Facing Fears.

When is the last time you did something that scared you?  For me it was today, I went on my first duck hunt. 

I have been wanting to try hunting for maybe the last 5 years.  Last year I took the first steps and I went and got my CORE. It was a check mark off my bucket list.  However, it was kind of like I got certified and stopped there.  It is easy to take a classroom course and pass a written test (sort of) but to actually go out hunting was a lot scarier. I felt overwhelmed by all the information I had just been given and intimidated by all the experienced hunters around me.  The course did inspire me to learn more about conservation, hunter’s ethics and the responsibility we have as hunters to protect the land and animals.  I think it gave me a new opinion of hunters, but it didn’t get me out in the fields or forests hunting. 

Hunting is not new to me.  My family and friends and even my husband all enjoy hunting.  We grew up eating game meat and I love the idea of truly eating local and knowing where your food comes from.


Lately I have been envious of hunters and going out, and figured if I didn’t just jump in, despite being scared and nervous, I would never learn. I am not sure if it is COVID and cabin fever or the appreciation for where we live and the opportunities all around us but whatever it was, I decided to get out and try.  I have been so badly wanting some hands-on experience so I can understand the stuff I learnt and apply it to the real thing.  

I am always telling my kids to try new things, and that it is okay when new things feel scary but they can also be fun and rewarding.  I finally took the leap and went out.  I am grateful for friends who not only encourage me but also teach me.  I have two good friends who hunt and both are always encouraging and reminding me that I can do it.  These girls have inspired me to step outside my comfort zone and enjoy the privilege of hunting.  We can all do hard things, hell we are adapting and living through a pandemic!

I think it is hard for me to do self-care things inside my house or with my family around. I love my kids and husband but trying to work out in a living room while my kids are screaming and running around, or meditating in my bedroom while I see stacks of laundry that need doing can be challenging. Forcing myself outside in rainy weather (perfect for duck hunting) and just escaping for an hour to basically watch the sky is a whole new self-care. I left my phone in the car and left the family at home and just took some time for me. I actually think when you are dressed for the rain it can be nice and feels good to have fresh air. Plus, sunset has always been one of my favourite times and it doesn’t matter sun or rain, clear skies or cloudy cover the sunset is magic.

This year has been challenging on so many levels so it is easy to stray away from adding any more challenge to your life but sometimes it is that discomfort and fear that can bring great inspiration and leave you feeling more alive.  I have really been trying to come up with a bucket list and things that I want to see, do and accomplish however most of these things would include travel or experiences.  Knowing it could be a long time before travel outside of Canada is possible can leave you feeling uninspired.  However, realizing how many opportunities we have that are unique to BC and Canada has had me trying to learn to appreciate them and take advantage.  

I am a lover of heat and summertime so exploring in the summer is easy. We loved having our boat this year and getting to explore the Gulf Islands a bit. It is funny now that I think about our first boating season and the many things we did where I was super nervous and scared. I survived these moments and wouldn’t trade our time on the boat for anything. Scary things don’t have to be bad, when we are willing to face fears we often come out with an incredible experience and new perspective. We also learn the things we are scared of might not be as bad as they seem. So despite fearing the long winter and cold weather I’m going to really try to embrace it this year.

Tomorrow I am going to find a recipe and cook up the duck meat, that I actually butchered myself. I think I impressed and surprised my husband when I started to cut up the duck. I was nervous and unsure if I could do it but it was so much easier than I thought and I think with practice and experience it will start to feel like second nature to me. I also have registered for my PAL at the end of this month and am going to continue working towards becoming a hunter. I am super nervous about this two-day course but know that I need this to be able to own and carry a gun, so I want to continue to challenge myself and know that with that will come rewards. I hope you don’t let fear stop you from trying new things! What things have you always wanted to do but fear is holding you back?

A Decade of Lessons.

Time is a crazy thing, I am often unaware of it passing and then its gone. 2020 is fast approaching and with that comes all the excitement and promises of a fresh new year and decade as well as the reviews and playbacks of the past year and decade.

I have been thinking lots about how fast (and slow) 10 years goes. The first thing that came to mind for me was the loss the last 10 years has brought with it. I personally have lost two very important and influential people in my life this decade. My aunt was near the beginning of the decade and my uncle near the end. I have also watched friends lose parents and even had some of my peers pass away over the last 10 years. It has been hard, continues to come in waves and never truly goes away or gets easier. Every time I have a success, milestone, holiday or challenge I miss and wish I could talk to my Uncle and Aunt. However it has also taught me that life can and does go on, we can still have successes and happiness despite feeling immense sadness and things are always changing, so appreciate the now and those in your life today as one day they won’t be there.

The last 10 years has also taught me to really enjoy the moments because they go so fast. I had 3 little babies so close together and now my youngest is 2, some days this is astonishing to me as I can clearly remember moments of my first pregnancy as if it were yesterday. Then there are those times when I am chatting with a few moms and they are all talking about feeding their babies, nap schedules or some baby related milestone and I cannot remember them. I think to myself, it couldn’t have been that long ago… it actually flew by! I remember how as a new Mom I used to feel like days would go past without me really “accomplishing” anything and I would look forward to my kids getting older and more independent. However now I realize these moments go by and you will never get them back, they will never be that small again and it goes so so so fast. So even in the trying and hard moments I remember nothing lasts and try to find the joy in some of those moments.

Another lesson the last ten years has taught me is that if you are unhappy or living a life you do not want you have the power to change it. Life has so many choices, we just have to be brave enough to make them. It is okay to change your mind, it is good to grow and not all choices are easy but after it is all said and done they hopefully lead to a happier version of your life. 10 years ago my goals were different, my job was different, finances, family dynamics, etc. I am so proud of the choices I have made over the last 10 years and although they were not all happy or easy they have lead me to a life I love and continue to be grateful for everyday. The best goal I can have for the next 10 years is that all these things will change again… my job continues to evolve and I am able to add to it, our finances will continue to improve, goals will evolve and change and more!

You cannot undo the past, you cannot plan for the future… you can live in the present! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from your past or try to work towards goals in the future it just means don’t over think it cause because circumstances and people change and I have had amazing things come from being open to changing my “plans”. Ask anyone who knew me 10 years ago about wanting kids and you will most defiantly hear that I didn’t want them, even in my late 20’s. Talk to me today and my 3 amazing and beautiful kids (who I most defiantly wanted) were the best decision I made, continue to teach me and give my life so much more joy! Be flexible and adaptable, knowing that things can change has given me hope when I needed it and has also forced me to dream a little bigger!

Dream Big. It’s as easy and hard as that! For our family this has come into play in so many aspects of our life. We have dreamt big in terms of our house and the changes we wanted to make and have slowly been making. However it has also given us a new appreciation for knowing our priority isn’t our house, sure we like having something clean and maintained but we don’t have to have all the things we want to be happy. Dreaming Big has also helped us to go from no vacations to falling in love with experiences and working hard to make travel a part of our lives. I can remember taking our first “big” family vacation to Hawaii for 10 days, in the middle of a renovation, with two kids under two and pregnant with our third and sitting on the beach saying imagine if we could stay for a month!!! For the following two years we took our three kids for 5 weeks each year. It was amazing. I love the experiences the last 10 years have brought and cannot wait to see what the next 10 will bring for us.

