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.

Simplify your stuff.

I don’t know what it is but I can’t handle clutter… it has progressively gotten worse as I have gotten older and the funny thing is Fraser is kinda the opposite. I want everything to have a purpose and a place and if it doesn’t, or we are keeping it for sentimental, or potentially one day we might need to use it reasons, then I want it gone. Fraser on the other hand is king of saving and collecting, he is very sentimental and holds on to anything that could potentially serve a purpose ever! It is a constant battle! And sometimes he is right or things he has insisted we keep come in handy but most times I feel better with less.

Now having kids has brought on a whole new set of challenges in regards to stuff… Kids have stuff and they like stuff and they even make stuff. All their little art projects and tiny McDonalds toys and potty’s, change tables, diaper genies and play kitchens, etc. If you have kids you know what I am talking about, if you don’t have kids you might be like I used to be and think “if I ever” or “when I have kids”, it will be different, we won’t have all that stuff. Maybe you won’t but I bet you will!

I have worked hard at not giving in to too much stuff. We don’t have a dedicated change table but instead a regular dresser that we put the little change pad on top of so when diapers are finally over we can just get rid of the pad and still have a dresser. I opted for no diaper genie, I think its kind strange, not into the special bags you have to buy and really felt like they were ugly and take up unnecessary space so we have normal garbages that get taken out frequently.

I also think one thing that helps is closed storage. We recently inherited a new piece of furniture and one of the things I love about it is you cannot slide open the cupboards at the same time the drawers are open limiting the amount of stuff the kids can have out. Plus I like multi function pieces (like a coffee table that also stores stuff!). Check it out below to see some of our toy storage! The first picture you can hardly tell that the TV Bench is full of toys and diapers and kid stuff and the trunk coffee table has Duplo all in it. Below I posted some pictures of it all open. I also like that it isn’t super difficult to put any of it away so the kids can do it.

However the toys have still been more challenging to simplify. First, I am not always in control of what comes into the house, many people bring gifts or kids get toys at McDonalds, etc. Second kids love toys and get so much enjoyment out of them its hard to deny them. Finally with three kids at three different stages of play and different maturity levels and interests I feel like we need three different sets of toys! So, with all of this in mind I do a few things to try and keep it all in check

TOYS

  1. I regularly “clean” out the toys. Meaning I go through and anything broken or missing pieces or sometimes a toy that causes a lot of fighting amongst the kids gets thrown out or donated.
  2. We rotate. This idea is one I have been wanting to do but just recently started and it has worked so well, we have a few different bins of toys and we put away some toys so it is not as overwhelming then after a couple of weeks or months I switch out the toys that are in the attic in Rubbermaid’s for some of the toys in the play bins. It is fun to see how excited the kids get thinking they have new toys.
  3. Prior to Birthdays or Christmas I do a huge clean out and either sell, donate or toss toys.
  4. I try to have toys for all levels but also toys that all ages might enjoy. Some examples of the toys all three kids play with are trains, play food and the kitchen, blocks, magnet tiles, books, and Mr.Potato Head. We do watch to make sure that the pieces are not too small for Eleanor but most of this stuff is great for all three and they each play differently but get enjoyment out of them.

Kids clothes and shoes is a whole other area I have struggled but in my Spring Cleaning Frenzy this past week I made good progress on this. The kids had a lot of clothes and shoes and I finally just went through and purged huge. I struggle holding onto a bunch of stuff to pass down from kid to kid. First, the season aren’t always the same size and time for each kid, then there is the fact that each kid is built differently in terms of long/ short torso, thick or thin legs, booty, etc. I mean they are after all different little people. And finally I found I was keeping a ton of stuff and forgetting or not getting around to pulling it out so we would pass by the time one of them could wear it. Plus closest space is limited and I like having current in them not a huge amount of hand me downs that will eventually fit.

CLOTHES & SHOES

I use the same guidelines when cleaning out the kids clothes as I do my own. I start by having four piles.

  • Keep
  • Consign/ Sell
  • Donate
  • Garbage.

