Saturday, December 31, 2016

Rest Is for the Strong

What is my hope for 2017? Rest for my body and mind. This past year was hard for me with struggles in parenting (the monotony and busyness having four kids, special needs, fostering etc.) and by September my body shut down. At that point it's not like you get ample sleep and you're back to normal, it took a couple months of purposeful rest, vitamins and fish oils, exercise, counselling and intentionality with my time to get back on track. I've had hard years and months before but when you have others to care for, recovery is different; there's less energy for yourself, but at the same time, there's more people to get healthy for.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Thank You, Oma

My oma passed away yesterday.  We knew it was coming and I'm thankful she is rejoicing in heaven–she made a great entrance, I'm sure.  After losing my mom at the young age of 53, there is something "right" about loss in old age; it's sad but it makes sense and is expected.  There are so many characteristics about oma that I appreciate and I see some of them in my own daughter. Oma loved to chat; she would grab my arm throughout our conversations as she needed that physical connection.  She was animated and I always felt like we had a private inside joke going on with her winks and smiles.  She had wonderful dutch terms of endearment that she used for us frequently like lievy (dear) and every conversation was full of "Ja ja" and "Niet niet" (yes and no). 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top Nine Activities When in Disneyland

Have you thought about going to Disneyland? Does it seem overwhelming? Are you wondering what the "must do" items are?  I have written My Ten Tips For Your Disneyland Trip which includes ideas for saving money, considering the age and height of your kids, and how to have the shortest wait times.  This is all about our favourite things to do in Disneyland!  I took the feedback from the whole family and compiled this list.  

Top Nine Activities When in Disneyland:

1.  Explore Cars Land.  This entire area of Disney California Adventure Park exceeded my expectations and was a highlight. I could not believe the size and detail that went into it.  There are several smaller rides for younger kids (Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters) that we all enjoyed and then the best one: Radiator Springs Racers.  

Cars Land in California Adventure Park

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

As we're just wrapping up Christmas over here, I feel very happy with how it all went.  We had just returned from our Disneyland Trip so I was worried it would feel stressful but it wasn't at all.  The kids were all healthy (possibly a first) and we weren't hosting (the benefits of having one of the smallest homes) so it was easy to attend two family functions alongside our own celebration.  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Ten Tips For Your Disneyland Trip

We recently had a fantastic family holiday at Disneyland. This is a trip that was more for the kids than ourselves but Gary and I still had a lot of fun. There is something so wonderful about seeing their faces light up over every ride and character and parade–it is magical.  I also have to admit that Cars Land widely exceeded my expectations in regards to it's size (12 acres) and detail; I felt like I was in the movie! The costumes and talent in Frozen were remarkable.  I have also shared about our trip on the Top Nine Activities but for now I wanted to share some tips in case you are considering a Disneyland trip.

Tips for your Disneyland trip

Here are ten things to consider when going to Disneyland:

Friday, December 16, 2016

What We're Watching on Netflix

We have a family movie night on Fridays (along with pizza!) but Gary and I enjoy a good documentary or comedy series once the kids are in bed.  We cuddle up on the couch with the Christmas tree lights in the background and a warm beverage in hand (well, Gary actually drinks water...boring but healthy).  This is what we have been watching on Netflix this past month and I'd love to hear what you are into.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Surprising the Kids with a Disneyland Trip!

I have kept a huge secret from my kids for the past month and today was finally the day that we would share the good news with them!  Every year we have an advent calendar in December filled with special family-related activities and this one was quite the memorable one as they were about to find out what their Christmas present was...

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Thankful Thursday

As I said last week, having an "attitude of grattitude" can reduce your cortisol levels.  Besides, who likes hanging out with a complainer pants? This week I am thankful for:

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Gift of Love: Foster Parenting at Christmas

Last night we placed the ornaments on our tree. As the kids oohed and aahed over their special pieces, we found the little owl. On the back is our Little One's name with the year 2015. A second Christmas with us. We never expected such a long stay as the tentative return date was a year ago. Among the many lessons that come from being a foster parent, I have realized that plans rarely go as expected. I am learning to be okay with this and my Type A self tries to "Let It Go". A little. It's difficult to prepare your kids' hearts (and your own) for what's to come if you don't know what is actually coming and when. For now, we are all excited to place extra presents under the tree for our Little One to open on Christmas morning. Our kids have all asked to go to the store to spend their own money on gifts for their littlest sibling – true love, friends.

Being a foster parent at Christmas

Friday, December 02, 2016

Choosing Joy When Life Is Hard

When I look back to 15 years ago, I see a girl who got so excited over the smallest things while enjoying huge belly laughs – I was so joyful. Life was pretty simple in the sense that nothing really bad had happened and most of the things that I had worked towards had been successful...other than finding a husband. Over time, the reality of life hit when my mom received a cancer diagnosis, my dad had a heart attack, and my mom passed away while I was six months pregnant. I now saw that life was fragile and unpredictable. I experienced disappointment and bitterness.

Choosing joy when life is hard

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Thankful Thursday

This week in church our pastor talked about this study in the Globe and Mail called How Complaining Rewires Your Brain for Negativity. To summarize: complaining is unhealthy for you and impairs your hippocampus (problem solving), it releases cortisol (stress hormone) and when you spend time with a  complainer it is almost just as bad.  One way to combat this is to have an attitude of gratitude as it reduces cortisol levels by 23%.

I could really use a reduction in cortisol levels so with that said, here are then things that I am thankful for this week: