Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thankful Thursday | Kai's Birthday Edition

Kai turns 8 this weekend!  I remember going into labour with him. I remember the drive to the hospital and thinking `This is the drive that you always see on `A Baby Story' (TLC).  I remember sucking back on gas and asking the nurses if I was doing a good job.  I remember reaching 10 cm and pushing for hours and not being able to get him out which ended in an emergency C-section.  I remember feeling like I failed at his birth.  I remember being shocked when we found out he was 9 lbs 11oz.  I remember a rough first 6 months.  I remember Gary or I having to rock him to sleep for every single nap/bedtime.  I remember the sweet relief of him sleeping through the night at 6 months.

Although it felt like a rough start, things got so much better and he has been quite a joy to parent....most of the time.  I love seeing how he is so much like Gary and yet so much like myself.  Serious & silly.  Academic & playful.  This Thankful Thursday contains 10 things that I am thankful for about Kai.

Thankful for:

1.  His independence.  From a young age he has loved learning how to do things for himself.  Making his own food and learning how to work things around the house.  So helpful!

2.  His competitive nature.  I personally think competition is great as long as you are a team player.  This is something we are working on; including everyone even if they won't help you win.  Doing your best but helping others do their best too.   His competitive nature is what allows him to hike up the Grouse Grind and kick our butts doing so.

3. His ability to get along with everyone.  He was so excited to get our international students and includes them in everything.  He has so many friends at school, both girls and boys, and of all ages.

4.  His health.  I'm thankful that he is a strong, healthy young boy. He's really only had one `serious' illness which was Dengue Fever last summer.  Unlike Koen and Nya, a cold for him is no big deal.

5.  His love for school.  This is one major way that he takes after Gary and I.  He loves school, particularly math and science.  He was able to be challenged this year in an enrichment class and it was so good for him.  I love that he has never stopped asking questions.

6.  His confidence.  He doesn't care what he wears as long as it involves running shoes.  He isn't afraid of much.  We do work on remaining humble alongside this.

7.  His love for sports and activity.  Gary and I both love being active so I appreciate that he is fully on board with whatever activity we want to do.  

8. His adventurous spirit.  He will try pretty much everything.  Food, activities, experiences.  He just doesn't love avocados or sour cream.

9. His love for books.  I mean, he doesn't spend time in the day reading unless we remind him, but he does love a good book and is an excellent reader.

10. His calm demeanor.  He is usually really easy to discipline and discuss things with.  He remains pretty clear headed in almost all situations.  The only area where this becomes tricky is when he is playing with Koen; things can escalate quickly.

I remember when the doctor said that we were having a boy and I cried.  I didn't know how to raise a son (I thought).  I am so thankful that Koen and Nya have a big brother to lead them and to protect them.  I'm thankful for a son that likes to learn from what we have to say.  It's not all roses as he can be smelly and stubborn, but we are definitely very thankful for our Kai Bear.

Happy birthday, Bud!  

Love, Mom, Dad, Koen and Nya. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Five things

One of my favourite things about my blog is that I can document things about the kids.  I love looking back and seeing where we were years ago.  Those things that I thought I would never, ever forget actually do fade away until I read about them again.  

Today, just a short post which includes five things about each kid.


{I got this dress in a 3T lot yesterday and she insisted on wearing it today.  Cute right?  She loves wearing dresses and I won't complain for one second about that.}

1.  Wakes up with a smile.  Seriously, a very happy child.  Gary and I look at her and melt.  We listen to her voice and melt.  We cuddle with her and melt. We are all so in love with her.
2.  Refuses all things `baby' (bibs, highchairs, cribs, diapers, naps) but will not give up her bottle of milk.  I think that is telling of her personality.  Fiercly independent yet still clings to comfort.
3.  Very petite.  Just 24 lbs (her brothers were at least 10 lbs heavier at this age, as was I!).
4.  Affectionate.  Love cuddles and hugs and often says `Hold you, mommy'.  She loves to give Koen kisses and hold his hand (yes, Koen, the one who bugs her all the time).  She always wants to be wherever her brothers are.
5. Enjoys colouring and is pretty good at puzzles.  She can count to 11 and speak in long sentences. 


