when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention


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The gift of transient friendships

As a little child, I understood that friendship should be a permanent thing. We are friends now and forever shall be.

Into my teens, best friends came in and out of my life. That process of redefining the place of friends in my life has shaped how I view friendship now as an adult.

I know many people who have their life-long friends whom they have been close with since the beginning. I always longed for that but the continuous eb and flow of who was/were my best friends has predominated. It’s not to say that I don’t still stay in touch with some long-time friends but the season of close comradery has since passed.

I once considered this a shortcoming; I now see it as a gift.

I am a very open person – it doesn’t take years for friends to see me for who I am at the core of my being: faults, ticks and quirks. I embrace diversity in the people whom I draw close. For that reason, ‘best friends’ is a relative term. My best friend two years ago is not the same one from five years ago. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to invest time into building a bond with many different people, even though there eventually comes a day, a chapter of life where paths diverge and even goodbyes are said.

Living where I do, in a small coastal community, I have already said goodbye (not always in a permanent sense) to several dear friends who have moved away.

Very soon, I will again say goodbye again to two very beautiful women in my life as they move also.  I honestly don’t know when I will see them next as they are moving a good distance away. I wish they could stay near – that our children could grow up together, that our friendships would deepen and we would build a history and the ease that long-time friendship provides.

At the same time, I feel so richly blessed to have had these woman in my life these past three years. They have encouraged and inspired me as a parent, as a partner to my husband and as a woman in a world of people needing love at every turn. I can honestly say that their friendship has left a permanent imprint on the woman I am continuing to grow and be.

It brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat to think about the day that I won’t be able to text or call to invite them over or make plans. But I know that if I had my go-to, long-time established “besties,” I might not have had the time or need to open my heart and benefit from the time spent sharing the daily routines, challenges, philosophies, joys, and ironies of our days.

The world is brimming with so many beautiful souls – I am a happier person for every one who has imparted to me their best. As the door opens wide for new friendships, I carry along the long lasting impressions of women who have touched my life.

brothers, friendship, always, love, together

 


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When life got real

I have been grappling with some major writer’s block for basically a year now. I have so many thoughts and ideas for things I want to express through writing but when I actually have a moment (this moment is currently accompanied by my kids digging their feet into me on the couch and begging for a show), it’s like I can’t gather the pieces of my brain that are scattered all over my house.

Writers, you understand the frustration of writer’s block. I need to somehow get my words back. So I think I will just ramble, talk a bit about my past year. Not because there are wondrous tales to tell. Rather, it is an ongoing story of how life got real for us.

I feel like I became an adult this past year. We’ve had it pretty good – we still do. But if I could sum up this past year in one word it would be adversity. We have moved three times since last December. Throughout this time, I was pregnant, dealing with two separate flu bugs, an ongoing cold virus that had me bed ridden at times and bronchitis coupled with asthma that landed me in the emergency room struggling to breathe properly. At one point, we were even homeless for two weeks as we searched for a place to move into back up on the coast. After having Bronwyn, I struggled with Postpartum Depression which pulled me down to a darkness I have never known. It didn’t help that Bronwyn was “colicky” for the first six weeks of her life.

It’s no wonder, I suppose, that I feel like my brain is a smashed egg much like this picture that my friend Elyse shared with me.

brain fried, being adult, parent, small children

I do not care to repeat this past year. But I will take away some hard earned lessons from it.

Humility: We have been helped, cared for and given to again and again by dear friends. Accepting meals that you know your friends took time and love to prepare for their own families as they now offer to you – Humbling. Accepting help caring for your kids because you are so tired and sick and have never felt closer to death – Humbling. Accepting the shoulder to cry on and the ear to listen over and over as you struggle to make sense of the chaos in your life – Humbling.

Grace: Because you never truly know what others are dealing with – so be kind. Refrain from judgement and negative comments. I have wondered how many times have people become annoyed with my tardiness in getting back to them, thanking them, being that driver they honk their horn at on the road.

