Rushing River // 2017

We just got home from our annual Rushing River camping trip. The first year we camped there was just a few weeks before Seth was born, and we’ve camped there every summer since, besides a couple when we were overwhelmed with babies who refused to sleep. For the last eight years we haven’t missed a summer, and we’ve camped at the very same site. It holds a truly special place in our hearts, and it feels like our home away from home, really. It’s a beautiful spot where you’re truly secluded from the other campsites, and you’re right on the water. You can’t see or hear anyone else. The only downside is that the bathrooms are FAR away- at the very least a long walk or a short drive. Everyone’s pretty used to peeing in the bush (and Ivy sure doesn’t mind taking a poop in there too) but we still end up driving to the bathroom at least a couple of times a day. We don’t mind though! And so far no one’s pooped their pants….;)


Over the last few years we’ve added a night to our trip every year, and this year we stayed for our longest time ever, five nights.  And we had just the greatest time. We almost tried to extend our trip a night, but we have a lot coming up in the next few days so decided not to. The weather was just absolutely perfect except for yesterday when it rained all morning, and then again in the evening, but even that was fine. 


We did all of our favorite hikes, of course. This was also the first year in a long time that we brought Dotty, and she was so so good. She even taught herself to swim while we were there. And oh she was so so close to catching that squirrel! It just taunted her all week, to all of our amusement.


We had a tonne of fun on the paddleboards again this year too. Seth spends so much time on the paddleboard- he just loves it. The rest of us all took turns paddling around together too. Oliver and I went on a long paddle and stopped to explore along the way. Poor guy didn’t quite make it up the rock face and fell right into the water but I scooped him up and he recovered just fine. Oliver spent so much time wandering around on his own, especially on his favorite island. We can see the island from the beach and he just hung out on there while everyone else swam and played. We dropped a snack off for him a couple times and he was perfectly content.

Ben and Ivy were the only ones brave enough to jump off of the dock and they did over and over again. Ben really probably had the best time of any of the kids this week. One day he said, more than once, that he was having the best day of his life and that he was just so happy. What more could a mom ask for? I just love it. 

This was the first summer Neil and the kids got in the water near the rapids and floated down river a bit. Ivy is seriously so brave, I just love her for it. And Ben too- he used to be afraid of almost everything and now he’s just up for anything- I’m just amazed at him, and so very proud.


We’re already dreaming about next year’s camping trip. Every year gets better and better as the kids get bigger and we can do more and more things (and as they can do more and more things on their own!). 

Rushing River, we’ll keep setting our alarms five months in advance to book our favorite site, just so we can spend a few days with you. We love you THAT much. 

Also, it has to be said that I’m becoming a wizard with a cast iron pan over an open fire. This year’s smashing success was donuts. Oh my goodness were they ever good. Definitely going onto our regular camping menu rotation (as well as onto my hips.) The kids also loved the oatmeal I made for breakfast- I made it with peaches one morning and with apples and  cinnamon another. So yummy! We cooked every single hot meal this week in that pan and they were all delicious. But the donuts were definitely my favourite. 🙂

Till next summer, Rushing River. Peace out.

On not marrying close relatives.

While driving home from Winnipeg today Oliver started singing in the back seat. His song went like this,

“I’m gonna grow up and have weird babies!…..

Because I’m gonna marry my cousin!”

I laughed so hard, obviously.


I know I barely blog anymore- I’ll blame it on Instagram- but this just had to be documented.

I wish he’d never grow up because the things he says are just constant hilarity right now. Although I might be safe to assume that the hilarity will just get better and better as he gets older. I’ll just have to wait and see I guess! For now I’ll just keep listening and laughing! 

Sitting here in my favorite spot on the couch drinking coffee, watching Ivy draw at the table, and I can’t help but feel like I just want to let this moment sink deep. I want it to go somewhere in my brain where I can easily access it again, years from now when she’s a teenager doing whatever teenagers do. But in reality I know I’ll totally forget it, it’ll be a vague distant “what was that even like?” kind of feeling. That’s why, instead of scrolling through my instagram feed, again, I’m just stopping and documenting. 

