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.

Monday, March 06, 2017

How to Save Thousands of Dollars Each Year

How we spend our money indicates our priorities and for us the two main places that we choose to spend our money are the kids' education and family travel. We also set aside a specific amount to donate each month although I know this is an area we could improve on even more. I often hear people asking (politely) how we can afford vacations or private school and this is some advice I'd give on how to save thousands of dollars each year. We live almost solely on one teacher's salary so how do we stretch our dollar?

Tips for Saving Money

How to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year

Friday, March 03, 2017

An All-Inclusive Trip to St. Lucia for Gary and I...Maybe

Hi, friends! I recently entered a contest with Sunwing to win an all inclusive trip to St. Lucia for Gary and I. We made it through the first two rounds and now it is the third and final one with a 3/15 chance of winning (1/5 is pretty amazing). The vote is very simple, just click on this link and it will take you to our photo. Like the photo and verify with your Facebook account (this means it only works for those with Facebook but it is ensuring only one vote per person to keep things fair). Unfortunately this does not work with the Facebook app so you will have to use a computer or your browser on your phone.

I am so thankful for those that got us into this round; I was feeling the love! I hope you have a wonderful weekend.


Thursday, March 02, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Gratitude. I write these posts for several reasons; it's not that my life is all sunshine and rainbows–in fact, there are many frustrating things that happen daily. Every Thursday I take some time to focus on the week and the items that I am thankful for and it is very good for my mental health.

This week I am thankful for:

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Encouraging Healthy Living with the Healthy Family Expo

A priority in our home is promoting healthy bodies and minds–both for the kids and ourselves as parents.  We try to cook homemade meals each day while taking into account the sugar content as well as Nya's dairy intolerance. Our boys flourish with a lot of activity as it helps to keep their attitudes positive; from jumping on the trampoline to playing hockey in the alley, it's easy to make exercise fun while spending time together as a family. I personally need my 10,000-15,000 steps a day and feel so much better mentally when I do. 

Are these priorities for your home as well? Are you looking for some family fun that involves kid's concerts, an Active Kid Zone, numerous vendors with samples and prizes all for a great admission price? The Healthy Family Expo is a fun-filled day for the whole family that introduces Metro Vancouver parents to small steps & simple solutions for healthy, active, eco-friendly living.

Monday, February 27, 2017

How to Tackle the Screen Time Issue in Parenting

"All of my friends have iPads" "When can I get a phone?" "Can we watch SpongeBob?" "Can I play Clash of Clans?" If you have a preteen in your home, you have probably heard these comments or something similar. I am so thankful that my childhood was so much simpler to navigate as we didn't have cable TV and were allowed to choose between five channels to watch for one hour a day. Times have changed and I have come to the realization that I am quite tied to my iPhone–more than I would like. We had to come up with some rules for our home in regards to screen time in order to have consistency and an action plan. I read the book Growing up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane for some direction and would like to share some thoughts from the book.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

You Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I believe we can learn a lot from each other's lives. I want to thank this anonymous writer for sharing her journey in faith and parenting. Raising children with typical needs is difficult enough and adding in complex behaviours adds a whole other dimension and struggles–it can be exhausting and isolating. My hope is that if this could be a piece of your story that you feel less alone. If this isn't close to your story but something you witness at the park or store, you will be slow to judge and eager to view the situation with a lens of compassion.

We recently reached a milestone birthday with my son. I think that as much as he was extremely excited to hit double digits, my husband and I were equally excited to have reached this with him. I will share some of our journey and the things God taught us along the way.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

This Is the Room

This is the room where Gary painted the walls light green when I was four months pregnant with our first child.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Growing Into Me

When I was 15 I was just a fraction of who I am today; I had so much more to grow–I hopefully still do. I appreciate seeing how far I've come and my own journey has helped me to keep perspective as I see my own kids deal with egocentricity. I thought I knew everything. I thought life was all about what happened up to the age of 19, and who really cared about anything beyond that. People over 19 were old and boring. My two goals were the following: Do really well in school to get into sciences at university and get the attention of boys. What this attention looked like didn't really matter– I just wanted to feel beautiful and desirable which I believed would come from boys wanting to ask me out.  I don't know why I didn't care about life beyond my teenage years; I came from a great home, had a church that I was part of, a faith that sort of mattered, was at a good school and had some solid friends. If these were my thoughts at that point, with a pretty decent foundation, what are teens thinking these days with the addition of social media and all the struggles they may have in their own homes and social circles?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Chapmans Cruise the Caribbean