1.  Is over the car stage.  He was into cars for over 2 years straight.  It's a bit sad for me actually as it was such a big part of him but I guess it's good to move on to other things!
2.  Has started playing video games but is also passionate about imaginative games.  He often plays `Amazing Race' or `The Price Is Right' with his stuffies.  Oh yes, the stuffies now also play `American Ninja Warrior'.  He, like Kai, is very competitive.
3.  Has started being more emotional.  He's trying to figure out how to deal with all these different feelings and will suddenly burst into tears.  I think that is common for this age.  Although he is very social, he needs periods of time alone to recharge.  He plays so well on his own.
4.  Very focused.  He does not see the big picture or what's going on around him.  If he is focused on a topic, you can't change it.  If he sees something he wants, he might walk into a window or tree or person because he is looking at just one thing.
5.  Very excited for kindergarten.  He cannot wait to be a big boy.   He's very social and academically I think he'll be just fine.  We have a countdown going.


1. Enjoys spending free time playing sports with the neighbour boys or whoever else will play.  Any sport will do.  
2. Is really into `American Ninja Warrior'.  He knows the competitors and stages well and often dreams of competing.   Do not be surprised if he breaks out into push ups at any time.
3. His favourite subject is math.  He is very good at it.  We do school books every other day and he almost always chooses to do math. 
4. Kai doesn't love time alone.  He loves to be with others.  Always.
5.  He will be eight years old this weekend! We will be having his `Amazing Race' party in a few weeks.  It's hard having parties in the summer, so few people can come.  By the way, he's only lost two lower teeth so far!

I cannot believe the energy that goes into raising these monkeys.  They exhaust me mentally and physically but they also make me laugh daily. I like seeing the world through their eyes.  

I hope you are having a good week!  We have two Korean students in our home for the next two weeks which adds a whole new dimension of interesting.  Kai and Koen are currently having a nerf gun fight with them in the basement and there's a lot of giggling going on.  Kai is soooo excited to have them here.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Weekend of Celebrations

On Saturday Gary and I photographed a great wedding of an old student of ours.  It was awesome and so fun to run into so many people that I haven't seen in so long. 

Today we skipped church and went to the Honeybee Centre first thing for their festival.  I'm glad we went right when it opened.  The kids could all play the games without waiting!  They won tickets which they could cash in for prizes (honey sticks, pencils etc).  It was a great event for our kids, aged 2-8.

We've explored the Honeybee Centre before so we didn't go to the shows or look around too much inside but we did enjoy that last time that we went.

They also had a bouncy castle which Nya is always a huge fan of.

And Mac's was there with free Froster's (slurpees).

Then, we had a caricature done of the kids.  I never usually indulge in these things (not free) but he was a very cool guy and I like his work!  

I totally see Kai and Koen but don't really recognize Nya's face.  

Then, we went out to Abbotsford for my niece, Grace's, first birthday.

Jack, above, is such a mini Kai.

The kids had a great time with the bouncy castle, bubble machine, wading pools and frisbee.

Grace wasn't so sure about the whole `Happy birthday' and cake thing at first but once she got a taste of it, she was much happier!

Our kids finally got to meet little Lucy.  She is 3 weeks old now.  When she was born, they had a cold so I don't want them around her.  Nya is so in love with her.  `I hold her' `I take her home, mommy'.

I miss the feeling of falling in love with your child.   However, I don't miss all the other stuff that goes with it.  We are VERY happy with our family of 5 and the fact that we all sleep through the night about 6 out of 7 nights a week.

It was a great weekend!  Now to get to all of those wedding photos and prepare for our two Korean students coming tomorrow.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Nehalem Bay State Park

Three years ago we went to Nehalem Bay State Park in Oregon and loved it. I blogged about it here and I love looking back to see how little Koen was.  This year we invited both of our families to join and two of my sisters (and their families) came as well as one of their friends.  Maria and Kris took their 4 girls, Jan and Doug came with their 2 kids and Maria and Kris's friends Ben and Julie came with their 3 kids.  We all had sites alongside each other which was great.

It's a long drive (8-9 hours) as it's about 1/2 hour south of Cannon Beach but it's worth it!  We did stay in Tacoma on our way down but then drove back in one day.  Oh how I wish it was closer.  Long road trips are tough when our kids are normally used to (and require!) a whole lot of physical activity.

