Distance Diaries

Life sure can surprise you when you are least expecting it. This Pandemic has been an eye opener in many areas of our lives, and so I want to share what we have learnt as a family about our lives.

Before I share this I think I need to preface it by saying it is not lost on me how serious this virus is and the long term effects it will have on families, businesses and the world. That being said I have made a more conscious effort to avoid the news as well as following along with the updates too closely for my own mental health and sanity. In reality our family has been so fortunate to not yet have major impacts because of these changes happening in the world. My husband still goes to work, my family is all safe and healthy and we have not had too many additional stresses or worries because of the pandemic. I think one thing I have learnt about myself is I cannot take on too much outside stress. For me to stay happy and healthy I need to focus on gratitude and what is happening within my world. I also have realized no matter who you are or where you are, the pandemic has impacted you, so while I say we have not been majorly impacted of course our lives have changed and with change comes some stress.

The first lesson that happened fairly quickly into all this social distancing was the realization of how well prepared and stocked our house was. Fraser might look at it as proof that I have a shopping problem but I like to think I was just prepared. It really was “fun” to stay home for the first couple weeks. We had “sleepovers”, movie nights, tons of crafts, game nights and lots of creative ways of keeping busy. I immediately realized that previous to pandemic I would often find the things that I didn’t like about our house before realizing how fortunate we were. We have an amazing backyard, lots of outside space, my husband has a big shop for him to tinker in, we have lots of technology available to us and I have a very stocked craft cupboard. A shift in my attitude is that I am now more appreciative of the house we have. I think what I realized is that our home is our safe place, it is not a punishment to stay home but a privilege.

That quickly lead to my second realization, without the stress of social interactions I was experiencing way less anxiety… perhaps this means I am an introvert. I think I discovered that a lot of my anxiety comes from all the social stuff, and that staying home is where I am most comfortable. It doesn’t mean I think it is healthy to stay at home forever, but I think post pandemic I will make more of an effort to spend more time at home and be okay with that. Too often I said yes to too much because I thought it was the right thing for everyone else but now I know that the kids and family are okay if we stay home!

Photo by Shelby Rose Photography #distancediaries

I also discovered that we love to travel. Quickly into our isolation we decided to cancel our Hawaii trip scheduled for April. This was really upsetting for many reasons (including it was our first trip without kids, cancelling it meant it was the first time in 4 years we would not get to Hawaii our happy place and we were missing a friends wedding). Part of me was so grateful that we had made the decision before everything got crazy. I was envisioning being stuck in a different country away from our kids or worse getting sick and racking up a giant medical bill. So, although we are sad about the missing the trip I am grateful we have been able to travel before pandemic and that we will hopefully be able to travel after again. I realize now, 6 weeks into isolating, that I do love my home and staying in. However I also love getting to travel and plan trips with our family. We are still trying to be hopeful we will get to do our annual end of summer camping trip with some friends, Tofino in September and surprise the kids at Christmas with the New Year in Maui… but my gut is saying these are more like dreams! So with this news it has us all a little bummed. The kids have talked a lot about Hawaii and Disneyland (two of their favourite places) and it has got me realizing how fortunate we are to have taken them on so many amazing vacations, near and far. I also realize that these vacations are things they cherish so once it is safe we will continue to prioritize our family vacations. There are times I have felt so guilty for this being something I am sad about when I know there are others that have maybe never been on a family vacation or save many years to be able to do one big vacation. I also find myself thinking how privileged I am to be worried about when my next vacation will be when there are families dealing with way bigger issues like worrying about housing, food, money, childcare or their businesses and jobs. With this in mind I am trying to see this as an opportunity for gratitude. I think I always appreciated our vacations but I defiantly took them for granted, the next time we get to go away I will make sure to appreciate it!

A really cool realization has been the lack of screen time we have seen since isolation has started. I keep hearing and seeing that people are resorting to screens to entertain their kids but we have found kinda the opposite in our house. We are screen people and I am a little embarrassed to say we have an iPad for each child and we are fairly relaxed about “rules”. However since the pandemic and really the start of “back to school at home” we haven’t needed to let the kids use the iPads or screens. We do school in the morning and it is using screens for zoom calls, class meets and to watch videos that correspond with their lessons. After that the day is spent with play. With all the sunshine we have had the kids have been busy outside gardening, playing in the sandbox, jumping on the tramp, getting creative with sidewalk chalk, riding their scooters, water fights and the list goes on. I have learnt that our kids can play independently, are good at pretend play and have lots of toys considering my desire to purge regularly! Overall we have some very happy kids and I am proud of the way they are handling these “new norms”. Even my own screen usage is down. I will comment we have days where we resort to giving screens or turning on the tv but I just feel like we all have days we need to just veg out.