Then I just go through and often I get the kids to try on stuff (does it fit), I also try to keep in mind things they love or hate. Both my older two have opinions about what they like. Some fabrics just don’t work for Rowen and Grace is picky just because. I also like to keep in mind ease of wearing and washing. If something is too hard to get on them or if it has special washing instructions it is no good. Finally, I check for stains or holes or damages.

I recently did this with both my kids closets and my own. The kids I imagine got rid of close to 200 pieces, it was a great purge and made me realize I had been hoarding kids stuff and clothes. Then I did my own closet and it was amazing.

I got rid of old maternity undies (granny panties I had bought for in the hospital), old Hanky Panky that were past their prime (don’t let cost deter you from tossing stuff! Just because you spent a lot of money on something doesn’t mean it lasts forever. Everything has an expiration date), lots of maternity stuff like nursing bras and of course clothes that were so badly stretched from 3 years of 3 pregnancies. It did go to show that if you invest in good clothes they sure do last (some of this stuff was old!). At the end of my closet purge I had 67 pieces out of my closet.

This has taken me over a week to go through three kids clothes and toys, plus my own things and all the linens and bathroom stuff. I have finally loaded the last few bags to drop off at the thrift, listed all my Varage sale items and/or dropped off consignment! Now I am hoping to tackle the kitchen and outside storage stuff!

This little purge was started because a girlfriend asked if any of us wanted to take part in a challenge to purge 40 pieces! I got home from holidays ready to de clutter and inspired by a few friends and now there is no stopping me! LOL! I cant believe how good it feels to de clutter. I really believe having less is better for mental clarity, and helps my kids to not be so anxious or overstimulated!

I encourage you to tackle March and every single day for a month clear something out. It can be tangible or not… see how contagious this good feeling of cleansing can be! And let me know any tips or tricks you have for Spring Cleaning at your house.

Mind, Body & Soul…

I have always loved to consider myself spiritual, but I am not sure that I was doing intentional activity to feed my soul. I have lots of beliefs on how to take time for me and to make sure mind, body and soul are all being looked after, but beliefs are different than action. My goal for 2018 is to feed my soul (while still exercising my mind and body… always striving for a bit of balance).

2018 has really started off strong for me and for my family. Fraser has taken a parental leave from work that started December 30th and doesn’t end until February 24th. We left January 16th for a family vacation and are in Maui until February 16th! This has lead to many amazing days as a family, including simple stuff like somehow easily transitioning all three kids into their own beds while on vacation and sleeping almost through the night with no wake ups, successfully bringing 3 kids 3 and under on a plane without any issues, watching the kids swim in our pool and demonstrating lots of what they learnt at their swimming lessons last year, and so much more! But the purpose here is not to go on about all the good things that are happening in my life but instead to share some of how I got to this happy place and what I am planning on doing to stay living this good life!

First, I really like this quote and really believe it. With that in mind I really have tried to remind myself to stay positive and think good thoughts, when in doubt of what is happening adjust my feelings/ attitude and see what I attract and of course imagine possibilities and they will happen (manifestation/ synchronicity). This is defiantly a belief that I want to keep in mind through out 2018!

I also started off 2018 taking a few risks or doing a few things that scare me!

First I put myself out there with my This Plain Life stuff and participated in a Pop Up Retreat, at this retreat I lead a guided meditation that I was super proud and happy with, I also got to have an oracle card reading, something I have been wanting for a while. I actually enjoyed the reading so much that I bought my first set of cards and have been pulling them when I feel I need one. My very first pull from the set I did three cards and couldn’t even believe how much they fit with where I am with my life and my intentions fro 2018 align with these cards.

Basically Sulis to me represents where I am right now. In Maui, ocean side everyday recharging my battery. I am a water baby, love being on the water, but also in it. I love showering, even my recent spa treatment involved lots of pools, water treatments, Vichy baths etc. I really love this card and think it is completely speaking the truth about where I am right now and what my goal with our vacation is.

