Friday, May 29, 2015

What Fills Your Bucket?

Recently I read `Stop the Energy Drain'  over at Sarah on Purpose.  She talks about our energy being like a bucket.  We need to think of how to fill that bucket and how to prevent the bucket from leaking.

What do I need to feel energized?  What fills my bucket?

1. Exercise.  I need to try and get about 10,000 steps in a day.  A walk or run each day is so important because we are in wedding season and I sit at a computer for hours a day editing.

2. Sleep.  I require 8 hours a night.  11 pm to 7 am.

3. Down time.  I love an hour a day to read a book.  If that's not possible, I appreciate half an hour to sit down and drink a coffee.

{This isn't the book I'd normally chose to read but this week I read a book about grammar in hopes of making this blog more reader friendly.  Not sure it helped--there are too many rules and I like exclamation marks! And commas! And the word `so'. }

4. Shared time with Gary.  Usually this is side by side on the couch watching Netflix after talking about the day.

5. Time away from my kids.  Whether that's reading in my room or going for a walk with a friend, I need a break.  Grocery shopping alone sometimes has to suffice.

{I recently had dinner with my sisters and dad.  That was rejuvenating.}

6.  Making healthy eating choices.  It does so much for me mentally and physically.  I love that summer is almost here; so many local fruits and vegetables available!

What is zapping my energy? What holes can I fill?

1.  Kid's activities.  Having the boys in an activity that was 2-4 nights a week each has been too much.  We are taking a break from karate for Koen.  Kai's hockey will be done in a couple of weeks.  This summer I will put them in swimming lessons for one week and all at the same time if possible.

2. Time commitment to various jobs.  I do a lot of odd jobs to bring in an income; daycare, substitute teaching, wedding photography, and blogging (okay, blogging doesn't bring in much of an income but maybe one day it will.)    We love wedding photography but are going to be cutting back drastically for 2016 as it is likely that we will be adding a child to our family through fostering.  Just a few years ago we were doing 22 weddings a year, and next year, maybe just the 2 we have booked so far!  I'm so thankful for the friendships I've made and maintained through photography and I hope that continues.

Shawna, another self-professed nerdy mom blogger, shared a post  `Choosing Simple'.  The main thing that resonated with me was; "Our yes costs something--when we say yes to one thing, we say no to another thing".  Right?!

I would encourage you to look at what you need to fill your bucket and what is draining you.  What should you be saying yes to?  What might you need to say no to?  (My grammar book said using italics meant I was a lazy writer--too bad.)

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend.


PS  I'm so thankful that you read this blog.  Seriously.  A year ago I started shifting the focus of Talk Nerdy To Me a bit.  The boys are getting older and I don't feel as comfortable sharing as much about their lives anymore.  Reviews of our vacations or family activities are fantastic but blogging about their struggles and thoughts is a bit tricky.  I'm thankful that you are following along and that you care about what I have to say (and that you are fine with my comma splices and overuse of parentheses.)  I had a goal two months ago in regards to how many people I hoped would read Talk Nerdy To Me and I have surpassed it (and it continues to rise.)  Thank you. High five.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thankful Thursday: Wedding Anniversary Edition

Today is our 10 year wedding anniversary.  I'm going to try to pick at least one thing from each year that I am thankful for in our marriage.

Year 1 (2005-2006): 
Thankful for a common faith foundation as we dealt with the death of my mom.
Thankful that Gary gave the `okay' to buy a house when we did; prices went up drastically after that.
Thankful that we were able to get pregnant with Kai Bear quite easily.

Year 2 (2006-2007):
Thankful that Gary was able to get Kai to fall asleep when I couldn't.
Thankful that Kai started sleeping through the night at 6 months; we had no idea how good we had it.

Year 3 (2007-2008): 
Thankful that we were able to travel through Mexico with our wonderfully Nerdy friends.
Thankful that Gary was very patient and understanding as I tried to chart our way to getting pregnant again.  
Thankful that after one year we got pregnant.
Thankful that I decided to take a risk and support his decision to start a photography business on the side.

{We went to `tell' oma that Kai was finally going to be a big brother.}

Year 4 (2008-2009):
Thankful for Gary's hands-on approach to parenting as we welcomed baby boy #2; Koen.
Thankful for his encouragement for me to continue playing football.

Year 5 (2009-2010):
Thankful that Gary was always up for a road trip.  This was our first one to Lethbridge, Alberta.
Thankful that he was so unbelievably helpful and supportive when I was diagnosed with Graves' Disease.  Gary would say that this was the hardest time in our marriage from his perspective. I was very sick.
Thankful that we were able to work together to come to the decision that health-wise I could not return to teaching.


Year 6 (2010-2011):
Thankful that Gary was on board with adopting child #3 as we went through the entire adoption process and waited a year for him/her.
Thankful that we could enjoy a family trip to Drumheller.