One huge realization I have is the support system and people we have in our life. I had always known we were fortunate to have family close by and that our friends are the best of the best. I had a good feeling about the team we have built to support us with Rowen and of course we have loved the school we chose to send the kids too. Pandemic has pushed every one of these people and supports to new levels, and I can honestly say they have all gone above and beyond. The amount of creative ways these people have adapted and continued to support us and our kids is unbelievable. Our family has continuously surprised us with Birthday parades, Easter goody crafts and activities, worksheets and new desk deliveries, homemade goodies, cards and of course FaceTimes or porch distancing visits. Our teachers and support staff have dropped off indoor shoes, muddy buddies, schoolwork packages and more. They are continuing to teach and support with regular correspondence and tons of communication. They have offered loaning out equipment if we do not have enough or the right stuff and really come up with some creative ways to continue therapy from home. I’m not sure we will ever be able to thank all these people are the way they have impacted the experience our whole family is having through this pandemic. It has meant that in a time that is scary and unsure we have some light and laughter. We have some consistency with our kids and we are all adapting. It has made our jobs as parents easier but it has also shown our kids that these people aren’t leaving us, they are here despite being unable to physically be here.

Photo by Shelby Rose Photography #distancediaries

I think when I really sit down and look at these last 6 weeks and how surreal it has all been I feel nothing but gratitude. As of today we are all still happy and healthy. That is all I could wish for in times like that. I know that our family will look forward to a post pandemic life but it will not be the one we had before. Our life is forever changed and I think that is okay. My sister just taught me about “we people and me people” and I am proud to see the way our friends and family are showing up as “we people”. It has got me thinking about how we teach our kids to help others and what we are doing to help others. I am finding some small and some bigger ways we can help out our community… and it has left me feeling a little bit better in a time when we can so easily be brought down. I think if we can do anything during these strange and sad times it is find ways to spread joy and judge less!

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.

Realistic Expectations

I was raised Catholic. It is funny to say now as most people don’t consider me very “Catholic” and I wonder what that means. However the religion isn’t the point in this story it is the fact that every Sunday my Mom would take three girls to mass usually alone and every Tuesday we would go to Catechism (Bible Study). It was expected that we would dress up for Church, sit nicely through Mass and of course listen and behave.

There were so many expectations and as far as I can remember and even as far as my mom is concerned the three of us were fairly good at meeting expectations, especially when we were younger.

Fast forward to today. Easter Sunday and I decided to attempt Church with Grace, Rowen finds out and says he wants to come too. I am immediately nervous as I know for him an hour long Mass that is most likely very busy and potentially loud isn’t his optimum environment. I am also nervous thinking about everyone around me and their expectations of me and my kids.

Then I remember it doesn’t matter what other people expect as long as I know what to expect and what I am willing to tolerate. I didn’t expect to be able to stay for the whole mass, I didn’t expect my kids to be silent or even to sit still but to be respectful. We opted to go into the “crying room” which meant the kids could walk around a bit and make noise without disrupting the whole church. I also didn’t expect Rowen to dress up, I think he looked nice (no sweat pants) but he didn’t have a dress shirt. I wanted him to be comfortable, as well as Grace of course but she loves dressing up.

I was nervous to take my kids to Mass and had been avoiding it for a while, or chickening out whenever it actually came around to it. The kids are attending the school at our Church and will be participating in religion as well as all the regular school curriculum. I think it is important for me that they know about the Church we belong to and that they are able to sit through Mass, go to special occasion Masses (or more if they choose). I know that by adjusting my expectations I am not disappointed in today, but I actually am happy with todays achievement. Making it to Mass and sitting through part of it, plus leaving without any major incident is an achievement to me.

We made it half an hour so halfway through the service, the kids were fairly quiet and played nicely with the other kids in the room. Rowen knew and interacted so nicely with a couple of his classmates from school and Grace genuinely seemed interested and happy to be at church.

What I have been learning is I am more disappointed when my expectations are unreasonable then when I do not have expectations and wait to see how things go.

