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

Sweet Sweet Summertime

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

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

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

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

Some of our regular GO-To’s include:

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

    STEVESTON COMMUNITY PARK

    TSAWWASSEN FIRST NATIONS SPORTS FIELD COMPLEX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Things I Learnt in 30 (+4) Years

    So today is my 34th Birthday and although I really don’t think of myself as old, sometimes in some groups I am the oldest. Scary thought but take for example when I hang out with my three kids I out-age them easily, or when I am working at the farm I am “the old gal”, I am not sure when this happened by the way!

    Above is me celebrating a single digit birthday.

    Below is me celebrating my last year in my 20’s!

    In all seriousness though, I love my thirties, and was so excited when I entered them. Now, almost half way through, I thought it was time to reflect and see what I have learnt. I kinda wish I could go back and tell my younger self some of these lessons but I worry if I did I wouldn’t have become who I am now and I kinda like this Carly:)

    • You can and will change, who you are today is not who you will be tomorrow. This has surprised me! The younger version of myself was far more rigid, organized and serious. The younger me also knew way more. As I age I realize I know nothing and have so much to learn. I have slowly, through time and experience, become more flexible, way less organized and I like to think a lot more fun!
    • Don’t let money rule all your decisions. I am not promoting debt but sometimes making the most practical decision (usually involves finances) isn’t the decision that will make you happiest. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring, make some decisions because it feels right, you love it or because it was on your bucket list. Take a risk! It’s okay to do things that scare you (once in a while). These are the things that usually lead to something great.
    • Becoming a parent is the most amazing and rewarding thing I have done to this day done, it is harder than anything I have ever experienced (physically and emotionally). I should have appreciated my own mother more growing up. I am so thankful that I have found the right partner to share this experience but to also help raise our kids with. The struggle often isn’t for the big things it is in the every day little stuff with kids. And this is also the stuff that is the funniest. I wouldn’t change a moment of it. My kids and my babies daddy have shown me what life is all about and I am thankful for the lessons they teach me almost everyday.
    • Work hard for things that matter and stay true to your values. When we stray from our values we end up feeling bad about ourselves and our life. It is important to make decisions for ourselves not for others. It is your life and you are the one who has to live it. You will know when it is time to give up or move on but somethings are worth working for.
    • Your future is not set and you can change your own life, be brave enough to take risks and follow your happiness. I am a bit of a dreamer but the idea is that you shouldn’t stay with something because you have to, you are never stuck! You do not have to do anything (well except maybe pay taxes). I am so happy I didn’t stay in my first marriage, it was safe and easy in some ways but it wasn’t right for me. I have changed jobs, school and career plans and I am so glad I did. Every job I had I loved but I knew when it was time to leave or make a change and I think thats important to take note of and act on. Sometimes these changes are scary and hard but so worth it.
    • It takes a village, you can never have too many true friends. Make sure you have friends outside of your family. When you make changes in your life you might have changes in your support systems and “your” people. I know as I made some changes in my life I gained and lost friends and in our case we even lost a big chunk of family. In my experience when you make a change it is scary for others and they cannot always be there to support you, everyone makes mistakes and has times where they are not their best selves. It is in these times our family and friends should be there to support and help us live our best life. Sometimes it is good to re-evaluate people and who you want in your life. Remember you have the power to make changes and stay true to your values. My friends are all extremely diverse and definitely don’t have the same parenting styles, lifestyle, financial or family dynamics but we all are honest, supportive and open minded. I love the group I have around me at 34. Some have been their since the beginning, some have come and gone and are back, and some I may not talk to or see often but when I do it just fits. I used to think all I need is a few good friends (which I still believe) but I feel in my own life I am so beyond blessed not only with quality people but a big quantity too! I think a big lesson for me is it is okay to have LOTS of friends (just make sure they are quality). There is lots of love to give. Also make sure your friends (and family) inspire, lift you up and leave you feeling good. IF they don’t maybe it is time to re-evaluate.
    • Live your best life. I am a true believer in when you live your best life the rest falls in to place. When we are truly happy and living our values the money, family, relationships, etc all fall into place. Of course it is hard work but this is the hard work that is so worth it.
    • Don’t wait, make now count. We seriously just have one life! We don’t ever know how long it is so do things now, make changes today. Live in the now, let go of the past and try not to over plan for the future… this will forever be an ongoing focus for me as I tend to dwell and love to have a plan!

    I could go on but I think these are some of the big life lessons for me. Cannot wait to see what this next year has in store for me. Every year I worry that this is the year life will start to decline in quality and every year it just gets better and better. I definitely think that is what living your best life means. Just loving the life you are living.