With all of this in mind I welcome a new decade and will work at enjoying the now.

Riding B#@$%

The motorcycle has always been fun for me, but that was before we were responsible for 3 little kids. Everything changes with kids, and one big change is the way I view the world. I used to love riding, I was proud of getting my bike license and looked forward to getting on the bike.

Now the idea of leaving our kids both on the back of the same motorcycle can be terrifying. If you have ever been on a bike you know the feeling of being exposed. No one gets on and rides and doesn’t know the risks, accidents can and do happen.

Plus before kids I owned and rode my own bike, when I took on the new title of Mom I decided to sell the bike knowing it might be a while before we would get out enough to make it worthwhile. This has meant when we do get out for a ride I’m on the back. Now for those of you that know me it might not come as a surprise that I like to be in control. Riding on the back means I give up my control and trust in my driver.

Sunday was a planned ride with a group of our friends and family. A friend had told us about the Bikers for Autism group and their Shuck It Forward Event and we had got together a group for a fun day out for a great cause. Obviously this event was near and dear to our hearts as we have a son with Autism. Without fundraisers like this, public education initiatives and amazing supports and therapy I am not sure where we would be as a family or how well Rowen would have grown over this last year and a half.

Here is the really cool thing, because we have such amazing supports in place and Rowen has worked so hard we are able to take date days out and not worry about how our kids (particularly Row) will do. Plus our day doesn’t revolve around discussing the future of our kids or our concerns about them. We can truly go out and enjoy ourselves knowing our kids are safe and happy and when we get home they will all be there.

Despite all this it doesn’t mean I just hop on the bike and let my hair down without a care in the world. As we were making our way through the tunnel and I was focusing on my music and breathing I realized that I needed to relax or my nervous energy would impact Fraser, who was riding with a passenger, driving downtown to a place we had never been and leading a group of others bikers. So I decided to trust in my partner, breath and listen to the music, slow my mind down and just enjoy the moment.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our feelings or emotions we can miss what is right in front of us. In front of me was a beautiful blue sky, snow capped mountains, alone time with my hubby and good friends plus yummy food and great drinks at a beautiful patio downtown. It is so easy to get caught up or be rushing to whatever is next to miss the right now. As I near my 35th year around the sun I am trying to find ways to slow moments down and enjoy this time right now. I am trying not to stress when we are late or things didn’t go as planned.

It’s funny how hard and easy this idea can be. It got me thinking about parenthood and even marriage and learning to trust in each other. Much like riding on the back of the motorcycle and trusting Fraser to drive while he trusted me to co-pilot and google map our route, we are learning to trust each other in parenthood. It is a constant struggle with wanting control over every decision and knowing how important it is for my sanity and for the greater good of our whole family to share these decisions, responsibilities and control of parenthood with my husband.

Before I turned 30 learning to ride a motorcycles was on my “30 before 30” List and was a challenge I set for myself. I realize I still love it but the challenge is different now that we are parents… and as I near 35, getting closer to 40 I start to think about things I want to accomplish before my next decade approaches. I realize parenting is a big challenge, and just when you think you might have got a handle on something a new thing pops up… my kids are a constant challenge. So my biggest goal is to continue to work together with Fraser, trust in each other and share our responsibilities and know that not every day will be easy or perfect but if we slow down and take time to enjoy it we might surprise ourselves. To continue to check in with our feelings to help keep each other calm but also to help teach our kids how to manage our emotions.

I think my biggest lesson is every day is different and we might feel like we got it one day and the next day might be a huge struggle, that is human nature and no one is perfect. Plus we have a fresh start anytime we want it, so don’t let one action define your whole path! It’s okay to ride B#$@& sometimes, I don’t always have to be the driver. I’m gonna try to take time and enjoy the scenery!

Living a life we love, managing stress and coping with anxiety

So, my first 30 years were the years I didn’t know how to manage my stress. I often felt overwhelmed, suffered from chronic headaches as well as feelings of depression and anxiety. Everything from relationships to money to work to any sort of responsibility would be stressful for me.

Today, I rarely get a headache and now instead of having them caused by emotional stress they are usually brought on by forgetting to eat, too much sun and not enough water or on occasion cheap wine or one too many drinks!

I have recently been really wondering what was so stressful before that isn’t so stressful now? Like seriously I am now responsible for three tiny humans, I should be more stressed. I am realizing though, with life experience you gain confidence, hopefully some coping mechanisms for anxiety and stress and of course the ability to recognize and ask for help.

I think there are a few things for me that lead to stress and the feeling of being out of control.

  • Overwhelm. Always saying yes to everything. With the best intentions but I struggled to set realistic goals.
  • Avoidance. Ignoring issues past or present. Not communicating and afraid to make changes. Avoiding confrontation or difficult conversations.
  • Caring too much about appearances and what others think, instead of prioritizing myself. Doing things to make others happy instead of being true to myself.

I think often people see my blog or even a picture I post or an instagram story and are happy to believe that my life is pretty good and I have it really easy. I agree my life is really good, but a really good life still takes hard work and compromise and everything comes with a price tag. As for having it easy, I think grass is always greener on the other side. We have chosen to try and see the bright side and the best in our situation. It doesn’t always work, but for the most part I think we have created a life we are happy with and really are living our best life.

I have been told “you make it look all sunshine and butterflies”. It has really got me thinking, and it has reminded me that I shouldn’t care what other people think. This is so much easier said then done. It is far from sunshine and butterflies we have lots of challenging moments. However it also has got me thinking about what has changed in my life that I feel less stress than I ever did. The truth is I don’t believe anyone lives a stress free life however I do believe that it is all in how we deal with our stress and choose to live our lives that impact our quality of life.

For me personally a lot of my typical stresses are gone but a lot are gone because of choices and actions I took.

Schedule. First I make a big effort at using our calendar and scheduling in everyone’s stuff (Fraser’s ball, Rowens ABA, kids activities, parties, family social stuff, work, etc). Then when things come up we can check the calendar and try to avoid over scheduling. This sometimes means saying no or prioritizing. It has taken us a while to get to this point but I found we were so busy some days or weeks running from thing to thing that no one was having any fun and I was super stressed. We like to be flexible and plan as we go but having a bit of a schedule to work from has really helped to alleviate stress. This has also helped us to see improvements in the kids behaviour. When they are over scheduled we see more behaviours that we don’t love, which is a good sign to slow things down or take a day off. I also have realized that although I use a calendar and plan ahead, on a busy week it is best to take one day at a time. That has been a huge stress reliever.

Rituals. These are hard to think of but they are things we do to keep peace and order. They feel good to everyone because we know what to expect and they are calming. I have worked really hard at trying to not only have rituals with the kids but for myself. Prior to kids Fraser and I loved being sporadic but now with three kids we see the benefits to having some routine and rituals in our life. For me these rituals include things like journaling, moon circles, using oils, meditation, taking time to work on the farm once a week and girls nights. For the kids some things are our bedtime rituals (bath, reading, talking about our day and what is happening tomorrow, etc), baking with the kids and even our dance parties (which weren’t always popular with Rowen but we found a way to include him). I think these help to feel safe, in control and just regroup without surprises or unknown.