Friday night we took the kids to the pool, which is not always my favourite thing as we are two adults responsible for three very brave and confident toddler swimmers. If you have ever taken one child to the pool you will understand they go in and they are off, so when you have three kids all swimming in different directions it is hard to be close enough to catch them when they start to drown (because usually mine do). Fraser thinks I exaggerate but it feels like that is what is happening. However Friday night I suggested swimming knowing how badly my kids have been asking to go back to Hawaii and the pool… since I couldn’t do that I figured lets hit up the leisure center. I had no expectations but gotta say the night was perfect. The kids had almost the whole pool to themselves. The lifeguards were great and we were able to “save” our kids and stay close enough to them. Best part was everyone came home exhausted and went to bed easy.

Saturday we attempted to scooter and bike ride to a park and meet up with my sister and nieces. My kids don’t have the best road safety or fear of traffic so it is always scary when taking them anywhere on the road. Plus they also aren’t made to walk or ride places that often so I wasn’t sure about the distance. Without any expectations for how the day would go it went fantastic.

I think sometimes we place all these expectations on our life and our kids that are completely unreasonable and then we are so focused on making sure they happen the way we expect we don’t allow things to naturally unfold. Saturday was a perfect example because we kinda let the kids take the lead on what they wanted to do and for how long and it turned out better than I could have imagined. The other thing is instead of focusing on the unmet expectations I am able to focus on enjoying the moment and having fun.

I ran into a friend of ours with a son Eleanor’s age on Saturday while we were at the park and he mentioned they had just been at a organized sports class for his 3 year old. His first comment was that the instructors had these expectations for the kids that were totally not happening at all and that they just kept teaching. It took me back to our first dance class we had where the teacher, although nice, was very young and no kids of her own. Her expectations of the kids who at the time were only two was so far from their capability. It was interesting to me to see someone’s expectations be so different too, mine were literally to have something to get us out of the house and to have fun, dance literally meant dance around to me. It was Graces first experience dancing in a lessons as well as my first class with my two year old. Halfway through the class I stopped taking Grace because I was so disappointed in the class and I felt like we were not meeting the teachers expectations every class and it was just frustrating. The crazy thing is, had she looked around and even asked what everyone wanted out of the class I bet she could have easily adapted and had a class full of happy two year olds. Expectations can really alter our experiences and how much joy or lack of joy we get out of them.

I think it is unreasonable to say you can live your life without expectations, but I think whenever you can keep them in check! Or adjust them when you realize something isn’t what you thought it would be. You are not disappointing anyone other than maybe yourself. It is also good to remember expectations can change especially when life changes… your disposable income or financial status could change, the age and ability of your kids changes, your work schedule and free time changes through out your life as well as so many other things.

One area I have always had expectation with our kids in is extra curricular. I love all the fun activities, gymnastics, dance, lacrosse, art class. You name it, I wanted our kids to do it all. Especially while they are young, let them try everything. Now we have a son in a three day a week Autism program in Richmond and two of our kids in two days a week of preschool. It is a lot of driving and we are somewhere Monday to Friday sometimes more than one commitment a day. It doesn’t sound like much but for 2,3 and 4 year olds that is a lot (even to a 34 year old it feels like a lot). I can honestly say I have had to majorly adjust my expectations. It is something I have to do regularly, because I get caught up in what all the other families and kids are all signed up for and then my darling husband reminds me we are not all the other families. We are us, we like sleeping in and being lazy on Sundays, we like spur of the moment road trips or day trips, we don’t want to force our kids to play things they aren’t interested in and we have to look at what is best for our family of five not just one person out of the whole family. I also know that at 2, 3 and 4 years old they are not “falling behind” by missing a couple of years in a team sport. My expectations isn’t to raise Olympic or professional athletes, it is actually to encourage balance between all the demands of life, to allow choice and show that everyone has different interests and strengths and really to allow our kids to lead us into the areas they are interested in. I hope they will all play some team sport at any level, it does not have to be extreme or competitive I just think it is a good opportunity to build social skills and learn life lessons like winning and loosing.

Basically the reoccurring theme in my weekend has been one of adjusting and constantly reviewing your expectations. Not just expectations you have for yourself, which are super important, but your expectations of others. I know when I have these big expectations of others it can be crushing to me when they are not met but sometimes I haven’t even told the other person and the expectation is so unreasonable it couldn’t have even happened, so it was more like a dream than an expectation.

I challenge you to care less what other people think, and try to live in the moment and enjoy things as they come instead of getting too worked up in expectations (when you can), and to judge less because we never know another persons story and situation.

Cheers,
Carly

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!

