Monday, November 12, 2018

The Coquitlam Crunch

If you are looking for a good little workout you may want to check out the Coquitlam Crunch. Our kids ages 6 to 12 love a bit of a challenge and completed it no problem. It is 2.2 km each way with an elevation gain of 244 meters and took us about one hour to complete – I probably held them back a bit to be honest although Nya did not love the last 200 meters to the top.

Coquitlam Crunch in B.C.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Thankful Sunday

Thankful Thursday

I know I haven't been consistent on here lately but family and work take priority. In February I definitely plan on being back to blogging more–besides, we have a few trips coming up in 2019 that I'd love to share about! I was hit very hard by a virus this week and mistakenly tried to power through it thinking each morning I'd feel better. I took a lot of time to rest over the weekend and cannot wait to be 100% myself soon! I have a huge appreciation for health each and every day and feel the only way I can do what I do (parent four kids including fostering and work outside the home) is that I need to be healthy.

This week I am thankful for:

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

Well it's Thanksgiving weekend so I better have some thankfulness to share! This week I am thankful for:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Thankful Thursday

One of the reasons I started Thankful Thursdays years ago was reading Anna Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts and started practicing gratitude more but the other is because I loved sharing photos from our week. Now? Um, no photos to share. I'll try my best with the sub par photos I have on my phone.

This week I am thankful for:

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Going Back to Work

Back in 2001, I started teaching science and that is when I met Gary who was a fellow first-year science teacher. I always imagined I would teach my entire life but through circumstances (health, kids, travel) I ended up having a variety of roles. I volunteered in Kenya, we started a photography business, I worked in social media and we became foster parents. I stayed connected to teaching through substitute teaching but it has been nine years since I've had a classroom of my own.

 If I have learned one thing over these past 17 years it would be that it's nice to have a five-year plan but be open to change and opportunities.

This is wild for me because Louise is a five-year plan kind of girl. I mean, probably even more like a ten-year-plan one. Committing six months or a year of your life to something might seem scary but it doesn't need to be forever and the growth that can happen from it is so worth it. I have learned so much and I'm glad I said "yes" to opportunities that came my/our way.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Well, what a transition this year is! Now every morning we head out as a family of six to go to work and school. Our toddler goes to daycare, Nya is in primary, the two boys are in middle and then Gary and I are at a high school. A whole lot of preparation goes into it the night before to make sure we can get out of the door by 7:30 AM.  What am I thankful for today?

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Could You Do a Year of Less?

Do you often buy a specialty coffee on work days? Get a manicure as a pick-me-up? Purchase new clothes because you're going to a wedding? I recently read The Year of Less by Cait Flanders in which she not only purged and decluttered over 50% of her household items but she decided not to buy anything new for an entire year unless it was consumable or on the "approved list" such as one new sweatshirt because she didn't have one. I've written about decluttering several times before specifically after reading Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book gives some food for thought and here are some of mine...

The Year of Less book by Cait Flanders

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Rolley Lake Camping Trip

We had one last trip planned this summer: Rolley Lake Provincial Campground. Unfortunately due to the wildfires in B.C. the air quality was the worst we have ever experienced and it was advised to avoid strenuous activities and stay indoors. We visited the Stave Falls Powerhouse for an indoor activity but the rest was all outdoors. We decided to end our trip early and packed in as much of the camping experience as we could into those 24 hours.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Stave Falls Dam and Powerhouse

I've lived in B.C. my whole life yet had not visited the 100-year-old Stave Falls Powerhouse Facility in Mission, B.C. We were camping at Rolley Lake which is five minutes away and decided to check it out. I can see why various movies and TV series have been filmed there as it is quite a unique and historical site! The powerhouse was once B.C.'s largest hydroelectric source and was completed in 1912.

Stave Falls Visitor Centre

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Five Important Lessons I Have Learned in My 40 Years

Here I sit wanting to make an impactful "What I know about life at 40" kind of post but I'm hesitant. Why? I look at what I wrote ten years ago and shudder at what I thought was wisdom. I was so naive and life, parenting and marriage have kept me humble and have been great teachers over the past ten years. To spin this positively, I could say that at 40 I know that the next ten years should be filled with growth and more wisdom which is a gift as I then approach 50.

