How Do You Like It

Now that we have been in Nanaimo for a while, a certain question has emerged as a very popular conversation starter.

“How are you liking Nanaimo so far?”

Great question! My short answer is “It’s an easy place to like, and it feels like home already.”

Lucky for you, I will now also share my long answer. 

First off, to get it out of the way, we love the weather. I am so thankful we did not have to endure this past winter in the prairies. The winter that just would not quit. I remember our first winter in Edmonton was like that too. Not a great welcome to the province. Here in Nanaimo we get a perfect mix of sunshine and rain. Spring comes early and takes its time. Summers and winters are generally mild. It’s just great all around. 

The size of this city is perfect. Large enough to have a Costco, but small enough that I bump into somebody I know or at least recognize at that Costco most of the time. I really don’t know that many people here (I know families from church and school, of which there is a significant overlap, and attend a book club, also with a decent overlap with church people), but apparently it’s enough. I was with the kids at McDonalds once when Tim was out of town. Victor needed to go to the bathroom, and I recognized a family in the play area from school, so instead of having to take everybody with us, I asked the mom if she wouldn’t mind watching Erika in the highchair. The other day, our family was walking through a parking lot at the mall the other day and somebody drives by and yells my name out of the window. I waved then turned to Tim and said “I love living here.” It made me feel so at home.

Before Nanaimo became our home, we thought we were going to live in the Fraser Valley on the mainland. Every time we go back there to visit my family, I’m reminded of one huge reason I’m glad we don’t live there (don’t worry, this isn’t headed in the direction it just sounded like it’s heading): traffic congestion. Vancouver all the way to Chilliwack is just booming. The more people who live there, the more traffic there is on the roads and highways. It’s not quick to get anywhere. Even residential areas are packed with vehicles parked on the roads. All the new residential complexes are usually duplexes or single homes, each with their own income suite, lined up neatly in tight little rows. That’s a lot of people with too many vehicles in a small area. That’s not the kind of neighbourhood we’d like to call home. 

We get to call Vancouver Island our home. I mean, come on. Who wouldn’t want that? Everybody loves the island. I loved living here when I lived in Victoria. I loved coming back to visit Tim’s family. It’s beautiful. It’s a destination. It adheres strongly to the idea of “island living”, being casual and laid-back. I don’t think you’ll ever catch me turning my watch to Island Time (punctuality is pretty much my love language), but I fully appreciate a culture that doesn’t expect too much of me. This leads directly into my last point…

There are fewer expectations here. When we lived in Edmonton, I can’t count how many times people said I had to visit certain establishments to purchase certain food items or kids stuff. I have to say I never did go to that bakery or that deli. The more you tell me I should do something, the more I don’t want to do it. Sorry influencers, you don’t work on me. When I was in highschool a huge movie theater opened up in my neighbourhood and for years I refused to go see a movie there just because it was the cool thing to do. That, my friends, is a real indie hipster person. Ha!

I feel there is a certain aesthetic to life these days. You or your space have to look a certain way or you can’t be part of the club. For instance, My brother’s church in Langley meets in a school gym, so they have to pack up everything they need for a Sunday morning in a trailer. They dedicate space in that trailer for a rug and backdrop for their coffee station. I happen to know a lot of people at this church and know that it would be just as awesome of a place of worship without these frills, but people expect these frills these days. I’m not a frilly person. Nanaimo is not a frilly place. One of my friends labelled it as unpretentious.  I know myself to know that I don’t bend to the ways of pop culture, but that doesn’t mean that I can just ignore it. I don’t like being told what to do, where to go, what to spend my money on. I don’t follow influencers on social media (okay, maybe a couple, but it’s because I like them as a person). I have yet to see a spec of any of this here in Nanaimo, and I love it. 

So there you have it. What I love about Nanaimo. And don’t forget, we have a guest room if you want to experience this all for yourselves temporarily. :)

One Year of Erika

Our Erika Grace has been a part of our family for one year. And yes, I am going to say it…it has gone by so fast! I can’t deny it! I can’t say that it’s been the easiest year, but it has been pretty fun and exciting. We love having this little girl in our lives, even though she hasn’t yet brought any particular girliness to our family dynamic. 