Year 7 (2011-2012)
Thankful that we were okay with shifting gears when we were not chosen for a local adoption.
Thankful that after an early miscarriage, we got pregnant with Nya Bear (and I was pregnant at the same time as my sisters).
Thankful for a wonderful family vacation to Oregon.

Year 8 (2012-2013)
Thankful for Gary's continuing help so much in the kid department.  He made meals, changed
diapers, and helped baby Nya get to sleep. He also kept the big brothers busy.
Thankful that he was kept safe when he got hit by a car while on a biking trip.
Thankful for being on the same page in regards to going to Ucluelet every single year for Spring Break.

Year 9 (2013-2014)
Thankful that we started the process of becoming foster parents.
Thankful that Gary supported my decisions for work which involved starting to substitute teach, stepping back from family/newborn photography and just doing limited weddings, and finally, trying to put a little more into this whole blogging thing.
Thankful that when I said `I think we should go to the Philippines', he said `Let's go!'.

Year 10 (2014-2015)
Thankful that we invested more time and energy into our marriage.
Thankful for a 4 day getaway to Las Vegas.
Thankful that we were both healthy on the plane ride home from Walt Disney World as they kids weren't and I couldn't have done it without him--the trip was amazing too ;)
Thankful for a wonderful 10 years of  marriage so far.

Phew. There are so many things to be thankful for and I just touched on a few.  Looking forward to seeing what the next 10 years bring!


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Becoming A Foster Parent

Sixteen months ago we started the process to become foster parents.  Over those months, I've answered some questions, shared about the training process and home study, and felt encouraged that we can do this.  And now?  We are officially approved!

I don't know when we will be matched with a child; it could be anywhere from one week to several months.   What do I know?  I know that it will be hard.  I know that we will have to shift priorities.  I know that I will feel challenged.  Most importantly, I know that we have a love-filled home to share with someone who needs it and we're not doing it alone.  

I will be sharing what I can because I know that we can all learn from each other.  It sounds dorky but that's truly how I feel.  Whether it prompts you to start the process yourself, or just provide you with a little insight into the foster system, I hope it will be beneficial.

How do I feel? I'm most nervous about the timing as child care is usually the trickiest thing to manage in `regular life'.  We have a very busy June and July so I really hope that it works out that way.  It would not be ideal for the child to come just as we were heading into a wedding weekend or our one family holiday.  We would love to take him or her with us to Vancouver Island but it depends on timing (how long he or she had been with us) and also the approval of the social worker and parent(s).   We can always say `no' but in my heart I truly believe that the timing will work out.  Our August is purposely wide open for the first time...ever.  Usually it is filled up a year in advance (with wedding photography) but we felt that we should leave it free.

His or her room is ready to be personalized.  We also have bunk beds and crib just in case.  I can't wait to meet the little one that will be using this room.

I'll keep you posted.  Thank you for reading and caring!


Monday, May 25, 2015

10 Ways To Improve Your Marriage

As a wedding photographer, I see the time, energy, and money invested into a wedding.Yes, it truly can be the happiest day of your life, but what about the "from this day forward" part? How much effort is invested into the marriage itself? It's easy to slip into a relationship where you just co-exist. What about living in a marriage where you are having fun and enjoy being together?

It's easy to slip into a roommate type situation in marriage. Here are ten simple ways to improve your marriage.

As we approach our 10th wedding anniversary, I took some time to look back at the nuggets of wisdom I've gained and here are some things that I wish I understood going in:

1. Respect.  
Thank him for the work he does each day. Trust his decisions. He has been driving for years just fine before you were in the picture and your "tips" are not actually that helpful. What he is probably hearing from you is that he's not a good driver and you don't trust him.  Did he get some paint on the ceiling when he painted that bathroom? Don't point it out as I'm pretty sure that he knows it's there. Instead, just thank him for his hard work. Finally, always speak positively of your spouse in public.

2. Watch your tongue.  
Make your home a safe place where he wants to be and where he can be himself.  Over time he may become more comfortable sharing his insecurities and these are things that you should never use to hurt him. This is a hard one for me as I tend to speak before thinking about what I really want to say, especially in a heated moment. James 3:4-5 has a great analogy of our tongues being small but having the power to steer a conversation and relationship like a rudder on a ship.

3. Realize that he's not your girlfriend.  
I love saying "Guess how much I paid for this!" or "What do you think of this dress?". Gary's not into that game and won't share that excitement. He isn't sure how to answer the question about the dress other than saying "It looks great." You can let him know what you'd like to hear but I wouldn't count on him gushing like a girlfriend might. Also, he will usually try to solve a problem when all you want is to be heard with a sympathetic ear. Let him know you would just like him to listen if it's going to frustrate you.