Relying on God: It’s just so not in my control. I can tell myself that I just need to think positively and find my inner peace, but I know that I do not have myself to thank for getting through this past year. Yes, I marched limped on but when I was loathing myself in the midst of my depression, I was reminded that the Creator still smiles and loves over me. When I was sick, I was provided for. I call that the Spirit impressing on people’s hearts to give as He gives. In acknowledging this higher power, my heart overflows with gratitude and assurance that myself and my family will not be left alone. If I all I have is myself to rely on, I am subject to my many shortcomings.

Gratitude: Because life is beautiful and that much more when health abounds and home exists.

coastal living, simple pleasures, childhood

Because pregnancy got better in the third trimester

feeling better, summer baby

Because this dad and this son light up my life every day

sunshine, warmth, swimming, lake

Along with this little one

summer sweetness, blue eyes, my oliver

Hey there’s a helmet riding a tricycle!

motorcycle helmut on toddler

And of course for this beauty!

20151013_135324

 

little girl, beauty, sweetness, God has answered

And just to keep things exciting…outside our front door!

fig tree muncher, pre hibernation, neighbourhood bear

 

 


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Surprise wedding inspiration

Have you ever been to a surprise wedding?

You read correctly.

It was advertised as an engagement party but the happy couple announced about an hour into the party that they were in fact getting married that day!

Weddings make for great photos so this post is just to share some of those and lend some inspiration if you are planning a wedding.

 

wedding, kilt, dressed up, surprise day

Any opportunity for my husband to wear his kilt is readily taken!

 

 

delicious food

caramel, sweet n salty, chedder, jalapeno cheeder, regular

wedding

wedding ceremony, little guy, big guy, heads

 

spontaneous couple

 

having a blast, social guy, loving the atmosphere

beautiful women, all moms

Me with two beautiful women I love and admire, Les (mother of the groom) and my mother-in-law, Barb.

zebra, simplicity, symbolism

Zebras were a simple yet complimentary theme.

long day, wedding crasher

And this boy was partied out by the end.

What is the most interesting/fun/unique type of wedding you have been to??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Not so religious

It would seem I am not one of those “religious” people according to a friend of mine.

I didn’t know if it was a good thing or not that I am not seen as religious.

On the one hand, I don’t feel inhibited or shy about sharing what I believe, but apparently I don’t do so enough for others to realize it’s a big part of my life.

I have been trying to figure this out. There was a time that I had all the “Christianese” words, blessings and scripture verses to offer up. But honestly, back then, it was more for the sake of keeping with the Christian community and looking, talking, acting the part despite really having a naive understanding and relationship with Jesus Christ. Somewhere along the line, I realized that all my religion had really limited my view that faith belonged to “wholesome” individuals. Those who didn’t swear, didn’t struggle with addictions, spoke graciously (at least in public), wore modest clothing, etc. Albeit, these are all honourable and characteristics that can display what is in a person’s heart. But how many people have I known, have you known, who have said and done all the right things and lacked the most important thing of all? Genuine love.

This realization shifted my focus from trying to appear devout to simply accepting that nothing I do changes anything about what Christ has done for me.  I wanted to associate myself with being free in Christ, not bound by religion’s expectations. Religion was something that had earned some black stripes in the ugly history of the church. In the past, religious people have legitimized holy wars, slavery, witch burnings and so on. There are religious people who say they love Jesus and Jesus loves you and then ignore the hungry panhandler on the street. For all the good that has been done in the name of religion, there has been a substantial amount to devalue the true definition of the word.

We who follow Jesus call ourselves Christians. We come from all walks of life, not just the kind that grew-up in the church with a virtuous family life. There are those who have lived a harsh life on the streets, fighting, stealing, numbing their pain with a needle and those from broken, not so very virtuous families. Old habits die hard – it might be hard to tell that these people having a living faith because their faces show the harshness that the years have inflicted. Or on a tamer note, maybe they just aren’t virtuous people by nature and that is a constant battle with which they grapple. What does religion mean to these people? The societal view of religion seems to only stand as a barrier between the real Jesus and those who don’t know him.

