From EIGHT….To SIX….To TWO?

I LOVE kids….always have. And most of my experience growing up and in my early working days has been centered around kids. I’ve always just naturally gravitated towards them. It could be because I had just one sibling growing up {and wasn’t sibling’d out}, but it’s anyone’s guess really. I’m from a rather large extended family and most of my childhood was spent getting together with all my cousins, aunts, and uncles. I always loved it – and my fondest memories are from those times.

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Brooklyn, Jonah {left} and cousin J {right} while boating at a  family reunion a few years ago.

I love busy…I love the sound of busy little feet running through a house. The fits of laughter and excitement that fill a room or backyard quite simply make me happy. The happy chaos that I seem to be able to thrive in. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love peace and quiet too and time to myself, but when I’m amongst a large group, like my extended family – well, few things bring me as much joy.

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                          Me and two of my closest cousins

Which is precisely why I always wanted 8 kids. Yep.

I love the idea of having a large family, and have always wanted one myself. My brother and I were both adopted and at the time there were restrictions preventing families from adopting more than 2. So, our family was what it could be and I’m grateful for it for sure. But at times it was a wee bit *boring*. I’m not saying I would have loved having pesky younger siblings {who can really know}, but now that we are grown I find it a little humorous that a simple Sunday dinner can turn into a reunion of sorts. It just doesn’t involve the hype and planning and even excitement that a larger family get together has. {though my mom always cries when my brother and sister in law leave after visiting….Brent and I  {and the kids of course} go over every Sunday for dinner and not one tear is shed when we walk out the door. lol}

Anyways – seeing moms with 4+ kids just makes me smile. I love it!

When Brent and I got married we thought 6 was a number that suited us. If our plans went ahead we thought having 4 biological children and 2 adopted would be pretty perfect. But we always said we knew life had its own plans and we were willing to just *go with the flow*.

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                    Brooklyn and our darling *Jonah* bump

**Photo courtesy of Mandy Baker Photography**

We were ELATED when Brooklyn joined our family. Then, getting to see her as a big sister when Jonah was born 3 years later, was amazing. Both kids were amazing babies and made the adjustment really easy and enjoyable. And making the decision to try for both of them was easy, as we felt like it was time to.

But here we sit, still not having *that feeling*. Neither of us was willing to have more kids just to fill the personal idea of a certain number or age gap, etc. and it’s something we’ve both thought a lot of about. We’ve talked about it, prayed about it, and really thought a lot about adding to our family again.

Something is holding us back.

We’ve talked about going the adoption route in the next few years instead, so who knows how that will pan out. We definitely want to add to our family in that way at some point – I just don’t know if our family will consist of any more biological children.

But I’ll tell you this – I treated both pregnancies as though they could be my last. And am I ever glad I did.

Generally speaking most people have stopped asking – I think they’ve given up on us. LOL

Some have wondered if we’re having difficulties getting pregnant. The answer is no.

Some wonder if we want more kids. The answer is yes.

Some have asked if we are having more. And the answer is, quite simply – We don’t know. We just don’t know.

So here we sit at 2 – and one puppy – taking it one day at a time. :)

296**Photo courtesy of Eternal Reflections Photography**

These Are The Days {and a new look} #thesearethedays #makingmemories

Have you noticed the changes? I mean, they are kind of hard to miss. lol But I must visit my blog 5 times a day JUST to look at it.

I am in LOVE with the new design {from Peaches and Cream Designs}. IN LOVE.

Wanting a new design is the easy part….deciding what exactly you want is a whole different ball game. I am indecisive at best – so the conversation sort of goes like this:

Um, I like bright colours and the beach. So yeah, what can you do with that?

THIS!!!

I mean, don’t get me wrong – it was a LOT of back and forth. I couldn’t necessarily say what I didn’t like about certain drafts, only that it wasn’t *it*. I also, on initial viewing, wasn’t sure this was the background I wanted. But then I couldn’t picture anything else. Bright, Cheery, Fun, but simple. And I looooooove it.

