Holidays 2018

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA lately! Pete took 2 weeks off of work and we had a GREAT little vacation with our family. Here are some highlights!!

Camping: We went for 3 nights and 4 days camping at Rolley Lake just outside of Mission, BC. It was fantastic! Gorgeous campsite; great little beach by the lake; awesome weather! You can read all about it here!

Also check out my Ultimate Family Camping Checklist downloadable PDF

Click here for your FREE PDF

Road Trip: Every year at the end of July, my sister and brother in law in Enderby host a big family birthday bash for my 2 nephews. My oldest nephew, Ethan’s, birthday is July 27th and his younger brother, Myles’, birthday is July 30th. So it works out well to do them all together. This year Ethan turned 18 and Myles turned 10, so it was kinda a big year for them both! We had just got home from camping, so rather than camp out in my sister’s yard like we have in the past, we decided to book a hotel. It’s a good 5 1/2 hour trip from our place, so we left fairly early on the Saturday and made it there mid afternoon. Everything went well, other than 1 minor puking incident for Maggie. She gets car sick and I hadn’t brought any Gravol along 🙁 Poor kiddo… she was fine and fell asleep after she puked! On the way home we took some Gravol from my sister so we could avoid another incident! We stopped in Merritt for supper at my other sister’s house. So, the girls got to see all of their cousins that weekend! They had so much fun. Their big cousins are so good with them and the girls just love playing with them all, they look up to them a ton.

8 of 11 cousins enjoying some birthday ice cream cake!

Birchwood Dairy: If you are in or around the Abbotsford, BC area this summer (or any summer!) be sure to check out Birchwood Dairy! They have some of the best ice cream in town! Plus, they have a petting zoo area with cows, ponies, goats and sheep that the girls just loved. We bought a bag of apples and celery for $0.50 and the girls went to town feeding all the animals. They especially liked feeding the baby goats and the ponies. There’s also a playground with swings and a slide and some really cool old cars, trucks and tractors to look at. You can watch the farmers milk the cows in the parlor from 3:30-5:30pm as well, so we caught some of that on our way out. It was Pete’s first time seeing a milking parlor too!

Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays were playing in Seattle this past weekend. so we left the girls with my Mom and Pete and I made the trip down there. It was a long weekend and I think half of BC was heading down to see the Jays play, so we had a 2 hour wait at the border! I think that’s the longest I’ve ever had to wait. If you’re familiar with Abbotsford and the Sumas border crossing, we were stopped by Costco already! We hit up the Seattle Premium Outlet Mall on the way down there. Of course, we only left with things for the girls! Pretty typical once you become a parent!! When we got to Seattle, we parked near the stadium and just walked around for a bit and took in the atmosphere. Everywhere you turned there were more and more Blue Jay fans! We met fans from Calgary, Campbell River, Victoria and Cranbrook. Pete’s been to couple Jays home games in Toronto and he said it totally felt like a home game there. It was a sea of Blue Jays blue when you looked out at the stadium. We got to see an awesome game. We saw some great pitching from Marco Estrada, a home run by Aledys Diaz and to top it all off a streaker ran onto the field in the 9th inning. Pretty hilarious, but apparently he’s paying quite a hefty price. You can get fined up to $5000 and spend a night in jail. Turns out this guy was from Ireland too and is possibly facing deportation back there! I hope it was all worth it for him!

Abbotsford Agrifair: We wrapped up our holidays by heading out to the Abbotsford Agrifair. Abbotsford has this fair every year to showcase some of the Agriculture in our city. We’ve taken the girls before, but I think this is the first year they really started to appreciate it. The RCMP Musical Ride was there, so we watched a bit of that. It’s so amazing what they can do with those horses! So beautiful!! It was scorching hot there with no shade, so we didn’t stay for the whole thing. After that, Maggie wanted to go look at every single animal. After a brief meltdown by the Lego display, we went and had a snack and headed into the barns. It was pretty neat seeing all the cows, chickens, goats and horses. You can’t go to the fair without Mini-donuts, so we had that for a snack and then went back home for supper. It was hot, but the girls enjoyed it!!

Our little flower and honey bee!!