Could I stand to be more of a evangelist? Sure. What I don’t want to do is put a wall up between me and those who don’t fit into my virtuous Christian bubble because I’m “religious.”

Those are some thoughts I have, but it’s a huge topic with a range of perspectives and determining life experiences. In any case, I am thankful to my friend for unintentionally challenging me to think about what how I might not be religious enough. 😉

contemplative, religion, faith, Jesus, society, bad rep


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Supporting the families of today and the leaders of tomorrow

I am increasingly looking for more ways to shop local and support small business. Living in a small coastal community, I see first hand how much of an impact on the economy it has when business is taken off the coast. It’s the difference between being able to live in a slower paced society free from rush hour traffic and congestion; attention grabbing signs enticing you to spend more money and not having to move to “the city” as us small town people call Vancouver and its neighbouring cities. It’s the difference between the coast being able to sustain families and young people and not just those with money.

5 reasons to shop small and local

  1. Money spent at local business goes back into our economy and promotes economic growth and stability (not a news flash but a good reminder).
  2. Small business often provide better service and are well educated on the product/s and services they offer leaving you the customer less likely to feel ripped off or like you bought something you didn’t need or even really want.
  3. Reduce environmental impact with less time used in transportation of goods and services.
  4. Decrease unemployment and create more jobs
  5. More diversification in products offered to cater to the individual needs and not corporate marketing plan.

 

It’s not always feasible but I believe that if we all make an effort whenever possible to shop local and purchase our produce from the local fruit stand or shop and take our vehicles to a local mechanic as opposed to a well known chain, we would see growth and prosperity within our communities and country as a whole.

Since starting my own business, I have grown a new appreciation for supporting fellow self-employed folks, especially young families and moms like myself who have little ones not yet in school. I would like to introduce you to a few small business (local within a hundred mile radius of Vancouver, B.C.) to provide some inspiration and ideas for how many various options there are in getting the products and services you require.

 

Happy shopping and keep it local!

support small business, economic growth and prosperity, communities, people, neighbours helping neighbours

 


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The highlight reel

I’ve been blogging at When we were young… for about eight months now.

I want to express my appreciation for everyone who has followed via email, or like when we were young… on Facebook. It means so much because in this space, I can connect, learn and build on dreams because of you – the reader. Because you read, comment, and “like” on Facebook, I am motivated to expand my world beyond the walls of my home and duties of motherhood that keep my mind so preoccupied that I often forget how to be me.

And on that note, I want to share a little bit with you about who I am.

What era was I born? The 80s, 26 years into a large family that grew larger (eight kids in total).

What type of kid was I? The talkative one

cutsie, chubby, little, sisters, bonded

Edjucated? Joking, despite barely passing my Grade 12 English provincial exam, I graduated from university with a degree in journalism. Seriously, Grade 12 English, you suck.

Been here or there? I lived abroad in Vienna, Austria for five months and traveled to 11 European countries before settling down. I would go back to Ireland in a heartbeat – something in the Irish blood calls me to the land of my heritage.

Ireland, cliffs of moher, beauty, heritage, love

Let’s hear it for love! Seven years ago, a quirky dude took me swing dancing and we got hitched a year and a half later.

winter wedding, young love, pre-kids

There’s no place like home… My husband and I moved to a small island called Pender just a few months after we got hitched. There, we lived a rich life of being part of small community that included but was not limited to: acting in a play, teaching swing dancing and running a plumbing business.

swing dancing, talent show, pender island, legendary

small town cafe, hope bay, new family of three, happy days, pender island

Life changing events: My husband and I conceived a little girl in 2010 and I carried her for over 32 weeks when she arrived stillborn. Seven weeks after loosing her, Shae was conceived and then born the following January. His brother Oliver followed 16 months later. It has been a long haul, needless to say.

pregant on pender, big love, big heartache, hopeful

A piece of clothing that describes me: Jasmine pants

harem pants, jasmine pants, comfy, stylin, best wear

A song that always makes me happy: “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

If you have been reading this blog and would like to keep reading, be sure to find When we were young on Facebook and “Like”!

