a birthday fit for a princess.

Sep 10, 2017

Today my beautiful daughter turned 4 years old.  My amazing Aaralee, the girl who made me a mommy. I can't imagine my world without her in it.  She is so smart, absolutely beautiful, hilarious, and even more stubborn than me... if that's possible. 

The past year with her has been a whirlwind of adventure, fun, learning, and the daily challenges of threenager life.  She tested my patience and made my heart burst with pride.  She conquered her first year of preschool and hiked up her first mountain.  Last September, she was my shy, quiet, tiny little lady, and today she is my outgoing, chatty, big girl. 

In this house, we celebrate birthdays in a big way.  Parties are centered around whatever the girls currently love most. This meant that Aaralee's fourth birthday party would have 3 main components: Pink, princesses, and unicorns.  With plenty of input from the guest of honour, we created her dream birthday party. 
We invited all of her best girl friends, and together they coloured pictures of castles, princess and unicorns. They decorated their paper and their arms with stickers, while wearing crowns and tiaras.

As per usual, the kitchen was filled with treats and baked goods, including my homemade macarons and Grandma's famous cookies. The crockpot was full of Aaralee's favourite meal... mac and cheese!

Aaralee had a specific vision for her cake, and I was happy to make it a reality.  It was pink, and coated in chocolate, "so so many sprinkles", marshmallows, a unicorn, and pink candles.  

We managed to wrangle a few toddlers to play an amusing game of "pin the horn on the unicorn".  

The highlight of the day was without a doubt the smashing of the unicorn pinata.  What was once a colorful donkey pinata from Walmart had become a beautiful unicorn after a few tedious hours of my life. I watched my masterpiece get shattered into pieces by determined a few determined 2 to 4 year olds.

The aftermath of the pinata was an endless sugar high felt by both young and old party guests.  

Aaralee assured me that she had had the best birthday party ever, and it made me so happy to see the pure joy on her face for the whole entire day.

She was sad to say goodbye to her party guests and asked why they couldn't stay all day. We sent them off with a bit more sugar for the road, much to the appreciation of the parents,  I can imagine.

The party continued into today, her real birthday.  My 4 year old woke up, ate some pancakes, put on a princess dress and got cozy on the couch to watch Frozen.

For weeks she had been asking to go to Chuck E Cheese's so today we granted that wish and spent a few hours running wild, eating pizza, playing games, and riding rides. She was in Heaven, running around in a Belle dress and fairy wings. 

We went home, let Briley take a nap while we watched Frozen yet again. When little sister woke up, we headed to the swimming pool for an evening of splashing.  By the time we dragged the girls out of the pool, everyone was exhausted and ready for dinner.  It was Aaralee's choice, so naturally, we ended up at McDonald's. 
We came home to watch a bit more Frozen (making the most of our 24 hour rental) and finally managed to put our "not tired" girls to bed.  It was a super fun, super busy weekend for the most special 4 year old girl I know.  
Happy birthday, my sweet princess. I can't wait for the adventures that this year will bring us.  

a summer to remember.

Sep 1, 2017

Summer 2017 is winding down, as much as I hate to admit it.  The first few leaves have fallen, the weather is undeniably cooler, and you can't go out in public without being bombarded with pumpkin spice everything. I love fall, really, I do... I'm just not ready for it. I'm never ready for it. I wish that summer would last forever, or at least longer than 2 months.   
Though I'm sad to see my favourite season go, I take comfort in the fact that we truly made the most out of this summer.  We made so many memories and went on so many adventures. Aaralee is almost 4, and I know that years from now, she'll remember bits and pieces of this summer. Hopefully she'll want to bring her own kids on the same adventures, just like I did in this summer of sweet nostalgia. 
It was a summer of birthdays. Briley's birthday, my birthday, Niko's birthday, and in just a week, it will be Aaralee's birthday! 

It was a summer of Canada.  Canada 150 made us all extra patriotic, and I am forever grateful to call Canada home... even with its lack of eternal summer.

It was a summer of roadtrips. 

Our first trip in early July took the girls and I to Calgary for a quick little getaway with my mom. 
The first day, we drank ridiculous milkshakes at Regrub.  

The next day we explored Banff National park. 

The final day, we took the girls to Calaway Park and they had the time of their lives riding every ride that they were tall enough to go on. Aaralee even braved the log ride, though she vows to never do it again.  

Our next road trip took us 6 hours south, to Ryan's family reunion. It was a huge event, for a huge family. On the way home, we detoured to Waterton Lakes National Park, a first for me! 

Our next roadtrip took us to Mt Kidd for a weekend of camping with some of our best friends. The weather was perfect, as was the company. The girls had a blast and asked to go camping "every day!" 

We took a break from road trips for a couple of weeks to save up the time and energy required for the longest journey yet. My mom, the girls and I drove all the way to Vancouver and spent a week touring the coast and the Okanagan.  
I ran my first half marathon in Vancouver, after a summer full of training.

We went on the Sea to Sky gondola, wandered Granville Island, and dipped our toes in the ocean.

