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.

Collaboration, the power of partnerships.

Being part of something bigger never used to matter to me. I hated relying on anyone else and thought I could do most things on my own. In my mind if you wanted it done right you should do it yourself, boy was I wrong. I dreaded group projects and always felt they would have been better individually. I didn’t have the skills to work well with others or to compromise and try to see things more than one way (my way).

I still at times want to shut out the rest of the world and just be in a bubble. But the difference now is I don’t believe I am better solo, I think sometimes I need time to recharge solo but I believe I am better with support.

I parent better when I am parenting with the support and help of my husband, I work harder at fitness when I am in a class with an encouraging group of women, I am inspired when I surround myself by my girlfriends and I bet if you ask anyone you know they may have a favourite Plain sister but they will say it is even better when you get to be with all three of us. I am so happy I have learnt that as great as I am independently, I can share my talents and strengths with others and team up to be even more effective as a team.

Since starting our family and having kids you learn it takes a village. I love having a circle of close girlfriends who are there supporting you through some os the best but also the worst times in your life.

Working at the farm and helping plan and run our events I know the importance of a team. You cannot accomplish great things without support and the more I learn and lean into the idea that having support doesn’t make me weaker but in fact builds me up and makes me stronger the more I can accomplish.

The idea can be applied to all areas of my life, when I ask for help from my team with my kids the more they succeed and experience. I can not physical be in three places at once, nor can I support three little people all at the same time so we have an amazing team of family, friends, teachers, educators, therapists and babysitters who help us with the kids. Without this team I cannot imagine how tired, impatient and cranky I would be. Day to day it is Fraser and I who are driving the kids, helping dress, feeding and just generally caring for our family but I am starting to have a real appreciation for those who do help us. I am also learning to ask for help when I need it or make sure we take the time to hire help if we need it.

Apply the same idea to work, I have casual/ seasonal/ part time employment at Emma Lea Farms but when I do work we are usually go go go! Think special events like our Markets, during the busy berry season at the U Pick Stand and most recently to help plan and host a 2 day Farm Tour for farmers from the Pacific North West to see different farms (12 of them actually) from our area. What I learnt was without an amazing team of farmers our tour would be nothing, and without an amazing group of vendors our markets would not hold the same value and without an amazing team of staff our U Pick stand would be impossible. Never underestimate the power and growth that comes from building a strong team.

At a presentation I was at recently the speaker pointed out that Competition is no longer a thing, that we each have a niche and a target market. If we excel and worry about our strengths and pair up with others in the area we actually create a bigger and better reason to come visit. For example breweries independently are good but everyone is all about going on an Ale Trail or a Booze Cruise so when you team up with your “competition” you are actually creating something really special.

I love this idea of being a part of something bigger and really embracing each other instead of competing. Think of it in parenthood even, Moms are always comparing themselves (I think). I always see something and think I wish I could make lunches like that mom, or come to school drop off with make up on and my hair styled and look presentable like other moms, etc. But realistically when I start to chat with the mamas and learn more about them and even start to share our strengths with each other. The one day my girlfriend made my sons lunch and I picked up her son from school it was fantastic, my son was super excited and ate it all and I had such a stress free morning of no lunch making, my girlfriend was thrilled she didn’t have to pack up her daughter and pick up her son. It doesn’t have to big things, small things matter.

Moral of the story is value your friendships and teams, ask for help when you need it or offer it when you notice someone who could use a hand. Sometimes just doing is better than offering, I often say No but if someone just shows up and does it there is no opportunity to say no. If we are open to collaboration great ideas and things can happen. We are stronger together.

Freedom 55

So for those who don’t know her, this is my mama. She was a single mom, who raised three girls all while working her job at CRA. I never remember my mom complaining about her work, she was always connected and involved with her coworkers, always taking extra courses or training and working her way up to more leadership roles. My mom worked for CRA for 30 years. 30 years is a long time for anything but especially a job, that is a commitment and a huge part of your life. This past weekend we celebrated my moms retirement from CRA. At 55 years old, after 30 years at the same job and lifetime of working she is about to have her first summer off that I can ever remember.

Typically we love hosting a big bash for any excuse and this definitely would qualify for a bit of a party but this time we set on planning a bit more of an intimate weekend away with a few close family and friends. My sisters did most of the organizing and they nailed it. From the location (Gibsons), the goodies upon arrival, the airbnb, the food, the laid back atmosphere, the music (Spotify by DJ KP), the games (charades, 31, Sake bomb) to the guest list I couldn’t think of a better way to set the tone for the next chapter of my Moms life.