Fill your Bucket First

Do you believe in syncronicity? I do. I love how many reoccurring themes I can find when I look for them in my life. The last little bit has been busy, but really nothing different from our normal routine of chaos. I attended two different workshops through the farm, my kids have been on Spring Break, weather is finally starting to warm up, we had a triple baptism for our three kiddos, my youngest daughters birthday party and a family friends funeral just to name a few things. During all these things I noticed a common message, and I think it is important so I thought I would share.

I feel like it is hard to sum up this overall message into one idea but rather a broader goal of living in todays modern world and dealing with all the pressures and obligations. It is about living with anxiety and stress and how you can cope with it. Although the times are different from “when I grew up”. The principles from when we were being raised and from our parents childhood on “how to be happy” have never really changed. If we go back to some of the basics and make time in our busy schedules we might be surprised the impact it would have on our lives. The messages I keep hearing in all the areas of my life are similar and it is go back to the basics, make time and spend energy on the real important stuff and the rest will follow.

My favourite take away was from one of the speakers at a Summit I attended for young farmers. The speaker was a doctor and was speaking on mental health. His message was simple, it was that we all want balance in our lives and stress that our demands outweigh our resources. We don’t have the time and energy to meet all our demands but instead of removing every demand, which isn’t realistic always, we should add things that give us energy. We are so quick to take away the stuff that gives us our energy, it is easy to say we do not have time to eat well, exercise or even sleep but how much more productive are we when we get a good nights sleep.

He even went so far as to compare stats of what our parents and grandparents lives were like. Every decade the human populations looses an hour of sleep so back in the day my Great Grandparents slept an average of 10 hours a night, we are currently at about 6.5 hours per night. Did you know that in Canada approx 25% of meals are eaten in our vehicles and the average length of dinner is 15 minutes compared to our Grandparents who’s meals lasted about 1 hour and 15 minutes. These stats were surprising to me, but not unbelievable.

I feel like it is sad to think that although many things have hugely improved with evolution some things have gone the opposite direction. With all the advancements you would think we should have more free time! It seems like people have less and less time to just enjoy their lives, families, food and all the fun stuff. So here was his list of 10 S’ to help make you happier. The idea of these things is that they have all been shown to increase serotonin and we all know that low serotonin is linked to depression and serotonin levels help to regulate mood. These aren’t opinions but backed by science, I did feel like it was kinda of a cool list.

  • SUCCESS| Think back to a time you were successful or felt successful. Just remembering a successful time makes your serotonin levels increase.
  • SUN| It’s here, so get outside and don’t waste it.
  • SLEEP| Deep sleep, the hours before midnight. Set yourself an alarm and go to bed.
  • SMILING| For real you get a surge of serotonin just by smiling.
  • SPORTS| Doesn’t matter what you do or how good at it you are, just get your heart rate going.
  • SOCIAL| See your friends, hang out in a group. Socialize.
  • STEAK| Eat a high fat diet to feed your brain. The brain is made of 80% fat and 10% protein, feed your brain.
  • SAND| Contact with the earth, feet in sand or soil is grounding and good for you.
  • SEX| You don’t even want to know the stats on this one, it’s sad!
  • SPIRITUALITY| Again doesn’t matter what spirituality just that you have it and you practice it. Practice prayers and gratitude. Gives you meaning and purpose.

Seems simple but I know it isn’t. Do I think if you practice all of this you would never feel sad? No, absolutely not. I do think this idea of taking time to do the things that bring you happiness and fill your bucket is super important. I also think it is what gives you the energy to then be able to face the rest of your life.

I always say to my husband we need to put our own oxygen masks on first before we can help anyone else, when the presenter showed that slide and used that same example I couldn’t believe it. I actually took a pic and sent to my husband right away.

As a mom you learn selflessness and putting others needs before your own like you have never known. However it is easy to use this as an excuse to why you aren’t taking care of yourself. You are not a bad mom, partner, daughter, sister or friend if you put yourself first. Most times it makes you a better mom, partner, daughter, sister and friend. I know anytime I am truly taking care of myself I end up with more energy to do the other stuff I want to do.

Weird to think after two weeks of busy Spring Break and lots of fun with my husband and three kids I am starting off back to school with a bit more enthusiasm and energy. Usually after two busy weeks I am burnt out and exhausted. I think I am trying to keep these reminders and lessons fresh in my mind and practice them daily.

