Barely Here

This is an unusual and very personal post for me. It's certainly a departure from our home updates but I think it's time to share. As many of you know, Corey and I had some challenges while trying to bring Baby M to our family. We know many women who have gone through far more traumatic experiences (and I was shocked at the number of friends who had experienced miscarriage when I shared our own struggles) but I'm a firm believer in sharing, discussing and normalizing experiences like this, so I'm sharing mine.

Before I was pregnant with Baby M, I had three miscarriages. For us, all three miscarriages occurred very early on in each pregnancy. Because of this, I experienced very little physical trauma but it still hurt emotionally. By the third, I was actually dreading seeing the double pink line on the pregnancy test because I felt that a loss was inevitable. 

Now that I'm farther along in my pregnancy with Baby M and she's kicking up a storm (another Bruiser like her sister, I suspect), the losses feel farther away and sometimes (especially with very early miscarriages) it's hard to know what to call them or how to label them in my own mind. At the hospital, when they ask which pregnancy this is for me, I find myself saying "Two... I mean five... I mean... I don't know how you want to count them..."  That's always a little upsetting because it means that even I question how "real" they were. Our first miscarriage was from a pregnancy last spring (almost exactly one year ago) that was totally unexpected but it really helped us to decide that it was time to add to our family when we otherwise may not have.

The experiences sting less these days and it's easy to almost forget that they happened. But they were (and are) real and I came across a poem I wrote after my first miscarriage last spring. I was too upset to post it at the time but I'd like to share it now. Big hugs to all the families dealing with similar (or different) challenges and big thank yous to my supportive family and friends.

Barely Here

We almost thought we had imagined you. But you were here: a faint pink line that threw our universe upside down and laughed in the face of our carefully planned timeline.  It's always the most ordinary days that end up changing the course of your life.

A faint positive is still a positive and I had been sick and emotional for a week.

We hadn't expected you. We weren't ready, and yet, we felt excited about the idea quickly.

But everything about your stay with us was too small. Too short. Too few. Too brief.

For a few days, we imagined you playing with your big sister. Tree forts and whispered secrets and obstacle courses in the yard. We knew your name: A name that is entirely yours and we will never give to another child. We thought you were fate. How amazing that our family would grow sooner than planned! How perfect that you and your sister would be so close in age. Inseparable buddies!

For a few days, we budgeted for your education. Our life. Your future. You would be expensive but we would make it work.

For a few days, we enjoyed our happy little secret. We glowed on the inside and felt so so lucky! I imagined you growing strong in my belly. An entire life, your life, filled with potential, flashed through my mind.

Then suddenly, you were gone and our small bubble burst. Our hearts fell because we would never get to meet you.

You were the size of a pin prick, with immeasurably small mass, but we still felt the weight of your loss. Our world went on and we still woke up the next morning. We joked and laughed and pretended to be dinosaurs and we made your sister breakfast. I went to work. It was just like any normal Sunday. Mostly normal. Maybe a little sad. We were okay, but we wouldn't forget you.

You were gone and I suppose we were meant to stay just three for now. Three musketeers. Three against the world. Not four. Not yet.

You were barely here but a faint positive is still positive. An early miscarriage is still a miscarriage. You were barely here but you were here.

Maybe everything happens for a reason. And maybe you taught us that we're a little more ready to be parents again than we had thought...


Living Room (Before and After)

Now that our living room is close to complete, I'm looking back at this post that I began composing in November. I'm amazed at how closely I followed my initial inspiration photo (above) when choosing furniture.

Our major purchase for the room was a new sofa (we needed two in the larger space) and I'd wanted a blue one forever. We ended up finding a discounted model at West Elm and I used the dimensions to map out the layout before we moved in.

It was in the living room that we initially checked the wall colours (we get a lot of light in the room) and you may recall that we settled on Benjamin Moore paint: Oxford White trim and White Dove walls.

Here's the before facing the fireplace and entrance hall. This was taken on the day we took possession so the previous owner (and his dog) were still at the house. This was also the day we discovered that I was pregnant with Baby M.

