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.  

Briley's Two-tti Frutti Party!

Jun 19, 2017

I've been on blogging hiatus for quite some time... you guys, life is so darn busy! I keep meaning to write and then get distracted, and by the time I have time I can't even remember what I was going to write about. I feel like now is a good time to come back.  
I couldn't NOT write a post about my sweet little girl turning 2! Yes... you read that right. Briley, my sweet little baby who was just born is already a two year old! 
Her actual birthday was on Thursday, and it was a day full of fun and excitement. We started the day with a special cake made of pancakes.  The pink sprinkles were the highlight of the morning for both her and Aaralee.  


Next on the agenda was a trip to our favourite indoor playground, where we met up with some friends for a couple hours of fun and snacks. By the time that we were ready to go, Briley had snuggled up on the floor with her blanket, exhausted from going down the slide approximately 300 times.  

Daddy came home from work at lunch to spend the rest of the day with the birthday girl.  She requested to go on the swings, so it was off to the park. We stopped and picked up Happy Meals, and it was the picnic of her dreams.  

Next up was a trip to the mall.  West Edmonton Mall has so many fun (and free!) things for kids to do. We played with trains at Chapters, ran up and down bridges and ramps, tested out the trampoline display, and spent awhile colouring and dancing in the Disney store. We also met up with Briley's birthday twin, Auntie Jacque! 
 Dinner was consumed on our dusty driveway, because the girls love picnics. We ate mac and cheese at a makeshift table (an empty diaper box) and it was hilariously unclassy, but the girls loved it and that is all that counts.  
Saturday was the day of the big party! I always try to plan parties based around the girl's interests, but Briley is 2 and she is primarily interested in whatever her big sister likes.  She does, however, LOVE fruit. Watermelon in particular, but she's never met a fruit that she didn't like.  It was an easy decision: We'd have a Two-tti Frutti birthday party! 

We bought a produce department's worth of fruit and set to decoration for the big event.  We had treats galore, and plenty of fresh fruit for our guests to enjoy.  
The birthday girl wore her watermelon tutu. Within minutes she was sticky and covered in watermelon juice, overjoyed at the abundance of her favourite foods. 

The cake was a collabrative effort.  What I love about my husband is the fact that I can say "I bought green melting chocolate and I need you to make it into a pineapple top...." and without hesitation he creates a masterpiece. I baked and decorated the rest of the cake, and the guests and birthday girl all seemed to approve!  4 layers of cake, and only 2 slices were leftover!

Briley was spoilt with so many thoughtful gifts that she absolutely loves.  She insisted on trying everything out as soon as she opened it... including every single article of clothing.  By the end she was wearing several layers, including shirts worn as shorts. 

As the party died down, our guests left with MORE sugar and our birthday girl was extra sleepy after her big, busy day.  

We finished off the sangria and meatballs, and patted ourselves on the back for surviving yet another toddler birthday party. 

I can't believe that my sweet, smart, hilarious little lady is already 2 years old. She lights up each and every single day with her big smile and cheeky sense of humour.  I can't imagine this family without our blonde baby girl.  Happy birthday, my baby. I love you more than you'll ever know. 

Magical Iceland... Part 1!

Mar 2, 2017

From the moment that we landed in Iceland, I knew that it was going to be an interesting vacation. It would be the type of trip more deserving of daily chronicles of our adventures as opposed to a quick summary of the week once we'd arrived home.  Prior to this trip, I knew little about the island.  I knew that it was expensive, sparsely populated, and that in 2010 a volcanic eruption here cancelled my glamorous European layovers and left me stranded in Dubai.  We might not have gotten off on the right foot, Iceland and I, but this trip has been full of pleasant surprises.

Without further adieu, the adventures of Ryan and Krysta in Iceland. Some of the photos may not match the descriptions, but I'm on vacation and too lazy to upload and edit them all until we are home.

Day 1:

Leaving Paris was bittersweet.  I was sad to say goodbye to the city that had stolen my heart, but excited for the adventures ahead.  We had one last Parisian breakfast, packed our suitcases and caught an Uber to Orly airport.  We arrived to discover that our flight was delayed... rookie move, we forgot to check the status prior to leaving the hotel.  As it turned out, Iceland had experienced a record breaking snowfall the night prior, and all flights were understandably late to depart Reykjavik. We spent 3 extra hours in the airport, stuffing ourselves with the last few bites of glorious pastries and perfect espresso. When it was finally time to board, we crammed onto buses to take us to the remote stand where the aircraft was parked.  I felt a tinge of nostalgia as we watched a Boeing 777 taxi to the runway.  International airports always make me long for just a few cabin crew days.
We finally boarded the aircraft and the flight over was quick and easy.  It is remarkably easy to fly without an infant on your lap.  As we began our descent, you could see the beautiful coastline and mountains. A thick layer of snow blanketed the entire island.

