My Babies Daddy

With Father’s Day coming up it has had me extra grateful for my babies daddy.

Here is the thing, we grew up with a single mom. So Father’s Day really wasn’t a special day for us as we didn’t have a Father to celebrate. It never felt like we were missing out and it wasn’t bad or sad. I think our life was pretty great and we had so many other people to celebrate. However now having kids of my own and raising them with their amazing dad we have so much to celebrate on Fathers Day!

So, what makes a Father? In my eyes it isn’t just biology. Most people can create a child but it takes someone great to stick to around and raise a child. In our case 3 kids! Fraser was born to be a dad. From the moment I met him I knew he would make a great Dad but watching him with our kids is a whole new kind of love and happiness.

Raising three little kiddos is exhausting and trying, messy and loud, hilarious and rewarding.

Fraser is our calm. He keeps everyone relaxed, laughing and happy. He never shows stress, always claims he isn’t stressed and is a true sentimental guy. He is caring and generous to a fault, and he has such a great way of looking at things. He is able to fix almost anything and he is handy. He loves to learn new things (usually that involve acquiring new tools and materials). He is a shopaholic (but would never admit it). He is our provider in more than just financial terms, he cooks, fixes, updates, does school drop offs, makes lunches and helps Grace with her ponies (in her hair and her dolls) and comes to appointments. He is a true family man, and we are so happy he is ours.

On Sunday we will celebrate Fraser and all that he brings to our family. The craziest thing is that we are so incredibly blessed with a lifestyle unique from a lot of other families. Fraser works graveyards (1am-8am) so he is home most days all day. Although I hope to make Sunday special for him, we get many days of just hanging out as a family of five. I like to think our life is pretty special, and a big part of that is due to the sacrifices Fraser makes to benefit us all.

I know it is easy to get wrapped up in day to day life and dwell on the things that someone doesn’t do (or doesn’t do well), but we are all human and if we were being truthful we all have faults. Instead of focusing on those challenging things I am going to try and remind myself everyday of all the amazing things my babies daddy not only brings to their lives but to mine. I cant ever imagine raising this tribe without him and I wouldn’t want to.

Fraser thanks for being the best Dad to our kids. XOXO.

Happy Fathers Day to all those other amazing Dads out there. One of my favourite things about becoming parents is getting to do it alongside so many of our friends and this coming year we get to watch one of Fraser’s friends become a Dad for the first time, it is going to be so great! So we will not only celebrate Fraser but all the other great Dads that’s are apart of our tribe… Hip Hip Hooray to all the great ones out there.

Real Housewife of A Long Shore Man

I ran in to my mentor, coach and last employer a couple weeks ago. Both of our lives have changed pretty significantly in the last 3 years and we had lots to catch up on. As we were standing there chatting she gave me a huge compliment. She commented that I looked great (always nice to hear but that wasn’t the compliment) and that I didn’t have that over tired/stressed out mom look most moms with babies and young kids have. She then proceeded to say ” You did that, you have made choices to make sure that you are not too stressed or over tired. It is not luck but your choices.”

It totally stuck with me as I sometimes feel mom guilt or compare myself to others without meaning to and then feel bad that I am not your typical mom! However I feel like people see me or us out as a family and say how “Lucky” we are for many different reasons. I don’t think its luck, I think its hard work, compromise and prioritizing. Most times people mean well by the comment but it doesn’t seem quite right as we work hard to have the lifestyle and life that we have.

These pictures below are such an example. I love them but they were done on a super cold day at 6pm, because I had a conference all day and that was the time we could make work. Fraser had worked a graveyard shift only to come home to watch the kids (I had already left for the day so he took over from my sister). When I got home we frantically tried to dress our kids (hence why Rowen isn’t wearing a jacket, he actually wanted no pants or socks. We compromised). And sweet Grace had just gotten up from a nap. The pictures most definitely don’t tell the whole story, but they captured each of us perfectly IMO and I love them. That being said I wish other people knew when they looked at them these pictures were 15 minutes of a crazy day and don’t depict our full story.