4. Make him feel wanted.  
Let him know you think he's handsome. Reach out to initiate hugs and kisses and...whatever else. Let your partner know what you need, like, and hope for. Husbands–make sure you tell your wives that they are beautiful, too!

5. Put him before the kids (and/or work).
This can be hard, especially when the kids are young and just need us so much. Wouldn't you rather approach parenting as a strong, happy unit? Wouldn't you love to enjoy time with your spouse each evening once those little monkeys are in bed? One day they will move out and we will be left with our spouse. It is so healthy for kids to see this marriage relationship being a priority.

Ten simple ways to improve your marriage

6.  Be intentional.
Our 8th year of marriage was our hardest.  We were tired from having three young kids and were busy with work. We survived in a business type mode and there was not a lot of fun. Although we were working well as a team, we weren't connecting and enjoying each other's company. Make the effort. Even if the other person doesn't want to, just start and you will see results. Read books. Attend marriage classes or counselling. You can't change them but you can change yourself. When things are going well, don't stop putting in effort! You wouldn't quit working out once you were at the fitness level you were hoping to achieve so don't do that with your marriage either.

7. Focus on the positives.
If you see a wet towel on the bed and dirty clothes on the floor, don't let your mind start going to all the ways your spouse has let you down. Instead, focus on what he does do. He works hard. He takes care of the kids. He makes dinner a couple of times a week. He takes out the garbage. Whatever it is, focus on those positive things. Turn those negatives around. For example, if you're frustrated that he's a procrastinator, appreciate that he's laid back. This doesn't mean you don't need to mention the wet towel, just be aware of how often you bring it up and the tone of your voice.

8. Spend time together talking, sharing activities and in bed. 
Usually an investment in the first two leads to the third. Have fun together. Pray together. Share together. Figure out what activities you enjoy doing together and do them. Going into our marriage I thought we would always have ample time to hang out together and I didn't think about how life (kids) would affect that. We enjoy hiking as a couple and realized early on that playing tennis together was not an ideal activity.

Ten simple ways to improve your marriage

9. Fight fair.  
Try not to use the words "always" and "never" or "remember when".  If possible, enter the discussion calmly. If you feel like you are going to be unable to discuss something respectfully, I would encourage taking a few minutes to calm down. There may have been an incident where I threw a bag of potatoes across the kitchen. You don't want to say something you will regret. Don't be stubborn as it's not worth it to try and win. There is no winning. Try to work towards compromise and a solution. Working through a problem towards a solution is so much more satisfying. Here is some wonderful insight we gained on how and why we argue that we worked through at a marriage workshop: What our Arguments are Really About.

10.  Recognize that we see things differently.
When I come into the house, I see shoes in the hallway, dirty dishes on the counter, and a laundry basket at the bottom of the stairs. What does my husband see?  Not those things. Sometimes they really don't see what needs to get done and it's not that they expect you to do it, they just need it pointed out gently. Other times, it's just not high on their priority list. Often I just ask for those items on the To Do list to be done by a certain date or time. Believe me when I say that it's not worth it to leave an item out to see how long it will take to get cleaned up.

Ten simple ways to improve your marriage

Please make sure you put the effort in even if the other person doesn't see the need.

Check in with each other to see where you feel your marriage is at.  We give our marriage a grade by using a percentage to get an idea of how each person is feeling (86% for me and 88% for Gary right now).  And finally, just to make things a bit easier; Whoever gets out of bed last is responsible for making the bed.

What advice would you give?


Please pin here for later:
Ten simple ways to improve your marriage

PS I asked Gary for a Bonus Tip from his perspective: Husbands, try to look nice before leaving the house.  Your wife feels it's a reflection on her in regards to how you are dressed.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Surrey International Children's Festival

On Thursday morning, I took Koen and Nya to the Surrey International Children's Festival which was taking place at Bear Creek Park from May 21-23.  We booked tickets to see The Street Circus bright and early at 9:15 am.    

While in line we were able to see the RCMP helicopter land.  It's actually much smaller than I thought it would be!

The show quickly filled up with students and we had seats in the front row.

It was the perfect show for a 6 year old boy and (almost) 3 year old girl.  It's a husband wife duo with a circus school and figure skating background.

After the 45 minute show, we spent about an hour going to some of the different stations that they had set up.  We made clay figurines at Port of Vancouver's tent.

Nya spent a lot of time painting while Koen just played with the toys available.

There were other stations like a giant sandbox, colouring, storytelling, a maze made of boxes, and musical stations.  The kids really enjoyed playing the xylophones.

I'm not really an arts and craft type person but the kids enjoyed it!  I'm really glad we saw The Street Circus as that was a highlight for sure.  The Vancouver International Children's Festival is next from May 25-31.

I hope that you are having a good weekend!