Of course sooner than I want to admit we will return back to reality and when we arrive I am thinking of it as my start to the real life of 2018, also it is a new start for our kids with habits and routine. The first week we get home Rowen, Fraser and I will take part in his 3 day private Autism Assessment. I am really looking at Kali as a sign that I need to release my old expectations and desires for Rowen and focus on this new beginning. One that includes support, advice and most importantly ways for Rowen to be successful in all aspects of his life. I loved this card as a reminder that endings aren’t always sad and beginnings are such a great opportunity! With that in mind I look forward to coming home and starting fresh.

Then Ishtar was my final card and couldn’t be more fitting. I have always struggled with boundaries and making sure to love myself and my time and energy. This is something I will always try to work on and definitely have been thinking lots about how I will bring this into 2018 with me. Sometimes we give too much or do things out of guilt or obligation, but Ishtar reminds us that we aren’t truly helping others if we don’t take care of ourselves first. I definitely want to check in when I am doing things and make sure I am doing them for the right reasons and from a good place, I also don’t want to fill my time so full that I miss out on all the little things with my family.

Pulling these cards was another sign for me that these are the types of messages and reminders I want to pay attention to and really work on the power of thoughts. I feel like 2017 was a year full of manifesting lots of really great things that all happened and felt unbelievable. Cannot wait to see what 2018 will bring!

I loved this quote and have used the first month in January as a time of reflection and evaluation… what things excite me? Do I prioritize these things and am I wasting time on stuff that doesn’t excite me??? This has been a good time for me to really think about it. When you are out of your regular environment and all your day to day stuff you get to simplify your life and see what are the things you are missing. It is not often people at our age with young kids take the amount of time we have to do this and I gotta say it has been amazing on some many levels. I can’t wait to see how I can transfer some of the stuff I have loved on vacation back to our home life.

Before I left for holidays the cards that reading I had was messages from my spirit guides and my angels. This was the first card pulled, a message from my spirit guides that a loved one in heaven is there for me whenever I need her and she will leave messages I just have to be open to seeing them. The coolest thing happened the first day we arrived in Maui we are on the beach not even 5 minutes and my son brings us a heart rock saying it was for Nan (my mom). Her sister, my aunt, is the loved one in heaven I assumed is here fro me and my mom loves heart rocks. Not only that we stay at the same place my aunt and uncle spent lots of time at and this beach was where they would often sit. You can’t help but feel that this rock was a message from my aunt!

After an incredible start to 2018 I am feeling full of Synchronicity and to follow this path when we get home a few things I will be doing are

  • Spending more time outside, in nature. Even if the weather isn’t as nice, this is always a struggle for me and for my whole family who love the summer months and tend to hibernate through the winter. However I feel like we are all happier when we are outside and definitely all sleep better when we have been outside!
  • Make time for myself and healthy habits. In tangible ways such as eating healthier and meal prep, but also in spiritual ways such as taking time to meditate or just breath, going to moon circles (so excited to join Goddess Moon Circles New Moon Monthly Circle).
  • Pay attention to little things or coincidences! Find meaning to stuff that I normally am too busy to even notice.

How do you feed your soul? I would love to hear what other people are doing and what you find helps bring you happiness and peace.

Lots planned for 2018, Bring on a New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I am not sure about you but I love the idea of a fresh slate and a new start, nothing is better than reflecting on the last year and all that you have (or have not) done… and then feeling like you have a whole year to work with. It’s inspiring and allows for dreaming and scheming and planing and most importantly it allows for action. Obviously you can take action and change your life at any point but the start of a New Year seems like the world grants us permission and asks us to act!

With that in mind I have big dreams and hopes for 2018. 2017 was incredible personally for our family and I loved reflecting on such an amazing year. Knowing how great it was I want to keep the momentum going, plus 2017 was a year for family and although my family will always be my main focus I am hoping to spend a bit of 2018 focused on myself and self growth as well as taking time to do stuff for me and maybe exploring some different things I have always wanted to do! It is time to take a few risks and see how it goes.

