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A Blast from the Past

We finally made it out to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, it was a month later than planned but we made it!

It takes about 3 hours to drive there from where we live and at the 2 hour mark Brom decided he needed to go home. He was tired from waking up early and we’ve dropped down to one vehicle and the one we kept is not the one that has a DVD player. After much cringing and crossing fingers that he’d just sleep, we arrived. Hungry we headed straight to the cafeteria for lunch. Brom was still not sure that he wanted to be here, that is until he sees something on the wall. Turns out he’s found his first fossil of the day, an Icthyosaur, and once he understood we’re here to see dinosaurs there was no holding him back!

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I think I’m being followed!

We grabbed a map and headed in to the museum proper, each child had a camera and they were all snapping away. I think we ended up with almost 5000 pictures of the first half of the museum, that’s when the batteries died.

Ella was soaking in every single exibit, looking in all the drawers and reading the placards.img_0669

The others were running ahead to find the next big thing! Brom decided that certain dinosaurs were his friends and was scouring the map to see where they went.

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“Black Beauty”

The biggest laugh of the day came early, I saw Brom sitting infront of a Tyrannasaurus exhibit, the echange went as follows:

img_0674“Hi Brom, what did you find?”
“My Dad” points at the bones.
“Oh? Tell me about your dad, what kind of dinosaur is he?”
“Orange”
“That’s cool, he is orange. Tell something else about him.”
“He dead.” *straight face*
“…”

I almost died laughing, it was so cute.

The rest of the museum carries on, picures, bones, singing “Time Tunnel, Time Tunnel approaching” every time we cross through the display seperating the eras.

We stopped for a good while in the Cretaceous Garden, a large room filled with plants. It’s one of my favourite rooms and Sarah’s as well. The girls ran around trying to find Salamanders and fire bellied toads among the plants, Brom just ran.

The second last exhibit is large hall filled with skeletons, just bones everywhere! So many different dinosaurs to see, unfortunately the camera batteries had run out and so had the kids batteries too. We managed to grab some shots and talk about a few of the dinosaurs. Brom seemed concerned that everything here was dead.

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We rushed through the ice age section as I lamented the lack of giant sloths, stopping only to all jump on a scale that comapres your weight to that of mammals. Out whole family only managed to make it up to the weight of a bear!

With batteries drained, we traded the cameras for snacks and sat at the playground for while.

Sarah loves to hike so the day ended with one lap around the interperative trail, where there were many more signs to read, cacti to avoid and even a hoodoo or two to discover!
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And with tired legs and full minds we all climbed back into our van for the long drive home.

It was a truly #Unforgettable day!

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Giving and Receiving

“It is better to give, than to receive.” An old adage designed to encourage others to donate. But I wonder if it does more harm than good.

“It is better…” think about it for a moment. If it is better to give, then the person giving is better than the person receiving.

I know many of you will protest and say you’d never judge someone for needing help. But it happens, and more importantly, the person receiving often judges themselves! I see it all the time. A person with a lot on their plate, but they don’t ask for help, when help is offered, they say ‘no thank you.’ Even though there’s usually someone with no judgement willing and able to help. They don’t ask for help until life becomes so dire, they decide they can’t sink any lower. They finally accept help, often as they crash, give up, and decide they’ll just stay down.

It is better to give, than to receive. If we receive help, we are less than the person giving. That’s a harsh judgement to place on anyone, let alone yourself!

Life is hard enough without adding judgement to the shoulders of those carrying more than you. Be willing to step in, step up, to carry someone else’s load, and allow someone else to carry yours. Give without expecting to receive, but be willing to receive.

Do not judge yourself for allowing yourself to accept help and love, do not judge others when they accept their limitations. Think of how many people will not hit bottom if we all accept that we need each other we need to give then receive in order for our world community to grow in love and connection. None of us can do this alone.

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Stepping Out of Comfort Zones

It takes a lot of soul searching, and twice as much work, to elevate myself to become a person I admire. It’s incredibly difficult to admit that I didn’t like who I was. It’s so hard to peal back the layers, find the parts I don’t like, amplify what I do, and rewrite new layers. I’ve spent many days crying as I search back to discover why I think or behave certain ways. Growing isn’t easy. It isn’t comfortable. But it’s so worth it!