The funeral we recently attended was for a longtime family friend who I have known since childhood. Although the circumstances and situation was heart breaking and I truly believe it is hard to find any good to a loss of life when someone is so young the one thing I loved hearing about was how no matter what he took the time to make others feel heard and important. He went out of his way to do little things for people. I think it was a reminder when your time comes the most remarkable thing you can do is have left this Earth a little better.

I guess we have been spending a little more time than usual at Church as we also recently had all three kids Baptized (that’s a whole other blog post…). Before we could do the Baptism Fraser and I had to attend a nighttime class of sorts to go over the purpose of Baptism and a little 101 on the Catholic faith. It was a good refresher for me and maybe a bit of an eye opener for Fraser but it also was nice to have a little reminder of what Faith can do for people. The priests chat with us was really a reminder that raising kids with a community who has Faith can give you greater meaning to things and can help guide you to live a good ethical life without placing so much importance on material things but instead on the greater good. It just all tied in for me with having just heard that spirituality is important, having experienced a death recently and also a birth in our family and really just wanting to raise good kids. I don’t just mean well behaved but kids who care, and who show others empathy and respect.

So, in summary I am going froward with a grateful heart for all the amazing things and people we have in our lives but also with the reminder of how important it is to take care of myself and make sure to fill my bucket. When I do those things that make me feel whole and good and fulfilled then I can share with others and sharing with others can be as simple as engaging in a meaningful conversation and showing someone you heard them, they matter and you care.

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.

Second Time Lucky

On January 29th, 2019 we had a sunset ceremony on a beach in Wailea with just the 5 of us. Our kids had their snack packs full of stuff they had picked out the day before, they had new buckets and shovels and even gum to keep them entertained with the promise of sparkling grape juice and plastic champagne glasses if they let us have a few minutes to get married!

It couldn’t have gone better. Rowen played in the waves, while the girls snacked and dug in the dirt. Each child came over at least once through out the ceremony to ask for help opening bubbles or a snack. It was so comforting to just have them safe and close but be able to concentrate on the vows we were exchanging.

The vows had a bit of Hawaiian tradition, the blowing of the conch, a Hawaiian prayer and a Lei exchange ceremony. I loved the mix of familiar and new traditions and the simplicity of what we were promising each other. Simple to say, harder to do. I cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives fulfilling these promises. Having never met our officiant until maybe 5 minutes before the ceremony we could not have asked for a better fit for us. He was fantastic.

The morning had started like most of our mornings on the beautiful island of Maui, laid back and relaxed. No rush to do much other than enjoy the day. Grace of course insisted on getting her nails done so we ran up to the salon so she should could get fresh paint! While Fraser and the other two decided to brave the Hawaiian sprinkles and wind and hit up the beach. Thank goodness they did because when we came to join them a whale was so close to shore the lifeguard had called everyone in to the shore for safety. It was amazing watching a cow and calf humpback swim so close to shore, followed by a big turtle. Talk about a sign that it was a special day.

After the beach I ran down to a salon and had my hair and make up done while Fraser got all the kids to nap. I came back with lunch from the 808 Deli for us, wanted to make sure we both ate. It was so nice to be so laid back and relaxed together before the ceremony and the kids woke up.

We did our short ceremony at 5pm on an almost deserted public beach in Wailea. We celebrated with bevies, a little play in the water and of course watching the sunset. Our favourite part of the day here in Maui. Then we quickly headed back to our condo to rinse off the kids and change them before heading to The Grand.

Dinner was a tough choice as dining late (7:30) with our kids can be risky but we figured why not try. I am so happy we did, the restaurant could not have been more accommodating or family friendly. Plus, like all things Grand, it was spectacular. Traditional Polynesian themed huts with thatched roofs resting over a lagoon along the beach it is a truly beautiful setting. It was such a great way to end a very special day.

We had planned most of the details from home and knew we were getting married while in Hawaii, however it had been a tough choice for us. There was no traditional proposal, unless you consider that I wrote “Will you marry me” in the sand last year for Fraser! If I waited for him we would never be married… so we discussed and went ring shopping together. Fraser is high maintenance and knows what he wants, BLING! He will be having a ring custom made as his 13.5 ring sizes made it hard to buy in shops. I knew I wanted stacking bands, preferably eternity or at least one eternity. We ended up with a brand I had loved called LIVEN, two eternity bands stacked together white gold dipped in black rhodium gives them kinda of a greyish look. I love them.

2018 had been a tough year with lots of sadness and loss towards the end of the year and it really reminded us that life is short and to live the life you want now because no guarantees you will have a later. So about two months before we were leaving for Maui I just phoned and booked with the wedding coordinator we had been in contact with a few times already.

