Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

Every week I include ten things that I am thankful for. This week is going to be a bit different, are you ready?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hiking Joffre Lakes

Have you wanted to hike Joffre Lakes? It's been on our list for a while and we finally had the chance to do it–the kids were at the grandparents and the sun was out! The drive to Joffre Lakes is about three hours from Surrey which is quite the commitment but there are many beautiful places to stop along the way (Shannon Falls, Brandywine Falls, Whistler etc.) 

Joffre Lakes Upper Lake
Upper Lake at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How to Teach Your Child to Self-Regulate

{I am not a psychologist and my experience with kids is being a mom (foster and bio), teacher, and someone who enjoys reading books and take classes to learn. I recently read the book Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life and wanted to summarize some of the helpful points in case you don't get around to reading it. My advice would always be to see a professional (counsellor, doctor, pediatrician, occupational therapist) if you are struggling with your child and think that there could be something more going on.}

The more I learn about how to deal with children's behaviour, the more I realize how little I know. Two of our children have a relatively easy time calming themselves but one does not. When I say "calm", I don't mean being quiet or still, I mean feeling tranquil and at peace inside. You can't tell someone to "calm down" and have them suddenly say to themselves "Ah yes, now I feel a deep inner peace". Also, when most parents want their kids to calm down they likely mean "please sit nicely and don't yell" but we want to look a step further. Dr. Stuart Shanker's book  Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life provides key information and insight into this topic of self-regulation.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Me-Time for Moms

Who needs "me time"? Everyone! Whether it's being consumed by work or family or both, a little time for yourself is just what we often need. Netflix surveyed moms and found the various reasons why they need their Netflix shows and I would say that I most agree with two of them: Get peace and quiet to decompress alone and take a break from daily routine. Gary's breaks usually involve games like Star Wars Commander or watching sports.

According the survey, 58% of moms are sneaking TV "me time" throughout the day in a variety of locations from laundry (that's me) to making dinner (sometimes me) to walking the dog (not me–we don't have one but I don't think I would do it while outdoors).

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday time, friends! I'm getting a bit tired of this routine so I wonder if there's a way to spice it up and keep it fun to write – ideas?  That said, this is what I am thankful for this week:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Vancouver Island Road Trip for Active Families

We live in a beautiful province and appreciate that by hopping in your car (and sometimes on a ferry) you can experience so many natural wonders that beautiful B.C. has to offer. Our ten day road trip on Vancouver Island included stops in Parksville, Strathcona Provincial Park, Tofino, Sooke and Victoria. Our goal was to explore family-friendly hikes and nature in a variety of forms.

Abaord BC Ferries with kids
Aboard beautiful BC Ferries

Being that our trip started on Canada Day weekend,
BC Ferries reservations were a must and so simple to do online about one month in advance. We took the Tsawwassen to Duke Point terminal and enjoyed some sun on the top deck and played cards inside. I love being able to walk around especially with our upcoming road trip. Our first stop was less than an hour from the ferry terminal in picturesque Parskville!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park

Our family recently had our first adventure in spelunking otherwise known as cave exploration–what a unique and incredible experience it is! Established in 1971, Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park is located 12 km off of Hwy 19 just north of Parksville. There are three caves that are open to the public and you are able to venture on your own for about 20 meters into each of those caves, just be prepared with headlamps and/or flashlights! The path is well labelled and I recommend stopping in at the information centre before heading out to see where the location of each cave is.

Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park

Thankful Thursday: Campground Edition

We are currently on a beauitful road trip adventure on Vancouver Island. This week's list of five thankful items comes from site #16 from Bella Pacifica Campground in Tofino. I am thankful for:

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Travelling with Netflix

For the past five days we have been on the go exploring Vancouver Island. Our kids have been spending hours playing at the beach, skimboarding, hiking new trails, and even spelunking! My Fitbit has us getting 15,000-25,0000 steps a day!  Here are some of our adventures from the past few days...

