Friday, December 9, 2016

It Snowed!

It snowed! I think the last big snow we had in Victoria was 6 (ish?) years ago, so today's several inches of snow is super exciting for every one in this typically west-coast-rain-drenched-"wintery" city.  Luckily I only work until 8.15am on Fridays and Joel's work day didn't begin til 11am today because of the weather, so we got outside to play a bit!  This is Charlee's first "hometown" snow day.
Playing outside with Pa before I got home from school.

Ugly Christmas sweaters made their annual debut.

Love this candid shot.

We also love how these snowball shots turned out. 

Charlee's first snowman!

Standing like the snow man - ha!

I couldn't convince her to snow angel with me.  She kept saying, "Bum! Cold!"

Charlee turned two years & one month last week.  Love this profile shot.
Our blue eyed love.

xxk&j&charlee rae

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sun, Fun & Toddler Livin'

This blog is suffering because we are having so much fun among all the tantrums. Actually, the tantrums were like a 3-4 week phase that really, really sucked.  We think Charlee is back to her usual self least we are on Day 3 of back to life, back to reality.  It's soooo nice to have our funny, silly, lovely and snuggie girl back.  Check out our Mandatory Fun Times proof in this photo essay post!

We call this look "Double Pones".

Life in a reno house.

We've let her colour all over the floor and boards for the walls/ceiling beams.

Seriously her hands and feet are traced all over everything.

This beach is a 7 minute drive from our spoiled are we!

I came home from a workout to this one day.

A Saturday morning Home Depot run for supplies!

Visiting Grandpa Ray on Father's Day.

Lake Time.

Crusin' in Grandpa Ray's fancy new car!

We've got a climber.

Uhhh....yeah.  She does this.

Early morning Bunny Watching.

Exploring a lake by our house.

Post nap Charles.  Getting out of bed is rough work.

Pre-bed yoga.

A pipe burst under our bathroom sink.

We are having a great summer over here at Alleyn Acres!

xxk&j&charlee rae

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Eyes Above the Waves

The last 4.5 years have been hard on the Alleyns (and extended family). 

It has not been an easy road navigating Joel's mom's diagnosis of brain tumours and brain surgery, her severely broken ankle, her cancer and chemotherapy, and the countless, seemingly endless seizures.  When we get updates of her health we gasp in despair and in the same breath we gasp in awe of Joel's dad, Ray, who has been there by her side for every single moment.  If that is not a sacrifice of love and commitment, I don't know what is.

It wasn't easy to go through my own health struggles to produce our dear child; our parents' only grandchild.  And then, a temporary and thankfully false skin cancer scare.

And then, Joel's grandma's lung cancer and Joel's aunt Elaine was by her side, playing the role of caregiver and estate manager.  When Rita died we felt sadness, but we knew she lived a full life.  We are happy she got to meet her great-granddaughter.

And then, somewhere amidst the birth of Charlee and the death of Rita our dear Elaine received her own diagnosis and it struck us hard. 

It isn't always easy to be an "in law" - you know? I know you all know what I'm talking about! It's tricky to navigate the intricacies of family when they aren't your own blood, but the ones you chose because they are your partner's blood.  It's been tough, despite my 12 years of being part of this family, to know exactly what to say and when to say it, what to do and when to do it.  I'm certain it is this way for all "in laws", daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, etc. around the globe. 

For me, Joel's aunt Elaine was the real deal.  Elaine and I shared interests (yoga, traveling, running, crafting, cooking, gardening, to name a handful) and we often talked about these interests for hours on the beach up at the lake.  Elaine was the one who consistently made me feel welcome both at the lake and in the many family gatherings.  Elaine was the one who hosted a baby shower for Charlee and hand made her a quilt to match Joel's baby quilt, made by Rita 30 years ago.  For me, Elaine's presence will be deeply missed, probably for the rest of my life, when we Alleyns are all together.  I can't even count the times I've broken down in tears since her diagnosis, crying out how unfair the situation was and is.  I don't understand.  She was one of my rocks in this family; I still need her.