Here's the room from that angle now. Painting the fireplace brick and replacing the door made a huge difference. I think hanging photos in the hall and up the stairs has also made the house feel a lot warmer. Right now, I'm loving our theme of blues and greens. We wanted the colours to be more natural and a little rustic/country (to go with all the wood and the exposed beams in the house) but we wanted the room to feel light, fun, colourful and casual.

Here's the room from another angle. Before:

And After:

Most of the accessories are from the thrift shop or Homesense. The greyhound statue was a gift from my cousin. The large fiddle leaf fig tree is actually a staging piece but I've decided that when I'm not using it, we should keep it in the living room so it doesn't get too lonely in my storage locker. It's a very convincing fake.

The shelving unit (Homesense) needs to be styled but I haven't unpacked our books and Barkley is a notorious book eater (we want to give him some time in the new house before we trust him) so I've just placed some colourful vases there in the meantime.

Rudy loves the accessories on the coffee table. She likes labeling "dog" and "flowers" and then pretending the coasters are cookies (her favourite) and walking around the house with them.

Having the living room set up makes the house feel a lot more like home. Corey is finishing the dining room as we speak and he's going to start painting Baby M's room in the evenings this week, so we'll have lots of exciting reveals. We're also planning a pretty special (and unexpected) reno which has delayed completion of the nursery. Stay tuned!


Fireplace Makeover (Before and After)

I know I've taken a long vacation from blogging when I have dozens of posts outlined in point form and yet, I have no photos and need to check my Instagram to see if I have any relevant pictures.  I think I'll commit to taking a bunch of photos around the house this weekend or next, but I actually did manage to find some fireplace photos on Instagram so I can publish this post now.  :)

When we bought our house, we were excited to finally have a wood-burning fireplace!  I love the smell of logs burning in the winter and fall and it seems so cozy to me.  We rolled the dice and decided not to have a proper fireplace inspection (WETT Inspection) because we knew it wasn't a dealbreaker for us and we figured we'd put the inspection money toward what we assumed would  be necessary repairs.  We had the fireplace and chimney cleaned after we took possession and were shocked when the company told us it was in great shape!  Finally, something in this house that didn't need repairs!

Of course, the fireplace itself wasn't the most attractive but we had some plans for that!  We already knew we'd be painting the brick white and leaving the wood mantle to match the ceiling beams.

On the day we took possession of the house, the seller told us the fireplace door had never fit properly and was basically just resting against the brick.  Um... thanks.  Oh well, it wasn't our taste anyway.  What we did discover is that our fireplace is an unusual size so a custom order was necessary.

We ordered a custom door and were excited when it was installed before Christmas. We love our new door and it's secure enough for us not to worry with Rudy and the pets running around.  Our favourite thing about it is that instead of the chain mesh curtains that you always need to fuss with, we had the mesh installed as a second set of doors.  They're lovely and far more solid than just a curtain. Even better: they're easy to open and close!

Rudy uses the glass doors as her personal mirror and loves to look at her reflection when she's wearing a funny hat... which is basically every evening after school.

And here's a shot to prove that we did manage to get it ready in time for the holidays (and Santa) this year.  :)

Here's one last (more recent) photo. We're finally unpacking and hanging art! I'll post some living room before and after photos soon. Not a bad update, right?


Rudy's Room (More Progress)

Last time, I showed you Rudy's room in the early stages. Well, it continues to evolve and we still have a list of things to do but she's been enjoying it so much and I wanted to share. Her drapes still need to be hemmed but she loves her window seat filled with little drawers and cubbies to hide books and toys.

First thing in the morning, Cricket often sits at her widow to look into the yard. It's quite cute and she'll greet him as she rubs her eyes with a sleepy meow.

We are a family of avid book lovers and we wanted Rudy to have a special reading corner with her current favourite books on display. She loves climbing up at bedtime to choose.

Rudy loves her big girl bed and we love that we can snuggle with her during story time now.

At first, Rudy needed a step to help her up. She doesn't really need it now but we've left it along with the retractable bed rails. I suppose we're not ready for her to grow up too quickly.

We've started working on her closet. The plan is for her to have a "secret" reading nook in there as well. We'll be adding lighting soon. :)

We're working on a little gallery wall with some prints and family photos. We will add to it over the years.