Erika is an easy-going girl (because she is the child of Tim and Larissa, as one person put it). She stops what she’s doing any time she hears her dad’s voice, has the cutest little scoot that gets her from point A to point B, plays with her tongue on her few little teeth, and has developed a habit of making a regularly-occurring shocked sound when she’s happy, which is still new enough to be adorable and not annoying. I have a feeling she may be a little trouble-maker one day. I occasionally catch that particular little glint in her eye, the one that matches her big brother Victor, the family goof. I never thought I would be a person who is sad to leave the baby stage behind, but I have to admit that I have gotten emotional about the thought that one day I will never nurse again. Or sad that I won’t have to use that little stack of burp cloths. I think it’s mainly the first few weeks of having a newborn that I miss. The first moment of holding your child. Those days where you get to snuggle so often. Those weeks of having a new person to love. 

But boy am I ever glad to have the knowledge that my days in these trenches are over. I said that to somebody once, because these years of having young children are so often referred to the trenches, and he said “what then? You go out into the line of fire?” Yeah, probably. But that fire doesn’t include diapers. 

We are so excited to learn more about who Erika is and what our family is to become in this next year and beyond! 

We love you, Erika!

This Advent Season

Are you familiar with the season of advent? It is the period of time before Christmas where Christians observe the expectant waiting for the coming of Jesus Christ. A few of the common themes talked about throughout advent are peace, hope, joy and love. God’s people were full of hope while they waited for their saviour. They were filled with peace and joy. God’s love come down was what they were waiting for – what they had been expecting – for generations and generations.

For us, it is hard to imagine what that must have been like. How did it feel to be waiting, to know the greatness of what was coming but not to be able to experience it yet? The good news is that we don’t have to wait! Our Saviour has come and He is here! He is here to give us these gifts of peace, hope, joy and love.

This advent season our extended families have been given huge opportunities to experience this in a very tangible way. My sister-in-law on Tim’s side had recently been diagnosed with cancer in her breast and earlier this week she had a mastectomy. (You can read Amy’s story here.) And this past weekend my own sister experienced some severe diabetic ketoacidosis. She was on life support for 3 days.

It’s amazing to see how Amy has been able to put her trust in God. She was filled with peace and has hope for the future, even though there are all the question marks that cancer brings. Because of Jesus we know that regardless of what may happen down the road, it will end with a win. 

In a similar way, those of us surrounding my sister have been able to put our trust in our Lord, knowing that He is working in her, continuing to write her story. We waited with hopeful anticipation for God to answer our prayers to make her body well enough to breath on its own. I am so thankful for the love shown to her through all of God’s people who are surrounding her; love that we can show because it is what we are shown through Christ.

I’m going to quote my sister-in-law here:
No matter what we believe (or don’t believe), God is absolutely everywhere all the time, and is present in each and every one of our lives. Some of us realize God’s hand in everything, and some of us don’t. I don’t think I truly appreciated how present God is in my life until this week. Until I felt His tangible presence and peace.

This peace is available to all. My hope is that you want it. That you crave it and accept it. 

God has come. Our Saviour is here. Wait no more. 

Why is Hobby-ing So Hard?

When you want to get to know somebody, your two first questions are usually “What do you do for a living” and “What do you do in your spare time?”

Having recently moved, I’ve been asked these questions a few times, as I meet new people. The first answer is easy-peasy. I stay at home with the kids! The second answer? It always causes me to pause. What do I do in my spare time? I could easily say “Oh, I have four kids under 6! I have no spare time!” But really, I can quite easily carve out an hour or two a day if I had something specific to do in mind. 

There are so many options these days, surely I could think of something! One could make crafts, make or listen to music, make or grow food, exercise, socialize, travel, write, act…the list goes on. The market is so saturated with companies catering to these hobbies and hobbyists selling their crafts or trades. It can make a person who can’t or doesn’t do these things feel like they are less of a person for not having that Thing to do that gives them joy or refreshment after a hard day. Parenthood can’t even be used as an excuse because I know many parents who make time for their special thing. Hey, my husband even spent so much time on his hobby that he got a full time job out of it!