Joel has given me permission to write on his behalf about his aunt Elaine.  Elaine and her husband, Jim, did not have their own children, but my goodness, they played the role of Aunt and Uncle like none other! Joel, his sisters and his cousins, enjoyed some pretty incredible vacations (Disneyland, Disney World, among other trips) growing up.  Once Joel's cousins and extended family grew up and had their own children, Jim and Elaine continued their role as rock stars and gave the next generation of kids the same kinds of experiences.  We were really looking forward to Charlee becoming part of the crew, joining in on the fun adventures; thus strengthening the bond with these so-called "adopted" cousins.  Joel feels so grateful for the experiences Elaine was able to provide him while he was growing up and he will feel the loss of his aunt's influence in our daughter's life immensely. 

It will take time to heal our broken, saddened hearts, but we know Elaine was not one to enjoy suffering! We do feel at peace knowing that she is now at peace, but even this deep peace does not stop the tears from flowing freely, randomly. My dear friend recently told me that it is only in an experience of death that we learn the true value of life and I've seen Elaine's legacy begin to trickle down and ripple around already. 

When I sit and think deeply on these last 4.5 years I feel exhausted.  How can one family suffer so much in such a short amount of time?  Please pray for us.  Please keep us close in your thoughts and hearts. We are protecting one another right now.  We have been keeping our eyes above the waves for a long time now.

shanti - shanti - shanti

xxk&j&charlee rae

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Mother's Day has come and gone, but finally finding time to sit down and go through these photos Joel snapped of me and my girl makes me realize how lucky we are to have this sweet little soul in our lives EVERY day, not just on days that celebrate mothering or fathering or

We are learning so much every single day from our girl - she truly has been my best teacher in life.

Example A:

Today Charlee was playing outside and my mom had just arrived to take care of her for a few hours while I went to my mindfulness course (Joel wasn't home from work yet). Charlee decided to take her hat off, and refused to put it back on.  The rule in our house is hats on when playing outside; Joel has fair skin, I have skin that easily tans, and a brief, thankfully false, skin cancer scare last fall all leads to two things...sunscreen and hats, yo.  After a few minutes of her running away from me chasing her with her hat I gave her two choices: hat on, or go inside.  I'm sure you know where this story is going.  I ended up hauling Charlee inside kicking and screaming.  I stuck firm to my expectation, despite the fact that Charlee did not agree.  Once we were inside the tantrum got worse; she kicked and screamed and ran away from me into the living room...still screaming.  I waited patiently by the kitchen door, her hat in my hand, and after about 20 seconds she came running back, grabbed her hat, plopped it on her head and back out we went.  My mom was still watering the garden and she asked, "Did she freak out?" And I said, "Yep!"  And then my mom said, "Charlee, I am so proud of you for putting your hat back on...playing outside with you is fun!"

What I learned from my girl today is that at 1.5 years old she is fully capable of understanding our expectations. While Charlee only speaks a few words we can understand ("go" being her fav), we know she understands everything we say to her. We've actually known this for a long time, but it's fun for us to see a reciprocal response from Charlee now that she's able to verbally communicate more.  I am proud that I was able to stay firm, yet calm and reliable for Charlee while her feelings and frustrations overwhelmed her.  I have done so much reading, specifically within the realm of Janet Lansbury's RIE approach to parenting, so I am comforted in knowing that what we are currently doing is right for Charlee.

This whole parenting thing is a crazy, whirlwind, joyful adventure!  I am grateful for days like today.  I am grateful that even though I'm only working .6 and; therefore our financial situation has changed, that I can be home two days a week with Charlee.  I am grateful for my mom, who selflessly gives and plays and cares for Charlee while Joel and I are both at work.  I am becoming more grateful for my physical body and the struggle it went through to get Charlee safely in to this world (more on this in a later post, maybe). And I am grateful for the tantrums, though they be few and far between, because they help me grow to be a more understanding and patient person.

Here are some fun shots from Mother's Day 2016.  Thanks, Babe, for playing photographer!

Joel built me a squash ladder out of scrap wood for Mother's Day :)

This hug was getting to be too much like snugging.

We almost snugged here too!

Lately Charlee loves taking my hand and bringing me on yard tours.

Me & my people.

xxk&j&charlee rae