 

To my fellow bloggers, I am enjoying getting to know you and hope you feel better acquainted with me now!

 

 

 

 

 


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A month as a vegan

It’s time to break down how going vegan for a month went!

Was it hard to give up meat?

No, it really wasn’t but I have never been a huge carnivore anyways. Besides, there are so many great alternatives by which you can get more than enough protein. Lentils, chickpeas and beans have become staples in my house now.

Was it hard to give up dairy?

It was a bit trickier than going without meat but after the first week, I didn’t really notice much until I was out in the city for a day. More to come on that below.

What was the most valuable thing I learned?

Awareness – firstly, it turns out there is an unwarranted amount of emphasis on the body’s need for protein. Check out this article. All of your body’s demands are easily met by incorporating foods such as lentils, beans and quinoa into your diet. I actually gained a pound during this month! The other valuable thing I have taken from this “crash” diet so to speak, is how enriched my diet has become because I was became more conscious of what I was/am consuming. It has opened up a whole new world of cooking and using ingredients I hardly used before. I have always equated milk and butter with deliciousness that cannot be had in their absence. I was wrong. I made the most delicious vegan Black Bean Brownies I have ever had! I have made enchiladas, pancakes, creamy pasta, chickpea burgers, coconut curry and more!

vegan meal, delicious, protein in every bite

What was the most challenging part of eating vegan?

Being out. I live a ferry ride away from Vancouver and there were a couple occasions in that month when I was over there for the day or longer running errands and what not. Never have I been so inadvertently  aware of how our restaurant industry relies heavily on meat and dairy. Even many veggie burgers come with mayonnaise and cheese. Choices become limited to salads which just don’t cut it.

restaurant menu, meat diary extravaganza, little vegetarian, no vegan

Courtesy of loonspub.com

Did I cheat?

One word, bread. I used to make my own with my bread maker until I lost the paddle. I didn’t just want to get whatever naan or flat bread was available since a lot of times, it’s mainly just water and flour. So there was my cheat. To go all out vegan is a learned skill I think. Doesn’t help that I have two often picky eaters. I am happy to get them eat anything besides yogurt and fruit (we decided not to enforce a strictly vegan diet, you parents who have picky eaters can understand this!).

So now the question is….am I vegan?

I haven’t actually bought meat yet. I have had some dairy but each time I have, either my stomach has protested or my skin has broken out in itchy, stinging patches. I plan to continue to avoid it. As for meat, as I said, we haven’t bought any yet but we are not opposed to indulging all together. We came to this conclusion about our “vegan-ness” – we aren’t making a religion out of it where we have to pay penance if we consume anything non-vegan. It’s more about having far less meat and dairy than we used to and considering where it comes from when we do buy it. A big part of this experiment for us was the ethical treatment of animals in the food production industry not to mention the environmental impact. One thing we currently do is only buy our eggs from some happy hens coop down the road. They taste delicious!

I guess you could say we model a vegan diet.

Going vegan for a month was a super educational and all around great experience. I  highly recommend it! To learn a bit more on why going vegan is not such an odd idea, click here to read my informative post.

peace, inspiration, eat well, live well, love life, live responsibly, good stewards


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How tossing our microwave saved me more time

We sold our microwave at a garage sale about six months ago and haven’t missed it since.

It was a bit hard to let go at first – in fact we put it out in the shed only to bring it back after some time. I mean, when little hungry mouths are demanding food NOW, it’s nice to settle the noise within one minute by throwing some leftovers into the microwave. And what about quick thawing things? It takes hours to thaw frozen meat otherwise.

The thing is, I don’t think twice about pouring my coffee into a pot and warming it up on the stove no more than I wait anxiously for leftover dinner to warm up in the toaster oven. I plan for it to take a bit longer – if I know I want to have lunch on the table by noon, I throw the spaghetti into the toaster oven fifteen minutes before and use the time between washing up the boys and getting them seated (Yeah, it takes that long sometimes!).

Why I don’t miss it.

