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Checking in

I’m going to take a break from my studying as really I can only read so much about butterfly valves before my mind goes numb.
download (1)See? Not the most exciting thing in the world. I just read 45 pages on valves and began to check out. Which gave me the idea to check in.

Checking in is a valuable parenting skill (or marriage skill) that most people neglect to use. I’ll be honest I don’t check in nearly enough and it causes tension between myself and my children.

I grew up in a house where teasing was a thing, a way of showing attention to someone else, a way of showing love. So as a result I tease, too much.
Sarah and our children don’t handle teasing well. If I don’t check in often enough it quickly leads to hurt feelings.
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Check-in by paying attention to faces, sounds, and actions. Asking questions is a powerful way to gauge how someone is feeling. Sometimes you assume you know what’s happening and without checking in continue on not changing what you’re doing and before you know it the situation has turned around completely.

We teach our children to pay attention to “no noises” as when frustrations build words aren’t the easiest thing to use. We remind them to pay attention to all aspects of someones behaviour to ensure they’re still having fun in the situation.

I find it important to check in with my kids at least once a day, I usually begin with a simple “How’s your day?” or “What did you do today?” from there I can get an idea of how they’re feeling and expand the conversation from there.

Sarah has taken to ending the day with questions like “Did you learn anything today?” “Did anything surprise you today?” “What didn’t go so well today?” All fantastic questions to begin the checking in process.

It’s been a difficult adjustment for me but I feel that I connect a lot more with Sarah and the kids, arguments are less and less frequent, and overall our interactions are heading toward #unforgettable every day!

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Change and Mindset

There’s a difference between wanting to make a change in your life and thinking you should make a change in life. In the first instance you want to make a change, in the second an external force encourages change.

When an external force wants you to change, it’s a lot harder. Sometimes you dig your heels in, refusing to let change happen. Sometimes you sabotage yourself. Maybe you talk about needing to change, but you don’t act on those words. Either way, the result is the same, you don’t change. Not really. Certainly some people may change for a while, but often end up back where they started.

When the desire to change comes from within, when you have your eye on a goal you can clearly see, when that goal excites you, then change happens easier than ever!

We recently read “The Secret Garden” as a family. In the book Mary Lennox’s cousin, Colin, can’t walk. He’s spent his entire life in bed, or on a couch. Sitting up was a good day for him. But one day he decided to change. He decided he was strong, and would live forever! He didn’t sit and wait for strength to come to him. He knew he already had the strength, he just had to find it.

The first day he made his decision to no longer be an ‘invalid’, he stood up. At ten years old he decided to be strong and healthy and stood up for the first time in his life. Previously, he’d believed it was impossible. He believed he could die at any moment. But after he put his mind to changing his destiny, things happened quickly.

In our life I see the same magic working on us all the time. When either Ryan or I talk about what we should or shouldn’t do, we often ignore the decision after a week or two (sometimes longer, often shorter). But when we make a decision to change our reality, things happen quickly.

We’ve made a decision to change our home life, to change the way we approach opportunities. We decided to bring magic, a deeper faith, and #unforgettable into our daily lives.

Some things change quickly, but others are more difficult. In some ways we’ve lacked a clear vision of what we want our life to look like, we flounder and falter because we don’t have that clear idea in our mind. Sometimes fear of failure hold us back.

Our vision for increased financial security and a more active lifestyle has been easier to visualize and make a reality.

We knew we wanted extra money each month for savings, to pay down debt, to spend when we see something we think would be awesome. But we also decided we wanted Ryan home more often, which cut our monthly income by almost 60%. Yikes!

How could we make both of these things a reality?

We currently have two vehicles. We own one (and will make the last payment on it very shortly), the other owns us. We decided to sell the vehicle and drop down to one vehicle instead.

It’ll mean some big changes for us, but it’ll free up so much cash! For the first time ever our monthly expenses will be less than our base income. This is HUGE!

But this change also works with my wanting to walk more and be in better shape. Yesterday I dug out the bikes, hooked the chariot behind Ryan’s bike (my bike isn’t capable of pulling a trailer), loaded Cordelia and Brom into the chariot along with tons of water, a mini picnic, cell phone, library cards, camera, and a couple toys (just in case). Ella and Agatha rode along behind me and together we all rode to the library, just over 6KM away, uphill almost the entire way!