    Cheers to Sunday, living my best life and of course another year of life! Xo

    My Babies Daddy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Remember when “I would raise my kids differently”

    Becoming a Mom is something I never knew I wanted, if you ask anyone who knows me they will say “remember when you use to say I am never having kids”. I think this has been a good lesson in never say never!

    Having kids has changed my life (for the better) and looking through pictures tonight has been a reminder at how quickly it all goes. I remember finding out we were expecting our first baby and the excitement, then the nerves and emotions at being 2 weeks overdue and having to be induced. I cannot go back and these moments went so fast!

    Before I had kids I had lots of ideas of what “Good” Moms do. Some of my ideas were

    1. My kids will never sleep in my bed. Co-sleeping is odd and not for us.
    2. My kids will eat at restaurants and sit without an iPad or tablet. They will eat what we are eating (no chicken and fries) and they will sit with us at home until everyone is done.
    3. My kids will always greet everyone. Saying Hello is a lifeskill and it doesn’t matter how old they are they should say Hello.
    4. Bedtime will be at a decent hour and routine (Bath, Book and Bed).
    5. No TV. Family Movie Nights are a treat otherwise no need for TV.
    6. My kids will learn to behave while shopping with me and I will go shopping with them. (Grocery’s, the mall, Home Sense, the nursery). There is no reason you shouldn’t be able to take multiple young kids out shopping with you.
    7. No sweat pants. Stretch clothes are for the gym, I will wear jeans everyday like I did pre kids and I will still buy well made and nice clothes. I will properly launder my clothes, it is easy to hang dry most of your stuff. I love beautiful fabrics and having kids shouldn’t change how I dress.

    The list could go on… I mean I cannot believe how many “ideas” I had about life with kids and how my life would be so different from all the people I saw and judged with kids.

    Fast forward 3.5 years and 3 little ones later and I have broken every idea I ever had about having kids.

    First lesson I learnt is don’t be judgemental or rigid with your thoughts, go in knowing nothing and being open to adapting. I felt like a failure in the beginning literally breaking every thought I had ever had about how to raise a child.

    Now I am open to ideas and changing what I thought I would want, I don’t feel like a failure I feel like a person willing to do what it takes to survive. Raising kids is the hardest and most game changing thing I have ever and will ever do. I now know if I can raise these three little ones then I can pretty much do anything. LOL! Okay it sounds extreme but I am pretty sure it is true.

    Motherhood is crazy, if you’re a mom you know exactly what I am talking about and if you are not you may not believe it (I wouldn’t have until I experienced it). Before you have your baby life has already changed in inconceivable ways. You grow a tiny human in your body, an alien of sorts. Your skin stretches, you often emotionally are a wreck and physically your body starts to do crazy stuff! This is small potatoes to what comes after the baby arrives!

    A baby arrives and I personally I felt like I was going a little loco, this baby was so dependent on me and me only. There was no one else who could feed my baby and that is pretty profound. I think dads play such an important role in children’s lives, at least my babies daddy does. However it is so different from the role of Mom. I try hard not to compare because lots of the Daddy role I wouldn’t want to do but sometimes it is hard not to feel overwhelmed. Babies want their mama’s!

    My kids have softened me, taught me patience, and humility, brought me more joy and pride than I could have ever thought possible and shown me what love is as well as what is important in life. They have strengthened any important relationships, as well as helped prioritize relationships that weren’t worth time or effort. They have helped us reevaluate our priorities . They are truly the best gift Fraser and I have ever given each other and they will always be the best collaboration we have ever had. Because of my kids I am a better human being and that is pretty cool.

    On Sunday we will celebrate Mother’s Day, but I say celebrate everyday! To all you amazing Mama’s out there keep on raising beautiful humans and don’t forget to give yourself a little credit for all the hard work you are doing. To my own Mom, Thank You! I get it now. XO

    Where we have been the last two months.

    Lately I have been struggling with staying focused enough to sit down and write, staying awake while writing and finding a topic that I want to write about. I sit down and start to type and my mind is in a million places, I am tired and I have too much to say so I stop. However I have had one thing that has taken up a bit more of my time recently and that is Autism and learning about how it works and what our family is doing to make it a normal part of our lives.

    Rowen my son was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in February and since then we have started to receive Autism Funding from the government and hired a BCBA to start an ABA program as well as an OT. Mind spinning yet? Mine sure was, all these abbreviations and how these programs work and how I use funding is all very new to me so I thought for those who are in similar situations or for those interested in what is happening in our life I would try to explain some of it and what I know and have learnt so far. I hope it is mostly correct… Lol, I am still learning and some of this is complicated to me.

