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The Present

Yesterday I talked about the early days today I’m going to share a little bit about the present.

It’s fun to look back and reminisce on days gone by. I had a great time looking through the old pictures to add them to my post. As I was sorting through them all we shared stories, we laughed, we smiled. We had a great time and we both said we’d love to go back and re-live some of those moments.

Truth is, that I wouldn’t give up what we have now to go back.

Our life now is pretty amazing. We have loved on each other hard, we’ve struggled through some dark days together, we’ve had plenty of adventures, and we’ve got two awesome kids. The thing is, it’s not over!

We are having such an awesome time now introducing our kids to the things we love. It’s so fun.

It’s amazing to watch Curtis be a Daddy. He is the apple of E’s eye and those two are a perfect pair. He loves L with all his heart and she rewards him every time he comes home with a very enthusiastic squealing of  “da da da da da da” it makes my heart melt.

I have to say, my man, he’s awesome. The two of us we really are partners. We both pull equal but different loads in our home. He’s a great provider, he is a hands on Dad. He loves chocolate chip cookies so much that he has taken over that department because I couldn’t keep up with the demand. 🙂

Our life is so fun. We have something real, something special, and something that we both want to foster and grow.

We’ve grown together, really we’ve become adults together. We’ve changed over the years, we’ve matured, we’ve learned.

Here’s the thing, we’re not done. So while the last 12 years have been amazing, I love our now, and I am excited for our future.

I hope that some day down the road we’re that little old couple that everyone thinks is so sweet because they’re so in love.

 

Photo Credit: Jennifer Foik Photography

The Early Days

We’ve been talking a lot about dreams, plans, and hopes for the future at our place lately as we try to figure out what the next “adventure” will be in the McHale household. It’s been reminding me a lot of the early days of our marriage. I thought I’d take a minute and share with you some of our back story.

We got married pretty young, I was barely 21, he was 23. A lot of people thought we were CRAZY. We weren’t crazy but we were young, in love, and naive. We couldn’t imagine doing anything in life apart from each other.

Curtis and I have always been adventure seekers. Our relationship has cycled through many adventure sports. We’ve guided backcountry canoe trips together and apart. We’ve paddled over waterfalls in our kayaks. We’ve been on kayaking trips in Mexico, hiking trips all over the mountains around here and we’ve done a ton of rock climbing too. We’re always seeking the next adventure. It’s very normal for us and we enjoy it most when we’re together.

Oh man did we have fun (and we still do).

All I can do is smile when I think about the first summer that we were married. We worked as canoe guides. We lived in a tent for the most part – we still have that tent and it still feels like home when we sleep in it.

When we weren’t in the tent we had a room off the camp office that we stayed in about two nights a week. There was no electricity, no running water, and no showers.  Our room had propane lights in it so if we were hanging out in there with the lights on we had to leave the door open. It’s true. Maybe we were a little crazy.

Here’s the thing I would do it again in a second!

When we moved west after that summer we came out for a guiding job for me. I had never had a “real” job because I had been a student my whole life and it seemed like a good paycheque. I still have no idea how we managed to pay the bills and stay afloat that first year. Maybe our naivety kept us going.

Putting our stuff into our first apartment was eye opening. The storage room was piled hip deep with outdoor gear and we had nothing else. No furniture, no bedding, no table/chairs. We slept on an air mattress for months and for YEARS our end tables and night stands were two milk crates stacked on top of each other and covered with a sheet.

I remember hosting Thanksgiving and asking our friends to bring something to share as well as their own place setting because we had NOTHING. 2 plates, 2 bowls, and 4 spoons/knives/forks etc. I remember doing our wedding registry and hardly putting anything on it because I had no idea what we needed and who wants that stuff anyway? Seriously dishes, casseroles, table cloths, towels, bleh.

Yep that was us. We would so much rather paddle a canoe, stand on a mountain top, sleep in a tent, and eat Mac “N” Cheese out of our camp pots than sleep in a house, own a whole lot of furniture and feel stuck there.

To a large extent we still feel that way. Sure our life is a little (or maybe a lot) more financially comfortable and our home is a bit more stable, but I’d still rather buy a new tent and take our kids out into the backcountry than buy new furniture.

As we’ve been talking about dreams lately and where we want to go from here we’ve been revisiting some of our dreams from our early days and realizing that now with our family they are within reach. Sure we’ll have to travel slower, Curtis and I will have to carry more, but our kids are SO able to explore the backcountry with us, and it’s exciting.

It kind of feels like we’re getting back to our roots. Since we’ve had kids our life has slowed down, but we’ve also come to have only one work schedule to work around. We’re getting out way more than we did in our years of both of us working full time jobs. The pace is slower, but the journey is still awesome and you see things from a much different perspective when you have little people around.

It’s fun to look back and talk about where we’ve come from where we are and where we want to go. I would encourage you to do it too!

 

2015 Summer Fun List

Last summer we made a Summer Fun List – a list of ideas of things we could do locally during the summer.