I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone more and more often. Last week Ella had a bad experience at her first tumbling class. A coach shamed her in front of others for not knowing how to do something, on the first day of her first class. Ella felt humiliated. When we got home she sent an email to the gym, explained what happened, explained that it wasn’t acceptable, she wanted to know the gym didn’t find it acceptable, and wanted a response back so she could decide whether to remain in the class, or not. After three days she’d received no response, she decided to withdraw from the course. I needed to call the gym, withdraw her, give a reason, and request a refund. The gym has a no refund policy without a doctor’s note.

Normally a phone call like this would result in me yelling or crying, depending on which childhood programming surfaced at the time. That type of phone call is also one I’d usually avoid making if at all possible. I did consider sending an email instead of a phone call.

I made the phone call. To someone I didn’t know, to make a complaint, to withdraw my daughter, and to request a refund. Pain, pain, pain!

It went really well! I neither yelled, nor cried and they agreed to provide a pro-rated refund and processed the withdrawal.

Besides making difficult phone calls, I’ve also stepped so far out of my comfort zone and volunteered to model at the True Beauty Gala. I also agreed to dance, a choreographed dance, at the Gala. In front of people!

Participating in the Gala means I need to drive to Calgary several times until the end of October. It means overcoming so many fears. Fear of something happening to someone. Fear of falling on (or off) the runway, fear of being ridiculed for not being pretty enough, fear of not being coordinated enough, of messing up the dance.

I’ve allowed my fears to control and limit me for so long. The first weekend I drove to Calgary, 3 hours away, I barely slept the night before. Partly because Brom doesn’t sleep anymore, but also because I kept picturing all the things that could happen.

When I see the scary images start, I say, “No!” I pray. I then purposefully picture the day being amazing. Instead of picturing a car accident, I picture a fun drive singing, and enjoying quiet time.

It’s still uncomfortable, but not crippling. I’m showing up. I’m trying. I’m putting real effort into the event. My past patterns protected me from pain by not bothering to even try. If I failed, it wasn’t a huge deal because it’s not like I put effort in to anything. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t able to admit to fear. I wasn’t able to admit to not knowing or not understanding. I wasn’t able to learn and grow.

It isn’t easy being uncomfortable, but it is better.

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… The kids will play!

Saturday came again and with it another trip south for Sarah and another day for Daddy to run the house solo. With ballet rescheduled that meant no plans and we were free to choose our own destiny.

My day started at 3 am when Brom needed to go potty but wanted Sarah to help him, not me. She needed to sleep for the drive and Brom had a bit of a melt down. I managed to calm him down by builing Duplo giants in the dark. Just after 4 Brom and I headed back to bed. Thankfully, Sarah slept and was even kind enough to run the dogs in the morning, usually my job, so they could let Brom and I sleep in a bit. We stumbled up out of bed tired but happy with jut enough time to kiss Sarah goodbye.

We gobble down some breakfast while listending to the Guardian’s of the Galaxy soundtrack and made ready to go out as it just so happened that the new sports field minutes from our house was having a big grand opening celebration with all sorts of activities and we wanted to check it out!
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Right off the bat we hit the jackpot by finding a stash of gluten free cookies (and free coffee) at the coffee station. We indulged in facepaint and seaching for dinosaur eggs (mini soccer balls) hidden throughout the venue. The only problem with that type of scavenger hunt is that when we put our stuff down to play some parachute games our one of our soccer balls went missing.

14374792_10157401479510612_1574957623_oWe headed down to a booth run by the family wellness group, the kids played ring toss, bean bag toss, potato sack races and played with a parachute! So much fun. At this point the sun came out and they all got hot. Ella decided she was going home to change and I sent home all out goodies with her so nothing else could go missing.
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When Ella came back we headed up to the bouncy castle where we ran into my brother and my two nieces, so of course they all jumped in the bouncy castle while I grabbed another coffee. Did I mention I was tired? After they bounced through the line three or four times we wanted to see what else was down on the field.

We found the Sportsball group and bubble soccer, Ella ran off to grab a bubble and join in while Brom made fast friends with “Coach Chris” and proceeded to run non stop for the next hour playing a ton of fun, little kid oriented games.


We closed down the grand opening, over three hours of running and playing made for some tired kiddos. He headed home singing and laughing. I warmed up left overs and we turned on Guardians of the Galaxy for some nice down time. When the movie was over we grabbed out shoes and ran over to the playground for swings, climbing and ball tag. Another hour of good times.

We finished the day off with hamburgers and hugging Mommy when she got home, all in all a very #unfogettable day!