It is kinda crazy to think about this small group of ladies… ranging in age from 32-59, two sets of sisters, three daughters, two former sister in laws, and two friends/ past coworkers.

I love how my mom has taught us the value of friendships and that you can find them in the most unexpected places. She has always been good at prioritizing friendships and relationships and showing us how important it is to make time for good girlfriends.

I love how this weekend was also a great reminder of how different sisters can be (the three of us, myself and two sisters are perfect examples), but also how no one has had the same childhood as your sisters. It gives you shared experiences that make you connected even when you are so different. Watching my aunts was a great reminder of what my sisters and I are like! It was hilarious most of the time, because honestly who knows you better and calls you on your stuff than your sisters. It was a weekend of so many laughs.

This weekend also reminded me to look at parenthood through the eyes of my Mom. When we were growing up she was a big believer in being your parent and not your friend. I don’t disagree with this idea, and try to keep it in mind with our kids. However what I saw this weekend is when you get older, although you never stop being a parent, you can become friends too.

I look forward to that with my own kids but also appreciate how hard it was for my mom while we were growing up and that many times she had to take the harder route but I definitely believe it paid off!

I hope I can learn from my Mom to show our kids hard work, and that the easiest choices aren’t always the best or right. I do not want to rush away these young years but I know that the older ones are looking good too if they can be spent like this.

Although my Mom is retiring from one of her longest jobs there is another job I realized you never retire from. Parenthood, is a lifelong job with no extended health, no overtime pay, no pension plan, but so many benefits. I look forward to my moms retirement from one job and the role it will play in her parenthood job. It is crazy to think back on all our summers and to know there hasn’t been a summer she hasn’t worked, so not only is it her only summer off that I can remember it is her first summer off with her kids (I know we are all grown up, but we are still her kids!). Let the fun times and memory making begin.

Success can be judged by many things and sometimes we like to have measurable tangible concrete benchmarks like money earned or the material items you have collected, but I think my mom has taught us that there is more to success than the tangible items.

There are the quality of friendships you have, the depth of the kids you raise and their impacts on this world, and of course your own impact on this world. As a stay at home parent who is approaching 35, it is crazy to me think I am a short 20 years away from my Mom right now.

What will I do to make those 20 years count? I cannot be at the same job for 30 years at this point, but I don’t think the lesson she is trying to teach us is to stay with a job and work as long as you can. I think it is to make choices that you are happy with, stay true to yourself but do what has to be done, whatever choices you make do them with a good attitude and don’t take anything from granted. I think I am doing these things and know when I am not, or are starting to get a bit sidetracked my mom will gently remind me that I have choices and to be grateful.

Thanks Kitten for taking your Mother job so seriously and doing your best. We have been lucky and continue to learn from you and your wisdom:)

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. ❤️

Goodbye GADFLY

I like to think our vibe attracts our tribe and that we surround ourselves with people we want to be around but there are some exceptions and family falls in that category. The thing is you don’t choose your family and I think lots of time families aren’t close because they want to be, but more out of obligation. Or some families just don’t talk and aren’t close for whatever reasons.

My family is kinda unusual, I think for the most part we all generally like each other and we have always been close spending lots of time together. My mom raised us and she did a lot of it solo, but we had two extraordinary “extra” parents that were always there to help her and us.

Uncle Harvey was 20 years older than my aunt and married with the understanding he wanted no children. I wonder if he knew then what he was getting himself into. He could have never guessed he would get three girls and their mom in addition to his bride:) I think in terms of a typical family we definitely break the mold.

Uncle is a term used for fun extra special men who are related and get to do the fun stuff with their nieces and Uncle Harvey was definitely that but he was so much more. I feel like Uncle will never adequately describe what he meant to me or to my sisters. Our lives will forever be better because he was a part of them. He was the person we could ask for help or advice when we needed to, he was our secure and safe place.

I always thought that Uncle Harvey meant more to us than he knew and always made sure to send a card or recently a text with a quote on Father’s Day. It was hard to find one for an Uncle who was like a Dad but one year I found the best card, I never thought about it much after I gave it to him until years later I found it out on his dresser. I was so surprised as he is not sentimental at all. I knew then that we were just as important to him as he was to us.

More recently Uncle Harveys role had become even bigger in my life. Everyone needs a mentor or a voice of reason to keep you grounded and I think Uncle Harvey had become that for me. He was so busy, he filled his life with people he loved and things he loved to do. He could be scary (just ask us about the big Kahuna) and stubborn, but it was part of his charm. I mean he actually would have voted for Trump if he was American, we argued about it… some things we could not agree with. However sometimes he had valid points, like his annoyance with tax dollars being spent to replant the meridians and gardens on Ladner Trunk road each season, or the addition of all the new trees on municipal land. Politics aside he was someone I will always look up to and love.