Beach at Tigh-Na-Mara
Searching for sea anenomes and sand dollars at Tigh-Na-Mara

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

What a week! Beyond the regular activities we also had two extra kids for five days which was fun but a bit busier than normal. This week I am thankful for:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

Anyone else feel like June is a busy month? We have sports wrapping up, school field trips and end of the year parties and so many birthday invitations! All that said, I now have time and energy to spare so I'm all good with it. This week I am thankful for:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What Do You Want Your Life to Look Like?

I am well aware of the fact that life is short. You might say I am pessimistic but I say realistic. My mom was a healthy and fit woman until she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 48 years of age and passed away at 53. I am turning 39 in just a few short months. If I were to live as long as her then I have less than 15 years left. I don't live my life as though I'm dying soon but I understand that it is a possibility as both of my parents have had cancer (with a heart attack thrown in there).  I want to live the life I have well; I don't want to just get through my days or wait for Gary to retire.

Reflecting on life

So if I have 15 years left, what do I want them to look like? 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer Activities on Grouse Mountain

Earlier this year we bought an annual pass to Grouse Mountain. Gary and I have had two snowshoeing dates and we also did the Peak of Christmas with the kids. Today we decided to head on up to celebrate Father's Day enjoying the "summer" activities. I say "summer" because it was still quite chilly!  What sort of activities can you enjoy at this time of year?

Grizzly Bear at Grouse Mountain

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Peace and Quiet at the Scandinave Spa in Whistler

We have had a few exhausting seasons in our family over the past year and so I knew that as soon as I had a free day I wanted to treat myself with a day of rest and relaxation. I had never been to the Scandinave Spa and heard wonderful things about it, besides, it is in Whistler which is one of my favourite places to visit! I had twelve hours to myself and this is what I did...

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

I spent the whole day in Whistler yesterday (yeehaw!) and then realized that today was Thursday so let's see what I can quickly whip up for a Thankful Thursday post alongside the obvious–Whistler getaway!

This week I am thankful for:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Parenting Tips Based on Birth Order

As the firstborn in a family of five girls, I've always been aware of how my role has shaped me into who I am today. There are many firstborn characteristics that I have because I had my parents sole attention for 18 months and then had to help with four younger sisters as they grew up. Words like: perfectionist, reliable, list maker, organized, driven, leader, critical, and unspontaneous match my personality well. I recently read The Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Lehman and learned how birth order can affect marriages and parenting as well.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Our 2017 Summer Road Trip Plans

Growing up we spent the majority of our summer on road trips. Over the years our family drove across Canada in our truck and camper (all the way to Newfoundland!) down to Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, Oregon Coast and did a lot of exploring on Vancouver Island as well. As a kid I didn't always love it (my mom almost sent me home on a bus from Ontario because of my attitude) but I am thankful for the opportunity to see as much as I did! 

Family photo with waterfall

Last summer we took a week to do the Lake and Circles Route in BC and I was in awe of all the beauty that is just a drive away. This summer we have the freedom to do two different road trips. I hope I won't regret this decision as that is a whole lot of family time in the minivan. Here is our plan:

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for:

Monday, June 05, 2017


Have you ever had a stage of fight or flight? I feel like I've been running on adrenaline, coffee and prayer for three months and now I can exhale and breathe. Along with the regular hustle and bustle of two boys in a busy ball hockey season (five nights a week between them), we added two extra kids to our crew as an emergency placement. As of this weekend, these two kids in care now have a long-term loving home (which was a daily prayer for us–so thankful) and we can get back to resting and recovering and preparing for summer.

What is my current plan for the next few weeks?

Reading in king size bed

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Every week I take 20 minutes to reflect on all I'm grateful for. Well, I do this throughout the week but intentionally here. Every time I think "Oh, this Thankful Thursday business is getting old, who even reads it?", someone sends me a message telling me what they appreciate about it so I will continue! I guess if no one reads it is still healthy for me to carry on with it.

This Thursday I am thankful for:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

My Hearing is Fine but My Listening Ears Are Tired

After a year of struggling to hear what my husband and kids were saying, I booked a hearing test–I realized this was necessary after I accused everyone of mumbling; could it actually be me with the problem? Upon finishing the hearing test, the clinician told me that my hearing was in the normal range and then our discussion turned into a counselling session of sorts.