***Side Bar on rituals is that I have just established a plan with the help of my naturopath of a few things to do to try and get back on track and one of her suggestions was setting an hour, 10pm-11pm, where I do the same things every night to prepare for bed. Similar to how we do for our kids bedtime. I love this reminder of how important these rituals are!

Setting Boundaries. This has been something that has been difficult and caused some upset amongst some family but we are learning to set our boundaries. What I am learning about boundaries is that even workplaces and friendships can benefit from boundaries. I love knowing what other people expect and want and when things are clear it eliminates a lot of stress. Setting boundaries often can avoid feeling like you are being taken advantage of or even getting into awkward or difficult situations. Some examples for us of boundaries that were difficult to set but helped eliminate stress were things like limiting our visitors every time we had a new baby, declining some Christmas family activities because it was overwhelming (limiting how much we do right around the holiday), trying to leave Sunday as a family day, and really being clear about how we like the kids being treated and raised.

Practice Self Care. I am really proud of how well Fraser respects this and is really good at acknowledging when I need some me time. He will often notice if I am nearing a breaking point and suggest I go out for some solo time. He also is good at taking time to go work on a project solo or go to ball, just be on his own. I wouldn’t have ever believed this would take persuasion as I have always been great at self care. However once you have kids things change it is almost like I feel guilty sometimes taking time for me. I do think the more you practice self care the easier it gets because you realize you come back refreshed and ready to take more on!

Self care for me is often taking time away from the family and doing some of my rituals. Self care is even something as simple as working outside of the house, its funny to say that but having three young kiddos has meant we made the choice to have me at home. It was a team decision and a lot of it was it just made financial sense but it was also logistically for the lifestyle we wanted (kids activities, Fraser and I being able to see each other, parent participation in things, etc) that it made sense for us. As nice as it is that I am able to stay at home we both know it would be nice if I could work a little, unfortunately working a little means hiring some more help, having Fraser help out a bit and just more scheduling… I realize that self care is a priority and we make it work but it is a bit of work to take the time for me.

I think that you do not have to eat the same meals every Monday night, do the same thing every Tuesday morning, etc to create routines in your life. I know my resistance to creating these healthy habits was loosing spontaneity but that isn’t true at all. These are just ways to help manage stress and anxiety. Everyone is different and sometimes it takes a bit to figure out what will work for you but I encourage you to try. Often we know what we need to do but we just need a push to get there so whatever that push looks like for you… maybe it’s having an accountability partner, hiring a coach, seeing your naturopath or maybe its as simple as a checklist. Whatever it looks like take the time to do it! Living with less stress and anxiety usually means you get to live with a whole lot more of other stuff!

Far from Perfect Parenting

This week started off with missing school on Monday because when Fraser arrived home from work ready to do school drop off everyone was still in bed sleeping. That pretty much set the tone for the week.

We, meaning I, struggle with staying organized and mornings. Mornings have always been tough and now with three little ones in tow, being organized enough to get to school and programs “early” all while making sure everyone has eaten breakfast is tough. To give myself a little credit though, I gotta say this is the first time that has happened.

Monday Morning Shenanigans

Monday was pretty good after the whole school thing, I mean it made for a great day with no obligation or responsibility. However Tuesday ends up rolling around and the efficient Garbage Men come and do pick up before we get our garbage to the street, we did however make it to Rowens program on time. If only the drop off went well. Rowen is only 4 and attends something every weekday morning. As mentioned mornings aren’t the greatest for me, but I have had to find a way to make them work as most mornings the kids need rides and we have somewhere to be. For some reason ABA is his least favourite activity and he really knows how to put on a show when we take him and drop him off. Tuesday ended up being a bit of a struggle and hard on Fraser who was doing the drop off. Not a nice feeling to leave a child crying about being left somewhere.

Tuesday Pick Up and Cousin Time

The day included some meltdowns, many fights usually initiated by Eleanor who has become our family mean girl. She loves hitting. Then I decided to try and clean out my car… I can’t even begin to explain to you how disgusting my car has become. We let the kids eat in the car, we spend time everyday driving and often the kids have food. It had reached a point of being unbearable. Although I am not sure attempting to clean out the car with three little helpers was a good idea. Fights over the vacuum then of course realizing the vacuum can suck your skin, then spraying windex everywhere to help clean, then playing with the hose, then fighting with the hose… and so cleaning the car went.

When it finally came time for dinner I asked my very cranky and tired kids what they wanted. 5pm and Rowen is requesting steak while Eleanor and Grace have a little easier request of pizza. So, pizza it is and I go to stick in a frozen pizza only to discover that we are out of frozen pizzas. I finally give in and run up to Little Caesars to get the kids their favourite crazy bread with a side of pizza. I get to the store only to realize I forgot my wallet at home… Tuesday!

We ended our day with a fire in our carport and roasting marshmallows around it for s’mores. I think it was a good end to a trying day. Most days are trying with our kids. They have moments of disappointment or doubt. Drop offs that go bad and you leave you feeling like a bad parent or when you loose your patience and yell at the kids for something small. Then there are moments in the day where you show patience or teach them something new. Or the moments where you see them interacting and playing together nicely or you see them making friends and being independent. So much is packed into one day and we really try our best but I also now that we are far from perfect.

Tuesday Campfire

I love hearing other people tell us how much they love watching our family. All the fun things we attempt with the kids or the experiences we have, how brave we are and how much they love seeing pictures of the kids and the funny things they do.

Thing is sometimes I feel like we are being fake, or it looks better than it actually was. When you see a couple pictures of the best moments of the day then you think we are pretty great. We are pretty great, but we are also pretty normal. Every parent is just trying their best and figuring out stuff as it comes up. We don’t know what we are doing, we are just doing what we think is best. Best is relative too, because it means making decisions for 5 people not just 1. Sometimes what is best for 1 doesn’t work for everyone and we need to decide how to make it work for our whole family.

I love the way we are raising our kiddos, and recently someone mentioned that it looks like we are having a party everyday. I think we are, because if I have learnt anything as I have gotten older it is that everyday is a gift and we should celebrate. Celebrate everything all the little things and the big. So I hope my kids learn that and try to have as much fun as they can.

I guess the thing I would like people to know when they look at my pictures is to know that my floors are stick (and chairs and walls), my laundry is endless and rarely ever caught up, no matter how many times I wash the kids hands and faces and change their clothes they are filthy, and my car… I can’t even tell you when my car is clean because it never stays that way for long. We feed our kids more fast food than I would like to admit and we sometimes yell in our house… which I absolutely hate and regret anytime I do it.

We also teach sharing, and try to be patient with each other. The kids always have clean bedding and clothes and get regular baths, they always get fed and we try to balance the junk with the good stuff. Grace loves salads, whole peppers and really would pick a vegetable over anything. Rowen loves his steak and eats fruit like its candy. Eleanor will eat and try anything. We take advantage of our unique schedule and that my lucky kiddos are growing up with two parents who are home with them. We absolutely are up for an adventure and will try most things (at least once). We are a perfectly unbalanced chaotically calm family.

Maui WOWEE! Our guide to Maui with Kids.

