Monday, September 9, 2019

Living at the Cottage

Here are some photos from the time we spent living in a cottage, on a lake.
It was a special, meaningful, healing period of time for our family.
I cherish my memories of that time!

Back in February when we knew we would be moving, I spent a lot of time looking at websites, searching for a home for our family. It was difficult to find very many rental homes that were in our price range. As time continued to pass, I became pretty discouraged and worried. Then I found someone looking to rent their cottage out by the week or by the month. The cottage backed onto the lake, we would be able to afford it, and although not close to work, it was less than an hour drive away so we thought it could work as a temporary place to live while we continued our home search in person. I struggled with knowing whether this was the best choice for us, and continually tried to remind myself that things would work out somehow, and that I needed to exercise trust that that was true. Looking back, I can see that it was totally true. I hope I'm learning through experiences like this, so that when times come in the future that I need to exercise that sort of trust, I'll be stronger at doing so.

Monday, August 26, 2019

5 Ways to Prepare for Smoother School Mornings

This post was originally written a couple of years ago when our girls were heading back to school. I wanted to re-share these tips and in looking at these photos I noticed that the backpacks they got that year were re-used last year and are still in great shape, so this year they're going on year 3! I can definitely speak to the quality of High Sierra's bags. Now, whether you just started a school year or you're about to, I hope you'll appreciate these tips for smoother school mornings!


We had a whirlwind first school morning and after just one school day, I'm reminded of the huge difference a little preparation can make for smoother school mornings!

Yesterday was the first day of grade 4 for Katrina and grade 6 for Talia. I usually like to take nice "1st day of school" photos in the morning and drive them to school so I can help them find their new classes and be there to offer any reassurance, comfort, or pep talks that may be needed.

Disclaimer: This calm photo was not taken on the first day of school.

This year however, we were in a hurry because I received a court summons for jury selection for yesterday. I was just as nervous about that as the girls were for school yesterday morning! We only have one car so I grabbed a quick cell phone shot of each girl before jumping in the car and we all drove to the courthouse where I said goodbye and Ken took the girls to school.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Surprising Old Friends in Our Old City

The girls' main goal while back in our old city was to surprise each of their best friends from school who didn't know we would be in town.  The surprise went really well!

We drove to Talia's friend's house and surprised her at her door (which went perfectly) and then went to the bus stop for Katrina to surprise her friend. We got both of the surprises on video to remember the moment. :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Arriving in Canada

The story of our Utah to Canada moving road trip has come to an end, and now it's time for our arrival back in Canada!

Review of the Road Trip

We carefully chose the stops that we wanted to make during our moving trip from Utah to Ontario. When we originally moved there, we intended to visit St. George Utah, where it's much warmer than the rest of Utah, but we didn't have the chance during our 10 months living there so we decided to go there for our first stop. We had always wanted to show our kids the cool (kid friendly) things in Las Vegas, so that was stop #2. We also wanted to visit Ken's cousin's family in Texas so we made that happen, and made the best of the driving time in between, to see a couple of cool places like the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam.

Arriving "Home"

Monday, August 12, 2019

Visiting Family in Texas

One of the stops we planned on our moving road trip was in Texas. Ken's cousin (who was his Best Man at our wedding) lives there with his wife, 2 daughters the same ages as ours, and a son. We have visited them as often as we have been able to through the years, and even met them in Florida for our first trip to Disney World. They came to visit Utah in the summer while we were there, so we saw some of them then, but we couldn't wait to spend more time with them. It was our favourite stop on our road trip!

We arrived on a Thursday (March 21st) after a long drive, and there was one thing we all wanted to do: visit Bedford Snoball! (This is a local treat place that they have frequented for years, and we have visited with them several times before). It was a highlight of our trip & we went back almost every day!

During one of our visits, we took the photo on the right after looking through photos from a previous visit, 7 years ago (crazy to see how much they've grown!)