So, that’s our holiday recap!! What have you all been up to so far this summer? Any great places to recommend?

love,

Caroline

Camping with Kids

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We decided to take our 2 girls on their first camping trip this past week! We stayed pretty close to home just in case things don’t go as smoothly as planned. The first time we tried camping with Lily, she was 9 months old (6 1/2 when you account for her prematurity) and I was 2 months pregnant. This time we headed up to Rolley Lake just outside of Mission, BC (less than a 45 minute drive from our house!!) I’ve been there on many day trips, but never overnight. Its a gorgeous little spot with a great beach and lake to swim in (no motorized boats!)

Daughter Lily playing at the beach
Lily playing at the beach
Maggie playing at the beach

I was a little nervous to go camping with kids at first. Our first trip with Lily didn’t end up going so well. We went to Tofino on Vancouver Island. It ended up being soooooo cold that week and it was the middle of July! Lily was miserable, we ended up leaving early and getting a hotel in Nanaimo. This time around, we had a fantastic time! The girls had so much fun playing and exploring around the campsite and we all enjoyed relaxing and swimming at the beach. It was much needed time for our family.

Our campsite was fantastic! It was fairly private with lots of big trees surrounding us. Even though it was smoking hot when we were there (30+ degree weather) the campsite was comfortable in the shade. We were only about a 2 minute walk from the flush toilets (there were outhouses closer, but Lily refuses to use those… I can’t say I blame her!) There was also a great little park right by the washrooms that the girls enjoyed playing at a few times. Once when I was there with Lily, there was a group of Korean kids playing there too. I don’t think they spoke a lick of English, but Lily insisted they were her new best friends on the playground! It was so cute. I love her friendly spirit.

Reading bedtime stories around the propane fire pit is part of camping with kids! Bedtime stories around the propane fire (there was a fire ban on while we were there)[/caption]

The nights were late, the girls would be up in the tent giggling (or fighting) until 9:30 or 10, but I expected that to happen camping with kids. We brought along some new sand toys (thanks to my Mom!) that they could play with at the beach and in our campsite as well. We brought their Puddle Jumpers that they loved floating around with in the lake. Lily even floated on her back for the first time which is something they said she had to work on in her last set of swimming lessons.

They’re both learning to ride their bikes. Lily has a strider bike and Maggie has training wheels, so we took their bikes along as well. They rode them a bit (Lily more than Maggie). Pete took them for a bike ride one afternoon. About 5 minutes later they came back. The girls were running ahead and there came Pete carrying both bikes! Needless to say, it wasn’t the best bike ride!

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my family camping trips. My Dad used to get 2 weeks off every summer and we’d pack up the tent trailer and head out on the road! Sometimes we went to just one spot for 2 weeks, but usually we’d do a bit of a road trip and spend a night or two at any given campsite. The smell of campfires and lazy days on the beach, those were the best!

My husband grew up in Ontario and his family owned a cottage on a lake. They spent weeks there in the summer. I know he loved it, that cottage holds a special place in his heart. He talks about it often. Needless to say, we really want our girls to have these great memories and experiences. Our dream is to get a tent trailer or travel trailer so we can sleep up off the ground and have somewhere to go if it’s raining that’s a bit more comfortable than a tent. One day…

I learned a lot from my Mom when I was little about getting ready for a camping trip. She was a master packer and she is probably the most organized person I have every known. The organization trait must have skipped me, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to packing! I’ve traveled enough with just a back pack (Mexico, Europe) to get things to fit just right! I’ve also moved enough (Fun fact: between 2003-2013 I moved 8 times- twice across the country) to consider myself a pretty good packer.

So, I’ve compiled an Ultimate Family Camping list of all the things I bring along to go camping. I have a tote that I store things in year round. I have plates, bowls, cutlery and pots and pans dedicated to camping so I don’t have to pack up my everyday stuff. It makes getting ready super easy. I just grab my tote and throw it in the back of the van along with our food and other essentials and we’re on our way (well, it’s never quite that easy, but this takes out a lot of the hassle!) I feel like this list has helped me so much, I want to share it with you all! Click below to get your very own FREE printable PDF of the Ultimate Family Camping Checklist.

Click here for a PDF of my Ultimate Family Camping Checklist
Click here for your PDF

Surviving the First 5 Years of Marriage

My hubby and I just celebrated our 5 year anniversary on July 13th (Friday the 13th this year!) It was so lovely. We (I should say he) got a sitter and made dinner reservations for us at Greek Islands here in Abbotsford. If you are lucky enough to live in the Fraser Valley of BC, you’ve GOT to check out this restaurant! There are 4 locations (2 in Abbotsford, 1 in Chilliwack and 1 in Surrey) The food and service are AMAZING! (I have no affiliation with them, it’s just a great place to eat!)