In my pondering of why I can’t seem to find that hobby that fills the void, I’ve asked myself “what in the past has given me this feeling?” The answer comes easily. I’ve loved my jobs. I loved slicing that 80g of German salami so thin it falls apart for that lady every Sunday. I loved working the till and making the same small talk as I folded purchases neatly into bags. I loved handing coffees over the counter to smiling customers. And I loved getting to work at 7am, greeting well-rested guests as they came down the stairs for their breakfast, later helping them find the best places to eat and the most fun things to do in the city. 

In my years since becoming a mom and not having a paying job, I can think of a couple things that gave me this feeling also. I loved having our church parents and tots group at our home when the church building was unavailable. I loved helping friends tidy and organize their homes. I loved helping friends in a bind by watching their kids. And in a very specific event, I loved volunteering for Calvin’s soccer tournament. A couple months ago Calvin’s school had a fall fair and I signed up for a two shifts of volunteering at the volunteer table, to tell them where to go, etc. Tim and his parents had to attend a family funeral out of town, so I unfortunately had to back out, and I was more sad to not be able to volunteer than I was glad about being able to do the fair things with my kids (but we did all have fun!). This week I get to help set up a house for a new family in town and show them how to use the appliances and such. I am incredibly excited for this! 

What is the link between all these things? 


I’m a service girl. I’ve known this for a long time, but it’s just not something that comes to  mind when you are making a list of what can be a hobby. Nonetheless, serving is my hobby. Unfortunately it’s not something easily done out of the home when I have a couple spare hours in the evening. I can still do those things I listed above, and that will come more and more as we find our place in this community. I look forward to that. I look forward to maybe volunteering somewhere a few hours at a time, or one day returning to work. For now, it’s really nice to know I’ve got myself figured out.

Me in my happy place.

Where We Are Now – plus a house tour!

I have been pestered by enough people now that I figured a new post is in order. 

Last you heard of me, on here anyway, we had just figured out that our new home town would be Nanaimo. Since then we’ve had a full summer of packing up and leaving our Edmonton home, coming to Nanaimo and doing house hunting, finding our new home, spending time at my family’s cabin, going camping with Tim’s family and hanging out with a few friends and family who had previously made plans to vacation on the Island. For it being a summer where we moved provinces, I feel like we were still able to cram in enough fun to make it seem like the summer was not wasted. 

Our house buying experience was a little bit different. We ended up finding a private-sale house, so we did it all without the help of an agent, which was new for us. But Tim did an awesome job at making sure all the Ts were crossed all the Is were dotted. We came out of the process with a house that checked all our boxes! Enough rooms for rooms for our children, a guest room and an office, and yard space. The square footage is not more, maybe even less, than what we had in Edmonton, but the space works for what we need it to work for. And I feel like the backyard is a real treasure!

Transition into the Fall season was mostly smooth. Calvin started full-time kindergarten and we’ve been working through some social bumpswith him, and Victor started Pre-K, where he never remembers what he did when asked; he says it’s a secret.

The first couple weeks of home ownership I, with the help of Tim’s mom, was busy painting and sorting out the house. I had fun picking out colours and purchasing the rugs and furniture we needed. I enjoyed the challenge of finding the perfect items on Kijiji or Varagesale, but I think the purchase of a brand new rug and couch for living room really made us feel like the grown-ups that we are!

Here’s a little before-and-after of one view I changed with colour:

And without further ado, here is a tour of our house! Victor was a big help, although I realized later that it’s not the best to have a short tour guide because my camera was often pointed down at him instead of up to see the space, but you’ll get a good idea. And I hope you don’t get too dizzy, as I am obviously not a professional videographer.

Now I need to change my header up at the top…

Where We Go From Here

When we moved to Edmonton, it was always our short to mid-term plan. We knew we didn’t want to be in the prairies, away from family for a long time, but were ready to do what we needed to do to get ahead in life, with Tim’s career and our family finances. Since his job was working for the Government of Alberta, we knew that we couldn’t count on a transfer to get us back to BC, but would have to look for something completely new. Well, it turns out he didn’t have to look.