We started to come to Maui three years ago and haven’t hesitated since. We are certainly not experts on the island but are happy to share some of our favourite things and stuff we have found useful or helpful!

I should first say the recommendations I make are based on the fact that we are traveling with three little kids (Ages 1,3 and 4). There are so many things we wish we could do just the two of us, or that we have on a bucket list for next year when the kids are a little older. That being said our recommendations are for families with little kids!

I have so much more to share about Maui but will start with where we stay and why, some activities we like (or wouldn’t rush back to do) and of course where to eat.

LOCATION

I have only ever stayed in Kihei and Kapalua but I definitely prefer Kihei for weather, beaches and overall proximity to attractions. That being said I have yet to find an area of Maui I don’t love and wouldn’t want to try and stay.


Reasons we love KIHEI

  • Central for us to be able to do fun driving day trips all around the island
  • Close proximity to kid friendly beaches and a great park
  • See whales and turtles regularly just at the beach in front of our condo
  • Walkability to restaurants and shops
  • Price, as Kihei tends to be cheaper than most other areas on the island

WISHLIST

I do have a little wish list of places I would like to stay though and it includes a couple of nights in Hana. They have a few hotel/condos and then lots of VRBO’s and I think staying there allows you to explore a bit better than a one day adventure.

I also LOVE the mountains of Maui and would love to rent a house in one of the mountain towns (Kula or Makawao are two I would love). I can only imagine the views from some of these places but would do it for only part of our holidays knowing it is a bit of the ways from the beach.

Pa’ia has my heart and I think a night or two over there would give time to try out some of the great restaurants and get in some good shopping. It is small and not much to offer for family friendly beach or resort type accommodations but I love the vibe.

ACCOMMODATIONS

We stay at Kamaole Sands in Kihei and we love it. It has sentimental value to me because my Aunt and Uncle came her for many years and so it always makes me think of them. Although it is an older complex (1983) I find the exterior and amenities very well cared for. We love the fact that the pool area has a Keiki Pool that is 2 feet deep. Fraser loves the Weber BBQ’s and how well maintained they are. We also find the courtyard and gardens really pretty and love the large layout of the two bedroom units. Our first year we stayed in a one bedroom and it was also well laid out.

We do not have much to compare to as we haven’t tried staying anywhere else in Kihei, I do think there are pros and cons to all the different complex’s and once you are in Hawaii you cannot go wrong with any of them, you are in Hawaii and regardless of where you stay the beach is the beach and thats what you come for!

Like many complexes the condos are all different inside and some have major renovations and come with lots of extras (coolers, strollers, cribs, sand toys, beach chairs, boogie boards, etc). It is nice to find a condo with “extras” because it saves you from renting or buying these items.

***BUDGETING Recommendation Try to avoid booking through Airbnb or VRBO and find an owner direct rental. It saves the owner money and fees and means they can offer you a better rate. They often offer discounts if you stay a month or longer. Book as far in advance as you can (minimum a year) to save, the longer you leave it the higher the rates.

KID STUFF

If you are travelling with kids you may want car seats, a wagon, stroller, toys, high chair… the list is endless and so are the rental possibilities. I do recommend renting for a short trip as it is convenient and makes for a more enjoyable airport experience when you do not have to pack so much stuff.

For pricing and more info check out Maui Baby Rentals. We have used them and were very happy.

Homepage

However, for us when we come for a month the cost of the rentals adds up quickly. So, we bring all of our car seats. The kids actually sit on them inside the airplane and this is something we have found makes for a much better flight. Once they are buckled in they stay in and it is just easier. Car seats should be mentioned at check in and they must have a special sticker on them. We have also found they will let you load first on the plane so you can install and set up easily.

***Check with your airline to make sure your make and brand can fit (we travel with Diono and they are slim and fit well).

Strollers are easy as well, you can take them all the way to the gate. When you arrive they are often already unloaded when you get off the plane (especially if you are loading up car seats and getting organized inside the plane), we are often the last to get out. Sometimes it takes a bit to wait for strollers but just don’t go all the way to the baggage without the strollers or you will have to do a bit of work to locate them! We know because we have done it.

ACTIVITIES

Ho’okipa Beach

Family Favourite spot to go. This could be a day trip or just a stop on your way home from somewhere else. We never miss an opportunity to stop here. There are always so many turtles to see which is super cool, on a good day lots of surfers which is fun to watch, plus the fruit stand is great here (bananas, fresh coconut and locally grown tropical fruit). Plus often there are little trinket shops set up and smoothie truck (Very good!!!).

Whalers Village

Fun place to shop, variety of stores! Love that this shopping centre is on the beach and is a nice place to see Ka’anapali if you aren’t staying there. Probably not something we need to do every year. Great kids shop, has toys but also really nice kids clothes (carries some brands like Splendid kids that aren’t found everywhere). Cinnamon Girl is also a great shop for little girl dresses (and you can even get Mom a matching one). There are a couple of restaurants along the beach here too, we haven’t eaten at them before but they are chain style and look to be a good spot to eat.

North Loop Coastline

We drove from Kahului around to Lahaina and it was beautiful. Definitely windy and lots of single lane or tiny roads, so you need a good driver that day. We loved it! Stopped and got Julia’s Banana Bread and Guava lemonade. Best banana bread we have had on island and yet to find anything that compares to it. Definitely take time to stop and explore a little on the drive. Kids loved climbing on rocks and looking over at the blowhole. Plus when you make the turn towards Kapalua side of the island it is really neat to see Molokini so close to Maui. Great drive and lots to see, plus it isn’t nearly as long of a commitment as the Road to Hana. So, you can still make it back to the beach in the afternoon.

Friday Block Parties

Every Friday Maui has rotating block parties in different towns. We did the Kihei party last year and loved it. SO many food trucks, food smelt so good, lots of fun and cheap activities for the kids including bouncy castles and water activities, plus local vendors to shop at. This year Fraser took the girls down expecting the same thing but rain had vendors shut down and closing up so they didn’t get to do much. We attempted the following Friday in Wailuku and I am sad to say we got there only to find out it had been canceled that Friday. It is really too bad because Wailuku looked like such a great party! I definitely want to check out Wailuku towns Main Street as they seemed to have some great shops along there. We might go to tomorrows Chinese New Year inspired Friday Block Party in Lahaina, I think its gonna be great.

Iao Valley & the Needle

Highly recommend checking out the mystical Iao Valley, it may be rainier here but it just adds to the beauty. I love how Maui has so many microclimates. When you drive up to the needle it is $5 to park and then you can take the 133 steps to the lookout and it is beautiful. Definitely an easy trail, all of our kids could do the stairs and it was a fun adventure without much effort.

Flea Market

I would probably suggest skipping the Flea Market, in my opinion it is extremely hot and not a lot of shelter for stuff you can find at many stands through out the island. Plus depending on where you stay in Maui it is a bit of a drive into Kahului and it is only on the weekend so you are missing out on possibly another fun weekend activity. Not something I would rush back to do.