What are some of the major lessons I've learned in 40 years of life?

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

I spoke too soon when I said the heat wave was over. I don't do so well over 30C. But, no one wants to hear me complaining about the weather so here we go. What am I thankful for this week?

I am thankful for:

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

The heat wave is over in the Lower Mainland – yeehaw! I'm fine with sun on holidays when there's a pool or lake but when you're sweating it out in your home with a million kids it's not as enjoyable. Every single one of these photos is from my phone and I'm just going to be cool with that. I sort of can't believe that July is over which sort of scares me because I'm going to work in three weeks but at the same time I'm thankful for the trips we've taken and all that we've gotten done over the past month. 

Here are a few things I am thankful for this week:

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Five Places to Visit in Kelowna with Kids

We recently visited Kelowna in the southern interior of B.C. which is located just 3.5 hours from the Lower Mainland and right on the Okanagan Lake. Our reason for planning a family vacation to Kelowna was threefold: a short road trip, numerous outdoor activities available and a beach vacation vibe. We ended up staying in West Kelowna as it was a bit more affordable which allowed us to do more activities each day. We were there for three days and I'd love to share the activities that were recommended to us that we enjoyed.

What five places should you visit in Kelowna? This is what we did in three days.

What are the five things I recommend doing with kids while visiting Kelowna?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Jug Island Trail at Belcarra Regional Park

Jug Island Trail is located at Belcarra Regional Park in Port Moody, B.C. and is a beautiful moderate hike for those who want something in the two-hour range. It winds through the forest until the end when it opens up to Indian Arm. You can then walk along the ocean shore and look for crabs and fish and I recommend going at low tide if possible.

Jug Island Trail at Belcarrra Regional Park

Thankful Thursday

Hey team! So, this week Nya went to a play date where she asked her friend (in the car full of their family) whether her mom yelled. Her friend said "no" and Nya said she was lucky because her mom was the opposite. At first I laughed when I heard it and then I was slightly mortified and then I felt frustrated. To be clear, I have yelled at Nya maybe twice in her life because she is so sensitive. If I raise my voice she feels like I'm yelling. Do I yell at my boys? Yes, they are ridiculous and I am human. If you feel like I shouldn't yell, I hear you, it's not my first choice but then I also dare you to parent my crew.  All this to say I've felt a bit down about the exhaustion of parenting. I've never doubted my ability as a parent (weird, right?) but wow is it ever tiring and I feel like me giving 100% is never enough. What will they remember about me after all is said and done?

All I can do is my best and take this time to work on my patience. I am with my kids a lot. Like, a lot. I know I need some time away and a whiny toddler does not add patience to the mix ;) Sorry, this is not very Thankful Thursday-ish so let's get to it...

This week I am thankful for:

Monday, July 16, 2018

Have You Written out Your Relationship Values?

If you're anything like me, it feels like there are many decision to be made each day. Right now some of them include a long list of "To Do" items around the house and which ones to do first and how much to invest financially and time-wise into each project. Do we just scrap the "To Do" list and head to the beach because there are "only 18 summers"? (I don't love that sentiment by the way but that is for another post). How do we want to spend our time together as a couple and as a family this summer? How do we work on our relationship while carrying on with life?

Have You Written out Your Relationship Values?
Photo by Shannon Lee Photography

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

This is going to be a pretty boring one, are you ready?! Ha, wait, don't click the "x" in the corner. So, originally our hope was to drive across Canada this summer and then in December we said "yes" to our sweet foster daughter who will be with us into the fall.

Plans have changed and we have just a small four day trip coming up (to Kelowna–yeehaw!) but the benefit of this is twofold:

1. We save money and are doing an all inclusive trip to Mexico in March instead.

2. We get to tackle all those projects that were on our list for so long.

So today I'm going to share those things that we wouldn't have been able to do had we left on holidays all summer. Also, let me be clear that because I'm heading to work at the end of August, it has given me the push to get all this done.