When we turn out Rudy's light, she takes her little star nightlight and turns it on. Sometimes she even cuddles it in bed as she falls asleep.

I'll share more as her room continues to evolve but for now, it's a sweet space for our little warrior.


Rudy's New Room (Progress)

Note: Most of this post was composed months ago. Rest assured that Rudy has had a lovely and functional room (with furniture) for quite some time but I still wanted to share the process.

We're working on the nursery for Baby M (Including a super exciting but majorly time-consuming bonus project!) but I still want to share what we've done to Rudy's new room. I remember when we bought this house, I was so excited to have charming sloped ceilings in Rudy's room.

Even before we officially moved in, Rudy would join us for our visits to the house and she was always so excited to climb the stairs up to her room.

During our very first visit to the house after we closed, Rudy gave an excited squeal and ran straight into her walk-in closet.  She ended up collecting paint chips and hiding them there and running back and forth.

We have lots of plans for Rudy's room but it started with the colour.  We chose Farrow and Ball's Middleton Pink.  It's a fresh, young pink that changes colour depending on light.

We initially considered wallpaper, but I think we're a little traumatized after seeing the work required to remove the layers of wallpaper from the house.  We may consider an accent wall with stenciling or decals in the future though.

We have so many more ideas, including a window seat and closet hideaway. Note: This post was composed ages ago and we now have a window seat and a partially completed closet ad reading nook. I also saw this amazing idea, which we may try in Rudy's closet.

For now though, we just want to set up her furniture and move in.  Corey snapped a photo of the painted walls the other day.  So sweet!


Saving Family Memories

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I just wanted to share a cool app we've been enjoying.

When I was little, I just loved curling up with a huge stack of family photo albums.  I enjoyed seeing photos of relatives and of us and hearing the stories that went along with them.  Just thinking about it feels cozy and nostalgic.

Now, I'm a big fan of Instagram and even posted some tips for taking better phone camera photos here.  I love the convenience of always having a camera with me and in some ways, I love that we're so great at documenting special moments these days.  On the other hand, I often wonder how many of these photos Rudy will actually get to see.  Will she follow me on Instagram and see all her old baby photos?  Will she one day ask me to remove them all from social media?  (If she does that's her choice and totally okay with me!)  Will she ever sit and look at them with me so I can share the stories behind all the silly photos?

One of our goals in the new house is to keep family memories and photos more accessible. We've also been playing more music but that's a different post. :) Recently, we've been trying Chatbooks and so far, we love it. The app automatically creates and orders mini albums from my Instagram photos and ships them to us. Each book is a really fun surprise and Rudy already loves looking through them. Toddlers are so self-absorbed that a few photos of themselves or even a mirror can occupy them for hours! ;)

We've also been making an effort to actually hang some family photos in this house. How do you display family photos in your home?

Benjamin Moore White Paint

Let me get real here for a second:  I know it's been forever since I've posted regularly, with the exception of my pregnancy announcement.  Seriously, where did February and March go???  We're still settling into the new house and Corey's been tackling lots of projects while I've had a crazy busy start to the spring market at work... But those aren't even my excuses.  

The truth is, Rudy is two now and this age has been kicking our bums!  I seriously don't know how people have more than one child under two because we feel like we need to tag team her to get ourselves out the door looking moderately presentable.  She's a good girl but she's headstrong, knows the word "no", knows what sweets are and can run faster than us.  We're in TROUBLE!  Between hurricane Rudy, work and just life in general, there hasn't been much time to blog... but I'm excited to start sharing some of the work we've done on our house so far.  So, without further ado, let's talk about paint:

You guys know our last house was filled with colour but we'd like a more neutral backdrop in our
new home to showcase the dramatic ceilings and natural light.  I tell Corey that the next house will be colourful again but I think he wants to divorce me when I say that because I promised him we wouldn't move again for a while.  ;)

We'll still add lots of colour to this house through art and accessories, but the walls will remain fairly neutral.

We love Farrow and Ball paint but there's a Benjamin Moore store near our new house and they are known for having some great white and off-white shades.  When we first took possession (back in November) we chose our favourite swatches in the store and looked at them in the house in different light throughout the day.