I forgot to time us, but going home, down hill, took us only about 25 minutes! Dropping down to one vehicle will change a few things for us. We’ll need to utilize the bus a few times a month in the winter. We’ll also change where the girls do some of their classes. Instead of driving to Edmonton to take gymnastics, we’ll go to a closer gym.

Instead of shopping at Costco and the specialty pet food store we used to shop at, we’ll buy all our groceries and pet supplies at the stores closest to us, and walk or bike when we go shopping. It also means we’re less likely to ‘just run out for a minute’ to buy something we would like. Instead we’ll actually think about how important something is to us.

We’ve weighed the pros and cons of owning a single vehicle. There are a few things I worry about, but I think the pros out weigh the cons by far and once we get a new rhythm in our life I’m sure we’ll hardly miss the second vehicle.

These are only the first of many changes we’re making to improve the way we feel about ourselves and our life, and I’m so excited to embrace this change!

I am strong! I can bike across town pulling 100lbs of children and stuff behind me. I didn’t wait to try until I convinced myself I was strong. Instead I just did it. I hopped on the bike and rode. We stopped several times to take a break in the shade. We drank water. We rested. Then we rode some more. I could use the rest breaks to ‘prove’ I can’t do it. Or I can look at the total outcome as proof that I can do it.

Positive thinking says I’ve already done it once. Next time will be easier!

Have you ever made a big change like this? What was it? How’d it go? I’d love to hear of your successes as well as lessons learned!

 

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Hello August!

How time flies, July is almost over. For me it’s pretty much done, I work the next couple nights so I won’t even be able to enjoy the last few days of the month. That only leaves August for our summer and we’re definitely taking advantage of it!

Coming off of two vacations only spaced out by work I’m looking forward to some time off. I have a large vacation scheduled in August and while it’s a long time off it’s going to be quite busy!
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We have two birthdays to celebrate! Agatha will be turning 8 and Brom will be turning 3 (or 5 if you ask him). Parties are always a all in affair at our house, so expect to see some really cool themed party reports next month.

Speaking of Agatha, she’s received two more mysterious letters while we were on vacation. One more from Sir Homer D’omer and one from Eager the Ogre and Smaul, both filled with new puzzles and riddles. I’m excited to see how this journey to wake the princess ends!
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We’re going to be taking a day trip down to our Provincial Dinosaur Museum, a fantastic day of exhibits and nice hike that we really enjoy.

Ella’s bedroom will most likely begin being renovated. As soon as we sFfltcx2ell her bedroom set I’ll be tearing out all her carpet and rebuilding her closet into a built in bed. She’s excited to have more
crafting space and a work desk. While it’s not a large room I’ve haven’t built a bed frame in the style she wants before so I’m excited to experiment and see how it turns out.

powerI’ll be writing the second paper in my Power Engineering 3rd class. Not terribly excited to do this, but it’s a necessary evil. 150+ multiple choice questions based on content from a very large text book. I keep reminding myself when this test is over I’m half done and that much closer to not having to stress about studying.

Now on to the two things I’m really looking forward to for me:
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World of Warcraft: Legion launches end of August. During the month there are going to be all kinds of fun launch events: Demon Invasions in some of the older unvisited zones , fun mini games where you can be corrupted and cause trouble in the major cities, and more! I’m also looking forward to sitting down and relearning my characters and with the new content a lot of their abilities have changed. Agatha is also excited for this as she spent her allowance to pre-order and gets to create a Demon Hunter (a brand new class) early before everyone else!
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One Night in Karazhan: A Hearthstone Adventure is also going to be released! Just announced yesterday and coming August 11th. Hearthstone is one of my favourite games to kill time and the adventures are probably my favourite part of the game! So a new adventure just in time for me to be home to enjoy it? Yes, please!

These are just some of the things happening this August for us and we’re excited and looking forward to all the #unforgettable that is about to happen!

Please share what has you excited for August this year, we’d love to hear from you!

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The Most Important Parenting Tool

Do you know the most important parenting tool we have at our disposal? It’s an amazing tool that’s so simple once you understand it, but, unfortunately, not so easy to understand in the first place. It’s a tool that comes in handy when talking with your spouse, or the grocer down the street.