I will always remember when we turned his brand new workshop into our slumber party headquarters, I mean I am sure it was his dream to have his new man cave turned into a bunch of tweens favourite sleepover spot. I will never be able to see a ledger or old school leather bound cheque book without thinking of having to write cheques when they were in Hawaii, paying all their bills with a mailed cheque, I mean he refused to online bank until more recently. Plus a lot of the bills were for the year. He paid MSP, cable and a few others yearly, just one cheque a year was easy I guess. I should have tried to learn more budgeting tips from him, but I luckily took after my aunts good sense of spend what you got and a little bit extra:)

I do love the way despite his declining health he never felt sorry for himself or even seemed sad or mad, he really did lead by example of working hard and enjoying his life regardless of circumstances.

In his later years he regularly told me he loved me and my family and he never was shy to say he was proud of me. Before I had kids he would often come in to visit me at work, I think it was to see all the women shopping and trying on clothes (always a ladies man) but he would say it was to see me! When I considered purchasing the store Uncle Harvey and I went through the process together, I think he was as excited as I was about a new project and he definitely had more faith in myself than I did. We both decided it wasn’t right for me but I know he was hoping I would open my own shop instead of buying an existing one, maybe one day. The most surprising reaction was when I told him I was pregnant (every time), he just seemed genuinely happy which was not reaction I was expecting and such a happy surprise.

He taught me more than money management skills (I am still working on that one, bit of a slow learner). He also taught me what it was to have someone who believed in me. I loved how he had softened over the years, not a lot but a little about certain things.

He knew no boundaries and I often had to remind him I didn’t want to hear or know about certain things in his life (most I hope were him just joking), definitely needed a lesson in TMI. I loved the way him and Auntie Mona would discuss anything and everything with us, even when we would beg them not to or be so embarrassed by them.

I will forever think of them when we go to Hawaii and all the wonderful memories and times they had there, I think it is part of the reason why I love being in Maui so much.

I will always remember the blue house that Uncle Harvey grew up in. I will still be upset that he sold the yellow house, I mean he had no sentimental attachment to things or places! Lol, I think it was something about a great investment not a sentimental home, always so practical.

I will never forget when he came over and cleaned our bathroom for us because we didn’t scrub the tile well enough, I swear he did an entire tile bathroom and shower with a toothbrush and then left us a lifetime supply of Tilex to encourage us to upkeep it. He was particular, some might even say anal.

The many Christmas’ that we spent Christmas Eve playing Jenga and watching Santa run down Massey Drive. The phone calls we got every year from Santa (AKA Uncle Harvey), and to be honest to this day I wonder if Uncle Harvey is really Santa Claus. For a guy who never put up lights or a Christmas Tree but somehow always was the first to arrive Christmas morning to watch us open all our gifts including three specials ones he had picked out for each niece he sure seemed to really get into Christmas. Or the year “Santa” brought us our first computer and how excited Uncle Harvey was.

The summer vacations we always took with our cousins that were a gift from Uncle Harvey, he actually never came with us but someone had to go to work to pay for them.

The back to school outfit from “the wallet” (aka as Uncle Harvey).

The fact that whenever he made a “bigger” purchase like when he last bought his car or his stem cell treatments in the states and I asked him all about it he mentioned he had dipped into our inheritance, I think he loved joking about it.

I love how he aged. Although his body got older his mind really had gotten sharper and he kept with the trends. He pretty much made coconut oil popular, he was into the healthy fads, wore skinny jeans and trendy clothes, loved to text (especially with emojis) and really was a modern man.

My heart is so sad knowing that we no longer have Uncle Harvey and Auntie Mona watching out for us on Earth but it is eased a bit by the idea that they are reunited and watching out for us from somewhere above. I also am often reminded of the importance and the roles Uncle Harvey played in so many other peoples lives, which I guess is how someone’s memories live on. I am so inspired by the way he lived his life and want to make sure I value and build friendships like his.

Wherever you are Uncle Harvey I hope you are happy and at peace. We love you and miss you, thank you for everything. XO

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.

Sweet Sweet Summertime

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

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

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

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

Some of our regular GO-To’s include:

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

    STEVESTON COMMUNITY PARK

    TSAWWASSEN FIRST NATIONS SPORTS FIELD COMPLEX

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