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While Mommy’s Away

Last Saturday Sarah spent the day at a gala rehearsal, in a town 3 hours south of us. I stayed home with the kids and took over. Emotions were flying high for all of us. I was worrid because the new tires for the van hadn’t come in at the shop to be installed and the current tires were on their last legs. We were all worried about Brom, he’s very attached right now and there was a high possibility of melt down at any moment. Ella had her first ballet class and was nevous and excited. Agatha was dreading the bike ride from our house to ballet, the previous trip had not gone well, ending with a crash into some walking path barricades. Cordelia is just perpetually exhausted right now and her moods are very unpredictable.

Sarah got up struggled to get ready and left late. I managed to feed the kids and Brom only cried for a couple minutes until his woderful sisters sat down and played one of his games with him. The rest of the morning actually went very smooth, I managed to get a hot coffee and no one yelled! Until we started loading up the bikes. The trailer that Cordelia and Brom ride in had flat tires. The battery pump hadn’t been charged, my good pump has a bad O-ring and doesn’t work and I could find ANY of the spares. Eventually, after some cursing and throwing things a pump was found, the tires pumped and we were off.

The bike ride should only take about 45 minutes, the last time we rode it took an hour and a half. Agatha is still new to riding her bike and more so to riding a bike with gears, a necessity with some of the hills we have to climb. We made good time for the first bit, until I ripped my brand new pants on the gear derailer of my bike. Great. I stopped and tucked my pant leg into my sock and we carried on. Agatha managed to keep up and Ella’s only complaint was that I stopped for water too often.

Finally we arrive at our destination and it only took 40 minutes, we’re half an hour early! After locking up the bike we turn to enter the building and all the doors are locked. What the hell. A wedding reception had rented the building and we were forced to go in some side door and walk along all the back corridors behind the performance stage to the class room. Eventually class starts, Ella goes in and I take the other kids to the playground. Really everything is going really well still, except I haven’t heard from Sarah yet and she should have been at her destination by now. I know she was late and I assume she hasn’t had time to text as the schedule was pretty busy.

When we get back to the class and it’s time for the little show to end the day I notice Ella has a bit of a scowl and I’m not sure why. Then I look. All the other kids are half her size. She’s a 9 year old in a sea of 5 year olds. Oh no. She follows along with the instructor perfectly while the little kids struggle the song ends the grab their stuff and go. While Ella is out of the room I asked the teacher how she did with all the little kids in class and her being the only big kid. She tells me everything was fine and if Ella needs more challenge she can help by giving her more advanced things to do in class.Okay that sounds good to me. I ask Ella about class and she says it was good and leaves it there.

We run a quick errand down at the library and get on our bikes to head home. Going home is so much easier as it’s almost all downhill. When we get home Ella is visibly angry and not talking, she disappears and I set the kids up with some shows and games while I get food ready. I finally get a text from Sarah, something about tire trouble and she was late but was leaving to come home now. Now I’m wondering what kind of trouble she had.

This was 4 o’clock, the rest of the evening became a blur. At some point video games were replaced by Lord of the Rings, Sarah came home and told me about her trip. I’m pretty sure we ate something and the kids went to bed with a melt down fueled buy four hours of unparented electronics.

But we survived. Ella has left that particular class and we found a new dance studio she really likes. We all recovered from day, we’ve all de-stressed and stepped back.

Tomorrow I get to do it again. This time we’re ready for it!

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While Mommy's Away

Last Saturday Sarah spent the day at a gala rehearsal, in a town 3 hours south of us. I stayed home with the kids and took over. Emotions were flying high for all of us. I was worrid because the new tires for the van hadn’t come in at the shop to be installed and the current tires were on their last legs. We were all worried about Brom, he’s very attached right now and there was a high possibility of melt down at any moment. Ella had her first ballet class and was nevous and excited. Agatha was dreading the bike ride from our house to ballet, the previous trip had not gone well, ending with a crash into some walking path barricades. Cordelia is just perpetually exhausted right now and her moods are very unpredictable.

Sarah got up struggled to get ready and left late. I managed to feed the kids and Brom only cried for a couple minutes until his woderful sisters sat down and played one of his games with him. The rest of the morning actually went very smooth, I managed to get a hot coffee and no one yelled! Until we started loading up the bikes. The trailer that Cordelia and Brom ride in had flat tires. The battery pump hadn’t been charged, my good pump has a bad O-ring and doesn’t work and I could find ANY of the spares. Eventually, after some cursing and throwing things a pump was found, the tires pumped and we were off.