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Family Service Project for Homeless Families

Early this summer, we watched a movie called Little Red Wagon, about a boy who set out to help homeless people. It all started with a neighborhood food drive. By the end of the movie we were all inspired. When it was over, I thought, "hmm, our city surely has some homeless shelters, I wonder what we could do to help." That's how our project began, and now that it's complete, I thought I'd share how this family service project unfolded and hopefully inspire some of you to find a way to serve your community with your kids!

Step By Step How to Help a Local Homeless Shelter

I started by doing an Internet search for local shelters and soon found one that caters to women and families. I found a website and a facebook page and quickly saw that they were looking for food donations as well as items for a kids' program they run on weekends. It didn't take long to find a couple of contact emails and soon I was in touch with a volunteer who runs the kids' program and another person who could tell me what food items they are most in need of right now.

Monday, July 29, 2019

How to Have a Great Staycation

Last summer, I was on FOX 13’s lifestyle T.V. show, The PLACE, discussing tips for a great Staycation!

As we're down to about a month of summer, I thought I'd share those tips here again, along with a few links to resources on the blog that will give you some more specific or detailed ideas and inspiration for planning your own Staycation!

Ideas for Family Staycations

Happy Staycation planning!

Here's the video first, and then I'll outline all of my tips (not all of them were in the video)

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Shared Girls' Bedroom with Loft Beds

Our girls shared a room in our home in Utah where we only lived for 10 months- it was quite a whirlwind with moving to a new country and getting settled there! I took some photos of their bedroom while we were there and am finally now getting the chance to share them here.

How to Make the Most of a Small Bedroom

There were three bedrooms in our townhouse and we used the smallest one as an office. Ken & I used the largest room and the 2nd largest room (which was technically the master, with an en suite bathroom) went to the girls.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Disney's Epcot - Our Top 10

After our last Disney trip, I promised that I would write a post about each of the parks at Disney World in Florida, and our favourite things to do at each. Today it's Epcot's turn.

Epcot Top 10 Disney World with Kids

Epcot is like a mini trip around the world, under the sea, and into outer space. While it includes many attractions and experiences tailored to children, I often think of it as the park I'd be most interested in attending as a couple or with just a group of adults. That being said, we visited as a family, so these top 10 will be keeping a family trip in mind.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Road Trip Stops (between Las Vegas & Dallas)

After a couple of nights in Las Vegas, we got back in the car and started driving toward Texas. It was a lot of driving but we found a couple of places to stop along the way!

Our first stop along the way was the Hoover Dam.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Baby Mollie Rose (Newborn Photography)

If you go way back to the earliest posts of this blog, you'll see that it started as a photography blog- even before I had the idea to create "Raising Memories". I don't regularly work as a photographer now, but every now & then something special happens in my family and I get the chance to practice photography again by doing a little session. That opportunity came up when sweet little Mollie Rose was born and I was happy to be able to take some photos of her, when she was just 17 days day old.

We weren't able to get together any sooner than that because her mom & dad live several hours' drive from where we live now, but when we had the opportunity to meet in the middle, at Ken's parents' house, we jumped on it!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Las Vegas, Nevada (Moving Road Trip)

Back in Utah when we booked our hotel for two nights in Las Vegas, we chose Circus Circus because we found a great deal and because it included a water park! We didn't tell the girls where we were staying for this stop because we wanted to surprise them. Although we stayed in an older room that didn't have anything special about it, we were positioned just across the street from the waterpark which served our purposes just fine!

Visiting Las Vegas Nevada with Kids

Here are a few of our must-see stops in Vegas when you're traveling with kids...

Monday, July 8, 2019

8 Ideas for Summer Fun At Home With Kids

It's summer, school's out and suddenly all of your kids are home way more than usual and you find yourself looking for ways to keep them happy without setting them in front of a screen!