I'm just going to point out that the paint swatches are taped to the formerly wallpapered walls.  We ended up discovering that there were so many layers of wallpaper on the walls, ceilings... everywhere.  Some layers were painted or plastered over, all were pretty awful and we felt we were in over our heads.  We ended up hiring a great company to remove it all, smooth the walls and paint.  It was so worthwhile to start with a blank canvass.

From there, we narrowed it down to our top four and painted swatches on several walls to help us decide.  We wanted a slightly off-white shade for the walls and a purer white for doors and trim.

For the trim, we considered Chantilly Lace and Oxford White.  I'll include the descriptions from the Benjamin Moore website in italics as well as my own notes on how they looked in our space, since the light and shadows of a house can impact the colour.

Chantilly Lace:  As delicate and refined as the lace it was named after, this crisp, clean white evokes images of pure silk, soft linen and simpler times.  This shade felt like a clean, pure white.

Oxford White:  A perennial favourite of both discerning consumers and professional designers alike, Designer Classics are colours you can choose with confidence to enhance the mood and atmosphere of any living space.  This was a clean white with a tiny hint of warmth.

Decorator's White:  Inherently sophisticated and endlessly versatile, the Off-White collection offers subtle nuances of whites that suit tranquil, serene environments as well as creates colour-enhancing accents for dynamic spaces.  This looked like a cool grey on our walls.  Very clean with a lot of blue.

White Dove:  Unerring style defines this classic, softly shaded white. Light and luminous, it is a favourite choice for moldings and trim. This shade was a very subtle but warm grey.

We ended up choosing White Dove for the walls with Oxford White for the doors and trim.  We wanted a clean backdrop with a hint of warmth to highlight all the natural wood details in the house.

While the painting has been complete for a while, we're still in the process of hanging artwork so the fresh walls don't look too lonely.  Without art, they're terribly bland and I found myself missing my colourful walls, although I got over that as soon as we started actually unpacking accessories and hanging art.

Photos are coming soon but first, I may post about the progress with some "during" photos so you can live the nightmare with us!  We can laugh about it now because the walls are smooth and painted and we've been hanging art so the house feels somewhat transformed.  ;)


Our BIG News (and Q & A)

Yes, I know it's been ages since I posted but we've had some big news brewing... I'm pregnant with a little sister for Rudy and between chasing an energetic toddler around the house, renovating the new house, the busy spring market and CRAZY pregnancy nausea that lasted until a few weeks ago, there hasn't been much much time or energy left over at the end of the day for blogging.  Forgive me and I promise lots of cute baby photos in the future along with another nursery "before and after" post!

We announced our happy news to family and friends on Facebook and Instagram yesterday and so many people shared kind words and advice that we were overwhelmed.  I also chose a particularly busy day of work to announce it, so I had no time to respond to anyone until after I got home at 10 or 11.  I felt awful each time my phone rang and I had to say "Thank you... but I can't chat now" and so I thought I'd also answer the most popular questions people have been asking us.  Here goes:

Did anyone know?  

Our immediate families knew from pretty early on but most people actually didn't know.  In the past few weeks, my stomach has started to resemble a basketball and it's beyond the point of just looking like I ate too much at a sushi buffet so I've also been sharing the news with people who have seen me recently.  So immediate family, friends who've seen me recently as well as active clients and colleagues of mine have known for a little while.

How far along are you?

I'm about half way to the finish line.  Which is how I look at it.  Those of you who know me, recall that I don't love being pregnant.  The end result is pretty awesome though.  :)  The baby will be here in the second half of July, which was no accident- My work slows considerably then and it will mean about a month of guilt-free recovery and bonding time for me and baby before my work starts to get active again.

What's the deal with the photo?

Last time, our gender reveal was anything but low-key.  We found out along with all our wedding guests as we opened a giant box filled with pink balloons.  It was amazing, but we wanted something more private the second time around.  This time, we had the ultrasound technician write down the gender for us and we carried it around in a sealed envelope until we worked up the courage to open it one day over lunch.  I cried... happy and surprised tears.

Is that why you moved?