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And could it be any more of an accidental miracle that our recent family photos coordinate perfectly? Seriously – so not planned but so so awesome. {Just a wee shout out to my incredible cousin, Radelle of Eternal Reflections Photography, for stepping out of her niche of weddings and taking these fab images for us. If you are getting married or know someone who is – anywhere – BOOK HER! I don’t just love her because she’s my cousin – I love her because she’s amazing. at everything she does. especially photos. and being one of my dearest friends.}

Seriously, book her.

Okay, back to this. Why the name change? I’ll try and make this quick. {ha, no I won’t}. I love doing giveaways – really I do. And have lots of ideas for future events and such. But the truth is this – it all came down to this one thing – I don’t want to give away STUFF.

I want to give away opportunities. Opportunities for MEMORIES. I don’t just want to blog about the things we are doing, but inspire you to MAKE the time to do things too. Make more memories instead of have more stuff.

Because, no matter where you are in life – 20′s, 40′s, married, single, with children, without children, grandparents, etc. THESE ARE THE DAYS.

These are YOUR days. And I want you to make the most of them – while we are busy trying to do the same. It’s not about stuff or things. It’s about time and memories. Whether you are raking in the dough, barely scraping by, somewhere in between….on vacation, in school, running ragged with young children, work, life, or in the hospital with a loved one – you are being given opportunities to make memories. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

But mostly the good.

So let’s celebrate those. Feel free to link up on twitter with the hashtag #theseareyourdays.

THESE ARE THE DAYS….let’s make the most.

I Dream Of Faraway Places #madetoholiday #thesearethedays #makingmemories

I don’t spend hours on Pinterest like I did in the beginning. Part of that is I have gotten busier and therefore made less time for it, and part of it is shifting my focus from PINNING, to DOING.

My pinterest is filled with Cute Kids Stuff, Food I Love, Inspiration, Things That Make Me Laugh, and more…so much more. I love looking through each album to get new ideas or remember something that has helped me….but the one that keeps me coming back for more. The one I come to Pinterest specifically for, that my biggest dreams are built on:

MADE TO HOLIDAY

I love getaways, big and small. Day trips to Waterton, Calgary, or even just a few hours spent at the Birds of Prey center, outdoor pool, or in our backyard. Weekend camping trips or a few days visiting friends and family. And of course, the weeks we spend at the condo in Whitefish {2 separate weeks a year}, or the 3 weeks the kids and I spent in California with my cousin and her son {since then she’s gone from 1 to 4 kids! awesome}, the trip Brent and I took to the Mayan Riviera with some great friends {sans kids}…and of course, the upcoming family trip to Puerto Vallarta – all of these facilitate the memories that are most important to me. The ones I’ll remember, the photos we’ll cherish and love looking through for years to come.

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Burgundy Street – Madrid, Spain

And of course – the places I dream of going, the cultures  I am ever so hopeful to give our kids the opportunity to experience.  The ones I just keep pinning.

suitcaseBecause that pretty much sums it up.

Why I Went Back To Work

I’ve considered it before. Working *outside* of the home. But the timing wasn’t right. When Brent and I decided to add to our family with children, having me at home with them was important to both of us. And I loved it – it was what I had always wanted, dreamed of…and I was a happy mommy! I am a happy mommy.

I’ve talked previously about the difficulties in parenting an intense child, and while we are mostly out of those trying times, I still can’t forget how stressful it was. How many hours I spent trying to figure out how best to parent – so that he could be his best self. In his last year of preschool, I considered going back to work. Looking for something VERY part time, because I wondered if we needed time apart. But the truth is, after thinking and praying A LOT, I felt strongly that the timing wasn’t right. That he needed me. And honestly, that I needed him.

So I left it at that.

Until last summer, when a friend of mine was going on Maternity Leave. I had been watching her daughter every once in a while and when she said she was pregnant I told her I wanted her job. Part time, at the hospital, and she loved it. I knew I would too, and so, after some back and forth {would the hassle of childcare be worth it?}, I decided the least I could do was apply.

And I got it!