Today I'm sharing 8 fun activities you can do with your kids. Some of these are my own, and some are links that have been shared in my link party that I would love to try with my kids! I hope they give you some inspiration or items to add to your family's summer activity bucket list!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

St. George, Utah (Moving Road Trip)

Halfway through March, with snow in the mountains and cold in the air, we said one last goodbye to my sister and her kids, we walked out of their house, got into our car and started driving away from our home in Herriman, Utah.

I was relieved because we were finally finished packing and emptying our townhouse. I was excited for our road trip and the adventures ahead of us.

Those feelings of anticipation were mixed up with the sudden pushing through of the feelings of sadness, loss, and uncertainty that came with leaving our new home in Utah that I was finally beginning to feel settled in. I had struggled to plant roots in this new place and it seemed that just as they were beginning to take hold, I found myself pulling them up without a clear vision of where I would soon be attempting to plant them once again.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Bed-in-a-Box Comparison (Endy vs. Douglas vs. Logan & Cove)

With several unpredictable events in our life over the last couple years, we've ended up with a total of 4 different mattresses in 2 years! We recently started sleeping on the Endy mattress and this seemed like a good opportunity to share some of our mattress-in-a-box experience. In this post I'll share our observations about a few different mattresses we've tried, to help you if you're shopping for a mattress-in-a-box and would like some real life comparisons to refer to as you do some research!

Endy Douglas and Logan & Cove Comparison

Endy vs. Douglas vs. Logan & Cove 

We started out with a traditional springs & foam mattress that we tried out in a store before purchasing and slept on that for quite a few years, until it was time to replace it. At that time we decided to try the Douglas bed-in-a-box which we enjoyed for just over a year- until our house filled with smoke and consequently, we had to dispose of our damaged mattress. We replaced that mattress with a different style of bed-in-a-box that included foam and springs (this was the first I had heard of a bed-in-a-box with springs!) called the Logan & Cove. We brought that mattress with us when we moved to Utah and slept on it for a year before moving back to Ontario recently.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

DIY Faux Floating Wood Shelves & Cariloha Giveaway!

Our new rental townhouse came with a linen closet inside of the upstairs bathroom. I was very happy about this because our townhouse in Utah didn't have any closets (other than the bedroom closets). However, this closet had white wire mesh shelves and I wasn't too crazy about them. I didn't love the look and I didn't really like that they have holes in them. It just so happened that a budget organizing YouTuber I watch called DoItOnADime published a video on her channel shortly before we moved in, about a hack to make wire shelves look like floating wood shelves! I loved the idea and with just a few dollar store supplies, I thought it was worth a try!

Fake Floating Shelves and Soft Bamboo Towels Giveaway

I was really happy with the result! If you'd like to try this project yourself, here's what you'll need:

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Saying Goodbye to Utah

Our time in Utah came to an end pretty quickly when Ken found out about his new job offer. We found out about the job at the end of January and by the time things were finalized, we had about 6 weeks before we would start driving back to Canada so it was a pretty busy time of selling a lot of furniture, packing all of our stuff, finding someone to sublet our rental townhouse, and trying to make arrangements for our arrival in Canada.

During that time, we also tried to squeeze in as many appointments as we could (haircuts, eye appointments, dentist appointments, etc.!) Here's a photo of the girls & I after our eye appointments:
...and here are the haircut before & afters:

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Some Thoughts on Comparison, Social Media, & Opening Up Online

This post is about comparison, "invisible" struggles, and the role that opening up online and through social media (or not opening up) plays in our perceptions of others' lives....

Sometimes you look at someone in the pew across from you at church, or you follow someone on Instagram and think you have a pretty good idea of what their life is like, how happy they are, what sort of weight they’re carrying in terms of life challenges, and how well they’re handling things.