Pa’ia

LOVE LOVE LOVE Pa’ia town. This hippie hipster surfer town is everything I want and love. The shops here are my favourite the vibe is so laid back and great and tons of options for yummy food. Leave the hubs and kids at home and bring the cash and cards…

Captain Woody’s Charter Tours

Highly recommend having Captain Woody talk you and the family out. This tour maxes out at 6 guest and comes with your own Captain who felt more like a friend and one crew member. What we loved is this was completely tailored to what we wanted to do and see. You let him know what you want. We were able to shorten the day (which was only because we didn’t know how the kids would do out on the boat). 2.5 hours was perfect for our kids but defiantly not long enough. We saw pods of whales so close it I was so cool but he is also able to take you fishing, snorkelling, to swim with turtles or really whatever you desire. Loved Woody and loved the boat and loved the tour. Would definitely do again.

Spa at The Grande

LOVE. So again the Grand Wailea is one of my favourite spots. I just love it an the spa is no exception. The amenities are so nice and relaxing you could stay all day. The baths are included with any service and I do recommend a scrub, Vichy shower and massage. My whole treatment was incredible and smelt so good. Plus vacationing is tough and so is laying on beaches and sleeping in hotel beds, everyone NEEDS a massage on vacation. This truly is a must. The spa itself isn’t modern or much to look at in terms of appearance but the treatments leave you feeling like a queen. This is a MUST do! Don’t look at the bill, just go for it and while you are at it treat yourself to something from their spa gift shop:)

Haleakala (Crater)

So we have done the crater twice now and thank goodness Fraser told me to try it a second time. The first time we went up it was very cold and dreary day and you couldn’t see a thing! The next time we went up temperature wasn’t nearly as cool (plus we dressed warm, think top of a mountain) and it was clear all the way to the big Island. No kidding you could look out and see the Big Island, a local pointed Kona out to us. The view and trail from Leleiwi Lookout was as cool as the summit so make sure you stop! This was a great trail for our kids to get out and stretch their legs plus you literally felt like you were walking on and above the clouds. Our next time we do the crater we want to try it at night and see the stars! Fraser did this on a motorcycle and loved the ride. Just make sure you dress warm and bring gloves.

Road to Hana

It took us three years to decide to do the Road with the kids and it was perfect. We packed the night before and left early (7:30am). We also had been watching the weather, and waited for a day when it had been nice the day before as well, we picked perfectly.

We had just past Jaws beach (which is the very beginning of the road, not even at the first waterfall yet) and Grace got car sick. We were prepared with lots of wipes, garbage bags and changes of clothes. Good thing Grace is a puke and rally kinda girl because our first stop was just a pullout on the side of the road that lead us into the bamboo forest.

It was so muddy and we think it lead to a waterfall but got too tough to take all the kids down and we turned back. It was very dark in the bamboo forest and for us best done barefoot but so cool! The pathways were narrow, slippery and some were a bit of an incline.

We had done a lot of reading and used our Maui Revealed Book for ideas. I would suggest marking out some of the stops ahead of time where you want to go, I am really glad we did that as the road doesn’t have tons of places to pull over or turn around it. We still left room to be spontaneous and stop at stuff that came up but it also meant we didn’t miss things we wanted to see.

We stopped at The Garden of Eden and it was beautiful with lots of good lookouts and views and was easy for the kids. I would definitely say we altered our stops and what we did because of the kids. They weren’t great for a long or difficult walk but they loved getting in and out of the car and really wanted to swim at a lot of the stops which was unexpected and great. They even all attempted to swim at the waterfall which was awesome.

We did the full circle for driving around Hana and I am so glad we did. The unpaved Road was narrow and bumpy but nothing our old “07 Hyundai mini van couldn’t handle. Only once did we find a stop we couldn’t make because it required 4X4 and just for fun I would love to rent a Jeep and do the road again. I would also suggest spending the night or a couple of nights in Hana to be able to enjoy and explore a bit more.

I loved the road home from Hana as much as the road to Hana and like all Maui this area did not disappoint. It was so diverse and so beautiful. It made for a long day (home around 6pm) but so worth it! I think everyone liked our Trip to Hana.

Our own “Baby Beach”

So we have a little beach we call Baby Beach but it is just north of the official Baby Beach near Pa’ia.

Friends of ours took us here last year and we have recommended it to others who love it as much as we do. You can often see turtles on the beach or swimming but don’t expect to see many tourists and don’t go on a weekend because it is full of locals.

The beach itself is more coarse than the beaches in Kihei but it has a reef protecting the little pool from all the big waves and is the perfect spot to snorkel or let the kids play and swim. We love it.

Turn left on Stable just after the airport, you may see a sign saying “Farm Market” keep going and stay to the left. You will drive along a dirt road that has the airport directly on the left side. Turn right down one of the dirt roads (pick one), there are a few with yellow gates that get locked and may have a sign posting park hours. It is not fancy or well marked but it is private and perfect.

RESTAURANTS


This is an area I don’t have much to say because we don’t take the kids out much. That being said we do do take out and this year we have attempted a few more restaurant visits than normal and they have gone pretty good. Here are some of our spots:)

Breakfast:

BEACH STREET MAUI SHAVE ICE. It’s a walk up spot in Rainbow Mall just offering hot and cold breakfasts, açai bowls and some breakfast sandwiches as well as shaved ice. I love the Paniolo Açai Bowl and the kids love the Hawaii Rainbow Shave Ice and not just because it is so colourful but because when you get to the bottom there are gummy bears!

CINNAMON ROLL PLACE. These guys are open early and are always serving up warm and gooey cinnamon buns. They had me sold when I found out they make them all without raisins which I hate in cinnamon buns and I love all the “extra” toppings. You put on your own icing and I always add Mac Nuts.

KIHEI CAFE. This place is really good and extremely busy. We love that one of us can go and order while the other one takes the kids to the park across the street to play. Then we eat at the park! Everything from the fresh squeezed juice to the delicious Banana Mac Nut Pancakes are amazing. Great family friendly meal out!

Still to try… BELLE SURF CAFE, SIP ME

Lunch:

808 DELI. Great selection of made to order hot and cold sandwiches as well as salads! So close to the beach its easy to grab and take down with you or pick up on your way back to your room. Don’t have a favourite because I always want to try something new.

FORK & SALAD. This is a favourite spot of mine, they now have two locations one in Aztec Mall in Kihei and one right by Target and Starbucks in Kahului. Everything is sourced as local as they can, they have a large selection of salad suggestions but you can also make your own and their salad bar options are limitless! Bonus you always feel good after eating here. We do this one for our first meal in Maui because we always know it will be good and is fast and easy!

PA’IA FLATBREAD COMPANY AMAZING! When we were here they mentioned they have a location and Whistler and we would go just to eat there. The unusual topping combinations sound odd but taste incredible. Crust is not too thick and is great! Plus if you cant make up your mind you can do half and half. Family friendly too! A must do when in Pa’ia.

MONKEY POD Food is amazing, Happy Hour is extremely Happy! Kid friendly (ours loved their Lava Flow drinks and of course hand cut truffle fries!) and lots of seating, first come first serve for the patio and you will definitely want to make reso’s or be prepared to wait a while! The pizza here was so good, but I am guessing there wasn’t a bad option on the menu. Super cheap especially for Hawaii if you hit them up during Happy Hour.