TONS of people applied for the position, so I felt incredibly grateful for the opportunity. It was also neat to look over my resume and see how my life up until that point had given me opportunities and experience that aligned with the job. So, I am a Service Aide – I order and stock the supplies on my unit to make the nurses jobs easier. And I LOVE it! It’s been a year {next Saturday} and I still love it – I love the part time {perfect balance}, the staff {my nurses are amazing}, management {they are great to work for and with}, and the job itself. In a sickening kind of way, I love going to work every day and making things easier for the nurses and other staff. I mean, seriously LOVE it.

c/o Eternal Reflections Photography {I've told you, my cousin rocks}

c/o Eternal Reflections Photography {I’ve told you, my cousin rocks}

It’s perfect – The year before would not have gone so well I don’t think, but the timing was right. Of the 2 days I worked, Jonah was in kindergarten one of them and at a friend’s house playing the other {Brooklyn is full time school}. Not any different really than his life would have been otherwise. I work 2 out of every 6 Saturdays so the kids either get a day with their dad or grandparents – which I think is something every kid should have the benefit of.

It’s my first summer working, and I’ve had to do a lot of self talk. I love my job, but also don’t ever want work to crowd my priority of being a mom – a stay at home mom. But so far, it’s been amazing and we are packing everything we can into my days off. We are making the most of the time we have, and in some ways I think the working days help me appreciate the days off even that much more!

This has been an amazing year, and I hope I can continue in this position if my friend doesn’t come back, or in something similar if she does. I don’t see myself ever being a full time kinda girl – as spoiled as it sounds, I don’t ever want my life to be ALL work…especially with Brent working full time. I see now how difficult the balance can be between marriage, family, and working…nevermind time for self. And I don’t want to have too many balls in the air. But I am loving the part time for sure! And am grateful I followed the instinct not only to apply, but to wait a year before thinking seriously about the working option.

Some times, things happen just as they should.

For Good Reason… #thesearethedays #makingmemories

I know I’ve been MIA {except the past few days}, and while I LOVE blogging and miss it when I don’t make the time for it, the truth is I’m not sorry.

Because I’m working part time {my first summer working *outside the home* since having kids}, I’m making sure the days I’m off are filled with lots of fun, sun, and icy cold treats!

So while I have at least a hundred posts brewing in my head, I’m taking and making the time to do this:

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Jonah

We ended the school year with Jonah’s Kindergarten *graduation*. The kids had a blast at the little photo booth!

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Brooklyn and her friend

We kicked off our summer by immediately spending our days at the beach!

{I use the term *beach* lightly, but it works and we love it}

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Future Surfer?

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THESE really are the days!

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They built sandcastles

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And played with cars

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Caught bugs

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And {of course} enjoyed ice cream

We went to Waterton with some friends and the kids had an absolute blast playing in the water at Red Rock.

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Yes, he’s in his gonchies.

 

We also spent time at the outdoor pool in Raymond. This was our first year ever trying it out, and we are hooked. We’ve been there about 4 times in the past few weeks.

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There are even palm trees….we all know how much I love palm trees! {though this dark photo makes me sad}

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We tried {unsuccessfully} to protect a mama duck and her 6 ducklings. Something we are all still bummed about.

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Just toddling along behind her

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Sweet little duckling

We also got family photos taken {because my cousin rocks!}

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And met our new niece and nephew who are amazing and adorable and we couldn’t love them more {adoption rocks!}. **Because adoption can be a sensitive situation, I am not going to share photos. Thanks for understanding**

And to top it all off – we met and brought home our newest addition – we are only a few days in, but we are in love!

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All I can say is

BRING ON AUGUST!

**hopefully not all the photos {except the family and puppy ones} will be ipod photos

again…my camera is broken, so I’ve worked with what we have. lol**

Six Little Ducks That I Once Knew… #inourbackyard #makingmemories

We don’t live near water…no stream or pond or lake is even close. Which makes the arrival of a mama duck and her SIX {count ‘em six} ducklings that much more awesome.

There they were…six sweet little ducklings toddling after their mama.

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I realize my lack of camera and zoom lens takes something out of this photo op….but you get the picture….SO cute!