    GETTING A DIAGNOSIS

    So first getting a diagnosis. For us this came as a surprise. Rowen seemed like a Neuro Typical (NT) child (this is one of those abbreviations that I didn’t know but I now see lots in chat groups with ASD parents).

    Rowen was a little rough with his toys, had a few quirks (things like he would tense up and apply pressure to the point of sweating). But we kinda wrote it off as shy and unique, we figured he takes after his dad and possibly would find out he has ADHD. Then we started preschool and the transition didn’t go as smooth as we had hoped. By November the teachers had similiar concerns to me with some additions of things I hadn’t noticed.

    So, the steps for us to getting a diagnosis looked like this:

    1) Referral from family Doctor to a paediatrician.

    I am not sure exactly how it all works but I believe every child is entitled to have a paediatrician but you need a referral. Both Rowen and Grace started out with a few minor complications so they had paediatricians from birth but Eleanor has never had one. What I did learn though is even though Rowen already had a Paediatrician to have a full developmental check up I needed a new referral. Each time you go into your Paediatrician you have a full 6 months before you need a new referral but for each different issue/ illness/ disorder/ etc you need a new referral. Seems like a lot of paperwork and a bit of a waste of time but it has to do with the way doctors are paid and the funding, etc.

    2) Visit Paediatrician and have a list of your concerns as well as any other “professional” opinions.

    In our case I had an initial visit and was kinda brushed off as my concerns seemed like typical toddler troubles. The next week when I went back in with a list of concerns from the preschool teachers it was taken very differently. I think it makes a difference to have a few opinions and observations not just the parent.

    3) Have paediatrician refer you to Public or Private Assessment and do Assessment.

    So here is where it gets interesting, there are two types of assessments. I believe the process is the same with both but we went the private route and never even considered the public so I am speaking from a purely private perspective.

    In BC the government will cover your child to be assessed, but there is a wait list for this assessment. When we were referred they were guessing the wait list was a year but I was hearing lots of feedback that people waited the year and then waited up to 6 months more so totally 12-18 months. The issue with this is that children under 6 who get a diagnosis with this assessment receive $22,000 a year to be applied towards therapies and some equipment. So, beyond the fact that I wasn’t willing to wait to hear what an experts opinion was on my son it made no financial sense to me because once your child turns 6 the funding becomes $6000 a year and Rowen was 3 years old and I wanted to receive as much money as we could.

    The other option was a private assessment. These assessments consist of a Psychologist, Paediatrician and Speech & Language Pathologist doing three different sets of evaluations. For us it included parent interviews, child observations and a few different standardized tests. At the end of it all each professional gives a written report of their findings as well as a diagnosis (or not). We were referred by our paediatrician to Monarch House in Burnaby. I didn’t do much research besides looking up Monarch House and then going in for a complimentary consultation. I think the consultation is a great starting place and was very thankful for that. I liked all the professionals we had and appreciated their opinions and had no issues with Monarch House. Since completing the assessments I have now seen how many options for private assessments there are and have seen some negative feedback about Monarch. I have also heard they are the most expensive private assessments and if money was a concern than maybe I would suggest looking around. In totally it was about $3500- 4000 for his Assessment. It consisted of one consultation appointment that Rowen and myself went to and then three days of actual testing.

    We were told at the last day of assessment that Rowen would have an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) Diagnosis and they would follow up in 1-2 weeks with all the official paperwork and next steps.

    4) Apply for Funding

    Next step was contacting your local Ministry of Child and Family Services Office. They will ask you to email or send in copies of your three reports from Psychologist, Speech and Paediatrician as well as a signed copy of the Autism Application. I think that was it but my social worker from the Ministry was great at listing all the things I needed to send in and your funding starts the month you apply so if you apply March 20th the funding should be good as of March 1st. Funding years are child specific and based on the date of your child’s birthday. This will all be explained to you in your meeting with your social worker. Once your funding is accepted you are mailed a copy to sign and mail back to Victoria. Then you can spend! You are responsible for tracking and decided the amounts you request to be put aside for each therapy or service provider.

    5) SPEND WISELY

    So after the diagnosis and funding is all in place things get hard! This was by far the most overwhelming and difficult part for us. I think the thing is it is all new to us and there are so many different programs and therapies we would like to try. There are many challenges I have faced with trying to make a decision on what is best for Rowen while still considering our whole family life. Reality and waitlists are some of these challenges.

    Reality is one thing, where are they located and can I physically commit to driving and commuting to programs plus is it fair to the rest of our family (like we cannot spend all our time, energy and money on one child’s programs at the cost of our other two kids).

    Waitlists are another challenge. Maybe you find some programs you want to do but can you get in? And does the times they have available work for your family.

    For us we have had no prior supports from any professionals so it is all new and had no where to start for guidance or recommendations. We had heard and been told you will want a BC and you will want to do ABA, we didn’t even know what that meant.