Mom and kids on bridge

Sunday, May 28, 2017

When We Netflix

Remember the days of waiting until 4 PM for your show to come on and having just five channels to choose from? Times have changed! Now we can watch what we want when we want (well, if mom says it's okay!). So, here are all the times we Netflix; it's a verb, right? 

1. Hockey games. Nya, who just turned five, has to attend both of her brother's hockey games. I encourage her to pay attention and cheer until at least the half and then she is welcome to watch a show on the iPad. She loves Teen Titans on Netflix and if there is no Wifi, she watches episodes of Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig that we've downloaded from Netflix.

Surrey Minor Ball Hockey

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thankful Thursday

This week Gary left on his annual spring trip with his Outdoor Leadership class. Usually something happens while he is gone for four days–from the transmission going on the van to a breakout of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease to gastric bugs, we've had it all. This week he was leaving to kayak the Gulf Islands while I had all five kids and no relief workers. So, it could have been bad in many ways but I survived. This week I am thankful for:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Five Tips for Easier Mornings with the Kids

Mornings can be a tricky time for many families. Even though I only work out of the home one day a week, the other days are still wild trying to get two ready for school and preparing the other three for the day. Along with the transitional tips of giving warnings and having visual reminders (like a calender on the fridge) here are some practical ideas to get all of the kids out of the house while remaining somewhat calm. 

Five tips for easier mornings with the kids:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nya Turns Five

Today our youngest turned five years old. I often forget the journey of how Nya came to be and took some time to reflect on it today. After our second son Koen was born, I became very sick with Graves' Disease. It was brought on by a combination of factors but one of them being post partum hormones; after taking over a year to get into remission I knew I did not want to go through that again. When Koen turned one we started the process of adoption. We chose an agency close to home for a local adoption and went through the entire process (homestudy, education classes, applications, references etc) and waited for our profile to be looked at and chosen. After one year of being active on the list our agency shut down. At this point we decided to try for a biological child. I got pregnant immediately (which was suprising since it took a year for Koen) and we were so excited! However, I had a miscarriage which was difficult emotionally and physically. I knew I was not alone as there are so many women who have experienced them and was thankful to connect with several women when I needed it most. Just two months later we were pregnant again with this precious girl. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Hey friends! We've had a very busy and stressful few months but things are settling down a bit. There's a little less hockey this week and a little more attachment and connecting with the Littles which just helps everything in general. This week I am thankful for:

Monday, May 15, 2017

When Life Isn't How We Pictured It

When we are doing life, you know, going out for a walk or grocery shopping or playing sports, I often wrestle with the fact that our family isn't "normal".  There are extra difficulties that we have to deal with almost every single time–this means more preparation, bigger feelings...just greater energy required overall. Except, if we struggle and often appear normal, then so many other families must be in the same situation, right?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day After Miscarriage

Sharing our stories is a way to connect with others who may be on the same journey or to widen the perspectives of others willing to listen. I believe that story telling can only increase our ability to empathize. I would like to thank Shannon for reaching out to me in order to write a guest post on her very personal journey over the past year. Mother's Day can be difficult for so many reasons and this is hers...

Mother's Day is hard this year. Last year I was pregnant on Mother's Day (May 8, 2016) and today marks one year since my second confirmed miscarriage (May 14, 2016). What a sad, lonely, scary word miscarriage is. When I first said it to others I said it at barely a whisper. We tend to rarely speak of IT - like Voldemort for all my nerdy friends - we do not say IT for fear of IT happening. I've been told that women are scared for a lot of their pregnancy; the baby they carry is so precious and life as I am only too painfully aware can be so fleeting.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thankful Thursday

In case you are new here, life has been a bit stressful these days. We have three bio kids and have added two foster children as an emergency placement. What was supposed to be two weeks turned into a lot more and we're not sure when a long term home will be found although there is a chance it will be by the beginning of June. I'm hopeful a plan is in place soon because the unknown is hard for me as are the current needs in this family. I didn't want to write a "Thankful Thursday" because I am feeling far from thankful which tells me that I need to do this. Ha. So here is my reluctant post.