Here’s the thing, we intentionally had three kids under the age of three and we knew it was a bit crazy and going to change lots. However, we both knew we still wanted to be individuals, to have time together and with friends to socialize as adults (we started as just the two of us, and we will end up just the two of us again so we want to keep the love alive, and we actually enjoy each other’s company and like spending time together).

I like working, or I at least like being a part of a team of people working towards something (not necessarily work in the traditional sense). However we both decided with the age of our kids and the hours we would both end up working it didn’t make financial or emotional sense for me to go back to my old job. That being said it wasn’t that I could never go back to work just need to get the kids into school. Just another trade off, I love my life and we both made the choice to stay home but I do not have my own income and people don’t look at a mom and see how hard she works, instead they see a lucky kept lady getting to stay home, sleep in, cuddle a baby and shop without paying for it. Trade offs. I do get to do all those things but I also rarely have breakfast (or at least fresh/hot breakfast), often don’t shower until 3 (and over half the time its with a child), have been puked on more times than I care to count, don’t remember the last time I slept without at least one child in my bed or the last time I peed alone and have you ever tried to shop with three kids under three (best budgeting tool ever)?

Here is us on Market Day, we had a babysitter but figured to make it easier on her and better for Eleanor we would bring her for at least part of the day, this was just what was best for the greater good! I loved planning and preparing for the market, Fraser loved getting to create a bit in his workshop and loved seeing me happy and my kids love being at the farm and “helping” on the days before and after the market. It is not easy, but it is rewarding and fun and was such a great day!

I miss the responsibility and independence and accomplishments that come with having a job outside of the home. Obviously this is always an area that will have pros and cons and I love the decision we made for our family but I definitely think it is a hard decision for every family and again it comes at a cost. I do look at a lot of my working friends in envy and with so much pride for what they are doing. The really cool thing for me is I think as a collective group of friends we are able to get the best of all worlds. I am around if anyone needs any help, etc and my friends are around for me to get to jump in on occasion (like at the farm, getting to work and do the market).

I have managed to find things that I can do part time or on contract and still get the feeling of some independence from the family but not have it negatively impact them. Instead all these things I do make me a better me and a better mom! This idea of self care isn’t new to me, it’s something I have always struggled with (I am an all or nothing type of girl but I am totally working on balance). I decided to start this blog, sell doTerra Oils, help train and teach the girls at The Urban Rack (my last job) and even take on some projects/ events like the Christmas Market at the Farm and my girlfriends long table dinner. These things are not making me rich, to be completely honest most of these things end up costing more than they ever make. But money isn’t the only measurement of success and what these things bring to our family in terms of socialization, feeling of community and happiness and fulfilment out weigh any paycheque they are missing.

Fraser is a longshoremen and he works nightshifts by choice (specifically graveyards). This is one of those choices that we make to provide us with our “lucky” life. The trade off for him working at night is a better paycheque (amazing shift differential), more family time, flexibility in taking time off (when you make more at work you can work less!). With these benefits come costs and the cost to us is nighttime’s alone for mom with 3 very young and not great sleepers, sleep deprivation for both of us (especially for Fraser who doesn’t get many hours a day of sleep), early nights (no more wild nights out TIL 2 am, home before the clock strikes 12… especially when you work at 1am). We feel the benefits out weigh the costs and we try to balance it all, so when we find it taking its toll on us Fraser might take some time off, or we just have some lazy home PJ days.

We were able to do a renovation last year and this year we are able to take a month off to go to Maui, some might consider us “lucky” for having such an extended vacation but I look at it as well deserved time to rest. Fraser has many weeks were he works 7 days a week, and on top of his paying night job he is a full time dad, and a part time handy man for our household as well as for all my wild ideas (like setting up a table at our first Christmas Market). There is also all the things you don’t see, like our less than extravagant vehicles that are far from our dream ride (but we have no car payments!), or the fact that I haven’t bought new bras in I’m embarrassed to admit how long or that Fraser’s gum boots have holes in them! I mean we aren’t poor and hard done by but we also make choices and go without a lot of things.