FOOD TRUCKS at Kihei Station. If you want someplace easy and fast with a variety of options try the Food Trucks at Kihei Station behind Aztec Mall. We had fish and chips and fish tacos. Kids liked the fish and chips (a little on the greasy side), and we loved the fish tacos. We also tried the Thai place and it was good and fresh. This may not be the best of what Maui has to offer but is convenient and easy. Lots of seating and really fast for dining with cranky or busy kids.

BAILEYS CAFE- local Gourmet Food Truck in Haiku. INCREDIBLE. We had a mixed plate with locally grass fed steak, lemon butter prawns, green salad and of course Mac salad. Plus the kids got their fried rice. I am still dreaming of this amazing food, I think my favourite food truck in Maui! So fresh and so delicious.

Dinner:

OUTRIGGER PIZZA I guess we got a thing for pizza. This one is really good plus super cool how they run it out of a parking lot in a tiny food truck pizza oven. Even better if you want delivery you can use Hopper and have it brought to you. I personally think this pizza is best eaten fresh.

BRICK OVEN PIZZA Entirely Gluten Free restaurant which is pretty unique. Was good, but since we don’t have to eat GF and there are so many GREAT pizza places we might try somewhere else first. Kids loved the bread sticks and I loved the chocolate lava cake.

MERRIMANS Hands down best restaurant. Location and setting is incredible and the food is just as good! Love it here wish it wasn’t so far from Kihei. IF you are staying in the Ka’anapali/ Napili/ Kapalua area you must go here.

FLEETWOODS Well they had us sold with the name and suggestion that we could see Mick the owner possibly playing. The night we went we had reso’s for rooftop dining and sunset ceremony but it was raining. Didn’t matter a spot beside the stage meant wonderful live music, a really beautiful sunset ceremony with traditional Hawaiian traditions and a bagpiper and delicious food. Beautiful restaurant. Something for everyone. Maybe next year we can find a sitter and go hear Mick play!

HUMUHUMU Amazing. Like everything Grand it was just that. I love being at the Grand Wailea and HumuHumu restaurant is no exception. The setting is stunning, we were there after sunset so you couldn’t see around but it is a Polynesian inspired thatched roof series of huts with cool larger party dining areas. The seats were so comfy Rowen fell asleep in them and they cater to families. Dining out is expensive in Maui, this restaurant was considered on the pricer end, we would disagree. First, you get what you pay for but second kids eat for free and the kids meals were delicious. The steak, veggies and rice would have been a great adult meal and the chicken strips and fries pleased everyone. Our service was top notch and she was incredible at making sure the kids were happy, fast food, stuffed animals for each kid and ice cream too! I had the catch of the day and it was great, Fraser had the Wagyu Beef and it was good, portions were huge neither one of us could finish and we didn’t even have room to order dessert.

Sweet Sweet Summertime

Hi everyone, I have been MIA for a few quick months because I was busy having too much fun this summer. I had every intention of taking some time to write and blog but when given the chance to be outside and have fun I will always pick that! Hence, this post.

Summertime fun. So our family loves heat, beach, no shoes, swimming and pretty much all things summer. I would guess it is our families favourite season (Fraser would say he loves winter but I think he is just trying to be different). I cannot pin point exactly what makes summer so great but I think for the majority of my family it is the lack of clothing (I live with nudists), ease of peeing outside and ability to be outside without worry of weather (we don’t like being cold)! Sunshine makes us happy:)

I was planning on doing a summer wishlist/ bucket list at the beginning of the season but it will have to be a recap of what we got up to and recommendations for families. I think a lot of these suggestions can be taken into other seasons! So hopefully they give you some ideas for a Family Fall Bucket List.

This summer was all about LOCAL fun for us. We do a pretty big trip in the winter (a month in maui!). So, we try to limit time off work for Fraser and expensive holidays in the summer when there is so much locally for free or cheap!

Some of our regular GO-To’s include:

  • PARKS: this is a big one for us. My kiddos love parks and they are free (or mostly, it sometimes involves us stopping to grab some take out, maybe picking up a starbucks on the way, or ice cream afterwards… so close to free). Some of our favourite from this summer included
  • GARDEN CITY PARK

    STEVESTON COMMUNITY PARK

    TSAWWASSEN FIRST NATIONS SPORTS FIELD COMPLEX

  • FARMS: The only thing my kids love more than a park is the farm, they aren’t super picky but they LOVE Emma Lea Farms.
  • If we are away they are so excited when we stop at farms along the way, however if we are just hanging out at home they get so excited to go grab an ice cream, walk the fields (eat more than they pick… I promise we pay for it all!), say hi to the donkeys and play in the play area. This was a weekly activity for sure for us. We often hit up the farm during long weekends and holidays as they had “extras” like BBQ’d hot dogs, face painting and music. One of the best things about the farm is you can grocery shop your fruit and veg while you are there, plus you can bring in your own food and eat so we would often bring White Spot and eat a meal then play. The other thing is it was a great meeting spot for inviting friends, we would all meet up and paly for the day while enjoying berry picking, sundaes and just farm life!
  • In addition to Emma Lea, Nan (my mom) lives on a small hobby farm with a HUGE garden she spent her whole summer tending (in preparation of my sisters wedding). Plus they also have some horses on the property, so another extremly popular spot for our kids is Nans house (specifically the dirt pile), but also the garden and horses!
  • BEACHES: We are so fortunate to have so many good beaches only minutes away from our house so we could often be found out at the ferry causeway, Tsawwassen Beach (family members cabin… we are pretty lucky!) and Centennial Beach.
  • However this year we took a quick island trip and discovered a love for Parksville and Rathtrevor Beach Provinvial Park. I think for next year we have Tigh-Na-Mara Spa & Resort down on our list of places to visit. After spending an afternoon at the provincial park we didnt want to leave plus the resort has so much to offer families and we had friends stay and recommend it for families so I can’t wait to go back and try it out.
  • FAMILY & FRIENDS: Gotta be one of the best things about summer time is the more flexible and open schedules when school is out and often families take holidays so they are home a bit more through out the summer. We had two friends have new babies and my sister got married. So, that meant many showers and festivities plus baby visits and just fun family time spent celebrating! These are memories and moments to treasure.
  • This year we also decided to end the summer off with a camping holiday in Lake Country with 8 other families, 18 kids total! It was phenomenal. I am not a camper, and although I am assured the trailer we rented didn’t classify as camping, I hesitate to consider it “Glamping”. However our kids cried leaving their new “home” and all their friends. They LOVED it and it was definitely a reminder of trying to do what we can to make holidays and traditions with others work.
  • OUR BACKYARD: We decided to build a new deck this year and purchased a small above ground pool, this was a game changer and for the first month of having the pool I think the kids swam everyday. It will definitely be a work in progress as we imagine we will need to upgrade the size and also make it a little nicer in our backyard, but it sure made staying in and having kids over a ton of fun!
  • After looking through just some of our many pictures and fun from the summer I realize the common thread amongst all of it is taking time to have fun, enjoy outside and spend it with the people we love. I feel so fortunate that most of our family and friends live super close to us and we are able to see often. I think we are lucky to be able to have me at home with our kids but also have Fraser work such a flexible job that he is always around and we are able to do so much as a family. However at the end of the day it is just remembering life is short, kids will grow up and they might not want to do all of this fun stuff with us forever so take advantage fo the time you have.
  • The kids might not remember the two weeks I drove them to South Surrey for their private swim lessons, or the first time we let their cousin sleep over and the 30 times I had to go in to tell them to go to sleep, the week I spent packing for camping or the four days it took to unpack and finish all the laundry after the trip, renting sea doos, going to the Kanagroo Farm but they will remember who they spent their time with and all the traditions we created (I hope!). I hope they will also take some of their favourite childhood memories and traditions and carry them on to their own families like we have. It is so cool when we get to take them to some of the same holiday spots I used to enjoy (like a family members vacation spot on Lake Whatcom, or blackberry picking like we used to do with our Aunt every summer).
  • I am trying to embrace all that Fall brings with it as the changing of season is good (I guess) and Summer can’t last forever. I know that routine is good for my house as hard as it is for us to stick to it. I am so proud of all the learning and growing the kids have done through the summer and the amazing start the oldest two have had at preschool! I am also excited for the cozy fall clothes although I know it will mean many arguments with the kids to put shoes on!
  • Goodbye Summer, thanks for all the sunshine, fun and memories. Until next year.
  • Do you ever wonder… what will our children remember?