Tim is a person who, when he has a hobby he enjoys, puts as much of his free time as he can into it. For a couple years this was sleight of hand magic tricks which you may have been lucky enough to witness. But more than two years ago, he started using a passion of his, statistics and analysis, to make another passion more exciting for him: the video game League of Legends. This game is played competitively and professionally, and as a new and rising industry, Tim realized that there were stats that could be tracked and analyzed that were not yet. He created databases and wrote articles, posting on his personal site Oracle’s Elixir. He made a name for himself in the industry and important people started noticing and requesting him to write for them or to provide stats for their commentary. For a good chunk of time Tim was freelancing part time for a particular site and doing other work on the side for other people. In January of this year he was contacted by a company that wanted to hire him full time. They flew him out to see if he would be a good fit for the company. Things fell into place from there and Tim officially quit the GOA and started with this company, working from home, about a week or two after Erika was born. 

The time had come…the time to move back to BC!

When we thought of going back, it seemed obvious to us to settle in the Fraser Valley. My parents are in Langley and my siblings stretch east from there, from Langley to Abbotsford. Tim’s parents are in Nanaimo and his siblings are scattered about from Victoria to Edmonton. We looked forward to being close to a set of grandparents and my siblings, and our children having cousins close by. We knew we couldn’t afford living right in Langley because of the housing market, but I didn’t want that anyway. It has just gotten so congested and plus, you can never “move back home”. I still have friends there, but I didn’t want to fall their own communities that they’ve built around them. We looked forward to living somewhere new and meeting new people, creating our own circle of friends…our own “village”. 

So when we accepted an offer on our house, we immediately booked flights to Abbotsford to go house hunting. According to our browsing on, we could afford something in Chilliwack equal to what we have here in Edmonton. After one day out with a real estate agent, we had a lot of reevaluation to do. It seemed that in all the properties we could afford, one of our few needs would have go be sacrificed. There either would be not enough rooms for Tim to have his work space, not enough yard space for the kids, or simply in a neighbourhood that we didn’t feel comfortable in. These things were all non-negotiable, and the door to Chilliwack seemed to close in our faces. That evening Tim and I sat and thought through some options, that all got crossed off for one reason or another. Rentinghaving tenantsmaybe a bit further east in Agassiz… it seemed impossible and heart breaking. Right from the beginning of thinking of moving back, there had always been two options, since we have parents in two places. That other option of course was Nanaimo. We had never given it much thought because it was too far from most of our family. But when the door to Chilliwack closed, that reopened the option of Nanaimo in our hearts and minds. 

We spend the entire next day talking it through together (with the small break to watch a little Kimmy Schmidt because there is nobody better at distracting you from your own problems). Never has a decision been so hard for us. In the past our big life changes seemed easy and natural. Want to get married? We’ve only been dating for six weeks, but yes! Should we move to Edmonton? That’s where a job is, so of course! Should he take this job working from home? It’s gonna get us back to BC, so obviously! It seemed so clear to us that we would live in Chilliwack and live our lives there, so it came as a shock to us emotionally that that may not be God’s plan for our family, that we may not be aligned with his will. It was an emotional few days, the highs of thinking of raising our family on Vancouver Island, and the lows of broken dreams of ours and of those we thought we would be closer to. The hope of seeing what we could afford in Nanaimo and the disappointment in not getting that in Chilliwack. 

In the end, we finally realized that Nanaimo is where we were meant to be. I’d say it was a choice we finally made, but really, there was no choice. It has been the hardest thing we’ve ever had to accept, but also so joy-giving at the same time! And are we ever thankful the job Tim got is a remote one and location is not an issue! Can you imagine taking a job somewhere before realizing you cannot live there?! God knows what he’s doing. In the most timely sermon I’ve ever heard, this morning’s was on James 4:13-16.

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

Guilty. We thought we knew what we were doing. We made up plans and expectations in our minds and hearts. And God said “nope!”. We look forward to building our lives on the Island and seeing what God has in store for us. It will still be hard, as we still want to have those closer relationships with those on the mainland; we just have to figure out what that looks like, and it will be a little more difficult. 