Authenticity and Transparency Online

You probably compare them or their life with yourself or your life- whether you mean to or not. You probably have a warped perception of what life is really like for them. (Please note that I said warped perception- this is good news because there’s a good chance that your inadvertent comparing is making you feel worse about yourself, your life challenges, and how you’re handling everything! If you can realize that the comparison you’re making isn't really a fair one, it may help you on that front.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

My Weird Ellen Dream

A few days ago I was getting ready for the day and as I was doing so, the details of a dream I had the night before slowly started coming back to me. I found myself chuckling as I remembered more and more of it and thought I needed to document it. So today I bring you my weird Ellen dream:

Strange Dream with Ellen Degeneres Oprah Winfrey and Sheri Dew

In my dream, I worked at The Ellen Shop (which was located in a strip mall). Ellen was always at the store, sitting at a special desk. When I arrived at work, I was told by a supervisor that all employees would get 40% off of all jeans that day because the Oprah show would be surprising Ellen by coming to the shop at 4:30 that afternoon. I started shopping and trying on jeans and hoodies until I realized that Ellen could see me and I thought I better stop shopping since I was supposed to be working.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

We're Back!

Well this is possibly the longest break I've ever taken from blogging...

Details on what's in the background can be found in the Cottage Instagram stories (linked below).

I wasn't able to blog during our road trip from Utah to Canada because I was relying on hotel WiFi and had little free time. When we arrived back in Canada and were living at the cottage, we were relying on our cellphone plans for internet access and since we were out in the country, that wasn't the best connection and creating a hot spot was extremely ineffective.

Cottage Life

My best way to document our time at the cottage was through Instagram and mainly Instagram stories. If you're interested in looking back through my cottage story posts, I'll link them for you right here. I recommend it- it brings back great memories for me to watch this little series of posts. :)

Road Trip from Utah to Canada

I also have a story feature for our moving trip from Utah to Canada, so you can check that out if you'd like to get a glimpse of our road trip.  I would like to share some of these memories in blog form if I can get to it, but I'm not sure when that will happen, so these stories are your best bet if you'd like to catch up on what we've been up to.

For now I just wanted to make an appearance back here on the blog, to say a quick hello and let you know that I haven't disappeared! I hope you're still here too because there's lots more to come!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Becoming Minimalist Homeschoolers?

Last time I wrote, I told you about how we would soon be homeless. Thankfully, I can now say that we have a short term plan for where to lay our heads when we arrive in Ontario!

Photo not of actual lake ;) This was taken at our Couples Resort getaway in Northern Ontario!

At this stage, we're planning for a month or two of minimalist living & homeschooling at a cottage by a lake...

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Homeless in 3 Weeks

We finally have a set moving date! We will be leaving our home in Utah in 3 weeks and heading back to Canada. Do we have a home when we get there? Not yet! ...and I'm really trying not to stress about that!

Here's a bit about our plans so far:

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

An Announcement...

Lest you see the photo at the top of this post and assume that I'm writing a throwback post about "that time we moved to Utah", I'll encourage you to look closely at the photo to see what has changed since I posted it in April 2018 (I did a little photoshopping). That's right, the arrow is pointing the other way! We're moving again, and this time we're leaving Utah and heading back to Ontario, Canada!

When I wrote about our move to Utah I said, "We don't know how long we'll be in Utah but I guess we're getting used to not being able to see too far into our future."

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Our 1st Two Weeks of December

The last time I did a week or month-in-review post was in September (for August). I keep meaning to catch up! Maybe I'll do that eventually, but for now, I've got a review of our first 2 weeks of December.

I want it mostly for my own records, but if you want to keep up on what we're up to, here you go! ;)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Brooklyn's Baptism Photos

My niece turned 8 in December and was baptized a couple of days ago. (I wrote about what baptism is like in our church in this post when Talia was baptized so if you're not familiar with that and are curious, you can check that out).  We took some photos to commemorate this special moment in her life.

Great to be 8 Photography

Our plan was actually to meet and do this in the Fall, before it got very cold outside but busy lives took over and we found ourselves squeezing this photoshoot in on the day before her baptism, right in the cold of January!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

July 2019 Sharing Time

Welcome to the July Link Party!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

June 2019 Sharing Time

Welcome to the June Link Party!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

March 2019 Sharing Time

Welcome to the March Link Party!

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