    My biggest suggestions is ask a million questions, rely on feedback and word of mouth suggestions from friends, family and other parents. But also know that no two kids or two families are the same so what works for one may be very different for another.

    THINGS WE HAVE LEARNED

    So what have we learned this far…

    ABA is Applied Behaviour Analysis is a theory and way of teaching. It uses analysis of how people learn behaviour and applies them to teach or train behaviours we want, or even to stop behaviours we don’t want. One example is encouraging behaviours by using positive reinforcement. This is simplified and my interpretation of ABA, but there are lots of articles and information on ABA as well as different approaches.

    Not every ABA program is the same. Some have more flexibility and all have different policies.

    Ask questions like

    • Can you cancel the program at any time or is there a policy for notice (like you must give 30 days notice)?
    • How long have your BI’s been with the program? What kind of staff turn over do they have?
    • What happens when your child is sick, for holidays or vacation time?
    • Do they allow you to pack a snack or lunch?
    • Do they work together with other programs? ABA, OT and Speech. Can you add on extra of any of these that your child may be needing?

    For us we ended up following up on a friends referral to check out Megan MacKay and I am so thankful we did. Rowen has started ABA just twice a week to start at Bounding Higher. His BI is a male which I thought was pretty cool, and seems to have already developed a really great relationship. I really love their space (its big and bright and clean), I like the way each child is one on one but they do have some interactions with the other kids. Plus they are willing to work together with the OT Program at Little Buddies, which is where he starts in May once a week for an hour before his ABA.

    All of our therapies are located in Richmond at the Pacific Autism Family Centre (above pictures are from the Center in Bounding Higher) and it is amazing. They have quiet spaces I can sit and read or whatever while Row is in therapy, they have a big lending library and lots of games, etc as well as a nice little gift shop so you can support the building and all the amazing programs it is home to. If you have not checked it out you most defiantly should.

    I never thought I would have to be so budgeted but we definitely know we will surpass that $22,000/ year amount of funding and be out of pocket for some expenses so we want to make sure we are being wise in the therapies and treatments we pick and the people. For this reason I have included the hourly rates that our professionals charge (on average or recommended rates) just to give you an idea of what we are looking at. It was surprising to me at what these programs add up to be (a couple of thousand dollars a month!). So as great as the funding is, for lots of families this is a very difficult and sensitive topic. Talk about one of your most important investements. Any decision around big spending is always difficult but when it comes to spending on your kids its probably the most important thing any of us will ever have to do.

    WHO works with Rowen and what do they do?

    So first I should start off saying that we use our Autism Funding to pay for these people listed below. However for children under 6 you must employ people and businesses that are found on the RASP (Registry for Autism Service Providers List). The list is really a great place to start your search when looking for any of these professionals. Here is my interpretation and description of what each professional does. I have gone and had consultations with more than just the people we hired, keep in mind these people spend a lot of time with your child (and you will also develop relationships with them). So as easy as it is to think I will just hire whoever is available or maybe closest proximity to me I do encourage you to do a bit of research.

    BCBA Board Certified Behaviour Analysts

    $130/ hour

    This person is the one who oversees our BI and manages our ABA Program. They may not directly work a lot each week with Row but they are observing and definitely the person our BI would refer to and have to report to.

    We have chosen Megan MacKay at Bounding Higher as our BCBA (and she is also an SLP). I was told that BCBA’s can be hard to find or that they have long waitlists so I do feel extremely fortunate that we found her. I like her philosophy and holistic approach to ABA as well as her straight forward communication with us.

    This is also one of our highest paid people on Rowens team, so this is a person you want to be prepared to ask questions at meetings and utilize their time wisely because their time adds up fast.

    BI Behaviour Interventionist

    $25/ hour

    This person is the person working directly with your child and implementing the plan you BCBA has laid out. I definitely think they are an amazing resource to teach or train you as a parent on techniques they might be using and having success with. Make sure to ask questions and develop a relationship with your BI! Our BI was picked and provided for us by Megan and Bounding Higher.

    OT Occupational Therapist

    $120-160/ hour

    Occupation therapists help to develop life skills (such as feeding, hygiene and dressing) and in our case we are seeing an OT for help with sensory related things like self regulation and organizing behaviour.

    Sensory is an interesting and difficult area for me to understand. Our family has asked lots about it and I don’t feel I have a great understanding of it yet to be able to explain to others. I do think my son is searching and seeking sensory input… he likes things like spinning and swings, loves jumping, deep pressure and doesn’t like things like lights on, clothes specifically tags, shoes and socks or busy crowded places. We are starting to learn things that help relax him and organize him so he can be calm and have better attention.

