Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

You never know what a week will bring and this one is bringing us a new child. The plan is for her to join our home tomorrow so this will be brief. With three months of doing relief in foster care which was so needed, we have said "yes" to a short term placement so we'll see how it goes. In the meantime I better read up on my tips for the first week of fostering again! This week I am thankful for:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How to Make Your Child's Birthday Extra Special with Netflix

I remember when I was younger calling the news station to ask them to wish my mom a happy birthday. They would often announce special birthdays at the end of the newscast and although hers wasn't a special one (100th or above!) it was such a delight to hear it announced on TV. Over the years we have also submitted photos to our local TV station for our own kids as they would do birthday announcements with the addition of a photo. Now alongside your annual tradition of the birthday bumps (do you do them? Our kids LOVE it) you can get your kid's favourite characters singing to them for their birthday using Netflix...

Netflix Happy Birthday

Friday, September 15, 2017

Flying in the Fraser Valley

Today was a special day for Nya as it was her first flight with my dad! It was very last minute so I wasn't sure how she would feel when I picked her up from school and told her we were going flying. She was so excited! It may have had something to do with the fact that I said we were going to a fancy restaurant and she asked if she could use her fancy voice. Yes, she could use her fancy voice.
We met my dad at the Langley airport and off we went!

Flying in the Cessna 172

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Hey team! Along with the fresh start that September brings, I have this sense of blah. There's some small problems in our home this week. Our new flooring isn't doing what it's supposed to (lay flat) so we've followed up with the manufacturer. Our hot water tank stopped working on Tuesday night so we had to throw a whole bunch of money towards a new one last night. Not a super exciting purchase as it's hidden away in a closet in the basement. Then there's the bigger issues that we are hearing about each day. The hurricanes that have hit the south are just heart-breaking. Every place we visited in March (Puerto Rico, Florida, St. Kitts, St. Martin, Grand Turk) has been greatly affected. Waterton Lakes National Park, which we visited in August, is experiencing a major wildfire which has caused so much destruction and loss. I can't even think of all the animals there.

So, in order to take a moment to focus on the positives, here are ten things I am thankful for today:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Simplifying, Decluttering and Organizing Your Life

Anyone else in cleaning mode and looking to simplify, declutter and organize? I've summarized some great tips on these topics that I've shared over the years and I hope you find it helpful! Without further ado, here are some great techniques for making life easier, just click on titles:

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Simple and Delicious Tomato Salad

Are you wanting a simple and nutritious salad for dinner tonight? Maybe you have an event you're going to and you need to bring a fruit or vegetable dish. If you were you coming here for exact measurements, I apologize, but salads are flexible. You like cheese, go wild. You like balsamic vinegar the most, have fun! This is a versatile salad and such a crowd-pleaser using just six ingredients.

Tomato and cheese Salad

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Thankful Thursday

I'm pretty sure that we just had the best summer holidays of our life. It wasn't "fancy" or expensive, it was two road trips with our family of five. We are in a big transition week as the kids are headed back to school and Nya is going for her first time! This means that I am having to figure out what life will look like–maybe not all that different as she's part-time and I'll just continue working one day a week. 

Every week I write ten things that I am thankful for. This week I am grateful for:

Monday, September 04, 2017

The End of Summer and Pondering What is Ahead

We had a beautiful day at the beach today and it was just what we needed. This summer we returned to being a family of five, had two big road trips, adjusted to being home again and then finished with renovations. It feels so good to be back to normal, well, until we start transitioning back to school tomorrow. I feel like Gary and I are in a mid-life crisis of sorts completely connected to fostering; it's this huge inner struggle between doing what we know can to make a difference in the lives of others and at the same time recognizing that we need to weigh the effect of that on our mental/emotional/physical health and well-being. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Three Delicious Recipes for the Lunch Box

I recently bought bento boxes for the kids' lunches in order to first prevent waste from individual packaging and lost lids and then save time from trying to find lids and then having to wash individual containers. Another thought going into lunch making is that I want healthy food options for them each day. Well, this has always been my intention but sometimes when life gets busy, pre-packaged foods get thrown hastily into a bag. A recent visit to the naturopath has reaffirmed that we need to be more intentional about things like preservatives and food dyes. 

Here are three recipes that I tried this week that I thought were major hits:

Bento Box Lunch Ideas

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

Each week I take some time to write about ten things that I am thankful for as it helps me to stay in a positive head space. So, here we go.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Five Things to Talk With Your Child About Before Kindergarten

My youngest is going to kindergarten in less than a week. You would think I would be emotional, especially being the highly sensitive person that I am, but somehow seeing her brothers go through it and embrace various aspects of school, I'm excited for her. Now I know that the back-to-school outfits, supplies and haircuts are important but here is one other area that I would recommend working on a week in advance too: Preparing them emotionally for the transition.

Back to school conversations

What else would you add to this list? Hope back-to-school goes well for you!