Every year we have one big trip and for 2017 it's an eight night Caribbean cruise with the kids! This is not something that I planned months in advance which is unusual for me. Usually I research and book early but we had no idea until recently that we would have two weeks totally free to do as we wished. We always envisioned an Alaskan cruise with our kids but you can't do that during Spring Break and I wouldn't mind some sunshine right now. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Family Movie Night with Netflix

I love the tradition of movie nights. When we were kids, we also had them but they involved a lot more work. We had to go to the local video store and rent a VHS (stands for video home system in case you were wondering) that they had to have in stock and also a VCR to play it. Now, we sit on our couch, click on Netflix, search movies, and away we go. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Somehow it's already Thursday! With B.C's Family Day on Monday it has made it hard to keep track of what day it is. All right, so...I'm feeling a lot of confusion over what I want to do in regards to life/work as changes are coming. Our Little One is moving out very soon and in September Nya will go to school. In order to keep our fostering contract and not have to redo our home study, we can't just take a break for 6 months. We can do respite but there is such a variety of ways this could look–emergency, after hours, respite, relief, short term...I'm not sure what will work best for our family (and I'm pretty certain that anything short term would turn into a long one). I know what our kids want (to continue fostering long term) but it's trickier for Gary and I as there are so many factors to consider–just subbing a couple of times a week would be so much easiser. The pro list for fostering is very short but the ones on the pro side are life changing. All this said, we have a lot going on right now and I'd love any wisdom you have to share.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa

Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa is a place that we go to every year–it's tradition! We've been in every season and there's something especially fun about being in the hot springs pool with snow all around. We go for a quick one night getaway and it's long enough to rejuvenate us and feel like we truly did relax. What do we do while we are there?

Friday, February 10, 2017

For the Uncrafty Valentine's Day Mom

It is fun to celebrate love and friendship with the upcoming Valentine's Day. I see people sharing their decor ideas, handmade cards and beautiful homemade treats.  I get it; in the past I've done Valentine's Day photo sessions with my kids so that they could hand out personalized cards. Unfortunately creativity is not my forte so I just end up feeling frustrated while looking through Instagram and Facebook. I know I could make these amazing things but I don't want to. I have to check myself. Will I enjoy going out to buy these craft items and assembling them with my kids? Nope. Do my kids actually care about anything other than candy? Nope (okay, Nya does care who gets Lippy Lips Shopkins Valentine). Exhale. Still a good mom.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Thankful Thursday

I haven't written in a week which is highly unusual for me. I feel uninspired and unmotivated. We've also had our kids at home for what feels like forever (two snow days and now my kids have five more days at home). I feel anxiety over the weather and the warnings that have come with it. For the most part, we can just stay home if need be but we do have certain obligations to attend to as well. All that said, I feel out of sorts. So, let's get focused here and figure out what we're thankful for.  Without further adieu..

I am thankful for:

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Thankul Thursday

Hello, friends! This week brings cool, windy weather here with a forecast of snow. This makes me feel...cold. And grumpy. So, let's focus on the positives here.  This week I am thankful for:

Monday, January 30, 2017

How to Prepare for Snowshoeing

One winter activity that I enjoy is snowshoeing. It's affordable as we own our own snowshoes and use the free trails. Even if you end up renting, it is still a great way to get the alpine experience without spending a lot of money. It is also easy for people of all ages and abilities as the mountains have a variety of terrain in their snowshoe trails.  I've been in a number of weather conditions and often you don't really know what to expect so these would be my recommendations for a safe and comfortable time:

Friday, January 27, 2017

What I Know About Parenting: Eight Tips for Everyday Life

First off, let me say that I am not claiming to know how to be a great parent. What I am sharing is what I have learned about parenting over the past 10 years. Yes, I'm a bit of an information seeker and have gleaned ideas from experts, classes, books and fellow parents. I've sifted through all of the facts and opinions and have taken what has worked for our family and am continuously open to learning more. This whole parenting gig is a lot more complex than I initially believed and I appreciate that we are able to learn from each other. We have a range of personalities and needs in our family and I feel like these tips address many factors.