Mountain Refresh

24 Jan

Last week started off stressful.  I had two very stressful days at work, followed by exposure to a shocking amount of ignorance and hatred by some keyboard warriors on the subject of human rights and equality for the transgender community.  I had boiling blood on numerous occassions related to the absolute poison people were spewing.  I am not one to pick a fight, and am more than willing to keep my lips zipped on a majority of hot button topics.  That being said, I am completely unwilling to keep quiet when people herald absolute rubbish as truth and attempt to lessen another human being just because they aren’t a cookie cutter of themself.  As such, I opened myself up to dealing with some fairly repugnant opinions and barbs. 

A day in the mountains was exactly what I needed to refresh myself and cleanse my soul.  Ty had the idea to head out for a day and do a cookout, and thankfully some friends were free.  We decided to potluck and convoy up on Saturday.

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Ty and I packed up the girls and dog and led our pack of friends up to Beaver Mines, about 1.5 hours away. It was a fairly mild day with shockingly, almost no wind!  We all made it up with no issues, and Tyler quickly started a fire while we all got the kids dressed up in their snow gear.

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Including kids, there was 17 people and 3 dogs.  Sadly, we almost starved to death, we barely had enough food to feed us all.

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Hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, candy, a million baked goods, fruit, salads, juice, coffee, hot chocolate...you would think we were there for a week!

I am not sure what it is about a fire and mountain air, but it is a purifier.  Conversation flows easily, kids and dogs run around happily, and everyone pitches in where needed.   The littles were so happy running around in the snow, and although we could barely get them to eat lunch, they managed to grab more than a few snacks off the table in between sledding and tromping through the snow.

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The kids managed to rope Asheley into taking them across the way to a little hill so that they could sled for a bit.  They all came back very red cheeked, and grinning from ear to ear!

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As an aside, I feel so fortunate that my girls seem to love my friends’ kiddos as much as I love my friends. I remember saying to Ash that I hoped we would be able to show our kids pictures in 25 years to show them they were such good friends, even when they were little. 

I feel so lucky to be raising my girls in such a community of love.  It can be easy for me to get consumed by all the viciousness and ugliness that is in the world.  A day disconnected from it all was enough to remind me that there is so, so, so much good and kindness around, and that it will always outweigh the bad.  I can’t control what others say and do, but I can attempt to exemplify a message of love and tolerance to my own girls, and hope that they will embrace it.

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Exhausted girls

Good for the Soul

13 Jan

I have recently increased my line at work quite significantly.  I have gone from working about 10 days a month, only two days at a time (with two, one week breaks) to 16 days, with big stretches of 4 and 5 and not much time off in between.

I am always grateful to be in a rotation, so I will take whatever I can get.  Working this much more has come with some big changes.  I realized it was very spoiled, but I am used to having lots of free time.  I am almost always able to have coffee or play dates, make appointments, and not only take my kiddos to school, but attend all their special days.

With my old rotation, we needed no childcare.  We now need a lot of that, and I am so incredibly fortunate that my mother in law offered to do it for us.  I asked her to really think about it before I said yes, because she is only letting us pay her peanuts, and it is a lot of driving and a lot of hours.  I have a lot of peace of mind knowing that if I can’t be there for something, she is.  In the past, we have been really lucky that our family,friends, and honorary Aunties and Uncles have done everything from sleeping on our couches at 6:30 in the morning in between Ty’s going and my coming, to school drop off and attending special days.  It is a weight off my shoulders that that is no longer a ball I need to juggle.

Knowing that my free days are a lot more limited, I invited some girlfriends for lunch today.  Sadly, one Mama and her littles couldn’t make it, but last minute another’s day freed up.  Lisa was waiting at my house with her kiddos when I got back from school pick up, and Ash joined shortly after for a quick chat before heading back to work.

Ashelely could only sneak in a quick coffee and lunch before heading back to the office, but as she left, she said something about it being good for her soul.  I have been rolling that around in my head since, because it is so true.

