Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thankful Thursday : Nya Edition

This week I am writing my Thankful Thursday from the perspective of my 2.5 year old, Miss Nya.  I find that seeing the world through a toddler's eyes can bring me so much joy and thankfulness, too.  It has helped me to slow down.

Nya is thankful for:

1.  Sidewalk lines to jump over.

2.  Cuddles.

3. Yummy (healthy) food. She loves her smoothies and `ice cream' (frozen bananas, frozen blueberries and almond milk).

4. The splash that a rock makes when it lands in the water.

5.  Two brothers to giggle and play with.

6. A comfy bed to sleep in.

7. A mirror to make silly faces in.

8.  Dress up clothes.

9.  Four awesome day care friends/cousins to learn about sharing and caring with.

10. Slides to race Skye down

I have taken a lot of walks to the mailbox with my kids.  It's just one block away and yet every time it seems to take forever.  I have learned that if I just watch them, and not try to rush, there is so much joy to be had.  The leaves, bugs, sticks, sidewalk cracks, puddles, flowers, cars, clouds, siblings to race...they're all pretty neat things.

Have a great week and take some time to enjoy those simple things.


PS As always, please share what you are thankful for today! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

To My 12 Year Old Self

** I really did not like my life from the ages of 12-14. There were times that I was bullied and in turn I hurt others. Life is so hard at that age, you really don't need to hear from someone that you are fat or that you should do things you don't want to in order to maintain friendships. I'm so thankful that I did not have to deal with all the interactions that happen over social media at that age. Here's what I would say to my 12-year-old self.**

To my 12-year-old self,

You are now entering some of the hardest years of your life where it's going to be difficult to process your thoughts and feelings. Friends will hurt you and make you feel like you do not belong. You will feel ugly, frustrated, and angry. In turn, you will hurt those around you. I know you are questioning your beauty and worth.

Please know that you were made, as you are, for a reason.

Letter to my 12-year-old self

Take care of your body. Although you see your legs and arms as fat, I see them as powerful. This will come in handy so many times throughout your life. They will give you the strength and endurance you need for the adventures coming your way. Limiting what you are eating will not help your body or mind. You need those nutrients to fuel that amazing brain of yours and to help with all the new sports and activities you will come to enjoy. Think about what you are putting into it, you really don't want to become addicted to something that gives you short-term joy. It does not make you look cool and real friends won't make you try something you don't want to.

You are a beautiful person, inside and out, and your smile is one of my favourite things. Make sure you invest in your internal beauty; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. These characteristics far outweigh and outlast physical beauty. You have been given different gifts and abilities, and even if you can't see them yet, just wait, you will enjoy discovering them over all of the years to come.

Your family loves you very much.

Do not be afraid to open up to them as they are there for you and will support you through anything. They were teenagers once too, even if they seem so old and uncool right now. Don't try to get validation from the boys around you; you do not need their approval or desire. They are struggling too. Eventually you will recognize all that you have to offer, and consider all that you desire, in a relationship. Be patient.

I promise that things will get better. I promise.

You will find your place, gain confidence, and you will feel loved and known by yourself and others. You will become passionate about certain subjects and hobbies. These new loves will allow you to explore, wonder, grow and express yourself. There is so much more to you that you do not even know about yet. Pretty cool, right?

Please be loving and kind to everyone around you.

Think about your words and let them be supportive and encouraging. Tame that critical tongue. Putting someone else down will never make you, or anyone else, feel any better.  In fact, it will make you feel worse.

Life will not always be easy or fun, but it is such a gift and there is so much more for you to experience and enjoy. Try to focus on all that you do have, rather than what you do not. If you have trouble coming up with your strengths, ask your parents, and they can tell you.  They know you so well even if you think they just have no clue what it's like to be 12.

You can do it.  I know you can.  You can do it well.  Life gets way better.

Your 36-year-old self (who no longer cares about the size of her nose).

What is it like to be 12 years old and experience bullying and low self-esteem? These are the things I wish I could have told myself.

"Sometimes the most dangerous thing for kids is the silence that allows them to construct their own stories–stories that almost always cast them as alone and unworthy of love and belonging"–Brene Brown.