The campground is right on that sandy beach.  Beautiful, right?

I remember last time wishing we had a photographer along.  I know Gary and I are both able but with very few hands free, it sure would be nice! 

Fortunately it was much warmer this time around!

Once again, the Junior Ranger program was a huge hit!  They do a really great job of it there.  

Gary bought this hammock at Costco before we left and it was great.  I think it was under $40 and I would recommend it for sure! 

We all got together for s'mores around the fire and then once the kids were all in bed the adults could hang out a bit.

The walk to the beach is just over a sand dune.  Beautiful, right?

One day we drove 20 minutes to Short Sand Beach.  We went to the caves and tide pools. It was good to visit another area nearby!

Maria, Kris and their 4 girls.  Georgie didn't want to touch the sand.  Made things a bit trickier being on the Oregon Coast :)

There were a lot of Sea Anenomes in the tide pools which was cool.  If you go to this beach (Short Sands) you definitely want to go at low tide.

Maria and Georgia. The Ergo's were great for carrying the littles over the dunes. Although, Nya climbed it on her own on the last day.  That girl has some willpower :)

Nya's `I cold' face.

Koen LOVED jumping in the waves.  Even though he was pulled under numerous times (we only allowed him to go up to his waist) he kept going back for more.

The campsite (B11) had a perfect amount of sun and shade.  We all slept in the tent again but this time we brought a heater which was key.  There is electrical hook up so we stayed nice and toasty warm at night.  Next time we will put the boys in a separate tent because getting Nya to sleep was a bit of an ordeal but I think we now have it down.  The boys may have gotten in a bit of trouble for waking her up on the last night when they went to bed.

Small friends Leah, Lisa and Lauren were road tripping down to California and ended up staying at Nehalam Bay one of the same nights as us!

One of the cool things about this campground is that it has an air strip.  You know what this means!  My dad flew in on the second day (just a 2.5 hour flight).  There is a paved 3km bike path that goes around the air strip and we did it several times.  So fun to have our bikes along this time.

Here's his aerial view of the campground.

And an aerial view of the coast.

Gary and I got to get away for 20 minutes to enjoy the sunset.  We took a few HDR photos (that's where you combine three photos-underexposed to overexposed and combine them). 

On Wednesday, the rain came.  This was unfortunate because we still had one more day there.  Our tent's vestibule, where we store all of our suitcases etc, was turning into a giant puddle.  I just didn't want to risk the kids tracking a ton of mud into the tent and spending the day all wet.  We decided to pack up a day early (so gross packing up wet stuff!) and head down to the Tillamook Cheese Factory before heading home.  The rest of the families were in tent trailers and a trailer so they were pretty nice and dry.  Gary and I are considering buying a small RV.  Considering....must convince a sister or two to buy in with us :)

Nya got to use her `new' rainsuit!

My dad slept in his plane.  He got rained in so had to stay an extra day.  His `bedroom' had such an amazing view!  The elk were just roaming around on the runway and I wish I had my zoom lens!  I'm hoping he got a few pictures.  The one right behind the plane was enormous.

It's a half hour drive to the Tillamook Cheese Factory and a great way to spend a wet day.

It was fun for the kids to see how cheese is made and also to sample a bunch!

We bought some pepporoni and cheese and then had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch before heading home.  Wow, I look as tired as I felt :)  (We had a wedding on Saturday night, got home at midnight, uploaded all the photos, got up early on Sunday, I culled and backed up photos and finally we were on our way around 1:30 pm.  So, it was a tiring start to our trip but I needed to make sure that we had all of our photos backed up in several locations just in case).

I don't know why we didn't get a group shot of us all (oh wait, maybe it was the 12 young kids amongst us as we were always off in different directions) but here are a bunch of us!

It was a long drive home and we didn't get home until 8:30 pm.  Thankful for safe travels, but man, road tripping is exhausting!

It was really fun to camp with family and I hope we can do it again (although possibly closer next time!).  I love Nehalem Bay State Park.  It's incredibly gorgeous, clean, affordable and there are NO MOSQUITOES!   If you've never been to the Oregon Coast before, I do highly recommend it.  It's breathtaking and so worth it.

Hope you had a great week!


PS Here is a short little video Gary put together (2 minutes) from our camping trip.