    Defiantly very interesting and if you want more info please look online there are many great resources and if you know Rowen you will read a lot of these things and think “WOW!” because some of the articles sound like they are actually describing Rowen.

    I would say this far OT is Rowens favourite favourite favourite activity and therapy. It has been all about play and observing and learning what he likes and doesn’t like and he loves it. We have been waiting to get into Megan Eastwood in Ladner as she came extremely highly recommended, she is close by and I happen to know and love her family already, plus one of my besties (who is an OT) just started to work with her. So it seemed like a natural fit but so far we have only been able to get in on a two day two appointment over spring break, so nothing consistent is open yet to become a regular client. With that in mind we are starting with Keith at Little Buddies in May. I just met him this week and am very excited for Rowen to start because Keith has also come highly recommended and I have a feeling Rowen is going to thrive here.

    I wish we had unlimited resources because I would be putting in a sensory room in our house and would be hiring these amazing individuals for a couple sessions a week. I love both Megan and Keith and would want to do as much OT as possible. This is when the hard part about where to spend your dollars comes in. I don’t have pictures of the OT’s we see sensory rooms but this gives you an idea of what they look like and why Rowen loves them.

    SLP Speech and Language Pathologist

    $130/ hour

    SLP’s specialize in working with language development but may not have much experience directly related to Autism and language development. If you have chosen one off the RASP list then they must have at least a year of experience with Autism.

    I hope this has helped you to see a little glimpse into our life and what we have been busy setting up and learning about as well as gives you some tips if you are starting your own journey with a child on the spectrum. I am happy to answer any questions or chat if you need to, please just message:)

    The support I didn’t mention was the numerous friends and family members who have been amazing supports with babysitting our other kids while we have had many appointments, sending interesting articles or even just taking an interest in what is going on. We have been extremely blessed with our friends and family! Read More

    My wish for my kids… an “ordinary” life.

    All my life I have been searching and dreaming. I wanted the best clothes, more money, success in a career and movement. I love learning and wanted to constantly be growing. But instead of focusing on the now I was busy caught up in future plans and dreams. Today I realized that without even trying I have everything I ever wanted and more. I don’t event think I was aware of what I wanted, and somehow the world provided and I got it all!

    Friday I went to work. I recently decided I wanted to go back to work just one day a week at a friends farm. I have always wanted to be a farmer, but figured it was impossible with the cost of land (well and I guess the fact that I have no experience or knowledge about farming, minor details). Here’s where I was wrong, today I was a farmer, even if it was just for a couple of hours and even if I had no idea what I was doing. I helped in the raspberry fields, rode on a tractor, visited the cows and saw the newborn baby calf (born this morning), collected the eggs, loaded up a trailer of hay and spent the day with one of my girlfriends. Talk about a dream job. The funny thing is my paycheque isn’t huge, I don’t have a prestigious job title but I feel happy. I am outside, I am contributing to the care of animals and to growing food which is kinda incredible! Plus it feels so good. It reminded me that I don’t have to be doing something extreme or have a masters or degree to be doing a job I love and find meaning in it. Value and meaning can come from any different places and sometimes I find I forget that, so it was a good reminder.

    After the farm I went home and grabbed my kids and spent the afternoon at the park with my sister and nieces. Not only did I get to hang out with family but we saw multiple friends and even friends parents! It was a great play, quality time with my kids and a few visits with people I hadn’t seen in a while. Fraser came out on his motorcycle and played too! I put away my phone, unplugged, let my kids run around without shoes (and tried not to worry about what all the other parents were thinking) and just played. It didn’t cost a thing but a little bit of time and we all had fun and left tired and happy.

    When we got home I made a homemade dinner (this almost never happens and usually means being organized, tonight I just quickly did it), almost everyone ate it and I spent time just having fun bathing my daughters. The older two kids read me books, told me they loved me and asked me to lay down with them before bed so I did. It was the perfect ending to an amazingly ordinary extradorinaiy day. I even got to spend a bit of quality time with Fraser after the kids went to bed and before he went to bed (graveyard shift!).

    When we were at the park earlier I was chatting with a friend and commented that we are going for a tour of an elementary school we are considering and that I was surprised at the things that are important to me about schools. I always thought I would have certain requirements for my kids school but I never thought those things would be more about emotional intelligence and not academic. Having kids has changed everything, My wish for my kids is to be happy and lead a life that makes them happy. I want their school years to be spent having fun, learning life skills and values like honesty, community, integrity, heart and the importance of friends and family. It has really changed the way I evaluate an look at a school and life in general. I feel incredibly blessed to have attended a local elementary school and to not only still see and have relationships with so many elementary school friends but to still see and talk to the teachers and support staff as well. These friendships have played a huge role in my life and I want the same for my kids.

