to see why marriages didn't last.  There was really only one option for me: I told Gary exactly where I was at and said we needed to change what we were doing because doing nothing wasn't working.

What did this change look like? Well, I started figuring out how to be a better wife.  At first, I was so against that idea.  If HE wasn't going to put in more work, why would I?  But, my friends, that is the sort of thinking that makes things a whole lot worse.  So, I started this year putting Gary above the kids and trying to figure out how men think.  Well, I've tried.  It's been a learning process but I would say that through this valley in our marriage, we have climbed above the plateau that we were at in the previous 8 years.  We understand each other so much more and we both want to make this a good marriage.

I have read several books that have helped me to work on our marriage. One is `The Power of a Praying Wife' (really it was just the introduction that did it for me and I only made it halfway through the book so far) and the other is the latest marriage series I've been doing at church, Shaunti Feldhahn's `For Women Only...'.  Other things that have helped are really just making time for each other and changing my mindset (focusing on the positive).

If I could give two pieces of advice in marriage, this would be it:
1.  Put in the effort even if the other person isn't.
2.  Make your husband a priority above the kids.

Okay, so this all sounds sort of gloomy!  I do want to celebrate what today is, so let me share something more positive:  Nine Things I Love About Gary

1.  He's playful.  He can crack a joke at any time (even in prayer).  He will hug me anywhere at any time.


2.  He doesn't complain.  He doesn't complain about situations or about people.  He tends to focus on the positive and tries to see both sides (he will often play devils advocate just because).

3. He is authentic.  The Gary you meet is the Gary who he is at home, at school, on the basketball court.  He doesn't put on act.  


4.  He is thoughtful.  If I ask a question, I expect an answer in about 10 seconds or less.  He likes to think it over and comes back with something that is whole lot more thoughtful than I would've said.

5.  He is so great with kids.  He is the dad that will be playing with the kids wherever we go.  He is a wonderful teacher and coach.  I knew he was great with kids when I met him but to see it in action over the years (even as he gets older and more tired) is heart warming.


6.  He is a hard worker.  He works differently than I do but I have learned that different is okay :) Where I will get something done the minute I hear of it, he will think about it, and think about it, and get it done in time.  There is something so attractive about him waking up each day and heading off to work without a single complaint.  

7.  He knows when to stay quiet.  This sounds sort of mean but sometimes if I'm getting riled up, he will just say `yes' or `okay' instead of  going on the attack. This brings everything back down to normal.  It prevents things from escalating and allows me to calm down and see that I'm being a bit crazy.  He is so calm and collected.


8.  He trusts me. He trusts me with everything.  I never feel like I have to worry about what he thinks in regards to how we spend money, or discipline the kids, or his commitment to our marriage.  Although, he may not trust me to put enough salt into a meal.

9.  He gracefully shows me where I can grow.  There are times when I get, uh, interesting to live with.  I'll suddenly get an idea and WE HAVE TO DO IT RIGHT AWAY!!!    I worry about what other people think.  I get stressed.  He will show me that we have time, it doesn't matter what others think, and that worrying does not make the situation any better. 


I asked Gary what he wanted me to say about our ninth anniversary and he said `It's been the best 9 years of my life.'.  I'll take it!

I'm incredibly thankful for Gary.  He's not perfect, I'm not perfect, our marriage isn't perfect, but well, it's worth working on.  It's pretty great.

Love, Louise

PS If you haven't voted, the button is on the side!  Gary and I could win an awesome trip :)  




Monday, May 26, 2014

The Visual Rolodex

This is the 5th week of the marriage series by Shaunti Feldhahn that I'm posting on.  The first 4 weeks can be found here:  Respect, Insecurity, Need to Provide, and Desiring Him.  This week's chapter made me a little uncomfortable (it does matter if I exercise or not...) but I think there's some good information in there.  It focuses on the `Visual Rolodex' as Shaunti describes it.