Most amazing and fun day of my life!!

Anyway, I know 5 years isn’t an eternity, but here are some tips on surviving the first 5 years of marriage!

1- Communicate

Even if it means you’re going to start a fight sometimes. You need to say things to get them off your chest or you will just stew and stew about them. Tell your spouse what you are up to in the next few days. Take the time to just talk. It’s so important to keep open lines of communication. I can tell when my husband and I haven’t seen much of each other in a while (sometimes we go a few days between because of our work schedules) because our communication just isn’t where it should or could be. Which leads to me my next tip!

2- Make time to spend with each other

We try to make it a priority to go out (just the two of us) at least once every 2 months. My brother and sister in law worked out an agreement with us to watch each others kids so we can do this. We babysit their kids and they babysit ours. It’s worked out really well and given us the much needed time to reconnect. The past few weeks have been crazy with Pete and my work schedules. Pete’s been doing a lot of overtime and my teaching is always at night, so we don’t overlap at home much. Even just going out for dinner last night I feel so much more connected to him. We had a chance to talk, just us. It was great!

Wine and dine meal. Make time for each other to survive the first 5 years of marriage

3- Keep the humour

Even though I tease Pete about telling “Bad Dad Jokes” all the time, he still makes me laugh! I love that we can still joke around and I love that we are passing that sense of humour on to our girls. It’s good to not take yourself to seriously sometimes. Life is tough and there is so much that can bog us down, but laughter is so good for the soul!

4- Keep the romance

Sometimes Pete just brings me home flowers or chocolates. I love that. It’s not usually on any specific day, he just does it if he knows I’ve had a rough do or something. I try to leave him little notes here and there, or send him special texts while he is at work to let him know I’m thinking about him. Even in the bedroom, it’s important to keep that spark alive. Some days I am so tired and sex is the last thing on my mind. But after it always makes me feel more connected to Pete again. I’ve challenged myself in the last few months to not say no when he initiates. I know it’s important to him and it’s an important part to a marriage relationship.

Couple about to kiss. Keep the romance alive to survive the first 5 years of marriage

5- Learn to lean on the Lord together

We have been through A LOT in 5 years. We’ve had multiple job changes, including 6 months with neither of us working. An 11 week premature baby and subsequent 69 day hospital stay. We’ve dealt with financial struggles, aging parents, moving to a new city and 2 girls in 14 months. It’s been a little crazy and scary at times. But through it all, we know that God is in charge and we’re learning to trust him each day. This was one of the greatest lessons I learned during our NICU stay (you can read about my thoughts on that here) In the midst of our deepest financial struggles, we had to rely on the Lord to provide for us each and every single day. And He did! I don’t know why it still surprises me when He comes through in the end, He’s been faithful all along after all!

Bible with rings: Learn to lean on God to survive your first 5 years of marriage

I’m no marriage expert, but these are 5 things that I know without a shadow of a doubt makes our relationship stronger. What are somethings you do to keep your marriage alive and growing?

Surviving the First 5 Years of Marriage

30 Fun Facts About Me!!

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I’ve been at this blog thing for about a month now! You guys have been a lot of fun so far! Now it’s time for you guys to get to know me a bit more!! For my first 30 days, here are 30 fun facts about me!