This week I am thankful for:

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

When All I Have is Not Enough {Foster Parenting}

{Each foster child placement is so unique and depends on a variety of factors such as their needs and history, your own family make-up, the social workers, the "plan" etc. Our last placement was tricky at first (in regards to sleep and anxiety) but then ended up being amazing and we are forever thankful for our Little One in our lives. This one is stretching us a little too uncomfortably. I share this to be real about the struggles and needs in being a foster parent.}

Brave is saying "yes" to taking in two kids when you have three already. Courage is saying "I need help." Wise is saying "I can't do this anymore, we need another plan. Now."

We are currently in a tricky spot as the needs in our home outweigh what we can manage and maintain. I feel like people may be thinking "Well, why did you say yes? Why would you foster if you can't do it? Maybe you're not meant for this?" – let me address it if you've ever thought that way about me or someone else.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Mixed Feelings on Mother's Day

When I was a kid, Mother's Day was exciting because we would make a card, hide it under our pillow, and deliver it to my mom with breakfast in bed–toast with jam, every year! One year I remember making a muffin at school and hiding it with great anticipation that she would just love it. It was simple, happy, and just easy.

Mother's Day Card

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Life After the ASD Diagnosis

April is Autism Awareness Month and I want to thank my guest poster Rachel Cornelsen for sharing an intimate part of her life–life after an autism diagnosis. She shared "Journey to the Autism Diagnosis" earlier this month and I am very appreciative of her contribution and vulnerability.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bill Nye Saves the World: Thoughts from Two Science Teachers

As I was perusing Netflix I realized there is a new series released called Bill Nye Saves the World. Being that my husband and I are both high school science teachers, we kind of had to watch it. I apologize to my past grade nine students for getting the introduction song stuck in their heads as he's a quirky guy but he does have a lot of important lessons to share in a visual manner. His newest series is directed towards adults and older students (recommended for ages 14+) and takes a more serious tone. He is opinionated and tackles issues like climate change, alternative medicine, vaccines and genetically modified organisms. 

Bill Nye Saves the World
Screen Shot of Bill Nye Saves the World

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day out with Thomas–The Friendship Tour 2017

Day out with Thomas
Any Thomas the Tank Engine fans out there? I've got just the experience for you! A Day out with Thomas – the Friendship Tour 2017 is at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish from Saturday May 20th until Monday May 22nd, 2017.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Perfect Planter

Perfect Planter

Did you know that April 22nd is Earth Day? Although we are great at gardening, composting and recycling, we haven't put much time or effort into plants in our home. Adding greenery is such a simple, affordable, and lovely way to spruce things up! Looking at I found this beautiful Maize Pitcher by Birch Lane and thought it would be perfect as a centerpiece for our new harvest table.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Simple Calming Indoor Activities for Busy Toddlers

Are you looking for activities for your kids that are incredibly simple with very little parental involvement needed? I have two toddlers that have a lot of energy and short attention spans as well as a preschooler that is able to sit calmly and enjoy a good craft. We were stuck indoors on a rainy day and needed some quiet and calm activities as one of the kids wasn't feeling well (and tends to get out of control quite easily). Another priority was independent play as sometimes the fewer interactions between kids, the better. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Oh boy. So, this week was better but the flu hit one of the Littles which was one of the worst things that could happen at this time. That might sound dramatic but when you utilize all your energy during the day and don't have any time at night to recoup, it's hard. Add in that you are still bonding with this child who is looking to you to make them feel better, it's not ideal. Praying it does not spread as I have no excess energy left for anything. This week I am thankful for:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dear Foster Parent in Your First Week

Tips for foster parents

Dear foster parent in your first week,

Exhale. You did it! You probably have very limited time to read this so I will keep it brief.  Over the past two years we have welcomed three young children into our home and each child was unique in their response and needs. I want to share some ideas on what to do but first I want to encourage you.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Thankful Thursday

I'm starting to write this on Monday because it will probably take me all week to get to all ten! We added two more little kids to our home last week at the start of hockey season for the boys so it's been...busy. This is what I am thankful for this week:

Monday, April 03, 2017

Our Eight Day Eastern Caribbean Cruise with Kids

For our first cruise we chose to do an eight night Eastern Caribbean cruise which we booked through a travel agent. Gary and I have never been to the Caribbean and if we were going to fly all the way to Florida, we might as well make it worth our time by doing a longer one! We chose Carnival Cruise Line due to the affordability and the family-friendly nature aboard the Carnival Sunshine.