Haha!  We weren't pregnant when we bought this house but we were definitely hoping to need a little more space.  We've been referring to the third upstairs bedroom as the nursery since the day we made an offer on this house so yes, that is certainly a part of the reason we moved.  We actually learned for sure that I was pregnant with this baby the day we got the keys to this house!  It felt like fate!

Why did you wait so long to tell people?

Like a lot of women, I had some struggles getting to this point in a pregnancy.  Corey and I are incredibly lucky to be able to get pregnant quite easily (first try each time and once by accident!) but I had some trouble staying pregnant.  I ended up miscarrying very early on three times in the past year so it took us a while to really feel confident about Baby M.  All three early miscarriages happened in such a short time and it was frustrating and emotionally challenging and I think we needed some time to accept that this time it was really going to happen for us.

Add to that the fact that my first trimester tends to be my toughest, and we really just wanted to power through my worst weeks without having to talk about pregnancy with anyone.  Now that I'm feeling better, we're happy to share our news!

Are you excited for maternity leave?

So many of you have asked- especially those of you due around the same time.  Like last time, I'll be going back to work pretty quickly and Corey will be doing the REAL work by staying home with baby for the first year.  Corey will be happy to have lots of play dates and I'll join in if I'm free!

Oh no!  Are you sad about that?

HAHAHA!  Let's just say that Corey doesn't envy me and I don't envy him.  I love a new baby but I'd never be able to stay home.  It's hard and lonely and... WOW babies poop and sleep a lot!  No thanks!  The baby is coming during my slowest time of year (when I'd likely take family holidays anyway) and colleagues will help my clients in my absence so I can take some time to bond with baby.  Once the fall market hits, I'll be back to work though and probably eager to get out of the house.  Don't feel sorry for us though- Just the way it's so hard for a lot of women to imagine how it's not sad for me to go back to work, it's nearly impossible for me to understand how someone would be excited for a year at home with a baby.  The thought terrifies me but (luckily) Corey's man enough to handle the challenge!

Is Rudy excited?

Oh my goodness, she is SO excited!  Our goal was to get her excited about the concept of a baby so that she'd actually want one long before we told her.  We've been reading this book to her (she requests it several times each night and recites some of it by heart) and here's why it's so brilliant: It's all about a new baby coming home but the baby's actually a secondary character in the book and it's really all about how great the big sister is and all the cool things she does with the baby!  We always stress the part where it says "And as baby grows, we'll play together" and we remind her that babies don't stay babies and they actually grow into friends to play with.  She gets really excited about that!

Since a week is like a year in toddler time (I'm not sure of the exact conversion but that must be close) we had planned not to tell her until I was heading to the hospital but (apparently) kids aren't THAT dumb and when she started patting my belly and saying "baby" we figured she knew something was up.

When we finally told her that she was going to be a big sister, she got so excited (like, pre-teen backstage at a Justin Bieber concert excited!) and was jumping up and down on her bed and shrieking with excitement.  We hope she feels that way when the baby actually arrives.

What does M stand for?

We're not sharing her name yet.  Like with Rudy, we had both a boy and a girl name chosen before we learned the gender.  It made it feel more special because we were finding out WHO it was and not just WHAT it was.  We are keeping her name in the family for a while still (maybe until she's born) but it's another strong name (like Gertrude) and probably another name that some of you will love but will make other people question our sanity.  We love it though!

Have you finished the nursery?

Oh, we're so close to finishing!  Actually, our baby announcement was almost our nursery reveal. (We were going to pretend it was a guest room and then show you all in a blog post that it was actually a nursery!)  Like with Rudy's room, we chose everything before knowing the gender so it works for both a boy or a girl.  It's very different from Rudy's old nursery but we love it and can't wait to show you!  We're waiting on a rug (which we've ordered) and a coat of paint!

Did you have a gender preference?

I had always wanted a boy and a girl.  That's always how I pictured my ideal family.  And yet, when I learned I was pregnant I was desperate for another messy, loud girl running around the house, climbing the furniture and trying to put baseball caps on the dogs!  Still, I had really thought we were having a boy but I was struggling to picture a boy and told Corey I was worried because I could only imagine a baby girl.  I hesitated so much before opening the note because, while I have no real gender preference (I love cuddly little boys too!) the picture of a baby boy was still so fuzzy in my imagination, whereas I could clearly picture another girl.  Corey says that when I saw the note, relief washed over my face and I couldn't stop crying.  I think I was really hoping it would be Baby M!  I'm really excited to help raise another strong woman!