This week I am thankful for:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Weekend in Whistler

My 40th birthday is in August and my sisters and I were trying to figure out the perfect getaway. Well, you can never go wrong with Whistler! It's less than three hours away and offers something for everyone. I had three priorities for this trip (other than not parenting anyone): Peak Suspension Bridge, hiking Train Wreck Trail and eating good food. 

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Peak Suspension Bridge in Whistler, B.C.

Are you looking for a fun new adventure? Whistler, B.C. has many different options in the summer such as ziplininghiking, mountain biking, river rafting, and ATVing.  Most people are familiar with their Peak 2 Peak Gondola which holds the Guinness World Record for longest and highest lift and now they have just opened up a new experience for thrill seekers: The Peak Suspension Bridge.

Peak Suspension Bridge in Whislter BC
Peak Suspension Bridge located at the very top of the mountain: Can you see it on the peak?

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Green Lake 2018

Green Lake is a special place to us as it's where Gary and I got engaged and married! My parents built this house in 2003 and we try to go up at least once a year to enjoy it. The summer months fill up fast (it's rented out) so I booked way in advance in order to get a few prime days. Just the week before we decided to leave Baby behind with a friend so that she would get a lot of attention and we would get some time to relax; one-year-olds are busy.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

Hello! These weeks are flying by and now that I'm in summer mode (my kids have been off for a week now!) I've lost track of which day it is, hence, a late Thankful Thursday post. I hope you can find something to be grateful for today. Here is mine..

Today I am thankful for:

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thankful Thursday: End of School Edition

Thankful Thursday

Well, another school year has finished! What am I thankful for? The kids all had teachers that they really connected to, they made/maintained wonderful friendships, they learned some cool stuff, were challenged in their thinking and were well loved. What else could I ask for? So, this isn't a ten point list as usual, it's just a quick recap:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

I can't believe it's Thursday again. Thank you for checking this place out...I know how hard it can be to go beyond a regular Facebook or Instagram feed and actually read a blog post! I would say the happiest moment of my week was...oh wait, I'll share it below as my #1.

This week I am thankful for:

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Recycling Flexible Plastics in B.C.

On May 30th 2018, Recycle BC made the announcement that they would be increasing the variety of flexible plastics that they would accept at 116 participating recycling depots with all depots on board by January 2019. Although there are many ways to reduce the use of plastics, it's inevitable that we are still left with a lot to deal with. I shared this information on my Facebook page and learned a few important points that I felt important to pass on here:

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

Okay. So. We've had an interesting week. On top of Kai being in a cast (and feeling so upset about missing sports each day) and the flu getting 5/6 Chapmans, we needed to replace our car due to the accident. Once ICBC tells you that your car is written off you have three days to get a new or (or pay for the rental yourself). We loved our car and planned on having it for ten years (or whenever it died) so it was unfortunate to have to replace it. Throw in the fact that we ended up having to put in $1000.00 of our own money and I was a tad bitter by the end of it all. So, it has been busy and emotionally exhausting all things considered.

If I don't write a Thankful Thursday post though, I definitely won't write anything else because these are the easiest to do :) Without further ado, this is what I am thankful for this week:

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A New Chapter

In September all three of our biological kids (yes, that's how you talk when you have bio and foster kids) will be in school full time. I hadn't given it much thought as to what I would do work-wise once that happened and this spring I suddenly realized what was on the horizon. Knowing that our baby girl was likely transitioning home around the same time I needed to consider if we would continue fostering or if I could use this new-found freedom for something else.

Monday, May 28, 2018

One Strategy to Nurture Your Child's Brain

As a parent of 12 years I have come to realize that there is a lot more to it than I initially thought. Sure, there are the basics that I knew about such as the importance of sleep, healthy food and safety but then there is this whole other realm of meeting their emotional needs. Often it takes a more than a hug when they're sad to actually make everything better and each child is so different. Your child may get wrapped up in anxiety or be very angry and have a tantrum or meltdown or they may shut down all together. I find we often expect adult behaviour from our young children and that is a very important realization to have – their brains aren't fully mature until they are in their 20's (or longer for those with executive functioning issues).