The first thing I am trying is something I have been curious about for a while and have really wanted to take part in. A group of 4 of us have teamed up to offer monthly Moon Circles. Our goal is to meet up on New Moon each month and just take time to rid ourselves of whatever we have been holding onto that is no longer serving us and to set intentions under the new moon. I am new to this whole Moon thing, but to start off the year I plan on doing a bunch of reading and research and learning all about the moons and power of it as well as the power of meeting up with a group of women. The start to my reading is The Red Tent and so far I am totally enjoying it. I have already loved the planning part of our moon circles as it has involved getting together and sharing and learning from three other women whom I love spending time with and are just inspiring to be around. Today we launched our facebook group ( Goddess Moon Circles) and have our first circle planned for January 17th. Please check out the facebook group and event for more information or shoot me an email craeplain@gmail.com.

Basically this is our intro about why we meet and what Goddess Moon Circles are about

Let’s start with, why do we gather? When women gather the power is undeniable, Magic even! Women have been gathering for centuries all over the world, across many different cultures. When women support each other, our spirits heal. We become weak when we feel that we are not enough, we feel jealousy or anger towards each other. This is about emotional well-being, a sense of community among like-hearted women and to bring our dreams and goals to fruition. To create a space where thoughts and ideas, once thought impossible, can be fulfilled. We are here to provide unconditional support. We have the power to heal one another by simply listening. We are in this together.

I love the idea of having a non judgemental place to just come and recharge, I find I get down and want to just hide out at home but when I allow myself to go and be around people who love and support me I always leave feeling better than when I arrived. It’s amazing what power a community or tribe has and I cannot wait to start these moon circles. This year I am about taking risks and manifesting great rewards in terms of family, friendships, financial and of course personal fulfillment. Anyways I hope everyone had a great night celebrating the New Year however you like to, enjoy today as it is the first of what I hope to be a year of many great times! XO from my family to yours.

Merry Everything A Happy Always!

So we celebrated our first Christmas as a family of 5, and it was great!

Unfortunately our whole house was hit with a terrible flu for over a week before Christmas and honestly I think it was a bit of a blessing in disguise. It was terrible… not only was I very sick but I was still mom so it meant up at night with sick kiddos, many loads of laundry, being puked on and lots of disinfecting but also feeling absolutely horrible myself. Thank goodness we seemed to alternate kids being sick and I could try to comfort all my babies at different times! It is very hard to be outnumbered by your littles. The blessing though was it meant last minute me just gave up on a lot of the ideas I had of a perfect Christmas.

See Fraser and I come from two very different versions of Christmas.

My childhood Christmases had many traditions, we were raised Catholic so defiantly Christmas had a religious aspect to it including Church on Christmas, nativity sets and the story of Christmas were all part of our traditions! We also were spoilt at Christmas. With 7 biological Aunts & Uncles (plus spouses), many family friends or pseudo “aunts/ uncles”, 4 Grandparents, and almost everyone living locally our Christmas Day was spent unwrapping a lot of gifts. When I look back at it as an adult I don’t know how my single mom managed to pull off such incredible Christmas’s! Plus I also realize we got so much stuff… and it was so unnecessary. Do not get me wrong, I loved our Christmas gifts and traditions, I never complained. But now having kids of our own and struggling with Christmas lists and gift ideas for the kids or space to put all their new stuff I realize that this is not the same Christmas traditions I want to set up for our family (although it is tempting). I feel so lucky that we had the magical and family filled Christmas traditions we did and cannot wait to start making memories of Christmas for our kids.

Fraser on the other hand was raised without religion and with a much smaller family who was much more practical when it came to gifts. They had lots of their own traditions but religion was not apart of Christmas, gifts played a much smaller role and they had a more intimate group of family at Christmas. One interesting thing about Fraser’s Christmas memories revolve around food, although they had an always changing Christmas menu he has some things that he loves to make for Christmas and I like the idea of that being a tradition we can carry on with our kids.

I like to think we will take our two versions of what Christmas looks like and meld them together for a nice fit of what Christmas will look like for our family.