There is something so fulfilling about connecting with friends over a hot coffee admid the chaos that is kids running around having fun.  I have taken a page from Lisa’s book and just leave accessible healthy finger foods for them to grab in between giggles and games.  Everyone gets fed some how, but most of all is my soul. 

I love how conversations take a million tangents, interruptions are plentiful (including “watch this dance”, and “Mama, I accidentally put shampoo in my bum”) and no judgement is passed on the amount of caffeine consumed.  It fills my tank to the brim to be a part of a community where no one gives two hoots how you parent, and will wipe any nose that happens to walk by and need a swipe. 

I feel so blessed to have several different, but equally great groups of friends.  Each seems to bring exactly what I need, sometimes when I don’t even know I need it.  Today I needed a “mamahood”, and I am terrifically thankful for the one I got.

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Kitchen limbo

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I swear I wasn't going to eat her in this picture, but she is delicious

New Year, New Goals

4 Jan

I have been putting in a good deal of thought for this year’s goals.  It is really easy for me to just make weight loss and fitness goals, but while those are still important to me, I wanted to be really mindful about what I am going to focus on this year. 

The theme that has been rolling around in my mind is “kind and gentle”. I have no desire to make a list of unattainable goals and then beat myself up over failing.  As such, here are my 2016 areas of focus:

1. Share more meals: whether it be having people over for dinner, treating friends to lunch or dropping off a meal for someone, I plan on spreading some love through food. Going along with this…

2. Open up my home more: I am terrible at playing host, and all too often we are the recipient of hospitality instead of those giving it.  This year I want to host more dinners, have more coffee dates and more little friends over to play. 

3.  Say “in a minute” less: I am terrible at deferring my kids when I am busy doing things like cooking dinner or trying to get ready, but sometimes that trickles over into times when I am not busy, but more interested in a book…or instagram.  I am trying to be much more mindful of if I actually need “a minute” when my girls ask for something.

4. Declutter more:  I got an a pretty great decluttering kick before the new year and I want to keep it going.  The kitchen, bathroom and hall closet all got done, as well as the playroom received a revamp once we got all the unnecessary furniture out of it.  Our room needs a major overhaul, so that is on my list.  I find the more I clear out of my house, the more I like it!

5. Take more “us”-ies: I am pretty much a pro at taking pictures of my kiddos, but not so much my husband.  Despite the time we do spend together, we took a grand total of nine pictures with just the two of us.  Nine.  Yikes.  I am definitely looking to improve that this year.

6. Challenge myself professionally: I have reached a point in my career where I feel like I need a big push to learn something outside my comfort zone.  It is easy to continue to focus of peds alone, and although I have no intention of leaving the unit, I think I need to broaden my knowledge about “grown ups” too.

That is it!  Hopefully 2016 is just as wonderful year as 2015 was.

Christmas 2015 in Review

2 Jan

I realize this is the time that I should be posting about NY resolutions and what not, but I am barely wrapping my head around the fact that holidays are coming to a close.

Christmas this year was full of families, festivities and feasts.  We are lucky to have most of our family close by, so that involves some juggling of schedules.  Sometimes it feels like we aren’t going to fit it all in, but we do for the most part!

My Dad came into town on the 23rd and we opened gifts with him before heading out for our traditional Chinese food dinner.  I believe this is his 52 nd year buying it for his family (he has been doing it since he was 8!).

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After we stuffed our faces, we headed home. I had to work that night and was hoping to catch a few winks!

After working the night, we joined my sister at her house for a Christmas eve brunch with my Dad before he went back to Edmonton.  I had to do a double take at one point when I saw my niece Bailey next to Abby.  We have commented a lot that Abby looks a lot like Bailey did when she was little, but I felt like I was looking at her in the past and present!

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Gracie also started her own Christmas tradition of cleaning Sara our of her avocados!

I napped throughout the day (in preparation for working the night again), and around 5 we went over to my in laws to open gifts.  Santa always comes a night early there, because they use to travel on Christmas day. 

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After some snacks, I took the girls home for a bit to open their Christmas eve gift from my mom (always jammies and a book).  They got changed and then set out the good for the big guy, and sprinkled the reindeer food on the lawn.