    I used to think I wanted them to succeed and success meant good grades, working hard on academics, following through with post secondary and more. Now success looks a little different to me. I want them to make quality friendships and know the importance of not only having good friend but being one. I want them to learn empathy and compassion, to travel and experience things like different cultures, religions and food. I want them to be adventurous and do things even if they scare them a little. I also want them to make mistakes and learn from them.

    I think the biggest tool we have with our kids is modelling behaviours we want to see in them so I hope that Fraser and I can slow down long enough to enjoy the fleeting moments we have with our young kids before they grow and don’t want us around. I hope we can show them what is important in life and some of those things are just simple everyday things like playing in dirt and being outside and making good food and being together. I know we are not perfect and that we slip up or that some days are better than others but thats all part of learning about life. Life is meant for living and we intend on doing that and encouraging and supporting our kids to do the same. They continuously remind me of what’s important and to make time to laugh and play so I only hope I can do the same for them.

    I love my far from ordinary Plain Life, and hope it doesn’t change too much but just evolves into an even better version! Regardless I will take time and enjoy this life. XO

    A is for Amazing (and Autism)

    My son is pretty Amazing. He is one of the most caring, thoughtful and sensitive little boys I know. I like to think all his great qualities came from me but I see so much of his Dad in him that I might not be able to take all the credit (most of it).

    What three year old cries at movies, kisses his baby sister every morning and shares his favourite ice cream with his mama? He also loves to play pretend, is pretty good at being a dinosaur, loves to play lego, trains, read books, play play dough and to paint. He is an artist and isn’t afraid of getting a little dirty to create. Plus he is fearless in the water and seems to have found his second home at the pool. I couldn’t be more proud or in love with a boy than I am with my son. Besides being amazing he is also our first child.

    So, as many parents would know, first borns are pretty special (at least that’s what Fraser and I, both eldest children, believe). Not only do they make us parents but they open our eyes and minds to a whole new way of thinking. For us Rowen has taught us patience, kindness, humility, to ask for help and so much more! He is my first at everything. First to crawl, walk and speak as well as the first to say “I love you mom” and a million other things. However being the first born also means we have never done this before and do not know what to expect or what is “normal” for each age, they are the practice child… lol!

    From the beginning Rowen was very “easy”, however as he got older things became a little more challenging. Preschool is when we really started to notice some differences from some of his peers. I of course had my own set of concerns, raising a child was new to me, a boy was especially different (I grew up with 2 sisters and a single mom) and I wasn’t sure if some of my concerns were “terrible twos”, or just “a boy being a boy” or if there was more.

    I did go to his paediatrician to express some concerns. After a little bit of research and some recommendations from friends I was working on getting Rowen a developmental assessment. I am not even sure I knew what it meant or if he needed it but it sounded like a good idea. Plus I had no idea what was going on with him I just felt like he was different than the “typical” toddler. Really what’s typical for a three year old?

    Then the preschool called me in for a meeting and started to list a bunch of observations they had made and to ask if I would be open to Row having a one on one worker in the classroom I was a mess of mixed emotions. I was a little surprised, mostly relieved that I wasn’t being over the top with my concerns and I was so happy to hear them have a couple solutions to help make Rowens school more enjoyable for him. The idea of a one on one worker was amazing to us, it didn’t cost us a thing and meant he would have someone with him the whole time. It was surprising to me that any parent would say no or be upset at this amazing offering, but I guess not everyone shares the viewpoint of this being a gift.

    The one thing I can confidently say is we are so impressed with our medical system as well as our preschool. We didn’t do a ton of preschool research but our main requirement was that it was a play based school. At the time, when we started thinking about preschool, we felt Rowen was no where near ready for any sort of academic learning or structured preschool. The only learning we felt was important was how to interact and play with kids and how to go to school, listen to another person besides us, take turns, share, clean up, snack independently, etc. I am so happy we took a a few friends recommendations and choose Reach. Not only were they super caring and empathetic when it came to our tough introduction to preschool (lets just say Rowen wasn’t excited about going to school). They also were so thoughtful and considerate when it came time to discuss the concerns they had about Rowen. I felt like it must be the most difficult job telling a parent their perfect child has been struggling especially if a parent isn’t ready to hear it but they have been only positive and supportive through the whole thing and I believe they are so much a part of all the successes we have had and will have with Rowen.