Problem is – being so far from water, how do you just let mama and her ducklings wander the street and alley? Well, you don’t. Or, I couldn’t. I had this master plan and major dream within a minute that we could rally the duck family into our back yard {from the neighbours} and fill our kiddie pool where they would live. Mom would instinctively know she was safe and loved and would become a pet of sorts. Yes Cinderella and Snow White have taken over my imagination forever.

I watched for a little while, just wanting to keep them close, when I suddenly realized that mama was quacking – calling….she was missing 4 of her ducklings :(

This was my chance – no way was I going to let this mama lose her ducklings. So I knocked on the neighbour’s door {to inform them I was going to climb over their fence} but noone was home upstairs {suited home}….I was creeping through the backyard so as not to frighten the ducks and to ensure I didn’t step on any of the lost ones either when the neighbour {basement} came out trying to figure out what the heck I was doing. HA!

Within a minute – and a speed of light explanation where I did nothing but fumble over my words – she was helping me. I could hear the others chirping every once in a while but I could not find them.

So, the neighbour grabbed a box, caught the two not-lost ducklings and Brent filled the kiddie pool {dream sequence initialized}. Mama duck flew around and finally landed near them once we gave her enough space.

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But still she called to her other 4 babies. And still my heart just broke – we could not find them anywhere.

Finally, after quite some time, and after working out the scenario in our favor to relocate the ducklings and pool to our yard {dream continues}, I finally suggested the one thought that had been popping up.

The pipe.

In our neighbours backyard there are two pipes…flush to the ground, with no purpose at all. I wondered if they had fallen in, but hadn’t taken the time to really check. Neighbour lady {she told me her name. I promptly forgot it. I’m ridiculous like that.} checked and sure enough, she could see 2 darling ducklings about 3 feet down. It didn’t solve the entire mystery as there were 2 more still somewhere, but it was a start.

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Brent called the fire department who redirected him to Fisheries and Wildlife, who sent an officer to come remedy the situation. Unfortunately, by the time he got here, only one was still living :( It seems the one had a serious will to survive, at all costs and basically smothered her sibling. So so sad.

The officer {my hero that day} brought out his rattle snake catcher {think glorified garbag picker-upper} and rescued the sweet little duckling from the pipe. Happy day!

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**please ignore the angle that causes my fingers to look outrageously gigantic…5 year old ipod photographers aren’t always on their best game**

Feeling like mama should at least know what happened to the other, we brought him up too. Sad sad day :(

Especially when we realized that the other 2 missing ducklings were under him! 

My heart broke…all our hearts broke.

And by the time we got to our backyard, mama and her two ducklings had found their way elsewhere. Nowhere to be found.

She’ll never know that 3 died….or that one survived. She survived! And the part that hurts my Disney princess heart a little more, is that she’ll never know we were really trying to help.

It was devastating, to say the least.

Though luckily, the officer said ducks are a *more the merrier* type of animal. He was going to drive around and find a pond with other ducklings, and their mama would take this sweet one under her wing as well.

{A dream is a wish your heart makes}

I suppose some good came out of this – one sweet duckling survived. But I can’t help be frustrated that maybe at least the two could have been rescued with a little faster acting on my part.

On the plus side – those little ducklings were pretty stinkin’ cute:

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Happy and Sad – it’s a summer memory we won’t soon forget.

What’s In A Name? #puppynames #thesearethedays

Choosing names for kids was hard. I’m picky, and Brent is even pickier. But puppy names – even more difficult!  I asked everyone for suggestions – and quickly discovered that I don’t love people names for pets. So while Sadie was a HUGE suggestion, it wasn’t even an option for me because it’s totally a people name. And of course, a reader named Sadie jumped on and begged me not to use it for our dog {you’re welcome, Sadie}.

I don’t blame her.

Our friends are big hunters and their dogs are Ruger and Tikka {both gun names} – I LOVE the names…it suits them, the dogs, their lifestyle. It’s perfect. And I wanted a name that made sense for us….something indicative of things we love.

We love the Beach.