We played at the beach, built sand castles, and discovered Aaralee's love of the water. 

We went wine tasting and ran through vineyards and orchards.

And finally, we made a stop at one of my childhood memories... the Enchanted Forest. Things that I find dull as an adult are suddenly magical again once I rediscover them with my children. 

Our final road trip of the summer brought us to Lake Louise, where we camped with Ryan's parents.  It was a beautiful weekend, and on our hike to Larch Valley my amazing daughter's hiked a large portion of the uphill trail all by themselves. 

Though a great deal of our summer was spent away from home, we still managed to have fun when we were in town. 
 We splashed at spray parks. 

We played at normal parks.

 We went to K-Days for an extra dose of midway food. 

We spent time with our best friends. 

 We bought a zoo membership so that we could see the animals on a regular basis.

We took our first trip to the ER when Briley dove headfirst into a fireplace. It wasn't our favourite memory, but a memory nonetheless.

We had lunch dates and playdates, spent mornings strolling the farmer's market and taking long walks along the river.  All in all, it was a summer to remember.  Though the days are dwindling, I'm not going to say goodbye to summer just yet. 
We still have sunny days to enjoy, evenings to spend at the park, and one big birthday to celebrate. I'm holding onto summer as long as most of the leaves are still hanging onto the trees. 

More than just a mom.

Aug 18, 2017

3 years and 11 months ago, I met my first beautiful daughter. From that day forward, every waking hour would be dedicated to catering to her, and 21 months later, her younger sister. I'm not complaining. Being a mom is more fulfilling than anything I've ever experienced, but there isn't much room for "me time". 
Occasionally, we'd get a babysitter.  Ryan and I would go out for dinner, and it would be great... but he was never as excited about a kid free meal as I was. He goes for lunch with his coworkers on a regular basis. He spends 8 hours a day in an office surrounded by grownups who have real conversations that are never interrupted by demands for more milk.  
Again, I am not complaining. My husband works very hard to support out family. I chose to be a stay at home mom and I am grateful for the opportunity to spend my days with my daughters.  But, like any mom who spends all day, every day with small children, I longed for some time to myself. I felt like my entire identity was "Aaralee and Briley's mom". While that was a dream come true in itself, I missed my busy, adventurous, and somewhat interesting former self.  I wanted to be more than "just a mom", but I felt too guilty to ever say it out loud.  
Sure, I'd have some time alone. I'd go to the grocery store solo to pick up diapers. I'd walk to the mailbox when Ryan came home from work.  Sometimes, Ryan would take the girls to Costco and I'd have the entire house to myself.  
Still, I longed for something more. I wanted to do something for myself.  I needed adventure, challenge, and an outlet for my creativity. So this year, I vowed to do more for myself. I'd still put my kids first, but I needed to be happy too.  
It all started with signing up for a half marathon. Up until last year, I hated running. It was exhausting, boring, and one form of exercise I'd never understand. That was, until I tried running alone.  With nothing but the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, I felt free. I was all alone, if only for half an hour. I ran a few 5k races last year, and discovered my competitive nature. I never thought I'd run any further, until I managed to snag a spot for the incredible Seawheeze half marathon. Running a half marathon was one of those bucket list items that I just expected to never check off.  But for the past 4 months, I've dedicated many mornings and every weekend to training for a distance that seemed impossible.  Some days I felt like giving up, but most days I loved it. I'd wake up before Ryan left for work and start my days with a bit of alone time.  I felt so much better on run days... I had more energy and more patience.  It was quite possible that running was making me a better mother.  On the days that Aaralee was awake when I left, she'd see me getting dressed and tell me to "have a good run!" Last weekend I traveled to Vancouver for the race, and ran 21.1 kilometres in 1 hour, 59 minutes.  Me, the girl who hated running. I just ran a half marathon.  I hope that I've inspired my girls to set big goals and to work hard to achieve them.  

This summer I've also put more effort into doing things that I enjoy doing with friends. I've had pedicures, shopping trips, dinner dates and crafting nights with some of my best friends.  Meanwhile, my girls get some much appreciated time with their daddy.  Why is it that once we have kids, we stop doing the things that we used to love? I love being a mom and wife, but my goodness, I've missed being a friend.  

Last but not least, this year I've focused more on taking photos and less on comparing myself to all of my incredibly talented photographer friends... including my husband. We all start somewhere, and I was letting my lack of confidence stop me from learning to be better. I vowed to learn to shoot in full manual mode, finally figure out how to edit photos, and to take candid photos of my kids on a regular basis. As soon as I stopped caring so much about what everyone else thought, I got better. I enjoyed taking photos again. Strangers even started asking me to photograph their families. I have a long way to go, with so many amazing photographers to inspire and motivate me I only want to keep learning. Living with 2 of the cutest models is certainly helpful. 

I'm no longer Krysta, the flight attendant, world traveler, or even blogger. It has taken some time to embrace the end of that era, but I'm finally there. These days I'm Krysta, the runner, photographer, and most importantly, Krysta the mommy, friend, and wife.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.