Its funny though both Fraser and I struggle with taking time for ourselves. It’s hard to leave the other parent with three kiddos and not feel a bit of guilt for it. We are good at getting a babysitter. I never feel guilty paying someone to come and be with the kids but leaving the other parent (who willingly signed up for this parenting gig), and doesn’t get paid, is much harder to do. Just because it is hard to do though, doesn’t mean we both shouldn’t still try. Fraser has a much harder time than I do with just popping out and doing something with the guys or just for himself. This will definitely be something we will continue to work on as we both think its important and something I believe will come easier as the kids get a bit older. It does mean our weekends or even days on a motorcycle are few and far between, or drinks with friends or days spent doing nothing by ours selves are not really a reality right now. But the odd time we do get to do some of these the more we appreciate and enjoy it.

I think the reminder in all of this and the lesson is that we make our own luck. Life is life and making it great is up to us. We really do have the power to make life what we want. We wanted chaotic and crazy and knew what we were getting into. The good so outweighs the hard (because it is never bad, its hard). In my opinion anything worthwhile is hard, so stick it out and the benefits are usually way bigger than you can ever imagine. Check in with yourself often and evaluate.

When we are overwhelmed we look at how we can simplify and what is important. We hire our amazing babysitter and take time out just the two of us. Or we try to see when we need a break and encourage each other, sometimes its me needing a nap after a rough night with the kids or Fraser needing to go out to his shop and do whatever it is he does out there:)

I have a large family who has been there when we need them and are always offering help but we certainly don’t have financial or childcare support that we know a lot of young families have. What we do have is creative help, my sister is always offering to take some of the kids or we trade off preschool pick ups which is huge. My mom is always dropping off meals, coming by to hold Eleanor just so I can get a bit done or even taking our laundry and returning it the next day cleaned and folded. These things are HUGE and I am learning to accept the help that is offered. We also recently hired a house cleaner, and I am learning that is a huge help! It took a bit of work (cleaning the house for the cleaners) and then being out of the house for them was a chore with three kids. However coming home to a clean house is always a good feeling for everyone.

I think another thing I am learning since having kids and more life experience is everyone’s life looks great but we see is just the good stuff not the compromises or things they have given up to get the good! It’s easy to envy or to think grass is greener but instead of doing that make a life you love and you will have no reason to feel that way.

What choices have your family made that were difficult? Do you consider yourself “lucky”? Would love to hear from you…

Girls Night In

“Choices, life is all about choices” is a common phrase you can often hear my mom saying.  She does make a good point, some choices are simple and have relatively little impact on our life, like what colour socks you wear, it’s a choice with no real life long effects, others are more influential and have a longer lasting impact. Things like how much you drink in a night, the hobbies you choose or the friends you associate with. This is not luck, it is a choice you make.    

I am so proud of the friendships I have cultivated and the people I choose to associate with. Each one of these women represent traits and things that I want for my own life and my kids lives, these are the role models I want to have my kiddos to look up to!  I am blessed to have a tight group of girlfriends, and although we may not see each other as much as we might like we all play pretty big roles in each other’s lives!  We are aunties to each other’s children, mentors, sounding boards, therapists and/or drinking buddies when needed. We are a self made family. 

This weekend we had planned a girls night in, instead of going out we had a catered dinner. Knowing how busy each of us are I took it upon myself to just get it catered and have us all split the bill! This was genius if I do say so, it meant no mess, no dishes, easy clean up and best of all no stress! Just show up.  Newman’s Fine Foods was so great at putting together a beautiful charcuterie platter for us as an appie.   Illuminate Restorante in Tsawwassen was equally accommodating and easy to work with, the best part was the food was delicious.  

I think so often we get wrapped up in making things perfect or not attempting to do something in case we can’t do it well enough. I know I definitely do.  However, with this night I kept reminding myself less is more, it is about the people and getting together not where we have it or what the menu is. So in an effort to simplify and give up a little control I trusted the chef and asked him to design a menu that would be seasonal and work for everyone. He did a great job and I didn’t have to do anything (not even make a decision).  I know maybe this isn’t for everyone or isn’t always possible but the point isn’t get a caterer, it’s don’t get too wrapped up in the details… grab bags of chips and snacks, go to Costco and get some party trays, order pizza. It doesn’t matter just get together!  Make time away from kids and hubbies and share some laughs and fun with your gals:). Nobody cares what your eating (rather what’s in your glass) J/K! 