  1.  I am the youngest of 4 (2 sisters and 1 brother)
    My siblings and I
  2. I have extremely short pinkie fingers for some reason, they barely come up to the first knuckle on my ring finger (finding gloves is a pain!!!) My sister broke the one on my right hand when I was in grade 6 (we were playing basketball, she grabbed my pinkie, I twisted to get away) so it’s even shorter.
  3. I hate feet… detest them. Keep them far away from me. You know I really love my husband after I had to check out his feet for a medical issue he was having with them. Ewwwwwwwwwww!!
  4. I have sold with 2 Multi-level marketing companies in the past. Steeped Tea Canada and Keep Collective. I’m not much of a sales person, but I enjoyed aspects of each of them. I usually end up spending more than I make though, so not too sure how good of a business plan that is!
    One of my favourite Keep Collective looks
  5. My parents were both conceived in the Netherlands, but only one of them was born there! My Mom’s family immigrated to Canada while my Oma was pregnant with her.
  6. My favourite tea is Earl Grey. I’m a bit of a snob though, I only drink loose leaf tea at home. Tea bags are for emergencies only. There really is a difference to the taste!
  7. My favourite colour to wear is grey (boring, I know)
  8. My favourite colour is green
  9. From 2003-2013 I moved 8 times, I wasn’t in the same place for more than 2 years anywhere
  10. I have traveled to Mexico (twice on Mission trips), the Netherlands, Germany, England, Italy and the Dominican Republic
  11. I love airports… I could spend hours there just watching people
  12. I am a HUGE Vancouver Canucks fan (I was not part of either the 1994 or 2011 riots… those were not fans, they were idiots!) Go Canucks Go!!
  13. I have a 10 year old Yorkie-poo named Winnie. She barks too much and has terrible teeth, but I still love her!
    My puppy Winnie
  14. My oldest daughter’s due date (December 31, 2014) and my youngest daughter’s birth date (January 2, 2016) are only 1 year and 2 days apart (because of premature births, they are actually 14 months apart)
  15. I met my husband online through Plenty of Fish
  16. I read the Bible and believe what it says to be true. Jesus is the Son of God and died on the cross in our place so we can have a relationship with God. He paid our debt (I have this Bible, but in a smaller version. It fits well in my purse and is easy to take anywhere)
  17. I have a total of 22 Aunts and Uncles. That’s my parents immediate siblings, most of them are married too. Some have unfortunately passed on now, but my Mom is from a family of 11 and my Dad from a family of 13
  18. We like camping in the summer. My family gave us a Coleman 6 person Instant Tent for our engagement gift and it has seriously changed camping for us. My memories of camping when I was little involve a lot of arguing about setting up the tent or tent trailer and taking it down at the end. This tent makes it a breeze and I feel like we get to spend a lot more time relaxing and enjoying camping rather than setting up and taking down
  19. Some of my favourite books include My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult, The Kite Runner by Kahled Hosseini and I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  20. I like to read books before they come out as movies. 9 times out of 10, the book is way better
  21. 2 of my closest friends I met when I was 7 years old (we’re now 36)
    My friend Jill-o
    My friend Sandra
  22. Both of my daughters were born prematurely. Lily was born at 29 weeks gestation and Maggie at 36 weeks.
  23. When I was in high school I could eat an entire bag of Bits and Bites by myself. Our youth group leaders used to get one bag for me and another for everyone else to share.
  24. I played basketball and was a high jumper in track and field all through high school. I qualified for the provincials in both sports when I was in grade 11. Unfortunately, the date of the track and field provincials happened to be the same day my second oldest sister got married. I had to miss it.
  25. I have a certificate in Fitness and Exercise Management, a certificate in Biblical Studies and am a Registered Pharmacy Technician. I’ve done a lot of different jobs so far.
  26. I worked at Cultus Lake Water Park for 3 summers as Water Safety staff while I was in school. That was probably one of my favourite jobs ever (the sandal, short and t-shirt tan was horrible though!)
  27. I love crocheting and have a Facebook page connected with my blog for my crocheting! Check it out here. Craftsy has some fantastic online classes if interested in learning about crocheting. You can find them here.
    Crochet Octopus for Preemies
  28. I’ve been robbed twice while working as a Pharmacy Technician (thank goodness for time delayed safes now!)
  29. I consider myself a Daddy’s little girl
  30. I live with anxiety, mostly social, and depression. I have come through a lot and I say I live with it now because I am living again!

So, there you have it! 30 Fun Facts about me!! What are some fun facts about you? Something not everyone knows about you?

Boats & Anchors

I have a cousin who has been going through what I imagine would be hell this past year. She lost her youngest daughter in a car accident last summer. Her grief is palpable, but her faith is inspiring. She has written through all her range of feelings and emotions and it has been incredible to read. I haven’t asked her permission to share her blog post, so I’ll be keeping her anonymous. However, what she wrote the other day was truly amazing. It was based on the verse from the Bible Hebrews 6:19.

From https://www.bibleref.com/Hebrews/6/Hebrews-6-19.html:

“Just as the anchor which holds a ship is not in the exact same place as the ship itself, our hope is not in this world. Rather, it is in a holier, greater place. Since Christ has gone ahead of us, in order to secure our salvation, we should have absolute confidence.”

I’m thankful my anchor is not in the same place as my boat. My boat gets tossed and turned by the waves of this world. But my anchor is secure with Christ in heaven.

Love,

Caroline