Livi’s 6th Birthday

Livi turned 6.

While I know I technically already have a six year old, Livi is my first child. She made me a Momma and started me down this most incredible journey. It feels like kind of a big deal.

Olivia was an easy baby and although she brings me her own challenges she is still a pretty easy kid to parent. She is spirited and passionate. She is emotional and empathetic. She is adventurous and cautious. She is helpful and compassionate. She is a better big sibling than either of her parents were. She adores her sisters while getting appropriately frustrated with them at times too. She can be shy and a leader, depending on her confidence level at the moment. She thrives in responsibility and protects her sisters fiercely. She loves school but is not loving reading yet. She is really just an all around good kid.

She is going in to grade one this year and is very excited. Earlier this year she wanted to be a queen when she grew up, but now she wants to be a singer. She is finally starting to sing a little louder and in front of people too which is nice to see. Her confidence is growing.

She can ride her bike like a pro now. She makes macaroni and cheese all by herself. She can get breakfast for herself too, if she is up before us. She puts all her own laundry away and clears and wipes the table. She is in charge of cleaning her own room at the end of the night and helps with the other toys. She has a few extra tasks that she can earn money for, like cleaning the litter box, washing windows, emptying the dishwasher by herself (they all help me when asked but if she does it alone she can earn money), washing the tub, etc. Some days she’s really excited to do the extra tasks and sometimes she doesn’t want any of it.

While 5 Livi lost her first tooth, just over a month ago. She finished her kindergarten year with flying colors! She enjoyed camping again this summer and got to see the dinosaurs in Drumheller, something she’s been excited about for months. She had her first real flu bug and ended up in the ER a few times because of it. She passed all her swimming classes and has to wait until she is 6 before she goes on to the next level. It’s amazing how much can happen and change in one year!

Livi’s biggest struggle is perfectionism. It actually affects a lot of things in her little life. She expects things to be easy for her and wants things to be her idea of perfect. If they aren’t easy or perfect she gets  frustrated and gives up. This is one of the reasons she is still not enjoying reading. She screamed and cried through learning to ride her bike but we chose to finally push her one day and it only took half a block of riding for her to have full confidence in it. I remember that day as my best and worst parenting choice. So hard to hold our ground but she was so proud of herself afterwards! Sugar is not her friend. It makes her angry and have meltdowns. With all the vacationing and birthday celebrations she’s had a few little episodes and a big one last night. 

We had a small birthday party for her and a few best friends at the zoo. Not hosting a party at your house is SO MUCH easier by the way! She had a blast and got to see her current favourite animal, the Cheetah!

Then we had some cake on her actual birth date. It was actually a joint cake for me too since we didn’t do a home one for my birthday 10 days earlier. 6 candles were for her and 3 for me! I did get cake in Alberta though 🙂

I’m so proud to be this kids Momma. She is turning in to the most wonderful little lady and I’m so thankful for her. I having a bit of a hard time wrapping my head around her being 6, but she is proving to be extraordinary. I can’t wait to see what else she gets to experience and accomplish in this next year. 
I love you Livi! Happy Birthday Baby Girl! 

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Alberta Bound!

This will just be a quick picture post about our vacation to Alberta. We made the long hike to see friends we hadn’t seen in many years, to spend time with family on a farm where Jon has great memories and to take Livi to the dinosaur museum in Drumheller. We accomplished it all and it was beyond successful!

Where we stayed with friends was an over 12 hour drive that we made with two out of three of our children. Jon’s mom flew with Sofie which was a big help! It was a very long drive and the kids did AMAZING… until the last hour… that was hell. On the way home they did great too but had a few more meltdown.

The first day we just spent hanging out with our friends and recuperating from our long drive! The second day was spent in the freedom of the farm. It was really special for my kids to see where food comes from, dig dinner out of the ground, pick berries and experience the freedom of open fields.

 Sisters

Sofie

Evelyn

 Livi
Water fight with Gramma!
Cuddles with Opa and DD
Getting Sofie wet!

 The third day was dinosaur day! Livi was beside herself with excitement. In the end she said it wasn’t what she expected but it was still fabulous. Her favourite thing was the ‘alive dinosaur bugs’, which were actually cockroaches. I guess they are the same as they were back in dinosaur times… or something like that! Sofie was overwhelmed with the museum at first but we brought her noise cancelling head phones and they helped settle her down a lot. Jon’s mom kept Evelyn at the farm for the day so we could just take the big kids.

The final day was spent at the park and with our friends again. Their daughter is just a few months younger than Evelyn and completely adorable. We spent many nights with them playing games which is something we rarely get to do, and I love board and card games!

Thank you Dennis and Cayla!

I’m so glad we did this trip. It was a big one for us but travel and things are getting easier as our kids are getting older now. Finally!

Ten Years

Last week we celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. This post is a little late because we ended up going on vacation the next day, but here it is finally! 

It’s been ten years since my husband Jon and I committed to share our lives together. We were very young when we got married. I was 21 and he was 23. We had no idea what we were getting into. Let me get a little nostalgic here for a minute…

We met at Bible College. He was studying to be a pastor when we met. I swore I would not marry someone from Bible College and never a pastor! Thankfully, before we started dating, he had changed his vocational goals at least. We got really serious pretty quickly and got married 20 months after we started dating. We had no money and a ton of student loan debt but Jon was still in school so we were able to pretend the debt wasn’t there!