SAM_5632.JPGPositive Thinking

This past week, while we were away from home, spending time with several other families while camping at a friend’s farm, we ran into a situation that so clearly demonstrates this technique and how it makes parenting easier.

One child there has autism. That in and of itself wouldn’t stand out to our children because they have many friends and acquaintances who fall on the spectrum. I point this out only because we know how our children act and react toward differently-abled people. But the mother of this child has no experience with our children, but experience with other children who are not kind.

At home our children love to play spy games. They usually gather any children they can find (typical age ranges from 2 to 12) and divide them up into teams. One or two go off on their own, while the rest are the spies. The spies’ jobs are to sneak up on the other people and surprise them. They say ‘scare them’, but I’ve yet to see them scare anyone for real. Mostly because they’re the least sneaky people I know… (but this is my knowledge of my children showing)

While we were camping our kiddos and one of the other girls there decided to play this game. They planned to spy on the child with autism. The child’s mother overheard them talking and assumed they were purposefully trying to be mean, this is based on her experiences in the past. She removed her child from the situation and prevented the child from being near any of our children the rest of the time they were there.

Had the roles been reversed, I might very well have jumped to the same conclusion, but because I know my children and the game, I know they were not being mean on purpose. I also know it wouldn’t occur to them to change a game just because someone seems a little different because to them there is no distinction between one child and another. But what I know about my children doesn’t mean they’re always nice in their actions.

Where does positive thinking fit in here?

When I see something happening and I need to discipline my children I begin by saying to myself, “I am a calm, respectful parent.” I breath deep. In. And out. “I am a calm respectful parent. I want to help my children.” I use these to put myself in the right frame of mind. I calmly listen to my children. Explain my concern. Talk to them some more. And we find a solution without yelling, threatening, shaming, or otherwise instilling fear.

Over the course of the weekend, there were many moments that required me to think positive before approaching my children. Thinking positive allowed me to assume their positive intent. If I don’t see my children as an adversary, then we quickly find a solution and come away from the situation with a stronger bond than before.

Assuming positive intent means we assume our child has a good reason for doing what they did, we just don’t know what it is yet.

From the outside, their game appeared to be about hurting others and being mean. From their perspective it was a game everyone could play and in their experience it was one everyone likes.

Their intent was to include everyone in one game. That’s not what happened though. I could have gone angry at my girls. I could have yelled or punished. I could have done many things, but none of those would lead us toward #unforgettable.

The unforgettable life we’re aiming for can’t happen if we harm the relationships within our family. Positive thinking transforms our interactions and elevates our love and connection. It’s so amazing!

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Stepping Toward Unforgettable

Yesterday, Ella woke up and wanted to make a souffle.

I didn’t have milk.

We needed to be out the door by 10:30.

Normally I’d tell her no. Normally I’d give her a list of all the reasons why cooking wasn’t happening. Instead I took a moment to think about making every day unforgettable. Then I suggested there was probably a different recipe she’d like that didn’t need milk. Together we decided on cream puffs (with whipped cream filling and chocolate sauce drizzled over top).

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Ella did all the work, I only helped clean up as she worked to speed things along. The puffs were done cooking and everyone was ready to go in record time.

The morning was spent with a few different activities: a bouncy castle, a seed planting station, magnaforms and moon sand. But mostly they played at the playground and splash park. I caught a couple pokemon, and logged a few KM. I also pushed Brom on the swing for a ridiculous length of time because he still loves it better than everything else at the park.

The girls wanted to head to the library when we were done at the park. Again, normally I’d say no. One activity, especially a big activity, was more than enough for one day. But I stopped and really checked in with myself.

There was no reason to say no. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

Together we walked to the library.

During the summer the library hosts a reading challenge that encourages children to read more. On each visit the children can roll dice to move their character around a game board. On each space is a riddle, or a piece of information about a topic. The children are then tasked with reading a book about the topic. Every few visits they pass a special square where they get a prize. Yesterday, all three girls got a prize and they were thrilled!

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Normally I’d then tell everyone it was time to go home, and I’d skip anything else we had planned for the rest of the day. Instead I stopped at the grocery store. We ran inside and picked up a couple staples and some ice cream.