The bike ride should only take about 45 minutes, the last time we rode it took an hour and a half. Agatha is still new to riding her bike and more so to riding a bike with gears, a necessity with some of the hills we have to climb. We made good time for the first bit, until I ripped my brand new pants on the gear derailer of my bike. Great. I stopped and tucked my pant leg into my sock and we carried on. Agatha managed to keep up and Ella’s only complaint was that I stopped for water too often.

Finally we arrive at our destination and it only took 40 minutes, we’re half an hour early! After locking up the bike we turn to enter the building and all the doors are locked. What the hell. A wedding reception had rented the building and we were forced to go in some side door and walk along all the back corridors behind the performance stage to the class room. Eventually class starts, Ella goes in and I take the other kids to the playground. Really everything is going really well still, except I haven’t heard from Sarah yet and she should have been at her destination by now. I know she was late and I assume she hasn’t had time to text as the schedule was pretty busy.

When we get back to the class and it’s time for the little show to end the day I notice Ella has a bit of a scowl and I’m not sure why. Then I look. All the other kids are half her size. She’s a 9 year old in a sea of 5 year olds. Oh no. She follows along with the instructor perfectly while the little kids struggle the song ends the grab their stuff and go. While Ella is out of the room I asked the teacher how she did with all the little kids in class and her being the only big kid. She tells me everything was fine and if Ella needs more challenge she can help by giving her more advanced things to do in class.Okay that sounds good to me. I ask Ella about class and she says it was good and leaves it there.

We run a quick errand down at the library and get on our bikes to head home. Going home is so much easier as it’s almost all downhill. When we get home Ella is visibly angry and not talking, she disappears and I set the kids up with some shows and games while I get food ready. I finally get a text from Sarah, something about tire trouble and she was late but was leaving to come home now. Now I’m wondering what kind of trouble she had.

This was 4 o’clock, the rest of the evening became a blur. At some point video games were replaced by Lord of the Rings, Sarah came home and told me about her trip. I’m pretty sure we ate something and the kids went to bed with a melt down fueled buy four hours of unparented electronics.

But we survived. Ella has left that particular class and we found a new dance studio she really likes. We all recovered from day, we’ve all de-stressed and stepped back.

Tomorrow I get to do it again. This time we’re ready for it!

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Fighting Fear with Love

I feel a depth of emotion about today that I haven’t experienced since that day 15 years ago. That morning I had a Stats class. Our prof didn’t think any reason was good enough to not pay attention. I cried. We all cried. I don’t think she knew. After class, I spent time in Sub (one of the university buildings), standing with an ocean of people, all numb from the news, staring at TVs, hugging each other, worrying about our families in the states.
 
So much happened immediately following the attack. Initially people came together, strangers embraced, lifted others up, and opened their hearts and doors. Then the war on terror started. Fear trickled into the lives of so many people. Doors closed, children no longer went out to play without a parent.
 
The effects of that fear are still rippling through the North American people. (Possibly in other parts of the world too?)
 
Our days and our lives are limited more and more with every passing year, it seems. Fear grips us, whispers to us, we’re only safe if we block others out. Keep your face down, keep your thoughts hidden, and don’t let your children out of your sight.
 
Anyone who looks different is singled out, targeted, shunned. Fear breeds hate. Our world cries.
 
So much changed that day. It’s time we stopped letting this fear shape our lives. It’s time to step out and embrace our neighbours. It’s time we invited them over for a cup of coffee and got to know them. It’s time we chatted with the random people we see while we walk. Instead of turning our backs and pretending we don’t see.
 
Fear has shaped our world. Fear has shaped us and is shaping our children. I’m afraid of enough things without being afraid of nameless and faceless people that likely are no where near here.
 
In memory of 9/11 I am spending this week introducing myself to people I meet, buying people coffee, giving people flowers, and spreading love and happiness instead of fear. I invite you to join me, in memory of 9/11 and those who lost their lives so that we might live. I invite you to live with love and intention. 
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Another Year

Sept arrived in a blur this year. My birthday came on the 1st, it was a pretty low-key affair (we didn’t really do anything lol) I did get a present though (check out our instagram to follow along while I build the Lego Cinderella Castle – be warned, I build between parenting children and dealing with the puppy i.e. slowly lol)!

Tomorrow is the ‘not back-to school’ picnic in our community. A day homeschoolers gather with old friends, and meet new ones while acknowledging the changing school year, and the fact that our schooling is not in a specific building.

Saturday brings the first day of ballet, Sunday the first day of swim club, then next week gymnastics and violin begins again, and the week after than piano is back in session.