    Rowens biggest area of concern are around communication and socialization. This was probably the hardest on me because I pride myself on having good and open communication but I also think our family is extremely social and that Fraser and I were extremely social. This was not surprising but always upsetting to hear that your child is acting differently than you had envisioned. I always expected our son to be outgoing and actively involved in lots of activities at school which is very much NOT the type of person Rowen is. This was hard for me to understand and accept. I had to mourn the ideas I had for my son and learn to love the son I have (that part was easy! He is super lovable). It’s not to say there are not times I hear of someone doing something with their toddler and think I wish I could do that with Rowen but I am better at adjusting my expectations and planning more appropriate activities and outings that I know he will love.

    So, basically after hearing the teachers concerns and knowing my own I made a follow up appointment with the paediatrician, this time it was a full developmental check appointment. She was great, she went over lots of questions and listened to my concerns as well as the comments the preschool had. I honestly had expected her to have maybe a few small suggestions and say he is only 3 and that some of these things will just take time for him to outgrow. Instead she asked if I had ever considered he may have Autism. I was seriously shocked. The first appointment she asked and I said definitely not, as he appears so “typical”. But really what did I know about Autism and how it looks? After she explained that the main two areas people notice deficits with Autism are social and communication I did agree why she would think this could be it. I left the appointment with the plan to have an assessment done, which was essentially what I had wanted all along but now I was kinda in shock.

    I quickly went in to see his preschool teachers and let them know about the paediatricians suspicions. Teachers were great, absolutely not surprised and agreed this was a smart plan. Again, I was very surprised but felt confident in my medical and educational professionals who have a lot more experience than I do.

    Now it was our time to make some decisions. Should we wait for an assessment through the public system (guessing it is about a year but could be longer) or were we interested in private testing. I had left the paediatricians office asking for whatever was fastest and they put in the referrals for both (I guess I should discuss with the person in our house who has a job but it seemed like an easy decision to me).

    When we actually went in to the private practice for our consultation (we went to Monarch House but there are lots of good private options) I was so impressed and sold on a private assessment. Here are my reasons:

    • Today is February 25th and we have finished our assessments (like seen all three professionals; speech and language, psychologist and paediatrician) and are still waiting for confirmation that paperwork is complete and we have been added to the public wait list. And part of the reason the private assessment took until now is because we were away for 5 weeks, otherwise this would have been finished by the end of January. So we are essentially finished our private assessment faster than we could even be put on the wait list for public. This is insane to me for many reasons.
    • To get funding and fast tracked for help we need a diagnosis (or it certainly helps). Also, the funding is higher before a child turns 6 so if we waited a year for a diagnosis we loose a year of funding, the private assessment costs $3,500 but the year of funding we will now get is $22,000 so easy math says spend the $3,500 and get $18,500. Obviously every family is different but in our case we are waiting to see an OT and Speech, both privately because it was faster, and we would be paying out of pocket for these. Just the OT I was anticipating to be about $500 a month minimum (once a week, $120 a hour). Now all of this can be paid for by our funding! At best guess we would have spent that $3500 easily within 5 months of seeing SLP and OT.
    • I am impatient. I want answers now, it is our child and even on trivial things I don’t like to wait, I certainly wasn’t interested in waiting when it was something so important. I react, I do not take time to digest… everyone is different in this way and some people like to wait because it takes them that long to digest this information and prepare.
    • Early intervention is known to be extremely effective. In a lot of cases the earlier the better the results, Rowen is extremely high functioning and on the very low end of the spectrum so we are hopeful to get lots of support now and set him up for as much success as possible by the time grade school starts. Up until now we are on some public and private wait lists including at school for a one on one worker but I believe now he should get one almost immediately. This is really going to help us get on track for help.

    I don’t want Rowen to think he’s different from any of our other kids because he isn’t, they are all different and all special. This doesn’t change anything about the way we treat our kids because they for the most part are all treated the same or we have the same expectations in terms of values but it helps us to understand when he is struggling or having a tough time and it gives us help we have needed but didn’t know how to get.

    It has also been big for us because we now know that Rowen most likely has ADHD and possibly anxiety (typically diagnosed at an older age). ADHD usually means that the child might act 1-2 years younger in maturity, this is huge for us in decided whether to hold him back a year for school. Also on top of some of the challenges we have had with Row, he is also one of the youngest of his class with a late birthday (November 21) and he is a boy (which means also a little slower to mature). All of this information is so helpful when we think of our expectations for him and our decisions with regards to schools and where to go, when to start kindergarten, signing up for team sports and other organized activities, etc. I just recently learnt that when it comes to public schools they no longer hold children back, in my mind and based on one recommendation I had thought we would do kindergarten and then possibly just redo another year if needed. Public funding is tight for education and regardless of what is in the best interest of the child each child gets one year in each grade, no redos! However if we choose private, then we could do Kindergarten twice, I am not a fan of the all day kindergarten and so this means I could even just do the first year of kindergarten go for half days and then gradually build up to full. We just really want to make the best choices for Rowen and help him to be successful. I really feel like we are totally on track to doing this and doing it fairly well (obviously it will come with challenges and emotions) for a couple of rookie parents!