First of all, most men are very visual and cannot help it.  They cannot not notice a hot woman.   Now, whether they decide to take a second look or start thinking about something else is up to them.  This is something that men often struggle with all day long and it can be exhausting.  I'll be honest, I would also be the one looking at the attractive woman at Home Depot.   I'll just admire her beauty and I guess there's a bit of comparison going on too.  Men tend to keep a `visual rolodex' of every beautiful woman they've seen and images come up all the time.  I just have moments of `Oh, he's hot!' when I'm watching someone like Shemar Moore on Criminal Minds but otherwise, I never really think of other men.  And that's it for me, a passing thought and it's gone.  Sorry, Shemar!

{For our anniversary 3 years ago we had a photo session.  I never get my hair done or wear this much make up but it was fun!  This may be my favourite picture of Gary. }

I do worry about my own boys and the things that they will see over the years.  Just the other day, Kai was watching Wheel of Fortune with me and a commercial came on for H & M selling bikinis, well, I think that's what they were selling with the model sprawled on the rocks.  His eyes were wide and he asked, `What is this?'. My hope is that our home will be a place where we can talk about these things openly.  I want to acknowledge that yes, bodies are beautiful,  but outward appearance is just a small part of who someone really is.  In regards to protecting our/their minds, we make sure that our computers are in an open area and that the kids are never on a device (computer, tv) without our knowledge.  I think a big thing that kept Gary's mind busy during high school and university was that he played hours of sports each day.  Hopefully our boys continue in their love of sports :)  It's not that thinking about girls is bad, it's just what they are thinking about in regards to those girls that concerns me.

And now to shift to the part where we as women can help our boyfriends and husbands. The men in our lives would like us to put in the effort to look good.  This doesn't mean we need to be 120lbs (sorry, soooo not ever happening unless you take me back to grade seven), but it means that we should put in the effort to be healthy, active, and put together nicely.  It shows that you care about him.  It's recommended that you do not ask him the question `How would you feel if I let myself go?' because it puts him in an awkward situation.  Although, well, let's just say I asked.  Gary did agree with the 70% of men that said they would be emotionally bothered if their wives let themselves go and didn't seem to want to make the effort do to something about it.   When you take care of yourself, you also tend to have more energy for life in general which means you can just do more together.  Just to say it again; it's the effort.  

**I added this paragraph after receiving a comment about how hard this is post partum**
I think that the effort you put in changes with what is happening in your life.  When I had a newborn, I would shave one leg one day, and the other the next day.  I felt like I had no time or energy.  Effort might be taking a shower, or putting on lip gloss, or wearing jeans.  Now that I am sleeping, I feel like I have more energy to invest into how I look and my physical health.  I think more of what the book is talking about is if you have time and energy to sit around eating ice cream and watching crappy tv until midnight every single night, you might have time and energy to do something else.

I completely understand if Gary looks at an attractive woman, but I appreciate that he tries not to look again. According to the book (`For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men'), things that make it harder to resist checking out other women and indulging in those thoughts are; anger, loneliness and tiredness.   Are they working long hours? Feeling like failures? Lacking social support?  Good friends can be so great for accountability.

In conclusion, this week I was a bit surprised about the importance of taking care of ourselves (health and appearance) for our men.  I don't know why I'm surprised because it makes sense, but maybe it's because Gary has never said that it's important.  I am definitely going to work harder in this area as I am a `comfy clothes' kinda girl and I know Gary is definitely a fan of skirts and dresses.  And you know, it goes both ways.  I love it when Gary wears jeans, bright solid t-shirt and has a new hair cut.  When he goes for a jog? Love it.  Goes to work early to work out? Awesome.

Just one more week in this book and I think I've learned a thing or two.  Thanks again to all of you who have given me feedback on it.  Seriously.  If any of YOU have a marriage book you'd recommend, please, let me know.  This is the year of Gary (my resolution this year was to put Gary ahead of the kids) so let the learning continue!

Love, Louise



Friday, May 23, 2014

A Little Favour

Hello my friends!  As you saw earlier this week, I made the Top 30 list for Vancouver Mom Bloggers by Vancouvermom.ca for 2014.  I am totally honoured and feel just a tad bit out of my element.  My blog isn't fancy, I think I've tweeted 16 times in my life, I don't have 1000's of instagram followers BUT what I do have is an awesome community behind me.  Yes, you.  All so awesome.  Family, friends, relatives, colleagues, past students, blogger friends, photography clients turned friends and more.  Contest aside, I am, and always have been, grateful for a place to share my feelings, record our lives and just connect with others.  Thank you.