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Ty took them back to the party at his parents and I showered and got ready for work.

I had a lovely night at work, and my co workers and I managed to make it through a night with no patients on the unit (a first for me!).

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Christmas morning I snuck in a quick nap before the girls woke up.  I had popped breakfast in the oven before I went to bed, so we are after we opened gifts.  I was very spoiled, but my absolute favourite was watching the girls open the gifts they got each other.  Both of them seemed a little touched by the thoughtfulness of the other, and it was heartwarming.

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Gracie has covetted this minion waterbottle from superstore for eons. She was shocked Abby got it for her!

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After breakfast I lay down for another nap.  We then all got dressed and went to visit with Tyler’s family for a few hours before making our way to my sister’s to do our gifts and dinner.

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More avocado eating

We WERE going to go home, but several bottles of wine later we decided to gunk in.  Gracelyn went MIA for a bit, but Ty found her after a quick search.

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We headed home the next morning full, happy and a little sleep deprived!

Boxing day we had drinks with friends, and then got ready for our trip to Edmonton.  Tyler’s team had a tourney up there, so he left on the bus early, but we stopped by Beckett’s bday party for a few minutes before hitting the road.  Rachel and Craig are moving for a few years, so it was extra hard to say goodbye.

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We hit the road with some coffee and a few too many stuffed animals.  The drive was easy with only one stop and we made it in good time.

We spent the next few days swimming, eating too much, hanging out with my Dad and cheering the team to victory.  Well, that is a loose “we” because while Abby cheered, high fives the guys and screamed, Gracelyn slept through every game.

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Gracie loved the smoothie shooters at the breakfast buffet and would pack back 6-8 every morning

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Abby decided that after a whole summer of refusing to swim without a flotation belt that maybe she could swim…and did.  She also decided she would jump off the side of the pool even though a mere 3 months ago this brought her to tears if we even asked her to. 

The girls did some shopping, and we were back home in Lethbridge on the 30th.

New Year’s Eve we went to a party with friends, drank too much, practiced our flip cup skills and basically decided that we still aren’t too old to stay up until 6am. 

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Thankfully I didn’t pay a price for it the next day (pro tip: mix your drinks with water) but we lay pretty low and napped!

So, after a busy Christmas we are ready to start a new year!  Next step…put away the rest of Christmas!

The First Annual North Pole Party

22 Dec

The holidays are so wonderfully busy.  People to see, errands to run and engagements to attend, it seems like the season goes by in the blink of an eye.

As the girls get older and more independent, I wanted to start a tradition that was more so geared towards them.  As a long time reader of Enjoying The Small Things, I have had the idea of a North Pole party tucked away for a few years. 

The invitation was sent out last week, and surprisingly a lot of people were free.  The girls and I bought some craft supplies and baked some sugar cookies.  We added a few little decorations and bought enough Santa hats for everyone.  The girls changed into jammies after an afternoon nap and awaited their guests.

Littles and their mamas trickled in.  Christmas music played, the Shaw Fireplace log crackled and wine and hot chocolate was poured.  The kids took decorating the sugar cookies as a serious mission and made short work of 7 dozen of them.

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Sugar cookies ready to be decorated

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Excited little hosts

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I just set out light snacks and the kids grabbed some in between decorating cookies, making tree ornaments and playing in the basement.

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The reindeer food bar was a big hit and the kids all left with at least one jar to sprinkle on the lawn on Christmas eve.

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We put a Christmas movie on a little later in the evening and the kids watched it downstairs while the Mamas and little babes stayed upstairs munching and chatting.  Too soon it was time for everyone to pack up and head home, but not before deciding that this would be a yearly occurance!

I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends to surround myself with, and doubly grateful that our kids bring each other such joy. I can’t wait until next year!

Something You Want, Something You Need…

7 Dec

Before we had kids, Christmas in our house was quite small.  Ty and I exchanged very few gifts, if at all, and most of what was wrapped under the tree before Christmas went to friends and family.

