2017, you were good.

Dec 31, 2017

New Year's Eve, again?  
These days just seem to come quicker and quicker each year.  I've been on a long hiatus from this blog, but the final day of 2017 seems like a good time to reflect upon the past 12 months.  
What a year it was! As per usual, we crammed a whole bunch of fun into these months. We went on new adventures, we met new friends, we grew older. 
We started 2017 on the beach in Mexico... how I wish that were the case this year as well.  It was the best trip we've been on as a family of 4. 
Also in January, we moved into our brand new home! We were so happy to have so much space and to finally feel as though we weren't drowning in toys.  We still have way too much stuff, but that's a mission for 2018.  Later in the year, some of our best friends became our neighbours, so I think we'll stay here forever. 

In February, I reluctanly left my kids for an adults only trip with Ryan. We spent 2 weeks overeating, exploring, and sleeping in in Paris and Iceland.  It was incredible, despite how much I missed my girls.  

We spent almost a week in the mountains celebrating our anniversary and Easter. We chased bunnies in Canmore, and enjoyed an all expenses paid trip to Jasper, thanks to a contest that I'd won.

In May, we went on a road trip to Victoria with some of my extended family. It was a week of sunshine, hiking, and dreaming of living closer to the ocean.  I swore I'd never drive that far with the kids again... at least until August. 

In June, Briley turned 2, I turned 31, and Niko turned 5!  Briley's birthday was of course the highlight, and we had a blast at her Two-tti Frutti celebration.

July was spent outside, as it should be. We camped, had picnics, attended Ryan's family reunion, went to the fair, and spent our afternoons at the spray park.  Aaralee mastered riding a scooter, and refused to try her bike.  

August was a whirlwind. My mom, the girls and I were back on the road, this time Vancouver bound. I ran my very first half marathon! It felt amazing to accomplish a goal I'd worked towards for so many months.  We spent a few more days in the Okanagan and then ventured home, where the month was finished off with more camping, fun days at the U-Pick farm, and above all else, being outdoors. 

My big girl Aaralee turned 4 in September! We had her dream party... princess, pink, unicorn themed.  Just 2 days later, she began her second year of preschool. We made the most of the warm autumn evenings, and got back into a life of routine. 

October brought beautiful weather and a sudden flurry of fall photo sessions. I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden my little hobby job turned into an actual business, and I was constantly busy. It took of a bit of adjusting to life as a stay at home mom with a job, but we made it work and still managed to have some fun along the way.

We snuck in another mountain trip in November, and finished off the month with our annual trip to the tree farm.

December has been all Christmas, all of the time. We had parties, baked cookies, took photos, decorated the house from top to bottom, and watched Aaralee sing at her Christmas concert. It was a wonderful month, filled with family and cozy days indoors.  

I look forward to seeing what is to come in 2018. We have so many exciting plans in the upcoming months, and I can't wait to take another journey around the sun with this crazy, awesome family of mine.  Happy New Year, everyone!

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.