We love Surfing {though have never been…} – I, of course, love surfers {*ahem*}. We love summer, the sunshine…

and PALM TREES!

Me especially. Jonah suggested we name a puppy Palm Tree because I love them so much.

We really liked Kahlua for a name and thought for a while that was it. We still really like it, actually. Growing up, my dog’s name was Chivas Regal – a liquer. I kind of liked following that trend {especially since we don’t drink}, and love that it sounds kind of beachy.

But ultimately, the kids {and I} couldn’t quite let go of the name

Malibu

It’s not Brent’s favorite of the two, but he’s a good sport and is okay with it.  And really, it suits her. It’s her name. I’ve read online that dogs respond better to names with two syllables…I guess I’m a little *out of the box*. oops – every name I seriously considered had 3 syllables. lol

And it’s perfect – it’s beachy, connected to surfing {and surfers lol}, is an alcohol {Malibu Rum}, and to top it all off – has palm trees on the bottle!

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It just makes sense.

I know not everyone shares our love for the name – but I adore it. And the kids {who ultimately chose it} do too. :)

If any of you are looking for female dog names – or specifically chocolate lab names, I asked on my facebook group and here is what was suggested:

Pudge

Truffle {LOVE this one}

Finn

Coco/Cocoa

Kahuna

Tiki

Kona

Kahlua {our other choice}

Sunny

Freckle

Tide

Reef

Rip

Tsunami

Undertow

Zori

Frisbey/Frisbee

Choppy

Chopper

Hula

Gigit

Star

Coral

Reef

Aqua

Azure

Cancun

Aloha

Breeze

Breezy

Clipper

Kale

Mahina

Hoku

Kopono

Malana

Mahina

Nani

Oliana

Olina

Summer

Breeze

Soleil

Hazel

Tawny

Daquiri

Hurricane

Halia

Kalea

Kalena

Keona

Lala

Halina

Maylea

Hershey

Roxy {her sister’s name}

Teva

Lillith

Tessa

Shora

Waves

Tidal

Sandy

Rocky

Fisher

Shelly {a good friend’s name….not an option for us at all}

Whew – what a list! Seriously, a great list!

 

 

 

 

Don’t Let Summer Vacation Terrorize You! #familyvacationtips #thesearethedays

Don’t Let Summer Vacation Terrorize You: Tips for a Fun Family Vacation and Taking it in Stride

We’ve all seen them before. They wander with their dead eyes, disheveled clothes and frazzled hair, through airports, or are seen tumbling out of cars trailed by crumbs and empty juice cartons. They are zombie moms; moms who are trying to navigate summer vacation but have become disoriented by all the hassle.

But summer vacation doesn’t have to be a source of stress. It should be about the fun of spending time with family relaxing, seeing new sights and relishing the memories that you’re building. To avoid becoming a zombie mom on your summer vacation, be prepared in advance by following a few of these tips from a fellow traveling mom.

Photo Credit: FulgentKlutz via Compfight cc

1. Pack as though your sanity depends on it.

Consider what baggage is best before you start packing. If you’ll be traveling by plane, a backpack can be especially easy because it keeps your hands free in busy airports. Give the kids a backpack of their own that’s packed with snacks and entertainment for the traveling portion of your trip. If you want a trendier look for yourself, check out Polyvore for a variety of great backpacks in all styles, colors and price ranges.

2. Research, rinse and repeat.

Do your research. Think about what kind of vacation fits your family. Do you have young kids, teenagers or a combination of both? Look for family-friendly hotels and resorts that have enough activities to keep people of all ages occupied. Use travel services like Gogobot to find hotels with pools, playgrounds or kids clubs to keep your kids busy and occupied. With some research you might even be able to find a hotel that offers a kids program so you can sneak away for a romantic dinner with your spouse.  I found a great list of Orlando hotels that offered tons of family-friendly tips and tricks when it came to making a decision.

3. Put down the stilettos. You won’t be needing them.

In this case, less really is more. You’ll look most fashionable if you bring a few simple pieces that coordinate easily and resist wrinkles. Be sure to include at least one dress that can go from day to evening. Dress up a maxi dress with a light weight jacket or elegant wrap. You’ll look good and feel comfortable too.