How are you feeling?

Some of you who know I hate pregnancy have been kind enough to ask.  I'm actually feeling okay.  I still hate pregnancy but I feel lucky to be pregnant and excited for M!  It's true what they say that you're so busy the second time around that you actually forget that you're pregnant!  It's also a lot easier for me to forget now that my nausea is under control.  ;)

So there's our big news!  We're thrilled to share it and I'll be posting more about our house but also about our lives in the weeks to come!


Family Room Transition

It's been a while and I found myself itching to post something today.  The house is still far from finished (and I'll go into more detail on all the work being done in other posts) but our contractors are finally gone (until the next job...) and we're finally able to start enjoying our new home.

In our last house, we had the luxury of doing a lot of the work ourselves.  Corey actually spent most nights and weekends working on the house while I clocked extra hours at work.  This time around, we have a rambunctious toddler and Corey needs his evenings and weekends to devote to her.  Instead of allowing the renovations to take forever, we decided early on to hire contractors to help us with the work.  It's been great in some ways but it's very invasive living with people constantly working in your home.  It's actually been a really tough and stressful month and things have felt a bit strained but we're taking a break between big projects and it's a treat to be able to hang out and relax at home.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram, have probably already noticed the house coming together.  I don't think any of the rooms are finished yet but I'm excited to share the progress we've made on our family room.

In our old house, our family room/playroom is probably where we spent most of our time.  It's funny because I think it was the last room that we finished and it took us ages to even realize that it was going to be a family room.  For the first couple of years in the house, we had no idea how to use the space but once we figured it out, it was hard to imagine how we'd ever lived without it!

When we first saw this house, I was excited to find the potential to have another main floor family room!  We knew this time around it would be one of the first rooms we worked on.  Of course, we never choose the easy path and, if you notice in the floor plan below, our family room was actually two rooms separated by a wall and with two sinks and a bunch of built-in cabinets because the former owner was a denturist.

It was hard to get a photo because of the extra walls but check out the sinks and that awful peel and stick floor!

We had our contractors tear out the cabinetry and walls and replace the floor before painting.  While we loved our old toy storage system, we wanted a cleaner look for our new house.

Before I post the photos I want to reiterate that this is not the finished room.  We still have sooo many ideas from alphabet wall decals and art to another climbing wall and I'm really excited to continue working on this space.  At the same time, I don't want to wait for months to share so here's a look at our family room as it is today, in all its half-finished glory!

We bought a sectional, which converts to a Queen bed to allow the room to do double duty as a guest room.  We ordered it ages ago but it just arrived today and I already love it!  Corey's always wanted a sectional but we were aware of the small size of the room.  Oversized furniture that overwhelms a small space is one of my pet peeves, so we kept the dimensions apartment-size.  I know some of you are going to think we're crazy opting for such a light fabric but we're not big eaters in the family room and the fabric comes with a really good stain warranty!

We prefer to have our TV in the family room rather than the living room.  We added extra storage units above and below.  The unit below is filled with toys and puzzles and Rudy is so excited about it.  I'll show off how we organized it in another post!

A tall Ikea unit provides even more space for toy storage on the bottom, books in the middle and toddler art supplies up high and out of Rudy's easy reach!

We love Rudy's new play table and so does she.  It's a great place to colour or work on puzzles or blocks and we went ahead and got lots of chairs for future playdates.  Keeping it pushed against the window leaves plenty of floor space for dancing, twirling and general fun!

... Or building towers with daddy!

I look forward to sharing more as we continue to make progress!


How We Spent Our Holidays

I hope you and your family have enjoyed the holidays this year.  I feel like our family has been sick on and off for most of December, but I suppose that's to be expected with a toddler in school!

We try to avoid decorating for the holidays until after we celebrate Rudy's birthday.  We were still unpacking (still are, to be honest.) but we threw up the tree and stockings anyway.  Rudy loved taking off the ornaments and hiding them in her backpack!