So if you think of us over these next months, as we navigate moving away from Edmonton, temporarily hopping back and forth between our parents’ homes, having Tim gone on a couple work trips, our house-hunting for a home in Nanaimo, please keep us in your prayers that we keep looking to God and his will. Exciting times to come!

Erika Grace – Her Name and Birth

Erika Grace
March 27, 2017
9lbs 8oz   –   22″

We are so pleased to welcome our daughter into our world! Our family has been waiting for her for such a long time, and we are so glad she is now here! 

I thought I would share the story of her name. It is a name Tim and I have had in our back pocket for over 6 years, since before we were married. In some ways it is really strange to say the name out loud now, since it has been such a huge secret for such a long time. 

Erika is named after my Oma. My Oma is a dearly loved woman by everybody who knows her. She is a dedicated worker, beautiful singer and the best baker I know. To be known by her is to be loved, to be fed, to be prayed for. We are sadly losing her quickly to the grasps of Alzheimer’s/Dementia, and it breaks our hearts. We hope the memory of her and her legacy will live on for a long time. Sometimes I feel like God meant for us to wait as long as we have to use the name, so it came at a time when the family needed it. 
Grace is a middle name shared with my sister, Rosalynn. My sister is a such a special person to me. She is a strong woman who loves fiercely and is completely devoted to what is in her heart. For a few months earlier in my pregnancy, I contemplated changing the middle name to Rose. It still would have honoured my sister, and roses are pretty flowers that smell lovely, plus, it would have been a reference to our time here in Alberta: Wild Rose Country. However, Tim never really came over to my side, and whenever I thought her name in my head, my mind always went to Erika Grace. And the meaning of Grace is so special; a rose may be lovely to behold, but there is nothing more beautiful than the free gift of Grace given to us by our God.

And now the story of her birth! 

With each passing pregnancy, I seem to convince myself harder and harder that THIS is the time I will have my baby early. I just simply can’t be late with ALL my births! So I totally thought she would come a week early. But she didn’t. She just hung on, and hung on. At my 39 week appointment, my OB said “we will discuss booking an induction during your next appointment.” I thought to myself, “Yeah, sure. I won’t need it!” My 40 week appointment came, and she booked me in for a week later. I thought to myself, “I definitely won’t make it that far!” I did. And with every day my nerves grew and grew. 

I was called at 7:45 on the morning of Monday March 27 asking how soon I could come. I had already showered and just needed to eat, so I said I could be there by 8:30. I packed up my last minute stuff, ate half a breakfast, and headed off to the hospital. I was anticipating a super quick delivery since Patrick was only 2 hours of labour. I asked Tim if he thought it would be an AM baby or a PM baby. He thought PM, but I wasn’t so sure. It took a while for them to get us started. I wasn’t hooked up to the drip until 9:50. They started me off on the lowest amount and slowly upped it every half hour. It was around 11:45 when I finally started to feel things happening. As in, I guess stuff is starting, but I can totally ignore them if I wanted to. Tim and I walked around a bit after the first half-hour period of being monitored, and I bounced on my ball. Getting induced is so boring. I just wanted them to break my water already. I knew that would really get things going! 

Just waiting, listening to the heartbeat on the monitor for the first half hour of being on oxytocin. His view, my view.

Nothing happened or progressed for another 2 hours. At 1:45 the OB on call finally came to break my water. I was mostly anxious to learn how dilated I was. At my OB appointment a week earlier I was 2 cm, and I was hoping to have dilated a good amount from the oxytocin in the past 4 hours. But I was barely 3cm. Womp womp. So he broke my water. With the very next contraction, I could tell that that was all I really needed. They went from being painless and barely there to being noticeable and getting more intense as time chugged on. Also, when they broke it, there was a ton of meconium in the water. It was actually really gross. I will spare you the many visual comparisons I have thought of since then. They continued upping the dose a bit every half hour. Just before shift change I had a huge gush of more green goopy fluid, so from then on I was to be monitored at all times. I had mentioned to my nurse that I used the nitrous oxide in my previous labours so she got the tank set up before she headed out so it would be ready for me when I felt like I might need it. 