Upon collecting our baggage, we circled the arrivals area a few times, cluelessly trying to find our rental car company.  We eventually discovered that we needed to take a shuttle bus, and made our way out into the cold.  Though it was about 10 degrees warmer than back home, it felt extra cold after a week of mild weather in Paris.
Once we had our car we hit the road, bound for our first ever Air BnB accommodation. We didn't expect much of the room, and it is probably good that we kept our expectations low.  We arrived to find a basic room in a basement suite with a mattress and box spring on the floor. A photo of sheep stared at us from the wall, a random pair of glasses were left on the nightstand, and we couldn't find the washroom for the first 20 minutes.  But alas, it was a place to sleep.
We set out in search of dinner after a long day of airports and flying.  As we drove down the street we were stopped by what looked like a construction crew, but the man who came to our window informed us that we'd have to wait a moment as they were filming a movie.  We watched as a car drove down the street, and an actor got hit by what I'm assuming was a food truck.  The empty street filled with people as actors and extras suddenly came running from out of nowhere. A few seconds later we were sent on our way.
We found the restaurant area of the city and trekked through the snow looking for a restaurant. The temperature hovered around freezing and all of the snow was a slushy wet mess. I was thankful for my boots, and Ryan was wishing that he'd packed some.
We dined at Laundromat Cafe.  Upstairs was a busy restaurant and bar area, downstairs was a laundromat and a kids play area. Iceland is strange and wonderful. I had the meatballs, not quite ready to brave traditional Icelandic cuisine. We spent a small fortune, but the food was good! It may be grocery stores and drive thrus from here on out.
Back at our room we tried to quietly get ready for bed without waking the other guests... no easy feat with squeaky doors and small spaces. We managed to get a decent sleep in preparation for the next day and the adventures that it would bring.

Day 2:

Our true tourist experience began on day 2, as we ventured to the popular Golden Circle.  It is a loop of attractions not too far from Reykjavik, perfect for a day trip.  We were off to a slow start, as we found ourselves at a standstill on the road behind a long line of cars. We stayed there for awhile as powerful wind gusts threw snow at our car.  Apparently a few vehicles ahead were stuck in the deep snow. 
The police arrived and we were eventually on our way to our first stop... ├×ingvellir National Park. We walked between the continental drift, took many photos of the gorgeous snowy views, and hiked up an icy hill to a waterfall.  
Next on the Golden Circle was Geysir, which is just what it sounds like... a geyser.  It erupts every 5 or so minutes, surrounded by eager, selfie-taking tourists.  I loved seeing everyone stand in anticipation.  Every time it would so much as bubble, all of the photographers would quickly lift their cameras just in case.  We watched it erupt about 5 or 6 times before I finally convinced Ryan that we should continue on.  
Next on the itinerary was Gulfoss, a large waterfall.  We weren't completely mesmerized by it, but the strong winds and ice pellets hitting our face probably played a role. It was pretty, but we spend our summers in the Canadian Rockies so waterfalls have to try pretty hard to impress us these days. I'm sure that we'd feel different had we visited in summer.  
Last but certainly not least on our circle tour was the Keri├░ crater.  We arrived just as the sun was setting, which I'm sure made it even more spectacular than it would have already been.  The trail was steep and icy, but totally worth the effort.  We watched the sun set from the crater rim as the mountains surrounding us turned gorgeous shades of pink and orange. When we finally got back to the car, I could no longer feel my toes, but I was totally okay with it. Iceland had officially won me over and it was only our first day of exploring.  

Our day wasn't over yet.  Hungry from a day of eating nothing but skyr yogurt, we stopped at Ikea for a meal that wouldn't drain our bank account.  Once we were full we headed to the car to return to our room, but a glimpse of the aurora and we quickly set out in search of dark country roads in hopes of a beautiful northern lights show. The aurora did not disappoint, and we spent a good deal of time taking photos as it surrounded us no matter which direction we looked.  

It was tough to call it a night, but it had been a long day and we were exhausted, so it was back to our basement suite.  When we arrived, we found ourselves with 2 new house guests. We fell asleep to the sounds of them partying and playing music, and we were thankful that it was our last evening there.  

Day 3: 

On our third day, we drove from Reykavik to Akureyi, in northern Iceland.  It was a long day spent mostly in the car, but the views were gorgeous and we made several stops for photos, snacks, and washrooms.  We took a brief detour in search of a beach that promised to be home to seals, but it ended up being way further than anticipated, on worn out gravel roads along the side of a cliff.  We turned around and accepted defeat.  