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

I want to skip Thankful Thursday this week. I'm feeling so mentally drained. It's been busy with Gary gone last week and then an increased amount of appointments/visits/driving for baby, throw in some new meds for one kid and another kid spraining his ankle (possibly breaking a bone in his foot?) and I just need to a break from parenting for a bit. One thing I never pictured when I saw myself as a mom was spending so many hours at doctors/specialists etc. So, sometimes when I feel this way I know I need to step up my healthy eating and fish oils, exercise a bit more and practice gratitude. we go.

This week I am thankful for:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Nya Turns Six

Our "baby" is now six years old. I am so thankful for her and the huge dose of sweetness she brings to our family. She can keep up with her brothers on almost any hike and is eager to do whatever the boys are (except riding without training wheels–we'll get there). She loves all things pink, purple and sparkly and dreams of wearing makeup one day. She doesn't want to get married and would like to live with us forever. She doesn't want to have children (due to the labour/delivery part) but I have a feeling that may change over the years. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

Gary was gone this week on a canoeing trip (Powell River chain) so I am thankful that he should be home tonight! I held down the fort and for the first time there were no mechanical issues OR illnesses while he was gone.

This week I am thankful for:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

This past week involved some big decisions in regards to our future in fostering and what I hope to do once our baby girl moves home. I'll share more when I know more but I am feeling peace in the whole situation. I should say "peace-ish" because there are so many factors and unknowns in fostering but if all goes according to plan then things will look different around here in the next year. So, with big decisions being made, I am thankful to all those that were able to help answer my questions and encourage me when sometimes I'm afraid of big "scary" changes. Alongside that, here are some other things that I am thankful for this week...

Sunday, May 06, 2018

What I Learned from My Mother by Watching Home Videos

As I move further along in this parenting journey (I almost have a teenager, folks) the more I wonder how my parents did it with five daughters in eight years. I recently spent several hours watching old home videos of my childhood and found it interesting to see my memories from a different lens – that of a parent now myself. There was one major realization that occurred:

My parents were so relaxed. 

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

I have been blogging since 2005. I have enjoyed this place to journal and share and plan to continue doing so but at a much slower pace. It is still important as a record of my kids' lives with the trips we've done and the photos I've taken but I feel like I can't expend energy on writing posts unless it's a topic I'm very passionate about and doesn't take up too much time. There are so many voices out there screaming for your attention and I only want to share what I think is actually worth your time. These Thankful Thursday posts are personal and therefore those that know me may enjoy getting more insight into our lives or finding out about cool new products or places we've discovered but I'm totally okay if you skip them because your time is valuable. 

I will continue to try to blog twice a week but if I don't for the next few months, I'm not putting any pressure on myself. Life is busy and full to the brim with great things  (and less fun things as well). As with anything in life,
"Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”– Howard Thurman

Please excuse the majority of these photos being phone photos but for the first time in my life I have been too busy (and sick) to pull out the real camera!

This week I am thankful for:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Simple Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Usage

Have you seen a documentary on the amount of plastic in our oceans? How there are animals dying because their stomachs are unable to digest the mass amounts of man-made materials? How the chemicals in the plastic bioaccumulate in the food that we eat? We recently watched A Plastic Ocean on Netflix and I encouraged the kids to watch along because they need to know about the world that they are living in. If you need a shorter article and video, this one is a good summary.

It can feel overwhelming when you look at the vast amount of pollution from our plastics but we can make noticeable changes for our future generations. Here are just a few examples that are simple and have very little cost involved:

How to reduce our plastic usage: 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Are You Ready to Let Your Creative Side Out?

How to express your creative self when you are full of self-doubt

I had been photographing families and weddings for several years when someone asked if I considered myself a photographer. I responded with "Not yet". I was self taught and therefore felt I needed credentials and experience, which is somewhat true, but I was working at the craft already so looking back, yes, I was a photographer. Why the insecurity and self-doubt?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

It's Thursday which means it's time to reflect on the things in life that we are thankful for. You ready? This week I am thankful for:

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The Healing in Sharing Our Stories

"I see you" initiates the meaningful response "I am here". This traditional Zulu greeting speaks to the importance of knowing that we are seen and heard; that we care about the hearts of others and are there for them. It goes a lot deeper than a quick "How are you?" followed by an automatic "Good". One of the hardest things for me when my mom passed away is that I felt no one cared about my heart as much as she did. I had to be vulnerable and trust those I loved to fill the void; to say "I see you and I am here". 