Family photo in Grand Turk with Carnival Cruise
Family in Grand Turk

Here was our itinerary:

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Journey to the Autism Diagnosis

April is Autism Awareness Month and I want to thank my guest poster Rachel Cornelsen for sharing an intimate part of her life–the journey to an autism diagnosis. She will be sharing "Life After the Diagnosis" later this month and I am very appreciative of her contribution and vulnerability.

I always had this “gut feeling” that there was something different about our E (nickname), but I could never put my finger on it until shortly after his third birthday. He would wear toques all the time and would only wear cotton skin tight pajamas unless we were somehow able to convince him to get dressed. He was quite particular about his food, eating Campbell’s tomato soup for at least 2/3 of his daily meals and otherwise consuming mostly foods with smooth or soft textures  such as cream of wheat, oatmeal, smooth smoothies, alphaghetties, and scrambled eggs.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Taking Care of Me

Apparently it takes me multiple experiences to learn the same lesson: I need to take care of myself first.  I've been inching my way in the right direction for a while now but it's time to get even more focused. We all know that self-care is important but sometimes we trick ourselves into what that looks like or that we'll get to it "soon".  Maybe I'm conceited and prideful thinking I can do it all–I need a good dose of humble pie, over and over.

Being part of various communities from fostering to special needs to faith to work, there is a lot of pressure to do all you can to help those you love. You feel like you are doing a lot and then see that someone else is fostering three kids and you just have one. Someone else has more difficult struggles in parenting.  Someone else is helping out at Sunday School every week AND organizes a meal train AND leads a Bible Study. Someone else is working full time and their kids are still in activities. What? How can I keep up? Where is the line between being there for others and being the best that YOU can be? I know that comparison is the thief of joy but I do truly wonder how others do what they do. I know I need to reevaluate what works for our family frequently as our needs are constantly changing. I need to stop comparing what I can or cannot do.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fifteen Tips for First Time Cruisers

Gary and I never envisioned cruising as middle-aged adults as we anticipated trying it out once the kids moved out. However, various friends of ours went cruising with their kids and after looking into it we realized that there were family-friendly cruises that were affordable for our family of five.

Tips For Cruising with Kids
Grand Turk Beach

Using a travel agent we booked an 8-night Easter Caribbean cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines.  Our decision was made based on affordability, family-friendliness, the number of ports and their locations, and finally the dates–you can read about our trip here. Being that we had never travelled this way before we had a lot of questions. We asked friends and read online as much as we could and here are some pieces of advice I would offer you:

Fifteen Tips for First Time Cruisers

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Five Netflix Shows to Watch About Fostering

Being a foster parent, it's difficult to share about our journey. First off, we're not allowed to share details as it involves children in care. Secondly, we want others to consider becoming a foster family but want it to be clear that it's difficult yet so worth it. One of the ways I like to connect to pieces of our life is by watching documentaries, movies or series that can relate to what we are going through.

What are Netflix movies or series that relate to fostering?

1. The Fosters. I watched the entire series and thought it gave a great peek into fostering.  This show is also why I now call my kids "Love".

Monday, March 13, 2017

Friendship In Real Life: Food for the Soul

Friendship is an area of my life that has changed so much over the years. Understandably, my needs have changed; from needing a partner for skipping rope to someone to talk to about homework questions and boys to someone to go out dancing with to now really having the desire to be heard and challenged, the roles were all different. It does seem that these relationships were much easier ten years ago and whether I can attribute that to the rise of social media, my marriage, having three children, I'm not sure, but it takes a lot more effort now. My soul craves deep friendship. Yes, I have my husband and we work on a playful friendship as an important ingredient in our marriage but often life is heavy and we aren't feeling so...friendly. I crave female companionship with a larger dose of empathy and compassion. I have been blessed with wonderful friendships but I do need to be more intentional about fostering them.