I definitely want our kids to know the religious background of Christmas and I do know that this is something that Fraser most likely will not want to participate in. Religion is a funny thing, I am learning that it is scary for people who didn’t grow up with it and I would never want to force it on him. So, hopefully this is an area I can manage to teach the kids with the help of my family. I know one day they will make their own decisions but I like the idea of them being informed and knowing about religion and the background of Christmas!

Our Christmas started on the 22nd and ended on the 25th, so it was just a couple of days and we tried to make each day just have one or two things planned. We are not hugely routine and try to be flexible but kids do require certain things through out the day (mainly meals and we always benefit from a nap). So, we did try to keep that in mind but I do find with the holidays and so many different activities going on routine and structure goes out the window.

We try to celebrate Christmas with both our families and all the Great Grandparents and extended family which often means many dinners and visits but the benefit to this is more quality visits and gifts for the kids are spread out over a couple of days. I love this because they don’t get “tired” of opening gifts and they get to enjoy and appreciate each gift and we know who gave what! Plus the whole Christmas season is so much money and work I like the idea of extending it over a period of time to at least make all the effort feel more worthwhile.

I have to say being sick right before Christmas meant I didn’t have as much free time or extra time to run out to the mall and go over the top on presents or even decor. This was a great lesson to teach me that I didn’t miss all the over the top stuff I would normally be all over. The kids stockings had just the right amount of stuff and each kid had a few fun gifts as well as a few things I knew they needed. Fraser and I didn’t exchange gifts this year as we decided instead to make a donation to a fundraiser that was more meaningful to us than any gift we could have bought. Plus our big Christmas gift this year is starting off 2018 with Fraser taking 7 weeks holidays and us spending a month in Maui! Although we may not be able to continue this extended period of time every year I hope we always are able to take time off in January and to start off the New Year spending quality time as a family and rest and relax.

I think that the way we are starting 2018 is also the way we are ending 2017, the idea is about spending quality time and enjoying the kids early years with our family. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the Christmas spirit of over indulging in every way (over eating, over drinking, over scheduling, over spending and over gifting… ) but when we all got sick all the rest kinda stopped and by the time I was feeling good enough to start thinking Christmas it was here and I just made do with what I had prepared and it ended up being more than enough food, decorations, gifts and booze:) Well I did make a last minute liquor store run but… LOL:). I think you get the idea, we have more than enough and Christmas is about more than gifts.

At the end of December I do not want to have gone into a bunch of debt to buy a bunch of stuff that we don’t need and the reality is we don’t “need” anything as we are so well provided for. But there are people who are less fortunate and do need, and that is a lesson I hope to teach our kids. We used to go shopping with my aunt every year at Christmas and help pick out a bunch of toys for the toy bank, plus my Grandparents always helped with he Christmas Hampers through the legion. These are just a few of the traditions my family had for giving back that I still remember and want to pass on doing similar stuff with our kids. These types of “gifts” are ones that have lasting impressions and teach more than any other gift ever could.

As 2017 comes to an end I can’t help but feel it was an EPIC year for the Farlow family. We are all healthy and happy, we have more than enough, our year was filled with way more good days than bad and we added to our family with Eleanor completing our little family. Fraser had a phenomenal year at work and continues to enjoy his job which is most important. I started my blog and also found doTerra and have made essential oils a part of our daily life. Plus we have made some healthy lifestyle changes, started to implement exercise and healthy eating into our lives. Overall I have loved 2017, and with that I am excited to start off 2018! This new year brings promise of some new adventures and self discovery. I am starting off January with a one day wellness retreat (including Yoga, mediation and oils!), I have a few oil classes planned and can’t wait to see what personal growth stuff I uncover this coming year. Plus we have some big goals with Rowen for 2018 including completing his Autism Assessment and starting to get some help in place so we can get him prepped for grade school and start him off with as much support in place as possible, Grace will start preschool this year (September) and I am excited for her to have something of her own and our little Eleanor will celebrate her first birthday!

So Merry Everything and A Happy Always from our family to yours I hope this year was one for the record books and I hope 2018 brings you even more good things. XOXO