    Last week Fraser spontaneously let two days off lead into almost a week and a half off and it was amazing. Fraser doesn’t have a regular Monday to Friday, 9-5 job and although it comes with challenges it has so many perks. One being flexible time off!

    With him home it gave us evenings together. We would do bedtime for the kiddos and then have dinner just the two of us and an after dinner drink, cuddle or just sit around the fire on our patio, we even got to chat without being interrupted by the kids. It was so great. He typically works graveyards (1am-8am) and tries to go to bed around 7 or when the kids go to bed so it was nice to spend evenings together.

    During one of our evenings together we started to chat about our childhood memories (or lack of). Fraser has a freaky good memory and I feel like I have no memory. It was interesting to see who we remembered spending time with and what moments we remembered. It then lead to us chatting about what we thought our kids would remember and what we wanted them to remember.

    Since our chat the memories we are making have been on my mind lots and it has given me new confidence in how we are raising our kids and how I want to raise them. #18summers go fast, or so they say. I want my kids to remember that we spent time with them, really listened and connected and were happy.

    Happiness and experiences are the two things that I want them to remember. Because whether you have a perfect memory like Fraser or you have no recollection like me you have a general idea of good, bad, sad, happy… memory can carry emotion and I know the emotions I want my kids to have when it comes to their child hood.

    I like to think we are doing a good job of creating the kind of childhood I hope my kids will remember with fondness but some things that I have been trying to make an effort to do are:

    LIVE IN THE MOMENT. Don’t get too caught up in the future but enjoy the present moment with our kids. Sometimes this is hard to do but I am really trying to work on this.

    SPOIL THEM. If they want me to lay down with them at bedtime, if they ask for an ice cream, or if they are having a bad day and need a break from real life to go run and play at the park I am usually happy to oblige! I love being spoilt and I remember when people took the time to “spoil” me, which for my kids is usually what they want! I feel extremely fortunate to have the time to spend with my kids as well as the support from an extremely loving, involved and available partner and baby daddy. My mom had a full time job in addition to raising us as did both Fraser’s parents so they weren’t always able to “spoil” us with time like we can our children.

    CREATE TRADITIONS. I think kids remember stuff that they do often so although we are not great at routine I am trying to do things more than once. For example we have tried to take a yearly winter vacation (so far it has always been to Maui but we are open to changing the destination). We try to spend time at Christmas taking in a “festive” activity whether that’s Bright Lights at Stanley Park, German Market, Enchanted, etc. We love exploring new parks and going to the beach. The things both of us remembered fastest were “traditions” or stuff we had done repeatedly. So for Fraser it was spending time with his Grandparents at their cabin, for me it was Sunday dinners at the beach house with our whole family and brunch at the T&C after church.

    TALK NICE. This one is really important to me. I am really working on watching my temper, being patient and talking nice. Kids listen to everything and tone is so important. I think this is something we are pretty good at it but I never want it to change. It is amazing to hear how kids talk to each other and to know that they are learning that somewhere. I want our kids memories to include seeing a loving relationship between Fraser and I as well as learning how to treat people and how to have good relationships of all kinds!

    PRIORITIZE. This is one I am always needing to remind myself of. I can’t have it all but I can decide what is most important. So although I want to paint the outside of our house, we would love a new truck for Fraser and we both loved going regularly to the our local small class gym it has meant giving up some of these things (or postponing them for a bit) in exchange for taking an extended winter holiday and being able to do lots of fun staycation type things during the summer (ferry and visit friends on the island, season pass to the aquarium, etc), signing the kids up for private two week swim lessons and not to worry if Fraser decides to take a week and a bit off instead of two days. Sometimes we focus on what we don’t have instead of looking at all that we do and for us it has been about choices and priorities. I think for me I just have to remind myself of our priorities.

    I know we hear it and see it often but I find the days long and the years short and I know in my heart these are some of the best times with our kids and I want to cherish them. Every family dynamic is different so I try not to compare to other families but instead learn from and “borrow” ideas that I like or might work for our family. I also just try to enjoy my kids as much as I can, this is not always easy and it may look like we are #livingthedream but I think it is better described as #livingourbestlife. I always try to remind myself that a lot of times it isn’t how it appears that matters but how you feel and what attitude you take. If I think about memories it is so true about the emotions and feelings that looking back on childhood brings up and I want to be conscious about how my kids are experiencing theirs.

    Spring Market at the Farm

    I am super honoured and also pretty excited to be working together with some pretty inspiring and enthusiastic people on this years First Annual Spring Market at the Farm. Our Christmas Market last year was such a success and so much fun we wanted to do it again and Spring seemed like the perfect time.

    The farm is such a special place, and what better way to start off Spring, celebrate Mothers Day (a week early) and get to have a little fun doing something I love (being social and planning one big event!).

    When I think of all that goes with the markets I just get so excited. Everything, from meeting new people who are super talented to encouraging them to bring out their locally made, grown or created products, is inspiring and makes me feel good about organizing such a fun event.

    Our whole concept with these Markets is to support local small businesses and maybe give them a starting place to showcase their talents (hopefully they make a little money doing it). Plus we love being able to host community events while still keeping Agriculture in peoples minds, so for this Spring Market we have lots of fun for families like

    • Spring Mini Photo Sessions (super affordable way to have family photos taken)
    • Westcoast Seeds Complimentary Planting tent where kids can come and plant a seed and take it home with them.
    • Complimentary music to enjoy sponsored by a local Trucking Company (Len Botkin Trucking)

    Plus hosting the Market has allowed us the opportunity raise some money for some pretty great causes. Some of the fundraiser events happening are the Braiding Bar set up by our local Salon Atomic Hair Studio with all proceeds going to the Delta Hospital & Community Health Foundation as well as admissions to the Market by donation to the same Foundation. We also have Tiny Tales Pony Rescue Society bringing some of their Ponies and Minis to the Market to show what their Society is about. They rescue, rehabilitate and ultimately rehome ponies and minis in need. They will be at the Market selling hanging baskets and planted teacups to help with some of the costs of these ponies and minis. What better way to support our community!