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At home, Ella made her chocolate sauce. I whipped the newly purchased cream. And everyone ate ice cream followed by cream puffs for supper. (We had steak and grilled peaches for dessert).

But our day wasn’t over yet. There was a pond dipping activity the next community over. We grabbed helmets for the girls, buckled Brom into the Chariot, and off we went.

I didn’t really expect much, so was very surprised to arrive and see another bouncy castle as well as half a dozen activity stations around the pond.

They got to fish (wooden fish with metal washers and magnets on a string) and they learned about water run-off and how whatever we put in our yard goes into the storm water drains (that aren’t treated) and right into our lakes and rivers. There as also a mini geocaching activity that Ryan helped the big girls with while I stayed with Brom while he did ‘science’. They all came over for a while, but Brom really didn’t want to leave he was having so much fun!

Eventually Brom did agree to check out the pond dipping with his girls. He thought the big spider was pretty cool. Luckily he didn’t want to take it home with him. hahahaha

Our day was so full and happy. So many times I could have said no, but so many times I chose to say yes instead. Turning our life into #unforgettable isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it!

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Crypt Lake Hike

After our camping trip, We drove to Pincher Creek to visit some friends. We spent the first day at a little creek playing in the water. The kiddos had so much fun and more than anything wished we had crystal clear water like that near our place. The water near us is pretty yucky.

I didn’t expect water this clear. So when our friends told us we were going to a creek I didn’t come prepared with swim suits for anyone. The girls were particularly upset about that, Brom just went skinny dipping. Haha

After everyone played in the water for a bit we went back to visit at our friends for a while, then off to bed early because the next day we had a big hike planned.

Crypt Lake is an amazing cold, clear lake most of the way up a mountain with the US-Canada Boarder running right through the middle. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I was so excited about this hike! But also a little nervous. If you look it up, you’ll
discover there’s a couple tricky parts of the hike. First, there’s a time limit. You need to take a short ferry ride to get to the base of the hike. The last Ferry runs at about 5PM (give or take, I’m not accurate tonight!) but the next to last one’s at 4:30. It’s a solid 1.5 hr wait if you miss the 4:30. There’s nothing at the base of the hike, except water, trees, rocks, and dirt.

We didn’t want to miss that boat!

Besides the time limit there’s also one part where you need to climb a small ladder from one ledge into a cave. Crawl/walk hunched over through he cave, then walk along a cliff with a steel cable for support. I don’t think any of us were really worried about the ladder or cable, but I also don’t think any of us were totally sure of it either.

The day started well enough, but about five minutes in my lungs were sore and my legs protested. I began to worry just a little that I wasn’t in good enough shape to make the hike. I contemplated not making it all the way to the top. I wasn’t going to quit! I kept hiking right along with the rest of our group. It didn’t take long before i was ready to take off a layer. A brief pause and we were on our way again.

There are no words to describe the majesty of the mountains and waterfalls. Every where we looked we saw evidence of the glaciers that used to grace these mountains. Now we see lakes with no inlet and no where to go either. We see water trickling over, under, around, through stones and trees, polishing the surfaces until hey shine.

We’d only been hiking for a short time when we noticed something rustling in the leaves ahead of us. We were making enough noise, as were the people both ahead and behind us, but there also weren’t too many options for an animal to get away from us where we were. I may have been slightly afraid we’d find ourselves face to face with a bear! Luckily it was this pretty thing instead!

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She was only about ten feet away from us (good thing she wasn’t a bear!!) When we came into he clearing, she moved behind us and bounded off into the trees.

After stopping for water a couple times, and a snack once, we finally made it all the ay around to the tricky part of the hike.

The ladder was barely wider than a foot, but going up was pretty easy. Going back down again later was trickier, but still doable without any real problem. The cave was fun, but  short and narrow. Pretty much everyone hit their head at least once. hahaha

I was really nervous about the cable before the hike, but it really wasn’t that bad, until we were heading back down again and people were going up at the same time. We did hold the cable pretty much the entire time we were on that portion of the hike, but there was still  far amount of room on the path.