We finally arrived in Akureyri and we were so excited to check into our hotel. It was nothing special compared to some of the places we've stayed, but it was amazing after our Air BnB adventure. We had our own bathroom, a cozy bed, and a view of the sea! 
We briefly explored the area, ate an expensive and mediocre diner meal, and then called it an early night. 

Day 4:  

I woke up to the smell of food and could barely contain my excitement for the free hotel breakfast. I was even more excited to discover a beautiful spread of pastries, meats, cheese, waffles, and coffee.. glorious coffee! I feasted, trying to eat enough to justify skipping lunch.  
When Ryan was finally able to drag me away from the buffet, we began our day with a drive to Lake Myvatn. Turns out, it was mostly frozen. We did see some gorgeous reflections in the water that were worthy of a photo stop. We walked through the Dimmuborgir lava fields and made the decision to hike to the top of the Hverfjall crater. It was a steep, but quick hike up. We spent a good amount of time at the top admiring the views before finally descending and continuing on with our day.

It was late afternoon and we didn't know where to head next, so we made the impromptu decision to drive to the village of Husavik. It was a great decision.  
We stumbled upon a picturesque black sand beach, and a long walk along the shore led us to a trail up the side of a cliff, where we discovered the most incredible views just in time for a perfect sunset.  We were both in awe, and despite taking dozens of photos, nothing could justify the beauty of seeing it in person.  By the time that we got back to the car, 2 hours later, we were absolutely freezing but thrilled with our day.  

We dined at the only restaurant in Husavik that was open. It was expensive, but delicious. We ate lobster soup and shared a seafood pizza and by the time that we were finished eating my toes were finally warm again.  We went back to the hotel, climbed into our cozy bed, and fell asleep after another perfect day in Iceland.

Day 5: 

Today was day 5! After another huge hotel breakfast, we hit the road with our destination still unknown.  Ryan had his heart set on taking the longer, more scenic route that involved many kilometres of driving through long tunnels.  It would add a substantial amount of driving, but we had no timeline.  We drove through the tunnels along stunning cliff sides, and it was worth the detour.  
We eventually ended up at a cute hotel at the base of Eyjafjalla, the volcano that erupted in 2010.  We opted for the hotel buffet and it was a delicious meal that I ate far too much of.  When we asked about drinks, the chef told us that he didn't know how to make cocktails and that the bartender wasn't working this evening.  He told Ryan that he was more than welcome to hop behind the bar and make the drinks himself, so he did just that. He served us up some delicious long island iced teas.  
Now we are back in the hotel room, brainstorming about where tomorrow will take us.  One thing is for certain, we just keep falling more in love with Iceland and can't wait to see more of it! 

To be continued!

A Week in Paris

Feb 26, 2017

Bonjour from Paris Orly airport!  We are sitting here waiting for our delayed departure after a glorious week of eating, walking, and being tourists.  Perhaps the biggest thing to note is that I am currently sipping a cafe au lait in Europe while my daughters are asleep in Canada.  Though I desperately miss my sweet babies, I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to take a vacation with my husband in celebration of 5 years of marriage.  It's been a week since I've changed a diaper, had my meals interrupted, or tried to reason with a 1 year old.  Gosh, I miss them.  
This was neither mine nor Ryan's first trip to Paris, but it was our first time visiting the city of love together, and it was my first time traveling for a vacation as opposed to work.  

The primary focus of our week was to eat, and eat we did.  We ate beautiful macarons at Laduree and Pierre Herme, sipped dozens of lattes in cute cafes, ate crepes beside the Eiffel Tower, strolled the streets with baguettes in hand, devoured our body weight in crossaints, and even had a taste of France's fine dining.  

Each morning began with breakfast... petite dejuener.  The typical French breakfast is fresh squeezed orange juice, bread with jam and butter, a fresh crossiant, and coffee.  It was always good, and my favourite part of the day. We may now need to purchase a juicer for our kitchen counter.   

On the first day of our trip we learnt the art of baking our own croissants. It's unbelievable how much work goes into each batch, and I'm not confident that we'll be able to successfully replicate the recipe at home.  It was fun to learn though, and the fresh from the oven crossaints were amazing.  

A daily trip to the Eiffel Tower was a must. I'll never tire of the gorgeous landmark, particularily at night when the lights twinkle on the hour every hour.  
Our only escape from the city was to act like children at Paris Disneyland. It was my first non-pregnant Disney trip since pre-married life, so I was thrilled to ride the rollercoasters and fast rides.  It was a cold and windy day and I felt guilty for being there sans children, but we had a ton of fun and Ryan was excited to finally have someone to ride the rides with.  

One of the other highlights of our trip was lunch at the Montparnesse Tower. On the 56th floor is the Ciel de Paris restaurant, where we enjoyed incredible views of the city and the Eiffel Tower.  We sat there until they not so sublty started dropping hints that it was time for us to leave.  