The healing that comes from sharing our stories.

Why is it so important to share what is in our hearts and minds? What is the power in our stories?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

One thing that I have learned through this Thankful Thursday journey is that gratitude needs to be practiced. I grew up with this grateful mindset in my childhood home but focusing on it each week has helped me to keep bitterness, comparison, and self-pity at bay. This week I am thankful for:

Sunday, March 25, 2018

From Phoenix to the Grand Canyon South Rim with Kids

Our seven day vacation in Phoenix, Arizona had several priorities: visit the Grand Canyon and find family-friendly hikes. We enjoyed temperatures of 20-30 Celsius in the month of March and also the cheap gas prices compared to BC. Here are the main things that we did and what I thought about them:

Visiting the Grand Canyon with Kids

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

This week we are on vacation in Arizona. It has been a fun time for our family of five to explore the area between Phoenix up to the Grand Canyon. However, if your holidays are anything like ours, it’s a whole lot of family time in tight spaces out of our normal routine which has me thinking “Are our boys always this annoying?” “Why can’t they sleep past 6 AM?” and “Why can’t our kids just sit together nicely in the back seat of the rental car? I travelled all the way across Canada with four siblings and didn’t feel the need to pester them the whole way”. Overall it has been great but it has been equally exhausting parenting-wise. So, now that I have that out of my system, I’m ready to go!

This week I am thankful for:

Friday, March 16, 2018

Preparing to Parent Teens in Today's Culture

Suddenly I find myself approaching the next stage in parenting: the teen years. I enjoy teenagers and spent five years getting a degree so that I could teach them science (biology in particular). However, there is fear which comes from the fact that I remember myself during those years. I was a hard-working student, had a part time job throughout high school and was quite responsible overall but I still had an "experimental" side to me and I didn't have to deal with the whole social media aspect that kids nowadays do.

Preteens hanging out by the river

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thankful Thursday

On Monday I went from the high of having a beautiful sunny day and just one baby at home to the low of Gary calling me to say that Koen got sick in the van on the way home from school. After almost 12 years of this parenting thing, I am so tired of illness and being quarantined etc. We leave on holidays soon and we want to be healthy for that. I have done the puking on the plane thing way too many times (not me, my kids and Gary–on the way home from Thailand AND Disney World AND on the Carribean cruise). My spring allergies are out of this world right now even with nasal rinses and Reactine. So, now that my complaining out of this way, here we go...

This week I am thankful for:

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

Last week I felt like I was stressed about life. We still don't know what to do with the "big question" (how long do we continue being a foster family) but will just take it day by day and continue to love on our Baby Girl until she leaves our home. In regards to work, I will keep subbing one day a week (hopefully more next year!). We have a trip to look forward to so that is always uplifting. The weather hasn't been terrible so that helps too. As usual I'm about to practice some gratitude, are you ready?

This week I am thankful for:

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Problem With Ranking Our Pain and Struggles

Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of someone else by sharing in it – actually putting yourself in their shoes. It is very different from sympathy which is feeling sorry for someone and therefore creating disconnection. A newborn has the capacity to be empathetic but it needs to develop it through experience and being taught. Have you considered how empathetic you are?

Have you ever thought about your lack of empathy in certain situations? 

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Thankful Thursday

If you are new here, every week I reflect on ten things that I am thankful for. These are personal posts and I do appreciate everyone who takes the time to read. I hope it allows YOU some time to think on what you are thankful for. Gratitude really needs to be practiced and my parents were gifted in this area and passed it on to me.

This week I am thankful for:

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

When Someone Calls Your Child a Hurtful Name

Have you ever had someone say something mean to you? What about to your child? I used to think I would give that person a piece of my mind but my thoughts have changed on this – I approach it a little more gently and try to see both sides. I am not saying verbal attacks are okay, because they are not, and if an adult ever said something harmful to a child I would be all over it with that power imbalance. Harsh words need to be recognized and dealt with, however, there are several reasons why it occurs and knowing them could help us when we approach that situation. Here are four examples that I am familiar with...