It was so easy to plan and coordinate it all. The hardest part was committing to eloping and knowing it would mean a lot of friends and family who are so important to us wouldn’t be there to witness our special moment. That’s what was important though, it was OUR special moment not anyone else’s. What is so cool and has been pretty amazing is getting everyone’s FaceTimes and calls and messages and really hearing the true excitement and happiness for us. It just proves that these people are the best family and friends we could ask for and that they know us so well! So thank you to you all, you know who you are, for loving us always.

XO- Mr & Mrs.Farlow

For more photos from our ceremony check out our album

http://www.weddingsbymarbelle.com/vend/?/set/28b18/2019-01-29-fraser–carly/

WEDDING COORDINATOR| Deanne from Precious Maui Weddings

FLOWERS| Country Maui Bouquets

PHOTOGRAPHY| Jennifer from Marabella Media

OFFICIANT| Adam Gomes

CEREMONY LOCATION| Palauea Beach, Maui, HI

DINNER LOCATION| HumuHumu Restaurant at The Grand Wailea

DRESS| Ross

GROOMS SHIRT| Tommy Bahama

KIDS| Von Bon (Girls) & Target (Rowen)

RINGS| Brides is LIVEN eternity bands and Grooms is black silicone with plans to have a blingy ring made for him

Another Year Older.

I was always told life goes faster the older you get but when I was younger I would always wish to be older… when can I be 16 and drive, when can I be 19 and legal, when will I grow up and own a home, have a career, be comfortable financially (still look forward to this!)… I would reach one thing and then instead of enjoying that moment I would be looking ahead for the next “better” moment.

Life changed though, I turned 30 and became a mom. 4 years ago my life changed in ways I wouldn’t or couldn’t have imagined and its just gotten better every day since. I am finally now realizing this is the best… enjoy right now and don’t look for the better. If you are living life right, this is best.

Wednesday was Rowen, my oldest child’s, 4th Birthday. I cannot believe that he is already 4.

He usually sleeps in his own bed, through the night, doesn’t drink from a bottle, can dress himself, plays with other kids and has friends, is funny and so unbelievably caring and loving, can speak, plays nicely most of the time and can concentrate on a task for more than 30 seconds. He is able to be left with family or friends, loves school, can go shopping or out with us and so much more… some of these things may sound simple or like he should have been doing them for awhile but if you had asked me if he was doing these things one year ago my answer and outlook would have been very different. These things have actually reminded me that everyone changes, people grow and that nothing stays the same so enjoy it while it lasts because you might look back and wish you had taken a bit more time to appreciate certain stages.

Birthdays have always been bittersweet for me as I love celebrating a year of growth and learning but I also know aging means another year gone! This year has been a particularly hard one with lots of loss around us. It is true that when people you care about are hurting so are you. Not only have we had a big loss in our own family but we have many close friends who have as well and it has really impacted us as a family and me as an individual.

I really do try to find the “lessons” that surround loss and hardship, however somethings this year haven’t shown me a lesson and have been hard to see meaning behind. They have reminded me to be grateful and appreciate all the good things. SO with that in mind I have a few “lessons” from this year.

Enjoy right now, be present in this moment.

Life can change in an instant.

Tell people you love them and don’t waste time saying NO to opportunities to spend with those you love. When you are tired or haven’t seen someone for a while take the time to call and check in, send a quick text, write a card. You will miss those moments when they are gone.

If its important schedule it in, Make a standing date with your girlfriends, plan a weekly meal you always sit down with your spouse, make a monthly Thursday morning park play with the kids favourite friends. Whatever or whoever it is carve out time. I know when I schedule stuff in it is more likely to happen.

SLOW DOWN. Prioritize, what and who are really most important to you and how do you want to spend your time.

You can feel happy and devastated all at once. This year specifically has brought heartache but I also have moments where I am so incredibly happy in my family life or proud of my kids that I am both very sad and incredibly happy. Emotions are crazy.

I know for certain I work hard to find the positives in our life, some times it is easier than others but I know I feel better when I am positive, I am a better parent, better spouse, better friend, better employee, etc. I don’t just wake up smiling but when I look at how fast my son has grown up or I take the time to stand outside his classroom and hear him saying goodbye to all his little friends. Or ask him about his day and find out he had so much fun with his big buddy it is hard not to smile.