The week went by quickly, and before we knew it, it was time to pack our bags and say bon voyage.  We ate 3 more crossaints and bought another box of macarons for good measure.  Though more adventures await, it is always sad to leave Paris. I am thankful for a great week with my love, and the fact that my pants are now much tighter than they were a week ago means that our trip was a success. 
Bon voyage, Paris, until we meet again.

moving on.

Jan 18, 2017

Tonight we go to bed for the very last time in our very first house. As someone who grew up moving from house to house and then spent the first half of my twenties living out of a suitcase, I'm not one to typcially get attached to any of my residences.  But this house... it's different. Though I have no doubt that we'll make incredible memories in our brand new home, nothing will ever come close to the ones that we've made here.  
Every little piece of this house has a memory to go with it.  
For instance... the front door. The door that we walked into the first time we saw this house. The door that we walked into as first time home owners, living together for the first time. Walking through OUR front door was a dream come true following a lengthy long distance relationship. 

The island. That beautiful granite counter top. The island where I sat, hand addressing our wedding invitations. The island that I spent many hours at, typing up blog posts and editing photos.   The island with the most perfect reflections for photos.  

The mudroom, where I envisioned my future puppy living.  The mudroom where he slept when we brought him home, and where he has eaten his kibble ever since.
The master bedroom. The bedroom where we hid from the world on lazy Sunday mornings.  The bedroom where I walked to Ryan clutching a positive pregnancy test.  
The guest room.  The guest room that we jam packed with aviation decor, where friends slept when they were visiting from overseas or when they were too tired to drive home.  The guest room that became a travel-themed nursery, that became a little girl's beloved bedroom.

The office. The office that housed all of our important files and Ryan's computer.  The office that Ryan was evicted from to make room for our second baby. The office where I cuddled our sweet little sleep-hating baby in the wee hours of the morning.  

The kitchen. The kitchen where I ruined many meals and had a few successes. The kitchen where I learnt to bake and meticulously decorated for my children's birthday parties. 

This house. This house that will always be our very first home, despite the fact that we've outgrown it. This house that we moved into as a young engaged couple, and that we will move out of as a family of 5. (The dog, I'm counting the dog.)

It makes me happy to think that some time soon someone new will occupy this house and make their very own memories here.  Meanwhile, we'll be busy watching our girls learn and grow in our new home.  
Goodbye house. Thank you for the hospitality over the past 5 years! 

Hello, 2017!

Jan 17, 2017

Oh my goodness, where does the time go?  We are 2 weeks into 2017 and it has been a crazy busy year thus far.  So much has happened since my last post, and I have had so little time to fill you all in... so here's a bit of a catch-up.

Christmas! Christmas came and went and it was wonderful as per usual.
December with a 3 year old was so much fun.  This year, Aaralee made her own gingerbread house, helped bake and decorate cookies for Santa, helped decorate the tree, and melted my heart as she sang in her first ever Christmas concert.  Briley of course thoroughly enjoyed the holiday season as well, but is still a bit too young to really grasp anything that's going on. The girls were graciously showered with gifts and treats but the contents didn't excite them half as much as the actual process of gift opening.  I wasn't joking when I said they'd be happy to receive empty boxes.

Ryan and I are pretty excited about our Christmas gift... we'll open it later this week.  We bought a new home! We've made so many memories in our current home, but since adding 2 kids we've longed for more space. I can't wait to finally be finished packing and to be moved into our brand new house.   

We rang in 2017 on a beautiful beach in Mexico. It was the best trip that we've been on since having kids.  Aaralee had so much fun splashing and playing in the pool and I was blown away at how brave she has gotten since our last trip.  Briley loved running around the resort, chasing the coatis and napping on me as we floated around in our donut pool float.  After months of Ryan working out of town, it was the perfect week away as a family that we needed. 

Our camera (okay, Ryan's camera that I have adopted as my own) decided to stop working on that trip, which was rather disappointing.  Not only because it meant going half of the vacation with only phone photos, but it also meant that I'd be without the camera at home. As of recently I've been trying to take more photos of other people, aside from my children.  After a busy December of taking Christmas photos, I felt like I was just getting into the swing of things. Fortunately, I still have my own camera, and though it's less fancy, it still does the trick! I have a Facebook page now, should you feel so inclined to contribute to the "Camera repair" fund. 

That's pretty much all that I've got for updates and I believe that I've now procrastinated packing long enough. I can't wait to show you our new home and tell you all about the adventures we have planned over the next few months! 
Wish me luck, as it appears that I'll be without internet for the first few weeks and I'm not sure that I'm capable of quitting cold turkey.