I want to remember how we spent the morning signing school agendas and home reading forms; packing backpacks and discussing middle school orientation with Seth, recess-time plans with Oliver. How Ben was so excited about the new underwear I bought him last night. How Ivy asked Oliver to teach her to draw, and how he happily obliged. How I helped Oliver turn his shirt around so it wasn’t backwards, like I do almost every morning. How Seth talked about what video games he wanted to play after swimming lessons today. 

I read something somewhere that struck such a chord with me- it said “it’s not that you want more babies, but you want more time with the babies you already have.” Yes, I do! I want more time! But there’s no more time to be had, and so I’m working on slowing down more, on making the most of the time we’re in.

The other night when I was tucking the bigs in, I prayed with Seth and kissed him goodnight like usual. He looked so content and full of love, like he always does, that I climbed into bed with him and just laid there with him for a few minutes. He held me beside him (he’s almost as big as me now!) and held my hand while I laid there, and I felt like I couldn’t remember the last time I did that. Why do I rush to get those kids tucked in as quickly as possible, like it’s a race to “free time”? Honestly of course by 8pm I’m more than ready for some free time, but I need to remind myself how fast these years fly by, and try my hardest to slow them down!

Anyway, end of emotional rambling. I think with middle school AND kindergarten coming up this fall I’m feeling the feels extra hard right now. I feel like I’m in a near-constant state of lump-in-my-throat, tears-prickling-at-the-back-of-my-eyes emotions. Who knew I would be such an emotional softie when it came to my kids growing up? I’ll tell you, four years ago I wouldn’t have guessed this would be me.


So, may I never forget what it’s like to have little bodies that sit at my table and cover it with countless papers, pens, and markers. May I hold them close and hold them long. 

At the zoo.

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It had been awhile since we used our zoo memberships so last week we took advantage of an inservice day and headed out. It’s a long drive for us, but literally every time we’re there I wonder why we don’t come more often. We always have the greatest time and are usually there as long as we possibly can be.

That random toddler kept photo bombing my shots!

My favorite part is the polar bears. I just can’t get over how awesome they are swimming around in the tunnel. The one that was swimming when we were there last week was relatively new to the exhibit and he was so playful. He was basically taking selfies with people. He was selfie’d out by the time the other people were done taking pictures with him, but he still followed Ivy around, and tried to catch Ben’s toque. The zoo volunteer there said she’d never seen him do that before.

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The seals are a lot of fun too. There are so many of them now and the kids had so much fun with them.

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After the polar bears we had a snack and the kids played in the indoor playground. I feel like they could easily spend an entire day in that playground. This time I left them in there and drank my coffee in the restaurant area alone. It was pretty sweet sipping my coffee in the quiet sunshine instead of in the dark noisy play area.

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After the zoo I had promised Oliver he could buy a new fish for his tank. Ivy had to play with the hamsters of course.

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She just loves anything tiny and fluffy. And I mean, they are pretty cute.

Anyway, it was a super fun day. We kind of rushed home because Neil got Jets tickets on the glass last-minute and he was going to take Ben with him.


 Neil was worried about Seth being upset but Seth very matter-of-fact and truthfully responded that he didn’t really care about hockey games and that he’d rather read. Good old Seth. And you know, he wasn’t lying one bit.

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Lately he’s been choosing to read in his room instead of the living room, and since he reads for hours a day, I miss him!  But I don’t blame him, if I could find a quiet place to read all day I totally would!

Ben :: Nine.

My little chubby cheeked baby turned nine yesterday.

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What a kid he is. He’s growing up so fast but he’s still that same kid he’s been since he was a baby, with that sparkling personality, that tender heart and that amazing sense of humor. He’s loyal and loving and good to his friends and to his family.