Next month I get to attend a celebration evening but over the next two weeks, there will be voting for the top blogger.  You can only vote once a week so I will be doing two posts about voting as I don't want to get all annoying :)  So, once this week and once next week.  There is an awesome first prize which would be a perfect anniversary trip for Gary and I to the Painted Boat Resort Spa & Marina on the Sunshine Coast!!  Can you picture us there? I sure can!!
vancouver mom bloggers painted boat

Here is the info for voting:

1.  Voting ends Friday June 6, 2014 and the winner will be announced June 9, 2014.
2.  You can vote for up to three of your favourite bloggers.
3.  You can vote once each week (so twice in the two weeks)

It is super easy to vote, just go to THIS link at Vancouvermom.ca, scroll to the bottom and you will see the voting.  You can see me as `Louise Chapman, Talk Nerdy To Me'.

Thank you in advance.  I'm not very good at asking for help and so here I am trying.  Have a wonderful weekend.

Love,
Louise

PS Next marriage post will be up this weekend!  It's about good looking women at Home Depot. Sort of.




Thursday, May 22, 2014

Nya Turns Two

I feel like I've been celebrating Nya turning two for so long now.  She's not my baby anymore and it's a very strange feeling to be going through these stages for the last time.  I wouldn't say that I'm sad and missing all that was before (I cannot do any more sleepless nights!!!), but I'm definitely treasuring her 2 year old sweetness.  I love seeing the world through the eyes of our kids and I have learned so much through them along the way.  I think the biggest thing is just looking around and finding enjoyment in things that our eyes usually just pass over.  Ants climbing up a tree? Awesome!  A cloud shaped like a car. Cool!  Leaves racing down a stream? Fun!

Today is Thursday which would normally be my `Thankful Thursday' post.  So, here it is as a Nya Edition.  The photos don't relate to the points but I wanted to disperse them amongst the writing.  It's always more fun to read something with photos!  Good thing these were mini cupcakes because she may have had three of them while having her picture taken :)

Thankful For Nya's:

1. Sweetness-she is concerned when she sees others upset.  She'll ask if they are `otay'.  She loves to pray for her cousins.

2. Love for music-she loves to sing and dance.


3. Strong will- NO NAP! NO HIGHCHAIR! This will come in handy further down the road.

                  
4. Easy going nature-she loves going anywhere and everywhere (not always the church nursery though)

5. Sense of Humour-she loves saying `Hi Wawouise!' (Louise) or chanting `Number one pest!' to Koen.


6. Fiesty-ness & sense of adventure-she will do whatever the boys are doing whether it's climbing, running or jumping.


7. Love-she shares her love for us in such a physical way.  We savour her cuddles, hugs and kisses.  We all find her to be the cutest, sweetest, chattiest, little 25lbs of awesomeness.


8. Smile-have you seen the dimples? The sparkle in her eye?!  Melt me!!!!


9. Independence-she can go to the bathroom on her own, put on her own socks, shoes and pants.  She follows directions very well.



10. Role as my daughter-I didn't realize how much I would value this mother daughter relationship but it means so much to me as I don't have my own mom here on earth.


Miss Nya, we love you so much.  We hope that you will always know that you are incredible just the way you are.   God has a plan and purpose for you and I look forward to discovering that alongside you, cheering you on. 

Love, Mommy, Daddy, Kai and Koen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Top 30 Vancouver Mom Blogger for 2014

I'm very honoured and excited to announce that I am one of the Top 30 Vancouver Mom Bloggers for 2014.  I've always been so thankful for everyone that reads, comments and connects with me through blogging.  There will be more information over the weeks but for now the profiles can be found at vancouvermom.ca.  I'm the 21st profiled and you can find it here (and see that mine is probably way too long in comparison-oops!).  Thank you again for caring enough to read about our little family!
Love, Louise



Monday, May 19, 2014

Nya & Georgie's 2nd Birthday Party

My sister Maria and I decided to celebrate Nya and Georgie's birthdays together because it's often hard to get family members together, and besides, their birthdays are just 6 weeks apart. It ended up being so great because you share the cost of the food AND there's twice the people organizing, baking,  and cleaning up etc.  Perfect.  We had their party today at Maria and Kris' house.  I may have taken a lot of photos but the kids were having so much fun, the light was perfect, and I love all these little people.