Ephesians 2:10: For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Living in a Digital World

Gary was asked what he loves about me and he said, `I love that she always tries to better herself and our family.'.  It's true.  I love to look for ways to help our family become healthier physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually.  Whether it's limiting sugar, exploring the world, or just working on our marriage, I want to know that we are doing life well.

The latest topic that I've delved into is that of the Internet and our family's usage.  I'm still in the midst of it but here are some thoughts:

1.  I want to use social media more efficiently.  I would love to be on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter less frequently but more purposefully.  If I want to have a photography business and a blog that people read, I do need to be involved with social media.  I attended a Social Media Mastery conference in Vancouver on Saturday and the main thing I took away were some new connections, knowledge on how to use certain platforms better, and just the recognition that I don't have the time/energy/desire to invest in certain areas of social media. Also, I learned that it is very hard for me to attend a conference in Vancouver when it's absolutely gorgeous outside. My Fitbit was not happy with me that day.

2.  I want to find balance and feel the #JOMO {Joy of Missing Out}.  I'm halfway through the book `The Joy of Missing Out' by Christina Crook and I find it very thought provoking.   The book talks about where we are digitally and how we got here (it's wild and scary).  It discusses how we spend our time and energy and encourages us to consider what we seek in life.  For me? Some things I seek are; peace, health, and meaningful interactions.  I look forward to the upcoming chapters on how to do this well.  I purposely only have 100 MB of data on my phone so that if I'm not on wifi, I cannot use my phone unless it's important.  I want my time with my family to be focused on them and I don't trust myself with unlimited data to do so.  One of the questions she asks is `What moves and sustains you?'.  For me, one thing is that I love outdoor adventure (with my family and my real camera) and I know I need more of this in my life.  It's where I feel most alive.

3.  I want to protect my kids and prepare them for the internet.  This is huge.  There are so many kids that are addicted to video games, pornography, and social media.  We can't keep it from them forever but we can put things in place to help protect, teach and guide them.  I need to have better conversations with them about what the internet is and how to use it responsibly. Self control.  Time management. Healthy connections. Security.  This week our church is putting on an Internet Safety Course; Protecting Your Family Online.  I'll be attending it.  It's free so if you're in the Surrey/Langley area on Thursday (7-9pm) come join me!

{Photo taken from You can sign up there.}

I'm curious on your thoughts of social media.  Do you love it?  Do you use it too much? Are you done with it? Do you have limits?  If so, what are they?  What do you think is most important for your kids to know?  Please share.  I love this to be a place where we can bounce ideas off of one another.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thankful Thursday

Every Thursday I take a few minutes to think of all that I am thankful for that week.  It helps to get my mind focused on all I do have, rather than what I do not.
This week I am thankful for:

1. Finding a butter dish second hand.  Being that we are not `rolling in the dough', I look for a lot of items second hand.  Gary has wanted a proper butter dish for about a year and I found one this past week.  Save money and the environment.  Now to find a men's XL Arcteryx jacket for hiking...I cannot spend $500+ on a new one!!

2. A free drying rack!  The lady I was picking up the butter dish from had a FREE antique drying rack.  I've been wanting one for about a year as well (yes, I know they are like $20 but again, saving $$). Made my day.

3 .  Flowers from my husband.  Although I am not a cut flowers kinda girl (I'm sad that they die), I do appreciate that he got them for me and that my house looks a little prettier because of them.   How's that L & L? ;) 

4. Beautiful sunsets.  

5. Warm weather.  The kids played outside for hours and even ate dinner at their picnic table.

6.  A deal on Kai's raincoat for next year.  MEC one for $8.99. Oh man, you can tell I love deals?!

7. Nya's health.  Well, I'm thankful for all of ours, but especially her respiratory wellness.  She has been cough free for one month! 

8.  Being able to donate blood! Your iron levels need to be 125 Hgb/L to donate and I was 129! Yay.  Gary and I both donated.  It feels so good to help out someone in need. I think it was my 15th donation....and yes, sisters, I'm sure you've all donated more than I have.  Please sign up here to donate!

9.  Getting called to work twice this week!  Yay.  It's been a slow month work wise (subbing) so I'm thankful for work this week and next. Phew.