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He loves clothes. So much. He would probably spend almost all his money on skateboard/BMX brand clothing if he could. He even loves underwear. New underwear makes him so happy, it’s hilarious. I got him a one-piece hooded fleece pajama thing for Christmas and he wears it all the time. He knows what he likes and he has a really good sense of style. He’s particular about his hair and his appearance and careful to brush his teeth twice a day. I just love this about him, although I feel like it’s gonna make me go broke. His hat/toque collection is almost as extensive as Neil’s, and, like Neil, he refuses to leave the house without something on his head.

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He loves BMX biking. LOVES it. He asked for a new BMX bike for his birthday. Not a Wal-Mart kind, but a real BMX bike. Like a billion dollar kind. He said if everyone chipped in and just gave him money for his birthday then he could get a bike. He said that would be all he needed. And so that’s what we did. Neil ordered a bike for Ben, after browsing online with him for hours. Ben NEEDED gum colored tires. And he was very particular about the bike color too, of course. You can’t just buy Ben any old BMX on sale.  He wants to ride in style. And so he will, this summer. He loves his new bike. And strangely enough, the weather has been that he could practically take it for a ride now. So far he’s stuck to riding it around the basement so he doesn’t get the tires too dirty.


This year Neil and our friend built a backyard rink. Ben has loved skating there. Every time we’re there he’s just so happy. And he knows it, and appreciates it. He says things like, “This is so awesome Mom. I love it so much.” I love how he loves things. He loved the ocean and he loves hikes through woods with big rocks and roots to jump all over.

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He loves drawing, especially funny faces or potty-humor related things. For his presentation at school last week he taught his classmates how to draw a funny face. He was a very distinct style to his funny faces, and always draws them the same way. Since we watched his presentation a few times at home for practice, now Ivy draws them the same too.

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Ben doesn’t like hot dogs and he doesn’t like icing. Such a weird kid that way, I just don’t get it. He does love pizza, like any normal kid. He requested crepes with fruit filling for his birthday supper, and a Reese’s ice cream cake with a “nine” candle. Not nine candles, a “nine” candle. He picked the cake part out of the ice cream cake. Ivy liked the cake part and not the ice cream part (girl after my own heart). Next time I’ll make them share a piece since they like opposite parts.


It’s extremely hard to get a picture of Ben with a “normal” face. Weird faces are his normal, to be honest.
I love my nine year old Ben. I told Ivy today that I’m the luckiest Mom in the whole world. She asked me if I knew that some moms have five or even six children. Yes, I knew that. Well those moms are luckier than you, Mom, she said. I said that those moms are very very lucky, yes, but unfortunately for those moms, they don’t have the very best four children in the whole wide world. Ben is such a vital and amazing part of our family and every day I thank God that I get to be his mom. There’s no one else I’d rather be.


Happy ninth birthday, Benji. I’ll keep you forever, for sure.

ps Ben turns two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight. So many birthdays I’ve blogged! Every year I birthday blog I sit and read through all the other birthdays and I’m reminded what a thief time is!

Kaua’i day 5!

I’m so exhausted guys. It’s 8:53 pm and this is the first time I’ve been awake this late all week. I’m trying to stay awake past 9 so Neil doesn’t think I’m a total loser but I’m really struggling here.


This morning we fed the koi. Again. Ivy was brave enough to do it this time.

Obviously we have plans to do it again tomorrow. 

After fish feeding we went on a PLANE RIDE!


We went on a six passenger plane for a tour around Kauai. It was amazing!! 


This island is so beautiful. The landscape is just so dramatic- it takes your breath away, really. We saw sooooo many waterfalls, too. The pilot showed us a bunch of places where movies were filmed and as totally corny as it is, flying up to the waterfall that was filmed in Jurassic Park, while listening to the Jurassic Park soundtrack was SO. FUN. So, so fun.


Right after we took off we spotted whales playing in the ocean, and the pilot circled around for us to see them some more. So great. Seth and I saw a pod of dolphins too. Would have been cooler on the water but still neat from the sky too! 

Approximately ten minutes into our flight Ivy fell asleep.


I’m calling it a very expensive nap. Oliver nodded off towards the end and Ben fell asleep for a few minutes too. We’re really wearing them out on this holiday. 