Like last year, we took Rudy to visit Santa again.  She doesn't seem at all nervous around him, but we take her for a half-hour Santa experience at Sherway Gardens.  It's amazing because he reads a small-ish group of kids a story and chats with them and even plays a game.  By the time you take a photo, they've had time to get comfortable with him.  Rudy was fighting a cold and was trying hard to stay awake but she still seemed to have a good time... although that's not totally evident in the photo.

We got SO MUCH SNOW this December!  Of course, we'd get all the snow in the year that we finally have a large driveway to clear.  Corey bought a snow blower and Rudy discovered the fun of playing outside with the dogs.

Rudy's school closes for two and half weeks and we were having some messy work done in the house so we escaped to Great Wolf Lodge just before Christmas.  Rudy loves it every time, and Corey and I also have a blast just seeing everything through her eyes.  She loved howling like a wolf and looking at the waterpark from the third-floor window and just saying "Whoooah!" in an awestruck voice!

She also loved deliberately walking under the sprinklers and getting her head wet as well as standing over the fountains so the water could spray up her shorts.  It was hilarious!

We came home just in time for Christmas Eve and the first night of Chanukah.  We lit the candles and hung our stockings and watched old Christmas musicals on the projector.

Rudy got a few small gifts (a wind-up lizard, a bouncy ball... just small things.) from Santa in her stocking and one Christmas and one Chanukah gift from us.  The rest of the family spoiled her.  She tends not to like to have too many choices all at once though and after opening about three of the six gifts in her stocking, she walked away from it saying "All done, okay?"  Our sweetheart doesn't need much to be happy- I hope we'll be able to say that for a long time.

Over the rest of the break, there were family parties and dinners with friends.

We even attended a "paint nite" party, organized by friends.  It was really fun... even if we didn't end up with masterpieces!

Which brings us to the last night of Chanukah, which also happened to be New Year's Eve.

I've been reflecting on 2016 and it really has been a whirlwind.  The world lost some great people this year (as we do every year) but, for our family, there have been a lot of good memories from this past year and I prefer to focus on those.  When we think of our friends and family, we feel lucky to have shared in many happy adventures: from babies born and weddings to remarkable new careers and trips around the world!

We began 2016 with a family wedding: Corey's identical twin got married and we inherited an awesome sister-in-law.  We were all in the wedding... even Rudy!  Here's a photo of the three of us.

Shortly after, Corey went back to work from parental leave and ended up on a very specialized team within his field.  He worked on some really interesting sites- I'm really proud of him!

We added to our family again: this time with a naughty orange kitten named Cricket.  He's a little devil but oh so cute and you can read about him in this post.

I had a busy spring at work but we still managed some family outings to the zoo and science centre.

By late spring, we moved Rudy to a closer school.  She was sad to say goodbye to her teachers and it took her a few weeks to get the hang of a new school but she loves it now and is so confident there.  Each morning, she insists on carrying her own backpack and marches straight into her classroom.

By summer, we were taking Rudy camping and in late August we headed out to Banff for our best family trip ever!  We saw bears, elk and mountain goats up close and even walked on a glacier.  You can read about our trip here.

In the fall, we bought a house (which surprised even us!) and our free time was spent preparing to sell our new/old house and packing to move.

Our December has been so busy!  After moving, battling colds and stomach flu and living through renovations all month, (which is REALLY taxing on our nerves and has been a real challenge,) we weren't up for much celebrating on New Year's Eve.  Rudy went to bed at the normal time while Corey made this delicious lamb bolognese for us.  We ate and toasted and watched movies in bed.  I think I was asleep long before midnight.  It seems appropriate that the year should end with us facing lots of renovations and hard work and obstacles, but feeling happy and excited for the adventures to come.

I know that social media is tricky and sometimes it feels like everyone else is living this amazing, picture-perfect life, but 2016 brought us our share of disappointment and challenges too.  We were especially heartbroken after some attempts to add to our little family left us grieving.  Still, looking back, the good overwhelmingly outweighs the bad and we feel very fortunate to be here: healthy, together and optimistic.

Photo by Crista Lee Photography

We wish you and your families health and happiness in 2017.  We can't wait to share it with you.

Photo by Crista Lee Photography

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