Being happy isn’t constant and it takes work. I have moments where I am frustrated, times when I parent in a way I never want to and am so embarrassed and disappointed. Something will trigger a memory or I will hear something sad about a friend or acquaintance and it is instant tears. Despite all the sadness though my kids, Fraser and the life we have created is full of so much good that I accept when I feel sad and take the time to cry or be frustrated or be mad but I also try to be grateful and appreciative and happy. I try to look at all things I have control over and make choices that I am happy with.

One thing I have always known I wanted for my kids is for them to be happy and to develop meaningful friendships. This is something Fraser and I could always improve on but work hard at our important friendships. Our friendships are genuine, old and deep. We don’t get as much time as we would like to socialize but feel so fortunate for all those people who are our tribe.

For me to know that Rowen has started to develop friendships and play and have fun feels like the biggest success we could have. Fraser and I have worked hard and have an amazing support system of friends and family that mean the world to us and I want my kids to have the same. Friendship is work, but what we get out of them is so much more than the time and energy we put in.

This time last year I had just finished a parent meeting at preschool with a big list of concerns from the teachers as well as my list of concerns, and had my Paediatrician suspecting Rowen had Autism. Fast forward a year later and Rowen has a big list of accomplishments, we headed into a school meeting on Friday where it included a big list of accomplishments. In addition our circle of friends and family has grown to include a team of people who not only support Rowen but also us. These professionals have become like family and are so incredible in helping us all to have more success day to day.

Wednesday was a pretty great day. Rowen woke up to a lot of excitement and it was adorable to watch all three kids unwrap and play with Rowens mound of new goodies. The thing is most of his gifts had been bought with intention and help from his OT in fun stuff that he can play with and it will also work on developing his fine and gross motor skills as well as help him to regulate his body.

That same morning Rowen went to see his OT and he was so excited to bring in a Starbucks for him and a hot chocolate for himself, birthday treats. Then he had ABA and he took in a big Texas Donut to celebrate with everyone. We ended the evening with Nan, Grandpa, Uncles and Aunties and of course his cousins coming over for cake. It was so great.

My mom commented later that night at how far Rowen had come and what a great night he had. The thing is last year Rowen’s birthday had been a bit of a tough time. We had been struggling with lots of tough behaviours and we were all trying to understand what was going on for Row and how to best support him. Fast forward a year and Rowen has figured a lot of stuff out (with lots of support and help), he knows when things are overwhelming and can express himself so much better and more appropriately. He feels so much more comfortable and safer with his people. He is able to listen and follow some direction, he was good at slowing down to do his gifts and even thank whoever gave it to him. It was truly a great birthday.

In addition to Rowens Birthday going well he had a few other super sweet days celebrating. On Monday he celebrated at school with cupcakes and it was one of his best days to date at school. He loved getting to go and share with his friends. He is really find his place at school and learning to play and participate with his class.

He also celebrated tonight with his friends at his Birthday party. Birthday parties are something I have always loved and have been known to possibly go a little over the top… I believe its a matter of opinion, but Fraser is the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to birthdays and parties and all that good stuff so we are often not in agreement. The thing is last year was a good reminder to me that the party and birthday aren’t about what I want but what each of our kids want. This year Rowen got to pick something he wanted to do. I gave him lots of ideas or suggestions and showed him some pictures. Then it was up to him to pick who he invited. This is hard for me as I often like to invite my friends (with kids) and I usually feel the more the merrier but his party package was for 12 kids and we limited it knowing he does better in small groups. The night was a huge success and he was so happy.

Rowen is a year older, and I am so excited to see what this next year holds for us all. He brings me so much joy and is so incredibly caring. I am grateful that he has made me a mom and that he has made our lives fuller. To another year of growing with Rowen. ❤️

Start of School Reflections

With a new school year, and a fresh start for Rowen because we started a different preschool, I have been doing a lot of reflecting at the difference a year can make. I mean I know what a difference a year can make. I have had years of huge loss with family and friends passing away, I have had a year of divorce and going from married to single, and I have had years of going from single to in a relationship and becoming a mom. SO many changes, in sometimes what seems like short time frames, but when I look at Rowen and the progress he has made in the last year I am wowed and inspired by my son and his amazing attitude and hard work.

Sometimes we are so close to things that we don’t always notice changes or gradual progress but in the case of this year I can’t help but notice the changes.

Last year I had a very frustrated, slow to speak, emotional boy who was upset almost every drop off at school. He was not potty trained and to be honest it was on the bottom of a very long list of goals, he had not participated in a circle time, was an independent player and didn’t seem excited or happy about school. He was also prone to have meltdowns and was difficult to settle, plus snack time was challenging.