After our flight we went to Lydgate beach park. There is the coolest playground I’ve ever seen there. It is so big and soooo fun. So many nooks and crannies for kids to run through- a lot of spaces where adults have to really crouch down to get through and some adults wouldn’t fit at all I don’t think. They played tag and hide and seek in there for forever.


There’s a really neat sheltered beach area there too. It’s all built up with big rocks so the big waves don’t get in. Seth and Neil went snorkelling again and saw some lots of fish. The rest of the kids just played in the calm waters.

I begged/pleaded/bribed/forced the kids to take some pictures after swimming. They hated me for it but obliged because I told them they wouldn’t get supper if they didn’t.


They’re so cute though, right? You’d never know the trouble they give me when it comes to photos.


After the beach we went to Kapa’a for supper where it happened to be the big town farmer’s market/live music thing they do on the first Saturday of the month. Let’s just say we were lucky not to lose a kid. Everyone was having a tough time trying to decide what to eat but Oliver saw some corn on the cob and he was sold. I added in a chicken taquito for him and he was just so happy. The other boys had pizza and Ivy ate half of my supper, which I was thoroughly enjoying and had no intention of sharing. I had to share with Seth too to be honest. Those little jerks.

Tomorrow Neil is taking the bigs on an ATV tour and me and the littles are gonna chill, at least for a couple hours.

Hey, I stayed up till 9:16! #winning

Kaua’i day 4!


Today we did the south side again. We started out with some shopping and snorkel renting in Koloa and then we went to Lawai beach.


Seth had so much fun snorkelling. He is just a natural in the water. I just love watching him swim and watching him snorkel was even more fun. He snorkelled for a long time with Neil, and then Ben went with them too. Ben was not very comfortable swimming with flippers on and was still nervous about the waves so we strapped a life jacket on him and left him flipper-less and he did just fine. 


After Neil came back I went out with Seth. As much as I like seeing fish in the ocean, and as much as I wish it was, snorkelling is just not my jam. I always make myself do it, but I always feel sort of anxious the whole time. I’m not afraid of the water or the fish, I don’t know what my problem is. Anyway I did it and I just followed Seth around. Seeing my ten year old swim around and dive down to touch fish made me more confident that I could handle it too.


Still, I didn’t last long. Neil went back out again with Seth, who we eventually dragged back in. He said the snorkelling has been his favourite part of the trip so far. 

Ivy kept busy at the beach collecting big rocks that were her “babies”. She had six babies!!! 😉 She kept covering them in sand and then giving them “bath-es”.

Oliver just wandered around, played in the sand, and explored. He spotted a bunch of crabs and that kept the kids busy for awhile- trying to catch one. No luck.



After that beach we grabbed a loaf of bread and made some sandwiches out of the back of our van, then went to Poipu beach for some swimming. Oliver played with a sea slug for like 45 minutes there.


That was the first beach where it was calm enough for Ivy to really get in and swim and oh she sure had a good time! 

Our drive home was so pretty we just had to pull over and take some pictures. The pictures of course don’t do it any sort of justice. I have been taking a lot of video too- it’s just so so beautiful here!!

Neil wanted to take a picture of our vehicle. I reserved a minivan but we totally got upgraded to a fully loaded Yukon XL. This thing is HUGE. I can barely even see the kids who are in the very back. And you could easily fit four children across each seat it is soooo roomy. And it has seat coolers! I didn’t even know that could be a thing!


Anyway it’s pretty nice to have even if it’s just for a week!

After supper some of the kids and I went for a walk and then we found a biiiiiig toad. He was sitting pretty much exactly where we saw him a couple nights ago. He was not worried about kids touching him- he just sat on the ground. Eventually Ben worked up the nerve to pick him up (he is SO big you guys!!) and then we brought him inside to see Neil and Seth.


Ivy’s face just kills me in that picture- she was actually having so much fun but for some reason she really pulled out her poker face for that picture. 
He basically sat in Ben’s hands totally chill. Until he hopped out and tried to get under the couch. Thankfully Ben caught him in time and we released him back outside. Super fun times. 🙂