10. A great childhood.  We just had our second looooooong interview for our Foster Parent Home Study and I realize more and more (as I answer every single question about my childhood and life) how grateful I am for an amazing home environment.  It was full of love, support, encouragement, structure, and exploration. 

{I'm on the bottom}

I hope that you are able to focus on some of the positives today.  As always, please feel free to share one or two things that you are thankful for.  I love reading them!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

When Your Child Says They Want To Die

*I am not a psychologist and my only experience with this is being a mom to my three kids*

I remember the very fist time my then five year old son said, "I wish I was dead."  Immediately my thoughts went to needing to get him professional help and how we would navigate through his depression.  I had never uttered these words so where did these thoughts come from?  I asked my child psychologist friend her opinion on it and she put me at ease.  Since then, both of my boys have said it several times, when in the five to six age range.

Two questions to ask yourself to discern the seriousness of it:

1.  When did they say these words?  If they say it at a calm reflective moment, like laying in bed talking about their day, this is a concern.  For my sons, it has happened when either something did not go their way or they felt bad for disappointing me.  It was more a "heat of the moment" type thing.

2.  How long did these feelings last?  For my boys, the next day they were totally back to their goofy selves.  If it lasts any longer, you may want to get professional help.

Trying to navigate their feelings is tough at this age.  They don't want to disappoint those they love and they don't know how to process when things aren't going their way.  It's good to recognize that they are upset and to acknowledge that sometimes life is hard.  Remind your child that you are always there for them and will love them unconditionally.  After that, gently move on.

You know your child best and if you are not sure how to navigate an area of parenting, please ask a professional.  Here are a couple resources in case you would like more information or someone to talk to about your child's mental health:

The F.O.R.C.E. Society
Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre


Monday, February 16, 2015

Photography Tip: Depth of Field & The Blurred Background

Don't you love a photo where all you can focus on is the subject? A great way to do this is to have bokeh in your photo. Bokeh is when you have an area in an image that is out of focus.

How do you take a photo where the background or part of the photo is blurred? 

How to get a blurry background in your photo which is also known as bokeh.

 An important word to know is APERTURE. It is the amount of light that is let through your lens and acts like the pupil of your eye. In low light, your pupil will become larger to allow more light in.  Our 50 mm lens is f/1.4. The lower the f number, the higher the aperture and larger the opening.    Most kit lenses that come with your camera are probably f/3.5-5.6.

I almost always shoot in Aperture Priority (AV mode on my camera). This means that I can control aperture and ISO.  I love shooting at higher apertures. Why? Not only can I shoot in lower light but the lower your f number, the less depth of field you have. This means that you focus on a smaller area and the background or area around the subject will be blurry.  

How to get a blurry background in your photo which is also known as bokeh.

Look at the ponies in comparison to the background. Lower f numbers create a shallow field of view.

A good rule of thumb is that the f number should be close to the number of people that you are photographing to get them all in focus.  

3 people=f/2.8 to f/4.0

How to get a blurry background in your photo which is also known as bokeh.

Also, the further the subject is from the background, the blurrier the background will be.

How to get a blurry background in your photo which is also known as bokeh.

I often like to capture wedding details at higher apertures to focus on just that object.  Here are some examples:

How to get a blurry background in your photo which is also known as bokeh.

How to get a blurry background in your photo which is also known as bokeh.

How to get a blurry background in your photo which is also known as bokeh.

How to get a blurry background in your photo which is also known as bokeh.
{Here the background AND foreground are blurred to focus on the bracelet}

If you would like to create a focal point in your photo by creating a shallow depth of field, get those f numbers as low as they can go and have your subject further from their background. If you have a Canon, aperture priority is called Av and for those with a Nikon it's A.

If you have any questions, ask away.


Pin here for later!

Simple tips on how to get a blurred background in your photos.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

How We Say `I Love You'

How do I hear `I love you' in our home?  Sometimes it's in words, but most of the time, it's in our actions.  This morning....

Gary painted the front door for me.

Kai helped Koen with his hockey sticker book.

Nya gave me numerous squishy hugs.

We had quality time with a family bike ride.

I sewed Hello Kitty's bow back on (which was met with the words, `I love you so much!').

Gary and Kai made gluten and dairy free waffles together so that Nya could enjoy them.