It included everything from finding a new local playground, to camping trips, to dinners out, and trips to the zoo.

It was a HUGE success. We didn’t get to everything on the list but we did a lot, and any time we weren’t sure of what we wanted to do we would consult the list. The kids and I did more of it than Curtis, but he joined us for a good many things and it kept us busy all summer long.

Our Summer Fun List was so successful last year that we’re going to do it again. Some things are repeats, some are new, some are free, and some will cost a bit of money. We won’t get to everything and that’s ok. The point is to have some ideas so that when we have a free day to go exploring we don’t waste it trying to come up with something fun!

So here it is:

  • Visit the Fairy Park (Redwood Park in Surrey)
  • Visit the Historic Burnaby Villiage – ride the carousel!
  • Go to the Vancouver Aquarium ( I already have passes I got through air miles, so this is hopefully a given!)
  • Visit the Zoo (again I have a family pass I got through air miles so this should be easy)
  • Hike all of Vedder – we visited the “first hole” this winter but would like to get to the top.
  • Go to Party in the Park
  • Have Pizza at Cultus Lake
  • Plant a vegetable garden
  • Hike Elk Mountain
  • Go on a family camping trip
  • Make S’mores
  • Have a beach day with Daddy in White Rock
  • Find a new game to play at Party in the Park
  • Go to the beach at Hicks Lake
  • Pick Strawberries
  • Pick Blueberries (E specifically wants to do this in a friend’s yard but we’ll have to see)
  • Find a new park in Chilliwack
  • Go to the Water slides
  • Take a family bike ride and have a picnic
  • Write a letter to my favourite cousin Megan ( watch out Meg you have a letter from a 4 year old in your future!)
  • Visit Bridal Falls
  • Go out for Ice Cream
  • Play Mini Golf
  • Go Canoeing
  • Have a beach day at Cultus Lake with our friends
  • Have friends over for Friday Night Pizza
  • Make Blueberry Muffins
  • Pick Vegetables
  • Build a Sandcastle
  • Go to a new Splash Park
  • Run through the sprinkler (we don’t have one but we should be able to do this somewhere!)
  • Go on a Mommy & E only run
  • Find a NEW splash park
  • Visit Othello Tunnels
  • Go on a train ride (if anyone knows how I can make this one happen I am open to suggestions!)
  • Visit the Kilby Store
  • Enjoy a Harrison Lake beach day
  • Take a trip to Birchwood Dairy
  • Go on a family backpacking trip
  • Visit Queens Park in New Westminster
  • Go to VBS

This is our list so far! Feel free to steal ideas, and if you have any great ideas for summer fun then let me know! We’ll add them on 🙂

Retiring our beloved teapot on the trail - a local tradition on this hike

Fun with Friends!

We had SO MUCH FUN with friends today. This has been the best days of summer so far and I hope there are many more like it to come!

Summer has been a bit slow starting for us we’ve been having a hard time finding a good groove. It seems that we keep missing friends, or they’re away, or we’re committed to something else.

Today I think we found our groove.  I sent a friend a text last week asking if she wanted to go for a hike up a local hill that’s very kid friendly and hit the beach afterwards.

Retiring our beloved teapot on the trail - a local tradition on this hike

Retiring our beloved teapot on the trail – a local tradition on this hike

Last summer we went hiking and/or to the beach with her and her kids at least once a week, but life changes and thus far this summer we just haven’t been able to swing it.

Today we had the joy of hiking with her and her kids in the morning. It was a “short” hike but so good for our kids to all be together again. (The distance isn’t far but when you have three littles walking and one being carried time and distance don’t necessarily correspond.)

E falls in the middle of her two littles and LOVES her older daughter – like idol status. She was SO excited to get to run alongside her friend and try to keep up. Plus she had a new backpack that she’s breaking in for a hiking trip later in the summer with Daddy.  L slept or coo’d happily in the baby carrier all the way and all the littles did great.

 

E and her friend

E and her friend

After our hike we all headed to the beach to meet another friend and her kids for the afternoon.  Between the three of us there were eight kids at the beach. Everyone played well together and it was one of those days that you’re loathe to see end. Seriously none of us wanted to pack up and go home.

E made a major accomplishment today, she figured out the basic technique of swimming. This is HUGE for her. While she’s never been shy about the splash pad, pools and especially beaches make her VERY nervous. She’s been in the same FIRST level at swimming lessons ALL WINTER. She loves going but is timid and rarely lets go of her instructor.

We’ve been at the beach two other times so far this summer, the first she didn’t go in past her knees. Then she was holding my hand and SCREAMING (I forced her in to wash the sand off before leaving. I know I’m a horrible mother).

Last week when we were there as a family she wouldn’t go in unless one of us was holding her, and refused to go further than chest deep water. She did eventually relax and at least enjoy it.