So much of our lives is spent rushing – rushing out the door, rushing through the grocery store, rushing through checking emails, rushing to appointments, rushing through meals… We squeeze more than is often healthy into every possible minute of our day. We can do it all because we have amenities like microwaves, smartphones, cars, internet, prepared food. We also have increasing rates of heart disease, numerous nervous system disorders, and cancers.

Not having a microwave has been one step towards a less chaotic household because it forces me to plan ahead more and leave ample time for tasks to be done rather than packing in as much as I can leading up to chow time.

basket fun, silly boys, photo op

Also, not having a microwave kinda forces you to actually cook food instead of buying ready to go stuff that is loaded with salt, preservatives and other stuff your body has to work overtime to digest and metabolize. Not saving time there you might think. But what is your understanding of time? Is time something to be used up entirely with all the items on our “to do” lists, or is it spending moments to teach our kids how to eat and live well? I have more of the later because of not owning a microwave.

More reasons to toss?

Microwaves as a health risk is a moot point. As with anything, one can only draw a conclusion based on the information available. So here are some points for what is known and on the flip side, what isn’t.

  • The energy emitted from microwaves reverses the polarity of the atoms and molecules millions of times a second unlike anything else in nature. Microwaves change the molecular structure of food, damaging the cells.
  • We all know not to heat our baby’s milk in the microwave because it heats it up unevenly and causes “hot spots.” What you may not know is that it also it was found to convert certain amino acids into poisonous neurotoxins.
  • A Swiss scientist, Dr. Hans Ulrich Hertel, conducted tests on the blood of individuals after consuming food from microwaves and his findings concluded deterioration in the human body. He was thereafter fired from his job for questioning the integrity of microwaving food.
  • Blood levels tested in people after consuming microwaved food showed decreased hemoglobin levels while white blood cell production increased.
  • Microwaves were banned by in the Soviet Union in 1971. They issued an international warning on the potential health hazards after intensive and thorough research.
  • Other European countries have also taken a cautionary stance to microwaves based on their own scientific evaluations.
  • In the states, there have been no specifically tailored studies conducted by universities nor the government on the effects of microwaved food and the human body.
  • The FDA admittedly states that there are many questions on the effects of radiation on the human system and yet health claims for them are widespread as is their use.


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Awards await

Blog awards are something I have wondered about from time to time: how does one get nominated for an award? Do you have to apply? Do you have to know somebody prestigious in the cyber world? How do you qualify for a given award?

Well thanks to Rebekah who blogs over at Surviving Toddlerhood, I now have a better understanding since she nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.

 

blogging award, badge of honour, a means of connecting with more bloggers

 

Nominees of this award are chosen based on quality of their writing, photography as well as any other defining blogging features. To be perfectly honest though, I think this award, more than anything is to promote other bloggers’ and expand each others’ networking potential. So it is with gratitude and honour that I accept this nomination and thank my nominator, Rebekah for thinking of my blog!

In turn, I pass the baton on to 13 bloggers whom I enjoy following and ask that they follow these three simple rules should they choose to accept.

i. Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their site.
ii. Tell seven random facts about yourself.
iii. Pay it forward to 13 versatile bloggers.

And now for the hard part, entertaining you with seven random facts about myself…

  1. I used to pose nude for a live art class.
  2. I speak conversational German (in other words, I am not fluent but can make friends with you if you speak the mother tongue of Deutschland).
  3. I lived in Austria for five months (hence random fact # 2).
  4. I plan, with my husband, to build a cob house within the next couple of years.
  5. I have had two VBACs (vaginal birth after caesarean).
  6. I lived on a little island with a population of 2,500 people for three-and-a-half years.
  7. I led a swing dance class with my husband for a year back in 2010.

And now onto my nominations for the Versatile Blogger award!