He proposed at a park while he serenaded me on a picnic table with “Green Eyes” by Coldplay. It was sweet. I totally knew it was coming. Our wedding was lovely. We planned it in only 4 months. It was in my Great Aunt and Uncle’s backyard. We said our vows under a canopy of trees. Jon’s Dad married us, Jon wrote our vows, and I planned the party. Our vows tried to captured expressions of the Love of God: Eternal Love of the Father, Co-suffering Love of the Son, Dynamic Love of the Spirit. The reception was an open air coffee house, complete with an open coffee bar and jazz trio. It was such a special day.

We thought the beginning was easy. We did not experience the hard first year of marriage so many talk about. We even bragged about how easy we were together. Jon was in school for the first few years and worked at ‘the wood shop’ when he could. I waitressed and eventually got more in to working with people with disabilities to support us. We had fun. We had great friends and we loved to host parties. 

Just before our 4 year anniversary, our lives started to change. We were forced to really become aware of what our issues where. Our marriage had been easy up to that point only because Jon never let his real feelings be known and I walked all over him. I don’t think it is much of a secret that I can be dominating and Jon can be passive. We are both overly stubborn. Resentment built in Jon and I was oblivious. Around the same time we had a lot of external influences push us down a different path. I was pregnant with our first child. Jon began experiencing deep and clinical depression which ended in him dropping out of his Master’s program. Jon’s dad died suddenly and unexpectedly. Livi was born a month, to the day, later. Jon continued experiencing mental health issues that manifested in different ways. My sister cut herself off from the family to be with an abusive boyfriend. I also, illegally, lost a job I loved but had no energy to fight for by that point in my life.

Livi was the one good thing in our lives in that time. I’m sure if it wasn’t for her we would not be here together now. She is not the reason we are still together but she did help us not give up in the moment, which would have been easy. She gave me the motivation to change myself and something to focus on other than my frustration with Jon. She was a beacon and distraction for Jon too. We were as close to a divorce as I ever want to be. I had a plan to leave one day if our talk that evening before didn’t go well. It did go well… as well as it could have I guess. We committed to and started some individual and couples therapy. We fought hard for ourselves and our life together. Over the next few months we worked hard, separately and together. Six months later we were a different, stronger, healthier and more respectful couple.

In the 5 years since our ‘year from hell’ we have continued to grow and shape our future. We became a real little family and our priorities evolved. Jon changed career paths and has been quickly advancing up the ranks of his new fulfilling career choice. When Livi was 18 months old we started our journey to adopt Sofie who came home in 2011. We moved twice and at the end of 2012 our precious Evelyn showed up! I’m a stay at home mom currently, taking care of my kids and playing domestic goddess and chauffeur. Jon works hard at supporting us and spending as much time with us four girls as he can! We are happy and content. It’s a pretty good thing we’ve got going on here!

I asked Jon if he had any words of wisdom or for something he’s learned over the ten years we’ve been together. He chose to be a dork and quote a Rolling Stones song, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.” Truth, but not what I was looking for. 
I’ll share some of my thoughts or wisdom instead…
1. Understand and respect each others communication style and ALWAYS communicate! 
I know it’s a little cliche but it is so true. You don’t know what the other person is thinking, so ask. If you are the one who is asked, be honest! Initiate conversation!
Jon and I have opposite communication styles, and it took a while to figure each other out. He is passive and will let himself suffer to avoid conflict, where I will hit conflict head on and not back down. I also talk things in circles. We have learned to understand how each other “fight” and respect it. We negotiated a few rules, like me not bringing things up right before bed and Jon giving me a five minute warning for when he is needing the discussion to be over or tabled. Jon puts extra effort into initiating difficult conversations and apologies, as well as patiently listening to me talk it all out. 
2. Divorce is always an option, which makes you free to choose your marriage. 
This was a big one for Jon. It sounds backwards to many who have been told to take the word “divorce” out of their vocabulary. I was raised by a single mom so divorce was a very real option in my mind but Jon felt trapped by that way of thinking. If there is no out when you are unhappy wouldn’t that just breed resentment, contempt, fear and depression? To think that divorce is not an option in this day and age is just naive. If you have an out then you become aware that marriage is a choice. You can choose to stay and work on it or you could get divorced! It was a very freeing idea for Jon.
3. Know what makes each other feel connected and practice that for each other. 

I feel more connected to Jon when he puts effort in to making me and my efforts feel noticed. If he offers to wash the floors for me (a job I hate) or if her initiates and plans spending some quality time with me, I feel more connected to him. He would say he feels more connected to me when we have sex, which not an uncommon connection point for most men. When I feel more connected to him, we have more sex, which lends to more quality time and help around the house. It is circular 🙂 
It’s been a wild ride! 10 years ago, I didn’t have a clear idea of what I thought my life would look like today, but I’m so grateful it has turned out the way it did. I am blessed to have a husband who is so on the same page as I am in our goal setting, finances, sex, life choices, and parenting. He has been willing to put up with so much of my baggage and pay for many of the sins of my father. I’m so thankful that we chose each other ten years ago and continue to choose each other today.