I had planned a beautiful outdoor evening at one of my favourite spots but the weather prevented it from happening. So, in true friendship fashion one of the gals offered up her barn.  Some of you may wonder why I was hosting a dinner in a barn when I have a beautiful newly renovated home… so many reasons but a big one is this was a night for the girls and we all have roommates ( I actually have 4) AKA hubbies and kids. So the best way to get away for a dinner and enjoy a night of laugher and recharging was to break in our new “clubhouse”. 

The night could not have been more perfect. It was so fun to just sit, enjoy good food, drinks and best of all the company of, as one of the ladies refers to us, “the loves of our lives”. It was a really good reminder no matter how busy you are take time out to spend it with the people that matter to you!  It’s amazing how good it can be for the soul. 

My favourite thing about the evening was actually a little exercise we did ahead of time. I had asked everyone to email one word beside each girlfriends name, when the gals sat down to dinner they had a sheet of paper with 10 beautiful words describing them. We actually went around the table and shared our words, which truly was a highlight.  I have to admit there were many words on those pages that made me proud of my tribe. The best part was the repetition of a few words. One really stood out as I think 7 out of 10 of us had LOYAL down.  I think that says a lot to see the same word given by so many and about so many different woman. 

Another special treat for the night was the party favours. Not only did one of our girlfriends make each of the gals some funny and fabulous wine glasses with hilarious sayings (these will be available at our Christmas Market from Westham Jar Co.) she also had homemade marshmallows and fudge (check out Farmhouse Floral & Gifts, also at our Christmas Market) done up for each of us!  I loved the idea of having some favours so when she suggested it I jumped on board and added a room spray with a custom scent I made with oils that carry certain properties I felt we were all in need of right now!  The reaction was amazing to all of these goodies:)  Check out my instagram if you want my “secret” room spray recipe.  The best part is that we actually have favours still coming as another girlfriend has commissioned a local jewelry designer to make custom friendship bracelets with different stones and charms that hold meaning to her and to us.  This night is really the night that just keeps on giving. 

I can’t forget to mention my favourite gift though, it was something I was a little unsure about at first. I had thought about asking Daph if she could come and snap a couple photos and then wasn’t sure if that was weird.  Like, we aren’t the Kardashians (almost but not quite) and why does a girls night need a photographer?  Plus we all have iPhones right?  First, iphones do not substitute a photographer (see pictures below and you will understand!).  Second, a girls night needs a photographer because how often does Mom get into the pictures?  Not very often in my experience Mom is usually the photographer.  Also how nice is it Sunday morning to wake up and see these beautiful reminders of what a fabulous evening we had.  So Thank You Daphne Lynn Photography (did I mention she will also be at the Christmas Market).  I also was a little worried having a photographer there would maybe ruin the vibe we were going for but I think she was the perfect addition to our party:) 

So, in an effort to remind myself of this night and the feelings I left it with I decided to use this as an opportunity to check in with myself more.  Am I living life with purpose? Do I stay true to my values? It was a good reminder to me that when you give of yourself what you get in return is so much more.  I might have spent a little time putting this together but what these women gave me in return was so far greater!  I woke up the next morning feeling groggy (maybe a little hungover), so loved, so supported, so blessed and energized. It was exactly the check in that I needed.  Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed and like life is too busy what do you do to recharge and gain balance and perspective?  I know what I do and who I go to!  And this was exactly what I needed and when I needed it. 

THANK YOU LADIES!

XO Carly   

Location: Private Farm, Westham Island

Caterer: Newmans Fine Foods & Illuminate Restauranto

Photographer: Daphne Lynne Photographer

Decor: This Plain Life, Westham Jar Co.  And Farmhouse Floral & Gifts