The lake was gorgeous. Cold. But gorgeous. We enjoyed nice picnic lunch, a couple of the guys went for a swim, then we went back down. Ryan regrets not taking a dip in the glacial lake. I guess we’ll just have to do it again sometime. 😉

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The hike down was easier than the hike up, but one of our companions hurt her knee so we took more time to be sure she didn’t really hurt herself. (Plus we were tired lol).

 

For anyone wondering: You don’t need any special equipment. A good pair of shoes/boots with good grips, a back pack and at least 2L of water per person, some food since it’s a 6(ish) hour day, and appropriate clothing (assume rain gear is always appropriate). I also recommend a good first aid kit with ace bandages.

 

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Pokemon GO

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If you haven’t heard by now there is a new mobile app, Pokemon GO. It’s the most downloaded app world wide, it released in Canada yesterday and over 45 million people logged on!

It is an Augmented Reality game using your smart device’s GPS and camera to put Pokemon into your world! You walk around and find Pokemon, Pokestops, and Gyms in the world around you.

That’s right, walk. You have to go outside! Certain mechanics, such as hatching eggs, even reward you for walking certain distances.

Agatha can tell you more here:

This game is getting people out of the house and getting them to exercise. It’s also a fantastic way to meet new people. Sarah and I loaded it on our phones, handed them to the kids and went to the library, local arts center, and playground. As we passed Pokestops we saw tons of people walking around playing. We had a blast telling them about the pokemon we saw down the road and laughing about how awesome it was that we were out and playing Pokemon.

There were groups of all ages and sizes, but they were groups! Laughing and talking as they walked around.

Sadly, there was one lady who went off on a tirade about everyone on their phones and lack of communication with real people and how they don’t do anything physical all day. It really irked me. If only she knew that many of the people out there would normally be sitting on a couch somewhere and that people like myself, that suffer from anxiety, would never ever think of engaging a stranger in a conversation were out there talking and laughing together. We brushed it off and continued hunting and having a great time!

This morning I sat down with my coffee and browsed through reddit and the stories I read filled my heart. So much good is coming from this game.

  • A man getting the urge to leave his house for the first time in years to start a healthier lifestyle
  • A young woman with mental health issues again getting out, meeting people and feeling healthier than ever
  • A man decided to pick up garbage along his Pokemon journey and clean up his neighborhoodKX9fohG
  • People setting up Lures at at children’s hospital so bedridden sick children can catch Pokemon too!J4GK2EL

Pokemon GO is a fantastic game that is doing fantastic things for community and people who would never dream of getting out there.

Also hearing your kids squeal from down the street that the just caught a Pidgey is pretty cool too!

I recommend the app and I recommend you get out there, meet new people and just have fun with it. I’m sure you will find it as #Unforgettable as well do!

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Interlake Hike

Rain. Rain. And more rain, made our camping trip less than ideal, but it didn’t stop us! Below you’ll see a picture of Agatha keeping Cordelia nice and dry under the brim of her hat. <3 she’s so sweet!

 

We stopped at the information centre, where they warned us about unsupervised children. Ella was very disappointed to discover they were bluffing. Hahahahaha Our instagram has a few other pictures from the info centre if you want to check them out.

We then went on an amazing hike on the interlake trails. We thought we were taking a 1-3 Km hike, but it turned into closer to 8km. opps. But everyone had fun and we saw some amazing sites! My fitbit told me I’d hiked the equivalent of 73 flights of stairs that day. (And promptly broke at the end of the hike).

It was so much fun to watch our kiddos run wild on a mountain, making as much noise as possible! So often we tell them to keep their voices down, to be quiet, to not disturb others, but on a mountain full of bears? Make all the noise! We didn’t see nay bears on our hike, but we did see fresh scat (bear poop), and when we left the park a couple days later we saw a small black bear cross the highway.

The only wildlife we saw on this hike were chipmunks. Still pretty cool when the only wildlife you see at home are hares.

By the end of this day our family was in love with the mountains and wanted to stay forever.

The next day we drove to Canmore to visit friends of ours, and that pretty much sealed the deal. They never wanted to leave. And neither did I. It was so amazing to see our friends again after way too long!

After the third night we woke up bright and early, packed the camp up and drove to Pincher Creek to visit other friends. I’ll share that in a separate post because the pictures are amazing!