Monday, August 28, 2017

Healthy Living Challenge: Being Present in the Busyness

Welcome to our first Monday Morning's Healthy Living Challenge (and Encouragement). As I reread that sentence I realize it sounds a bit like "Let's all do yoga and eat salad together, friends!" No, yoga is great and I like a good salad (avocado is everything) but this is not a healthy workout plan. This is more like "Hey, my life is messy, is yours? Awesome. Let's look at that". I think I may need to rework what it's called. One reason I write here is because I enjoy sharing what I have learned in my conversations and reading. The older I get the more concerned I am with health; this includes areas such as mental health and self-care to nutrition to our kids' emotional well-being. Each week I hope to discuss a topic and provide a weekly challenge which we can engage with! You in? Of course you are. Please be in. If not, this will be the only one and I'll just "forget" to do another one. You are all a wealth of knowledge and experience and I look forward to learning from each other. Let's get started on this week's topic of being busy.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Our National Park Road Trip From Vancouver to Yellowstone

This summer our goal was to visit Waterton Lakes National Park. When we realized how close it was to Yellowstone National Park (seven hours), we knew we wanted to add that on. In the end we had five national parks on the agenda: Waterton Lakes National Park, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons National Park and Craters of the Moon.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

Every week I choose to take a few minutes to reflect on all that I am thankful for. Well, ten things at least. It helps with my mental health and I do enjoy looking back at photos from the week. This past week has been tricky as my friend passed away a week ago, our house is in reno mode and the kids were needing more activity (and we sorted wanted a break from parenting!). Here are some things that I am thankful for this week:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

When You Don't Want to Netflix Alone

Although I love alone time, I also really appreciate cuddling up with Gary at the end of the day and watching a show together. With a snack, of course. Then comes the issue which was never taught in premarital counseling: How to choose a Netflix show that both of you can agree on. If I was on my own I'd spend most of my time on shows like The Fosters and Switched at Birth but Gary is definitely not into that sort of thing. He needs cooking (yes), superheroes and sports. So, here are a few shows that we have convinced each other to watch:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thankful for Alissa {Thankful Thursday}

On Monday my friend Alissa passed away. She was in her early 30's, a mom of two and a Christian woman passionate about children and their needs. Alissa was part of my life during such a transformative time and we were the only two who knew what those five months were like. 

I had left my teaching job after three years to go and live in Kenya volunteering in the countryside at a school. That sounds a bit dramatic but the plan was to go for one year; I had always wanted to go to Africa and a recent break up with a fellow teacher (ahem, Gary) meant that I had more reason to get out of there! I was matched up with Alissa who had been there a few months prior and she would teach me all I had to know. We wrote letters beforehand (because there was no Internet where we lived) and she prepared me the best she could for what it would be like (except for the whole bathroom situation or lack thereof, she let that be a fun surprise!).

Monday, August 14, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me: Some Things I've Learned Over the Years

Yeehaw! It's my 39th birthday today. What does that mean to me? First, it makes me think of my mom. Anyone else really feel that connection on their big day? I was not the easiest to birth but she did go on to have four more. Thanks, mom. 

In some ways I still feel 26 where I think I'm young and hip (do people say "hip"?) and in other ways I'm definitely feeling my age (turn down that TV so I can think, but wait, turn it up so I can actually hear it).  I'm looking forward to the big 4-0 next year and feel that 40 isn't actually as old as I always pictured it–I feel good! 

Waterton Lakes National Park

Life has not gone as I expected; it's even more complex and meaningful than I imagined. It has been a great learning journey and I'm thankful for the knowledge that I have – not the academic information which has sort of faded and gotten jumbled, but all that I have learned about life and family and love.  For this birthday post, I would like to share some things that I would tell my 20-year-old self. Well, I wouldn't really tell myself half of these things ahead of time because I do learn best through experience but oh do I wish I knew #3 and #23.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Yellowstone National Park in Two Days

As a family we spent just two days in Yellowstone National Park. They were long days and we felt that we saw all we wanted but I would recommend giving yourself at least three days in the park. We had come from Waterton Lakes National Park and drove through Glacier National Park on the Going-to-the Sun Road and ended up in Bozeman for the night. This meant we were still 1.5 hours from the North Gate but it was a great place to stay.  We decided to do the Upper Loop the first day and stay at the West Gate the first night and then save the Lower Loop for the second day.

What were the highs and lows from our Yellowstone adventure?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

We have been home from holidays for almost a week now and I haven`t pulled out my real camera yet! So, excuse the camera phone photos. This week I am thankful for:

Monday, August 07, 2017

Seven Things to See and Do in Waterton Lakes National Park

I have lived in BC my whole life and only recently heard of Waterton Lakes National Park. It is a smaller park located in southwestern Alberta and was the reason for our recent road trip. We drove across southern BC to Waterton and then down to Yellowstone through there. We spent two nights in Waterton Lakes National Park and these are the highlights that I recommend doing if you find yourself there (which you should!):

Seven Things to See and Do in Waterton:

Waterton Lakes National Park

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Thankful Thursday: Mom in the Photos Edition

Thankful Thursday

This week's Thankful Thursday is a bit different. Every week I take the time to write about ten things that I am thankful for. We are currently on vacation and Gary and I are both using our cameras (we both love photography!) which means I'm in more photos than normal. We have had a lot of family time sharing one room/tent the entire time which has been great but exhausting. Although I may not love how I look in every photo, I am thankful that Gary was able to capture many candid (and some posed) photos of me with the kids. Here, without words are some of those photos. As a woman who lost her mom at a young-ish age, I cherish every photo that I have with her. 

So, this week I am thankful for ample time with my kids and the photos for them to hopefully cherish...

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thankful Thursday

We are on a pretty awesome road trip so there is a lot to be thankful for (jobs with the freedom to travel in the summer, a van that can take us, enough money to go, kids healthy enough to travel, good friends that take us in etc). That said, this will be a bit different. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dear Parents of Little Ones

Dear Parents of Little Ones,

I had heard about parents being able to sleep in until 8:00 AM but never imagined our energetic and loud early risers would ever let us. Let me tell you, we are here now and it is amazing! You are probably happy if you get four hours in a row, or maybe being able to sleep until 6 AM, but let me tell you, your time will come.

Siblings walking in Sooke

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?