I didn’t expect her to embrace swimming so soon after the last two trips. I figured we were in for another summer of playing in the and by the shore in ankle deep water (this is FINE with me, I just want her to be safe and comfortable around water not necessarily an all star swimmer).

Today right away she wanted me to take her in.

SWIMMING! I know it's shallow but I promise she wasn't pushing off the bottom :)

SWIMMING! I know it’s shallow but I promise she wasn’t pushing off the bottom 🙂

Maybe it was seeing her friends jumping off the dock and swimming around on their own. Maybe it’s the crazy heat wave we’ve been having. Maybe it’s the frequency of swimming right now (lessons once a week and at least one trip a week to the beach) or a combination of the three. Who knows.

If I know anything about my girl it’s that she’ll DO IT when SHE wants to. Not one second before and no time later than she decides is ok either.

Today she actually held my shoulders and let me swim her out to the end of the dock. She also let me hold her in the swimming position in shallow water. I was impressed just by those things.

It’s like it just clicked for her. All of a sudden she understood how she should be positioned and how she needed to move her arms and legs. I had to go in to shore to feed L, but she still wanted to swim. So in knee deep water she figured it out. SO FUN.

It was so fun to watch because she would swim the length of the swimming area in knee deep water, then get out, run back to where she started and do it again. It never occurred to her that she could turn around and swim back.

She repeated the cycle for about an hour and a half and I had to pry her out of the water to go home. She was so proud of herself, and I am a proud mama tonight too. I love that kid!

Best things ever today: her contagious giggles as she RAN down the hiking trail after her friends, and the equally elated giggling that came with figuring out how to swim.

We ended our day today by taking Curtis to the garden we’ve been “keeping” at a friends place. – I say this very loosely because I have a hard time growing grass in our yard, and tonight I realized that I can no longer distinguish some of the weeds from the plants that are supposed to be there – oops.

It was a perfect summer’s day.  After so much fun with friends, I’m sad to see this day end. It was jam packed with hiking, swimming, gardening, playing and visiting yet it didn’t feel crazy rushed or busy.  This is exactly what summer days should be. To top it off, my house is pretty clean – we haven’t been here all day!

Hope you had a great day too, and that there are many more sunny summer days to come 🙂

E & Her run bike, Christmas 2011

Childhood Joy

I’m not sure about you but I don’t remember learning to ride a bike, I do however remember my first bike. It was a red and white bike with training wheels and a big banana seat – full on 80’s style. I LOVED that bike. LOVED.

 

Me & my first bike, April 7 1986, I was 4 years old

Me & my first bike, April 7 1986, I was 4 years old

We’re a bike family. Curtis is certifiably insane when it comes to bikes. He rides like I run – a lot, in large amounts, for long distances – like from Lincoln Beach OR home to Chilliwack BC. I also really enjoy riding my road bike though I’m not as passionate about it as he is.

 

E is bike obsessed. If Curtis is doing bike maintenance she has either her tricycle or her run bike out there and is washing/fixing/working on bikes right along side him.

 

E & Her run bike, Christmas 2011

E & Her run bike, Christmas 2011

She asks every morning to watch bike races on Curtis’ iPad. She could pick Jens Voigt out of a crowd and has been able to pronounce Ryder Hesjedal properly for almost two years now. You probably don’t know who those people are – they’re pro cyclists, like Tour De France kind of guys. And YES we will be watching the tour when it starts next week.

E & her Tricycle Christmas morning 2012

E & her Tricycle Christmas morning 2012

 

We gave her a Run Bike for Christmas when she was 14 months old. Jointly  from us and my parents she got a Tricycle last year. We talked about buying her a pedal bike for Christmas this year but she wasn’t quite ready for it and we decided it wouldn’t be fair to give her something she couldn’t ride quite yet. We did promise a pedal bike this summer though, and the day has come!

 

Love at first sight!

Love at first sight!

Curtis went out and picked up her new pedal bike on Tuesday afternoon. She’s been very clear that she wants a purple bike so with that in mind he went to a local bike shop and picked up a purple bike. He also had them remove the training wheels (though he did bring them home) since she’s done so well with her run bike.

 

The squeals of childish joy at the sight of that bike were worth a million dollars. I don’t know that I have enjoyed anything quite so much in a long time. She caught on to the two wheeler after about 45 mins with Curtis running along behind. The only thing that slowed her down was her intense laughter.

Shear joy. There is no other way to describe it. She was laughing the laughter of pure childhood joy. That deep down thrilled I’m awesome and I’m loving it laugh that only a little kid can laugh. The elation on her face was amazing.

 

I don’t remember learning to ride my bike when I was little but watching her learn on Tuesday night is something I will always remember – and cherish. I felt the joy bubbling out of a place deep in my soul and had that big goofy childish grin that starts to make your face hurt on my own face as I watched her catch on. I’m not sure of the last time the enjoyment of learning a new skill made me feel that way. I can tell you that after watching her learn this week I am excited to feel it again!

Very proud new bike owner

Very proud new bike owner