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. So...here 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...


Monday, February 26, 2018

How Parenting a Child From Hard Places Looks Different

I hardly feel like I'm qualified to speak about this but as a foster parent who has cared for five different children from hard places I have some insight to pass along. I also have a minor in psychology if that increases my credibility in your eyes at all (insert winky face emoji).  How will this information on attachment help you? Well, knowing what some people go through allows you to understand the world a little better and develop more empathy. Also, who knows what your future will look like – maybe you will have a connection with someone who had a difficult childhood.


What might it look like to help support and nurture a child who has suffered neglect and trauma?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Three Simple Meals Using One Rotisserie Chicken

Several weeks ago I was overwhelmed with the number of kids we had and the schedule we currently juggle. I knew I had to meal plan better and push aside the notion that everything had to be from scratch. We had purchased 1/4 of a cow this fall and were a little beefed out – we needed some variety of the chicken nature. Here are three super simple meals which are healthy-ish, made in under twenty minutes and nice on the wallet too. How do I do it? It all starts with one rottiserie chicken that can be used to make two to three meals depending on the number of people in the family. Great savings, right?!

Three simple and affordable chicken recipes

Thankful Thursday

The key to experiencing joy is practicing gratitude. In Brene Brown's book Braving the Wilderness she says, "When you are grateful for what you have, I know you understand the magnitude of what I have lost". You appreciate your mom? That makes me feel good because I don't have that. I am thankful for a great childhood because I know so many don't get to experience that. Eugene Cho says in Overrated that contentment comes from generosity and gratitude. What are you thankful for today?


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

Everyone goes through busy/tough stages and right now we are in the last two weeks of a wilder time. Gary is finishing up coaching basketball and then I will have my other driver back home. As much as basketball season is hard for us, it is important to him and so we make it work and I want to support him in that. Just because something is hard doesn't mean we need to hear "Maybe he shouldn't do it" – I wrote about that here. So without further ado...

This week I am thankful for:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What We Need to Hear When Life Is Hard

When life gets tough we hope that our family and friends will be there for us. I know when I lost my mom I appreciated all the support through meals and kind words; it is often easier to know how to support a grieving friend than someone whose life has been made difficult through an intentional choice. Let me explain.

What we need to hear when life is hard

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

We attended the funeral of Gary's grandma and I learned there that her motto was "In everything give thanks" and I think that really is behind what I am doing here, too. I'm not saying that life is one big party and I need to be thankful for every junky thing that happens BUT learning to look for the little items of gratefulness in each day does help my mental health. So, as per usual, here I am practicing my gratitude. Today I am thankful for:

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

How I Tripled My Pageviews in Two Months

{To those of you who come here normally for parenting, adventure or marriage posts, this piece is different and is aimed at those who have websites and are looking to increase their views}

Are you stuck at the same number of unique monthly views no matter how many times you post new content or what time of day you share it to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? I have been blogging purposefully and faithfully over the last four years usually two to three times a week. I realized that I had a lot of content that was just being posted on my Facebook page and then lost forever in the world wide web.

 How could I get more people to see the hard work that I put into writing and photography?

How can you increase your blog's monthly pageviews without having to writing new content? Using Pinterest wisely is the best way and here are eight simple tips.


Sunday, February 04, 2018

I Just Want to Be a Grandma

When asked what goals I hope to achieve in life, career and travel are not at the top of the list – and I love my travelling. What do I want more than anything when I look to the future? To be a grandma. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I am in any rush and I don't even love the baby stage and all that comes with it. I want to be a grandma because that means that I will be alive whenever (if ever) my kids have children of their own. I will make it to my 50's and hopefully through to my 80's but I'll take 70's if I "have to".

Photo of mom with three kids

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Thankful Thursday


Oh boy. I sort of feel like venting about how unfun our lives are right now. Can I do that first before I get to the good stuff? I live for adventure and time alone and those two are just not happening right now. Life is extremely busy when Gary is coaching (just means I get to do all the driving) and throw in a couple of babies (we have a foster baby plus daycare 1-year-old three days a week) plus all the appointments and visits and I'm a diaper-changing taxi driver. So so boring. This usually happens every December to March and once I hit Spring Break life is good! Last year we went on the most amazing Caribbean cruise and this year we are going to Arizona so I am very excited about that. Just writing that made me feel better. All right, thank you for letting me vent, on to the good stuff.

This week I am thankful for:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What I Want My Kids to Know

{An audio version of this post is here.}

My mom wrote us a letter which we received after she died. I don't have a lot of emails from her as most of our contact was over the phone and therefore those intentional words bring me a lot of peace and a connection to her. I will sometimes say to my husband "If anything happens to me, make sure you remember to..." and it's not that I am pessimistic, I believe I am realistic. My sister has my passwords and Gary knows what I want my funeral to look like. Although my children have an online journal of sorts here, these are some words that I would want them to know and remember.

Exploring Bear's Hump and Waterton National Park

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Four Sites to Follow if You Have a Toddler

Being a biological mom to three and a foster mom to five we have gone through this toddler stage a time or two (or eight). There are many great resources if you are looking for snack ideas or simple activities and here are some of my favourites to follow if you have young kids:

If you are looking for ideas for healthy snacks, educational yet fun activities or just a good laugh, here are some great resources.



Thursday, January 25, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

I am feeling so grateful these days. I'm not entirely sure why as not a lot has changed but I'll take it! I am generally a positive person but do get weighed down by the busy schedules and lack of "me time" these days so maybe even just having two hours to myself on Monday during the day was all I needed!

Each week I write down ten things that I am thankful for and I would encourage you to embrace this practice as well as gratitude needs to be practiced. This week I am thankful for:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

What I'm Looking Forward to On Netflix This Month

The wonderful world of Netflix always has something to offer for each and every person – I seriously can't keep up! I enjoy asking what people are watching and adding it to my list. There is always a series to look forward to with new seasons coming out or new shows all together. What new releases are intriguing to me? 

Well, did your kids love the Trolls movie? Mine sure did! Nya is going to LOVE that there is a new series that started January 19th called Trolls: The Beat Goes On. It follows the adventures of Poppy, Branch and all the other Trolls characters and just continues where the movie left off!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Quick Comparison Between a DSLR and iPhone 7+

When it was time for me to upgrade my phone I asked around for the advice. Many people talked about how amazing the cameras were on the newer phones and I ended up going with the iPhone 7+. I am someone who really values quality photos and generally carries my DSLR with me if we are going on an outing – it's a Canon 5D Mark III which is a pretty decent one. I use my camera almost every single day at home as well. I was curious whether I would be able to leave my DSLR behind more frequently and solely use my iPhone 7+ to capture images and video.

I realize this is not a fair comparison.

The iPhone 7+ has a 12 megapixel camera (7 megapixels for selfie mode) and my Canon 5D has a 20 megapixel one but let me just share a few pros and cons of the iPhone 7+ in comparison.

How do the new cameras on the iPhone 7+ compare to a DSLR? Is the portrait mode worth it?