    Just goes to show it really does take a village and I feel like we in some small way we facilitated bringing some of these great companies, foundations and society’s together and have given our community an easy way to support these great groups.

    If you are interested in finding out how you can participate in the Market please email me craeplain@gmail.com. Our Spring Market is closed for any more Vendors but we are always happy to accept donations or volunteers looking for ways to participate and get involved. We hope you can make it out on May 5th and enjoy some of the fun! For more information on the Market and for our full vendor list check out our facebook invite and make sure to follow @marketatthefarm on instagram!

    ***All photos are from our Christmas Market, vendors may change from what is shown above. Photos were taken by Daphne Lynn Photography. Christmas Minis were done by Shelby Rose Photography and Spring Minis will be done by Montgomery Belle Photography. Musicians are Ukuladies of Lulu Island and Becca is planning on returning for our Spring Market!

    The dreaded B Word (BUDGET)

    Recently a common conversation has been occurring and it revolves around the cost of raising a family and living, the cost of getting by or even trying to get ahead and of course my all time favourite subject (NEVER EVER!!!) Budgeting. We have decided to start off March by tracking our expenses. It all started because I was shocked at how much we spent in Hawaii on groceries and kids diapers, formula, etc. I was shocked but to be totally honest never have paid attention to what we spend at home and possibly spend the same here and don’t realize. It got me thinking I should know roughly what we spend on groceries or gas or even on the going out in a month. Plus if we do decide to budget we should probably know where we could cut from.

    Now I have a hard time budgeting but my spending habits have changed huge in the past 5 years. I have always worked (like since I was 14, and even earlier if you count babysitting). So, I always had money to spend and spend is what I did. I loved to shop, had very little financial responsibilities which meant things like spending $300 on a pair a jeans was okay, or getting my hair cut and coloured regularly for $300 was fine. Over the last 5 years I have become a homeowner, purchased a car on my own, had babies and now become a stay at home mom (meaning I no longer have an income). I guess you could say I have became a person with responsibilities. I love the changes in my life and I even like the reality check I have had, as it has really helped me to learn a bit more about priorities. I still buy and wear $300 jeans but I have only bought two new pairs over the last 3 years, and one was on sale (you don’t want to know my old stats on this bad habit!). I rarely get my hair cut and no more colouring for me, but this is more a time issue than budgeting. My life experiences have changed me and things I would have never imagined giving up have become easy and normal. For me the biggest change is having kids and knowing 3 little people rely on us to make good financial decisions and what used to seem important really doesn’t compare to the health and happiness of our kids.

    The older I get the more I realize how precious and fast life is. We have experienced loss as a family before but since January Fraser and I have lost three friends. Lives taken far too short (not all our age) but all too young and leaving behind kids and families. This has had a huge impact on me and us, and has really changed our views on lots of things including money.

    Now at the end of the day money makes the world go around and brings us security, safety and happiness even if it is temporary or superficial. However what truly makes our hearts happy is to see our kids and family happy and healthy. To know we are safe, feed, minimize stress, sleeping, eating well. These things are important and to some degree require money. I don’t want us to be crazy and dig out a deep hole of debt (been there and done that, don’t want to do it again). I also don’t want both of us to work our asses off only to find out life is shorter than we realized and we missed out on the now. We can’t turn back the clocks and redo our kids childhood or go on vacations or to special events we missed out on.

    This means although we will budget we will also live, we will prioritize what is important to us and work hard at making sure we are fiscally responsible but not work so hard planning for the future we miss the present. We still can set goals for the future or be all responsible and plan for our retirement.

    We try to follow some basic rules when it comes to budgeting. At the end of the day it is fairly basic with budgeting. You either increase your income or decrease your expenses! Easier said then done.

    Here are some of the things we do:

    • Have a contingency fund (this goes for anything). Savings for unforeseen circumstances. This is not something I have ever done or done well but I am so thankful for Fraser and his ability to save. He loves to “hide” money or just tuck it away. For example we recently went to Hawaii and took cash but also had US Credit cards. He took a bunch of our US cash and tucked it away when we used out credit card so when we got home we had money to pay for it! The crazy thing is whenever he does stuff like this I don’t even notice but am so thankful he thought of it.
    • Prioritizing needs vs wants. We recently were given the option to privately test Rowen for Autism instead of waiting a year or more for a public test and we had wanted to put in a gas fireplace insert this year at Christmas but instead we used the money for Rows test. We don’t need a fireplace insert we just really want one but we would like to have some answers as to what has been going on with our son and how we can help him. Sometimes it might not be needs or wants but more of a case of priorities. It is hard to realize you can’t have it all but good if you can think what do you want the most?
    • “Extra” Income. When we renovated our house we really wanted more space so we decided to renovate and move upstairs. The layout of our house is a bit choppy and if we used the entire house we couldn’t have our super young kids on a different level than us. So, we kept the basement suite and rent it out for extra income. It is great because it allows me the financial flexibility to stay home with the kids and also to help offset our mortgage (which we refinanced to pay for the renovation). Last year we were also able to participate in a local market and Fraser made some beautiful wood products to sell. It was a super fun day but the best part was we made a little bit of cash! These are just a few examples of “extra” things we do to make some extra cash. It is shocking when you start to look around or try how you might be able to bring in extra income. Maybe its having a garage sale or selling stuff you no longer use or need, maybe its taking in all your bottles after a big party:) Whatever it is remember every little bit helps.
    • Choose Debt Wisely. I guess one way we budget is by being strategic about our debt. We love being homeowners but it has meant we needed a mortgage and therefore have debt. The interest rates are low, and we hope real estate is always a good invest and even makes you money (it already has). That being said we of course know credit card debt is bad, high interest and dangerous cycle, so if we need to use a credit card we pay it off ASAP or use the LOC instead and then pay that off. One example of choosing wisely is when we choose to renovate our house we ended up doing a bigger renovation than we originally had planned and to be able to afford it we had to use some form of financing. After checking out all our options we ended up refinancing and tacking it on to our mortgage. This was the least costly way to do it.
    • Ask a professional. Basically don’t take advice from me talk to someone who knows. We ask advice for everything why not seek it out for something as important as our financial planning. Ask your mortgage broker (this isn’t a budget tip because I would assume everyone uses a Mortgage Broker, hopefully your using Meghan Dodds Mortgage because she’s the best), insurance broker (Courtney Chambers is ours and we are so happy, she does it all house, auto and life insurance!), financial planner, and anyone you admire with finances. Pick financial role models and learn how they have had success!

    When it comes to our financial attitude I think it changes but I am so thankful that out of Fraser and I he is level headed (usually) and for the most part makes sure we live within our means. The good news is our means are enough and we get to live a good life, the hard part is deciding what areas are important to us and what things we can live without.

    We have decided our kids and family experiences are important, as well as good food (we try to know where our food comes from, buy some organic and mostly quality), and enjoying time together and with people we love. This also means taking time off, this is a big expense to us as Fraser is the only income earner in our house and when he takes days off they cost us pretty big $$$. However those days are worth more than money to all of us, so we will continue to save and prioritize time as one of the things we invest on.

    Would love to hear from other families on how they save or don’t? And what budget tips you might have.