A few years ago, when the girls were both still very small, I went a little crazy at toys r us and bought a ton of things for them.  I literally felt sick on Christmas morning because there was such an excess of things that not only did they not even ask for, but they didn’t need.  Abby didn’t even want to finish opening gifts.  The next year I was able to remember that feeling and scale down a bit, but still didn’t do the best job.  Top that off with 3-4 other gift opening sessions with family, it is basically a present avalanche.

Two years ago, my friend Tawnya told me about a gift giving mantra of sorts that I loved: “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read”.  It was Iike a lightbulb went on, and I jumped on the bandwagon whole heartedly.

Embarrassingly, I felt a little weird having so few gifts under the tree for the girls, but when it came time to open them, it was so peaceful.  Santa gifts are exempt from the rule, and those were enough to hold their interest, let alone what was under the tree.  It was so nice letting them open the gifts and the play with whatever they wanted. 

Using this gift giving principle this year has taken all the stress out of gift giving.  I basically did half my shopping on Amazon on black Friday and cyber Monday, and am committed to doing the rest with local businesses, small shops and crafty friends.  I am focusing on meaningful gifts for friends and family, not just “stuff”.

To add to this, we also try to focus on small acts of giving.  I really try to impress upon the girls that there are people who struggle to make Christmas happy, and that giving to others only makes our holiday better.  Abby is starting to understand a little more about the true meaning behind the season and it is so nice to hear her talk about it and just get it.  Hopefully they learn that although opening gifts is always fun, giving is much more satisfying than receiving.

Girls Weekend in Banff

2 Dec

Early in the fall, some girlfriends and I decided we needed to do a weekend away.  We tossed around the idea of Whitefish, but ultimately the dollar is crappy, and I go there a few times a year anyway. 

Amber suggested Banff and we got to planning.  And by planning, I mean we got together for dinner and drinks and talked about everything but and then would randomly look up hotels near the end of the evening.  Thankfully, Amber is a planner and found us a great suite for a great deal.

Initially we had thought we wanted to go uber fancy, with swanky dinners and a full spa day.  Upon further discussion we decided what we really wanted was a relaxing weekend of leggings, drinking wine and being pampered at the spa.

Friday I grabbed a few winks after working nights and then grabbed some groceries, wine and packed.  Between Amber, Richelle and I we managed to stuff Richelle’s SUV to the brim.  We hit a bit of traffic, but got to our hotel at a decent time.  Our suite was perfect, with a bed for everyone, a loft and little kitchen area.

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We drank some wine, ate some snacks and did a quick change before heading to a pub.  The walk was bitterly cold, but the Irish pub we chose had a spot by the fire, delicious warm food and decent live music.

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We all ended up turning in pretty early (around 1) and I slept like a baby.

The next morning we all woke up at a decent hour to some lovely views.

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We made mimosas and noshed on croissants while we brewed some French press coffee.  After a chill morning in bed watching the fire place channel and chatting, the girls head out to the spa.  I was joining until a few hours later, so I had a long bubble bath and relaxed with a book.

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I head out to the spa and met up with the girls.  I had a super relaxing massage (except for the part where she put her fingers in my ears…that was new) and then sipped tea and lemon water before my pedicure.  The only downfall was needing to wear the little paper slippers home to the hotel, thankfully it was a really short walk!

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When we were done, we continued with the wine drinking and ate a ridiculous amount of cheese and veggies.

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The copious amounts of cheese resulted in a late dinner.  We went to Saltlik and had a great meal before checking out some nightlife.

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After finding two places that were basically a bust we decided to go with what worked and went back to St.James.  The drinks went down a little too easily and we had a great time before heading back.  A late night pizza and we were toast. 

The next morning we had brunch at The Bison, walked around downtown and scored some ugly Christmas sweaters at a shop before hitting the road.

The trip was exactly what I wanted in a girls’ weekend; lots of good food, wine and laughs.  I came home feeling so rested…until I came home with gastro the next day :-(.  Thankfully I am now on the mend, and can’t wait until the next trip! 

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