We have something booked almost every day of the week. For the first time in years, I need to figure out ‘school’ lunches so we can get to all their classes (and home again) without melt-downs.

I also need to buy ‘school’ supplies. Our supplies may be different than public schooled children need, but this year we still have a list that needs to be purchased for a set day.

So please forgive the time between posts while we figure out a whole new way of doing things!

 

P.S. I’d love paper bag lunch ideas if you have any to share!

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Who am I?

This is a response to Self Development written by my wife Sarah. I read her post and thought that I should reflect on how I’ve grown since that conference many years ago.

I remember sitting there holding Ella and trying to think of things that I could say when it came time for me share one of my “identities.” The gentleman before me, even though we were told it was not an appropriate answer replied “provider.” Now this isn’t a proper response for this exercise and I’ll try to explain why.

The goal was to come up with 10 – 15 words that can describe us as individuals and while provider is a word that describes and individual it is not part of you that makes you an individual. It’s a role that is required in almost all households and because it’s a somewhat mandatory role it doesn’t define you as an individual, it is not something that has grown as part of you.

Now my answer, I believe, was “reader” I loved reading at the time I would devour any fantasy book you would put in front of me. However, part of the discussion was that our identities, just like our lives, are dynamic and I can’t really call myself a “reader” anymore. I haven’t read a book for myself in years, which makes me sad in a way and thinking about it I might go find a book to read for me.

At the time we had one child, had just bought our first house in a small town and I had just begun my career. Now we have 4 kids, 3 cats, 2 dogs, a different house in a different town and I’m now coming up on 10 years in my job.

While I no longer read, I do blog and I’m new to it but I am enjoying the self exploration that it affords me.
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I’m a video gamer, I really enjoy playing games. I’ve been playing games ever since the original NES. My current loves are Blizzard games, mostly World or Warcraft, Hearthstone and to a lesser extent Heroes of the Storm. I also enjoy sharing my gaming time with my kids, we’ve been playing a lot of the Lego games on X-box.

I’m also into table top strategy games, particularly Warmachine and Guild ball. I try to get together once a week to play with a group of friends. I used to attend multiple 15147_10154124740770612_8011641856374242688_ntournaments a year and actually managed to win one! Sadly, table top gaming almost fell off my list, when Sarah was going through chemo I chose to focus on family instead of hobbies, but now that she is healthy and so much stronger than before I began to realize that I need to now take care of myself and heal and part of that is spending time with friends.

Part of table top gaming but I feel a separate part far enough removed to list as a different hobby is 415160_10151425901155612_1617704848_opainting. I paint all my own models and I strive to paint to the best of my ability, table top standard is 3 colours and based. I tend to burn through ever colour I own when painting and try to paint as many details as I can. I enjoy practicing new techniques I read about online and one day I hope to finally put the air brush I bought 6 years ago to good use!
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While not a hobby I put to use often I build things made of wood. I’ve built a really nice pergola bench for our back yard and some litter / storage
boxes for the cats. When we can get Ella’s room all cleaned out I’ll be adding a built in bed to her closet and making a new working desk for her! Further into the future I’ll be building a loft and some sort of bunk bed in our bonus room to create a double bedroom for Agatha and Cordelia.

Again in a similar vein I also consider myself a bit of an amateur handyman, while some might argue that is more of a necessary life skill than an 12592190_10156410764135612_446323780438119134_nidentifier, I don’t. I enjoy fixing things and find the more and more things I fix the more confidant I am about it! Recently I’ve replaced a side mirror on out van and changed out the sump pump in the basement. I’ve been trying to fix my pressure washer for well over a year and if I ever manage to buy the right part I think I *should* be able to get it back together!

My last identifier I’m going to mention is video creator, while I haven’t embraced this one yet but, I do have everything I need to make youtube videos, more specifically video gameLightworks gameplay and commentary.  I have done some video editing for the Great Big Beautiful Youtube channel and I’m starting to get proficient. If you’ve never edited a video before, it’s a lot harder than it looks, there is so much more than chopping it to pieces and dropping things in the right order!

So while I’ve only listed a couple things that’s so much more than the one I was struggling to find 8 years ago. I’m finding my identity and with time I’me sure I’ll be able to discover more about myself!

I really recommend trying this exercise, you don’t need to go into detail like Sarah and I did, but point form notes are a great place to start. If you can’t come up with a long list don’t worry or feel bad, just start paying attention to things you do and things you love or like Sarah just keep trying new things until something clicks! You’ll find that you are much more #unforgettable than you realize!