    I really am feeling beyond blessed right now that we have the luxury of flexibility and time. Fraser is just coming off of 8 weeks of paternity leave and I stay at home with the kids. On top of that his job is very flexible with time off and allows us the ability to often both be at appointments or to take last minute cancellation appointments easily. Plus we get to spend a lot of time with our kids! Not only that we are fortunate to have been able to afford some of the private stuff for Rowen and had the luxury of choosing how we want to proceed, I am aware that not all families are as fortunate as us or are possibly in different positions that make things a little more complicated. For all of these things I am so grateful.

    Rowen will be getting his official Autism diagnosis within the next two weeks and then the planning will start to happen with our family. We are excited to build a team of support for him and for us that I know is going to make life a little easier around here and I cannot wait! We are all about being proactive and setting up our kids for success whatever that might look like!

    So, if you have any ideas, recommendations, questions please let me know craeplain@gmail.com. Thanks for listening and taking interest in our family.

    Want to leave you with a thought my girlfriend reminded me of the other day, that we set expectations for our kids that we don’t even expect of ourselves. Kids are human, sometimes they won’t have perfect manners, sometimes they have bad days, sometimes they feel so much emotion and show it inappropriately but so do we… so next time you find yourself judging try to think of that. I know I am going to try really hard to do this!

    Everyday is Family Day!

    For those who don’t live in BC yesterday was Family Day… and since we are nearing the end to almost 5 weeks in Maui we missed it but celebrated it here on the island with our little Fam Jam! So, I am a day late writing because we were busy playing and having fun as a family.

    Families are funny… the traditional definition of a family is pertaining to a blood relative or biological relation, descendants. Now I would say this is not always or even often the case. So many people are adopted, estranged, divorced, part of a mixed family (with step and half siblings and parents). I mean the dynamics can range. I am no stranger to this type of family as we were raised by a single mom, I have zero relationship with my dad and our family has a non-traditional dynamic. For example my moms best friend and sister by choice is my dads biological sister and you could technically say I have 3 siblings and 5 step siblings (my moms boyfriend has 5 kids), but I would tell you I have 3 sisters not 8 siblings:)

    Since having my own kids and starting my own family I have come to have a different appreciation for how important family is, what our family values are and how we will hopefully instil them in our kids and also who we choose to play important roles in our kids lives.

    We really want to raise our kids with Honesty, Respect and Fun being our biggest family values. I also hope that they grow up close and stay good friends. If Rowen, Grace & Eleanor can always be each other’s biggest supporters, and try not to judge but just have each other’s back then we will have done our most important job and have succeeded as the type of parents we want to be. Obviously we have no control and siblings grow up with all sorts of different relationships, I feel very grateful for the two sisters I have to play such important roles in all of our lives and for me to have such good relationships with them. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard work and takes effort on both sides. Plus the three of us couldn’t be more different but I think we share a few core values that help us to connect even when we don’t see eye to eye.

    Our kids are so blessed, just like both Fraser and I were, with living Great Grandparents (they have 6) and a young large local family. That doesn’t mean we have a perfect set up or are without family drama. Raising kids is one of the craziest, humbling, eye opening and life changing things I have ever done. It changed our world for the better and really gave us perspective over what mattered and what is important in our lives. That being said it came with it’s own set of challenges and has been a big learning curve with lots of difficult choices and decisions.

    My children are lucky to have two parents who love and respect each other and we hope to raise them with a traditional family dynamic. However it’s not all traditional as they have over 10 pseudo Aunties , girlfriends who play such important roles in my life and now my children’s lives it would be insulting to think of them as anything less than family. This is just one example. We have so many friends that have been there for us when we needed them most and who show up in good or bad times. These friends are the family we want to have in our lives for as long as possible and are the reason we feel so grateful.

    So yesterday when we played and enjoyed our three healthy and happy kids, we also were celebrating my being a part of a huge extended family that I couldn’t be more proud or privileged to call Family. Although we have had such an amazing vacation and could happily stay for a lot longer, the one thing that has been missing is our extended family… we were very lucky to have a couple friends, some great grandparents and aunts and uncles, NAN and Auntie Monica (GAG) all come and visit us on Maui we are excited to come home and see those who weren’t here in paradise. I know the kids ask everyday for Sadie & Addie (their cousins), and that is just one sign that we are raising the kids with good family values.

    HAPPY FAMILY DAY (even if I am a day late) because for me it isn’t just one day a year that I celebrate my family but hopefully everyday:)