Shift change came at 3:30. At this point my nurse told the new one that she thought I was still in pre-labour and not in real labour yet. I am going to disagree with her and say that my labour started at 1:45 when they broke my water. And I also have to say, nurses are so great. There are so many different kind of personalities you can get, and I happened to luck out and have the best kind of personality for each stage of labour. My first nurse was around my age, kind and sweet, she brought in two different newborn hats for me to choose from, and she recognized the Lauren Daigele and Jars of Clay I was listening to. She was a pleasant person to have around and joke with and get comfortable with while setting me up and getting me going. My second nurse was very different but equally amazing. She was older and you could tell she’d been around the ward a time or two. She really sounded confident in everything she was doing and made me feel confident in her skills and abilities. She didn’t mess around, but she wasn’t like a drill sergeant either. She listened to my requests with complete respect and gave me the benefit of the doubt in a couple situations. 

At this point my contractions were still getting stronger and stronger. Not quite bad enough that I needed the gas, but I had to close my eyes and breath through them. At some point I requested to be checked again, so see how much I had progressed. Probably around 4:30? This is one of the times the nurse listened to me as somebody who had been through this a few times before. I knew that in my last labour I had gone from 7cm to pushing in 3 contractions. So she had no problems checking me so she also could know what was going on and get the other necessary parties prepped for delivery (they needed to have the neo natal team there because of all the meconium, to make sure baby was breathing okay when she came, and also an extra nurse or two because Patrick was born with mild shoulder dystocia and she wanted to be prepared in case that happened again). When she checked me, sure enough, I was at 7cm. I thought to myself “Amazing! only three more contractions to go, and I haven’t even used the gas!” Of course things don’t go like that. I had more than three contractions. They did get stronger from there and I did need to use the gas. The great thing was that I still had the down time between contractions. I never got to the point where I was completely out of it and unaware of what was going on around me. I went into this labour wanting that. I wanted to be more aware of my surroundings, the people, and the feelings, than I had in the past because this was the last time. I enjoyed those in between moments, interacting with the nurse, welcoming the hoards of people to my room and smiling at them. I was happy. In pain, but happy. 

In the zone. Happy feelings once a contraction passed!

I suppose it was around 5:25ish when I started feeling “pushy”. In the past I remember my contractions going from normal ones to “okay, I’m pushing now” ones instantly. This time they came on more gradually, in about 4 or so contractions. That was good because it gave the nurse time to get the people she needed there, there. So everybody filed in, and like I said I smiled and said something like “Hello everybody, welcome here!” like I was teaching a class or something. The OB got situated and started directing my pushing while my nurse directed my other responsibilities like pulling up my knees and pushing down my chin.Within just a few pushes, she was there! I said, “And she IS a girl, right??” and it was so amazing. She was breathing just fine (I think; they didn’t say otherwise), and there was also no mention of any shoulder problems, so I think the whole crew was just there for a good time. 

Now since she was so big, and the delivery was quick, and this was my fourth child, the odds were against me on having no problems afterwards. My body kinda went into overdrive I guess. I had a significant amount of bleeding and clots post delivery. They kept me hooked up to the oxytocin to help with that, and also attached a catheter (as annoying as those are, it was kind of amazing not to have to go pee at all until the next morning when they removed it). They abused my poor uterus so hard with all their pushing on it to get stuff out, and I had to stay in the delivery room a little longer than normal, just so they could keep an eye on things and make sure the bleeding settled down, which it did, and there aren’t any more problems. Expect my second degree tear and the discomfort associated with that. But it’s definitely not as bad as the second degree tear I had with Calvin. 

The boys and my mom were able to come meet her that evening yet, before visiting hours were over. Apparently Calvin had been bugging my mom all day to be able to go to the hospital. It was hard to get sleep that night, what with the IV attached on the left and the catheter hanging down to the right, and the nurse coming in to check me and change me and restock the IV. But I managed a few hours of sleep, and so did Erika. We got home around noon the next day and we are happily getting to know one another. Calvin loves to hold her all the time, for 30 seconds at a time. Victor is exercising his new tendencies to act like a pesky older brother, and Patrick loves to point and gasp at her. We are all in love and are excited to get to know her more and more and time marches on. Just don’t march on too quickly!