Nya's actual birthday is on Thursday and I'll share the `official' 2 year old pictures I've taken of her then (and a whole bunch of mushy, sappy, emotional stuff I'm sure!).  For now, enjoy today's birthday girls!


I tried Martha Stewart's Chocolate Chip Cupcakes.  I decided they are not my favourite but the buttercream icing is always good!


Maria made the Dora cake (with the gooey geyser!).


A bubble machine is quite the party starter when you're 2!








I love these ones of Gary and Nya.  I finally gave Gary (and the boys) a haircut yesterday.  Look how smiley he is!  As a side note, Gary made some very tasty sandwiches for the party.  



The only way to get Jack in the photo...although I think Jan secretly wanted to be in there. So many kids.  So many blessings.  Next one joins us in July!







Kai showing off Nya's new skirt



It was such a great afternoon.  Yay for baby girls turning 2!  Yay for family!  Yay for no rain!

Love, Louise

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Her Face Says It All

It was a popsicle and gardening type day.  I love how the events of the day can be captured on their dirty face and clothes.


Love, Louise

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thankful Thursday

This week's version of Thankful Thursday includes a video that Gary and the kids made for me last night.  Apparently I never leave the house to give them time to do it. Oops!  It's cute. I promise.  Okay, maybe just to me.  If you're wondering what Koen is saying he's thankful for at first, it's that I get the treat bag down for him (they have their Easter treats on top of the fridge and he can't reach). There is a little `I love you' from Nya at the end.

video

Thankful for:

1. Celebrating my dad's 60th birthday.  Each and every year is a gift!  The kids each told him what they were thankful for and the boys both appreciated Opi taking them out for coffee (hot chocolate) and the silly tricks he plays on them.  I think all kids LOVE experiences, right?  


2.  Gary bringing me a piece of chocolate cake from the ferry.  He came home late last Friday and I was soooo tired.  We had this cake on our honeymoon (going to the Kingfisher in Courtenay) and so it's kind of special :)


3. Swimming Lessons.  We  put our kids in very few activities as I'm valuing this time together as a family before they grow up and are super busy.  We do have the boys in swimming lessons right now and they love it.  Koey is a Salmon and Kai is in Swim Kids 2.  Koey will likely be learning the lesson that as long as he tries his hardest, that is all that matters :)


4.  Birthday fun for Koen and Nya.  They don't go to many parties at their age so they had a lot of fun celebrating a sweet little friend.


5. Dora. I don't like saying that.   I just love that if I need a break, she will watch a whole episode. Thankful for PVR and Dora.   


6. Continous growth in marriage.  It's amazing how much we can still learn about each other over the years.  In this picture I was trying to thank everyone for coming but was so overwhelmed I couldn't even speak.  And yes, I probably should have had someone do my hair and make up.  I was just back from Kenya and all about being super simple.  I would just say that if you feel your marriage is in a tough spot, I PROMISE you that it can get better.  It takes work though, and even if your partner isn't wanting to invest much effort, you can start the change.


7. A yard that is used.  It's so small, but really, it has so much for the kids to do.  Kai plays hockey in the alley but other than that, they use the trampoline, slide and water table all the time (I removed the sand, Kim! Way better!).


8. Subbing once a week.  It's the perfect amount for me.  It's so nice to be able to bring the kids to a daycare that they love and I can work and make some money.  Thomas is now one of Koey's good friends.


9. Having my parenting partner back. Phew. Awesome. Exhale.  He is a wonderful father and teammate.



10. Flowers.  It's getting pretty around here!


I hope you have a wonderful weekend.
We will be celebrating Nya's birthday, can't wait!

Love, Louise