4. Don’t be afraid of small spaces.

If you’ll be traveling by car, try to make the space as comfortable as possible for small children. What parent hasn’t heard some version of “Are we there yet?” Long car rides can be a drag, but they can also be a good time for young ones to get some sleep. Bring some blankets and pillows from home and create an on-the-go slumber party. Invest in some blinds for the windows to keep out the bright sunlight and avoid those cranky wakeups.

5. Is it “forget to remember” or “remember to forget?”

Forget the strict schedule, but remember the routine. Kids – especially young ones – are used to routines. Plan time for naps if you have young children, and take plenty of breaks for snacks as needed. Everyone, including kids, needs to have some relaxation on their vacation. You’ll feel much more relaxed if you don’t have kids who are breaking down because they are over-tired or hungry.

Kendra Thornton: Travel advocate, TV spokesperson, PR businesswoman, proud wife and mama of 3. I am a long time travel expert who has been packing my bags and traveling the world since I was 3 months old! I’ve found my utmost desire in life is right here in my own home. I have taken my excitement for travel and brought it to you with some of my favorite travel tips and tricks. Enjoy!

Introducing… #ournewestaddition #puppylove #thesearethedays

Here she is! Introducing…

Miss Malibu

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On the way home!

We are seriously in love with her!

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Morning nap! {She was sleeping until she heard me getting the ipod…rats!}

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So so sweet and playful

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Fuzzy – but Malibu mawling Jonah with kisses haha

I Needed That! #givingisbeautiful #payitforward #thesearethedays

I had a rough day.

And those who know me, know it doesn’t happen very often. I’m a happy person by nature – like sickeningly happy…positive…glass is half full {though in my sickeningly happy world, it’s actually completely full}…

My feathers are not easily ruffled and I take pride in being able to compartmentalize different areas of my life, so crummy moments don’t make for crummy days. But today – today was rough.

Starting off with sleeping really crappy the last two nights – being tired NEVER helps – and adding a rather frustrating situation into the mix. Not work related, though the exchange took place while at work {via text}…and not husband or kids related {we are great}. But it continues to amaze me when grown adults can act so ridiculous and haven’t, even in their 40′s and 50′s+ learned how to communicate effectively. Or when they aren’t willing to listen, or be flexible…and when they are the ones being seriously rude, try and turn it around to the other person being that way {me in this case}. It was ridiculous and really took over my entire day.

Which I also hate.

And then I got home…to my kids. That I adore dearly, I really do….but they are driving me CRA-CRA! They are whiney, messy, complaining about cleaning, and fighting….boy, do they fight. And then, they decided to spray bug spray in the kitchen.

Today – today I wasn’t equipped to deal with it. I just wasn’t, but instead of losing my cool – for no other reason than to relieve my own building crabbiness – I sent them to their rooms. They played quietly there for over an hour and I think we all needed that time. Then I had an errand to run and was honestly excited to just go on my own.

But I felt like I had the Bitchy Resting Face {sorry, that’s what it’s called}….which is something I normally don’t have at all – remember, ridiculously happy.

So I ran and did my errands, ending off on the one that made the entire day better. I stopped by to drop off my receiving blankets, baby towels, bibs, and a few burp cloths that needed a new home – to a girl from facebook who had her baby THIS MORNING! {Congratulations!!!!!}

They needed a new home anyways, and I wanted them out of my house…and it’s always nice to be able to help out, even in these small ways. But I was not prepared for what happened. Dropping them off to her mother in law was awesome. She was so sweet and kind, and glowing the way only new grandmothers do….and we had a lovely chat.

We said our goodbyes, I gave my well-wishes, and then jumped in my vehicle to drive off.

And the emotion hit me and my eyes welled with tears! The emotion of the entire day just flooded me…this one moment of giving completely took over. Not because I did anything amazing {they were receiving blankets, people}, but the small act of giving…the moment of thinking outside myself…THAT made all the difference. And erased all the negativity from the day.

And I SOOOOO needed that!

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