  1. As A Bee. This blog written by a dear friend who chronicles her journey of living on a boat, having a baby born with a heart defect and her life as a doula in addition to sharing snippets of her life living on a small island.
  2. Live Simple Anastasia blogs about her endeavour to live more simple and the ways she is changing her lifestyle to meet those goals.
  3. ohmydearloves Written by Stefani, mother to twin boys. She writes about her journey of motherhood as well as sharing her artistic flair and creations.
  4. monicaswitzer.com Monica writes encouraging Christ centered posts that derive from her own encounters being a mother of two and wife to a youth pastor.
  5. This Above All A bit of social commentary, a bit of education, a bit of health and beauty, really just a bit of almost everything!
  6. Soley Focused is written about Carmen’s life as a mom, wife to an army man and covers everything from health, good eats to devotions and prayer.
  7. Becoming SuperMommy doesn’t shy away from writing less than warm and fuzzy topics which is probably why I like her blog! She writes with strength and courage to support mothers everywhere.
  8. The little ways in everyday life Frances writes from Singapore about her journey in motherhood.
  9. Wordy Gertie This mom likes to discuss the many directions relevance takes in motherhood via politics, religion, kids and any other topics the tweak her interest.
  10. Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play is a mommy blog out of Vancouver, B.C. and gives lots of ideas about fun activities going on in the city as well as reflections on parenting and some of her favourite recipes.
  11. Eating Well…Living Thin(er!) The title says it all – Linda shares some fabulous recipes to keep wholesome eating to your table!
  12. Natural Baby and Me Another foodie blog with a lean on gluten-free cooking and baking.
  13. Dreamer of Improbable Dreams Honest thoughts, reflections and realizations from a young mom of two boys.

 

I hope you find some time to check out these blogs and be enriched because of them!

 


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The ways March isn’t mad

A week of action in my household involves tackling projects that have been sitting by the wayside or in a tremendous heap in the garage.

It literally drives me around the bend to see boxes of clothing intended for donation or a garage that makes me cringe every time I open the door (and quickly shut when I’m done there). It’s like a corner of my soul has been deflating with the passing weeks and months.

But there’s nothing like an ultimatum to get your butt into gear. In our case: well it looks like we’re going to start up the business again or else move.

This year has been fairly uncertain in every aspect. So, why not cover all our bases and make like we’re opening a business AND moving?

Boxes gone.

Garage organized.

Heart inflating.

Cleaning garage

You kind of feel like you’ve completed some type of marathon at the end of it because don’t forget, this all happened with the unrelenting demands of these two lovelies.

snacks, hangin, sunshine, brothers

So now that that’s out of the way, we’re not even going to be around to enjoy the organization and de-cluttered space. We are on day one of 12 days at Jesse’s parents’ place while they are in Mexico.

I’m both excited and nervous about being in the city and away from home for so long. I think I probably having a harder time being away home than the boys. There, the boys have their park which we could basically see if a couple houses and a school weren’t in the way.

conquering the ladder, growing up, proud of my boy Conquered, big boy, on to the next challengediscovery, little fingers, playtime

Shae’s latest achievement at the park is climbing this ladder all by himself. He doesn’t get tired of the slide or his new found joy in “de jump!” as he says when he jumps off a small boulder or step. He speaks in full sentences now and narrates every part of his day whether it be “I did a sleep” after he has woken up from nap or “Shae did a bump” when he hurts himself. Here are some other honourable mentions:

“Offa the bed, Daddy.”

“Shae have yogurt? Yep.” He answers most of his own questions.

“Kiss the Shae.”

“Olivaah, no touch.”

“Bye, fweinds.”

These are exciting days watching our baby grow into a little boy. It’s the kind of excitement that comes with a lump in the throat at times.

Oliver is also rising to the spotlight. He started crawling at eight months but only if absolutely necessary. Now, he pulls himself up on anything he can grab hold. And like his brother, he is eager to communicate with the most adorable babble baby and the occasional “dada.” Much to my delight, I have discovered that Daddy has a certain power. Where Oliver will fuss at times with me because he just wants to nurse even though he’s already sucked my milk bags dry, he calms right down with his Dad. And when I say calm, I mean sleep!

daddy power, sleeping baby, happy mama

So that’s a recap. Life at home.

So far for our stay here in the city, the most photo worthy moment is brought to you by Nanny’s knobs.

thinks it's something to suck on Oliver loves knobs