Fast forward to this years first month of preschool and we have a verbal potty trained boy who asks to go to school on Saturday because he loves it so much. The teachers mentioned he spent 15 minutes participating in circle time and made a friend with a boy from the older class. When I went to pick him up he was playing with two other kids and he is loving his therapies and has made a friend there as well who he asked to have come over and play. His meltdowns have changed and are more like age appropriate tantrums that are very infrequent. After his first week he is not only enjoying snack time at school but also stays for lunch!

Sometimes I look at these things and think that they are not really a big deal, kids grow and learn and develop. This is how they are suppose to act. But then I think back to all the research I did, learning our whole family did, the appointments we went to, money we spent, referrals we needed and think this is not just your average kids learning and growing in a year.

This is a result of lots of hard work from Rowen, a team of people who have supported not only Rowen but our whole family and a group of friends and family who have been amazing! It has meant getting help sometimes for the girls to have child care and leaning on others.

We have truly learnt what they mean by “it takes a village” and about who is in our village and how well they showed up (or in some cases didn’t). It has been amazing, eye opening and in sometimes disappointing. We had hoped for more involvement and support by some, but it is others who’s support surprised us that really sticks out in my mind.

My grandparents went above and beyond to research and learn about Autism and where and what Rowen is doing for therapy as well as adapting things they do or give him with his best interest in mind. Not only did they learn but they shared about Rowen and even a friend they volunteer at the Thrift Store with emailed with an amazing therapy idea (which my grandparents offered to pay for). It isn’t so much about the money but when you realize how much effort and time someone has put in to learning about something important to us it really makes you feel loved and supported. Plus Autism is hard for younger generations to grasp, it is often super hard for older so to know it was my grandparents making such an effort is really cool.

My Uncle who is also one of Fraser’s good friends often asks how he can best support Rowen and always makes an effort to connect and play with him whenever he sees him, which has helped make him one of Rowens favourite people (the boat and the motorcycle help too).

The list and examples are endless but sometimes when I am frustrated that other people have grandparents that do childcare weekly, or have family who does weekends or even weeks so the parents can go on vacation or when I hear about family members paying for kids activities, etc it is easy to feel envious. However, in a moment of reflection, sanity and clarity I realize how meaningful and plentiful the support is that we get from our family and our friends. Support shows up in so many ways too… my mom often takes our laundry and returns it clean and folded, drops off home cooked meals ready to go, takes time off work to babysit and even went to tour Rowens centre for therapy and meet some of his therapists.

It’s funny how amazing and important Rowens team has become to us. These are paid professionals who really are above and beyond what we could have imagined for him. We see Keith from Little Buddies for OT and Megan, Rebecca, Declan, Erik and Natasha from Bounding Higher for SLP, BC and BI. This team has been a dream team from Day 1 and I truly believe without them we would not see as much progress as we have. If you would have told me a year ago this list of names it would have meant nothing to me and I certainly would not have believed they would all play such an important role in my sons life. They are so much more than paid professionals to Rowen and to us. I mean even our extended family speaks as if these people are a part of our family! They will never know how much they meant to us all.

I know this year has been one of big learning for our whole family and I am proud of all of them. I hope that whatever your September this far has looked like you are able to read this and feel some hope. Hope for possibilities of what your next year could look like or even a reminder to see how far you have come this last year. My biggest fear for myself or my family would be to stay the same so to look back and know lots has changed means I am living the life I want to live. With growth and change comes amazing things. Obviously there will always be growing pains but I like to believe the end result is worth a little pain.

As I look through pictures from the last year I am reminded, first how quickly we forget the hard stuff and second how far we have come. I could have never imagined taking my kids camping on a week long vacation with 8 other families. Last year I reached a point where I just avoided being around other families all together, we had to decline Birthday parties because it was hard to know how Rowen would behave and it was difficult on us. Just remembering the embarrassment or frustration we would have in certain social situations and thinking to where we are now and the confidence I have as a mother, but mainly because I have more trust and faith in Rowen and his abilities. This is just one example but there are many changes I know in our family that if you had asked us a year ago we would have never believed possible.

I am proud of the work Fraser and I have done to get here as well and the sacrifices we have made. Honestly I am tired, emotional and feeling a little of the September overwhelm but more than that I am smiling because I can see our hard work paying off in so many beautiful ways. I can also see my expectations and mindset changing about what’s important and what’s not and I like the “new” mindset.