I hope you all have a great Valentine's Day.  I hope you see, feel, or hear an `I love you' today and every day.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thankful Thursday

Every week I post 10 things that I am thankful for.  It's so easy to get trapped in the `Oh I wish I had...' or `I wish_______was different'.  I find that by focusing on big and small things that I am thankful for really helps.  This week has been a little harder for some reason....finances a little tighter, Gary a bit busier, too many appointments and know.  Gotta stay focused on what we do have rather than what we don't.

This week, I am thankful for:

1. A new floor for our office.  I'm also thankful that Gary and his dad could install it themselves (save $$, learn skills, father and son time!).   Also, if anyone has any ideas...our office has no light in it so we need to use a lamp (installing a box in the middle of the ceiling would be a huge undertaking). Does anyone know of the perfectly beautiful yet major light producing lamp?

2.  Tuesdays and Thursdays.  These are the days that Koen and Nya are home together.  They used to be somewhat tortuous days but now they have really built a wonderful friendship and are getting along so well.  They are both on the goofy end of the spectrum and both have the love language of physical touch so they love to cuddle.  It's very sweet.

3.  My dad spending time with our kids.  He takes them out for coffee about once/month.  He does this with the grand kids that are potty trained and not yet in school.  My kids love going to Starbucks with Opi!

4.  The colourful addition that Nya is to our family.  Yes, the fact that she's a girl but she's a fierce one.  Serious likes and dislikes and opinions and...she's Miss Personality.

5.  Kai finally playing hockey.  I asked him to smile for this photo but he said, `I want to look like a real hockey player'.  He also asked if they would be able to `drop their gloves' in the league.  

6.  Pinterest.  Fun new recipes.  This tastes like a sort of chocolate fudge brownie but it's the healthy version.  Vegan and gluten free.  You have to like bananas to eat this. 

1 cup natural peanut butter (this does make it a tad pricey to make!)
1/3 cup of cocoa
1/4 cup of maple syrup (Next time I will try with no maple syrup to cut out more sugar as I try not to have any maple syrup or honey. Maybe a date instead?)
2 bananas

Put it all in a food processor.  Then, put in a mini muffin tins and bake at 350 C for about 12 minutes.

You can find me on Pinterest here

7.  A `good' break in.  Not sure if there's such a thing but thankfully it did not cost us a lot. One of us must have left the car unlocked and someone stole three things; gum, Gary's phone charger, and our insurance papers.  The insurance papers cost $18 to replace.  Thankful that they didn't break any locks or windows.  I have not worked in a whole month (yikes!!) so things are a tad bit tighter around here money wise.

8.  People who read this blog.  YOU.  Thank you.  It was just for family when I first wrote it but now I love that it's a little community.  I would love it to grow a bit more, but slow and steady works well for me.

{Pretend there's a picture of you here!}

9. A plan for Nya.  When she was in the midst of never ending asthma/colds/eczema, I took her to the naturopath and paid a whole bunch of money (oh man, like a lot) for a food intolerance test.  Our coverage is terrible for things like naturopaths/chiropractors/massage therapy but it had gotten to the point that I just didn't care, I just wanted to do something.  We got the results yesterday and her biggest intolerance's are; cow milk, wheat, gluten and potatoes.  You guys, this is pretty wild. Why?  I have been off these things for 6 months and feeling fantastic.  The one big exception is that I have just taken out cow milk but not all dairy products like yogurt and cheese.  This makes the plan for her for the next 6 months not seem so difficult.  The problem is that her greatest loves are cow milk and greek yogurt.  I made her a cashew milk smoothie this morning though and she loved it.  The goal is to take 6 months to repair her gut lining to boost her immunity.  

10.  No more headaches after running.  I don't know why, it could be that I replenish with a healthy smoothie afterwards, it could be that sugar is out of my diet, but now I no longer get the post run headache.  I had it for 6 years which really deterred me from running 5km or more.  

11.  Bonus one. Wedding clients continuing to book us.  We don't do any type of advertising (other than updating facebook and our blog) and yet, we still get the perfect amount of couples coming to us each year.  We met with another lovely couple last night and I really feel that it is God providing.  

As always, please share something that you are thankful for this week! And, if you have a favourite gluten, dairy and refined sugar free baking recipe, I'd love a link to it.