So late… no Christmas cards this year…

To our family and friends:

I prepared this holiday letter on Christmas Eve, but mailing it out in Christmas cards after New Years seems a little ridiculous. Please forgive us for our “neglect” this year… on a positive note, most of my envelopes are already addressed for next year (as long as I don’t lose them between now and then…)!

Happy New Year to you all – may 2014 be a wonderful and memorable year!

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Merry “Belated” Christmas!

December 2013 (and just maybe the months leading up to it…!) was slightly nuts for our little family and as a result; we’re behind in just about everything Christmas/holiday related (sigh…whatch’ya gonna do, right?). Although we know there’s little to no chance we’ll actually get our Christmas cards our before gifts have been opened, leftovers are all eaten up and you’ve had the chance to take advantage of some of those post-holiday sales, we still wanted to take a little moment to let you know that we’re thinking about you… (and that despite evidence that may indicate otherwise, we have been thinking about you) and give you a run down on the highlights of the past year.

It doesn’t really need to be said again but WOW TIME FLIES! This time last year Andrea was at home, Violet was just barely 5 months old, Layla and Meaghan were getting used to a new school and a new daycare, we had an old and (as it turned out) very sick pup, our basement had just flooded with sewage (gag) and there was a wall separating our kitchen and living room. This and more has changed since then. What…A… Year…

Through the ups and downs, the activities and renovations and brilliant ideas (okay…so they aren’t all brilliant….) we really make an effort to regularly take a step back and appreciate the many many many things we have to be thankful for. Did I say many? I meant it. Life is not always perfect and we don’t always have everything we’d like or the way we’d like it… but we have so much more than we need and a whole lot of the most important things in life with cuddles and giggles and little grimy hands reaching and grabbing at us – reminding us to try harder to be present. to be better. for them. Enjoying the journey, right? Right. Easier said than done – but certainly a worthy objective!

Some highlights from the last year… and maybe a couple of lows (sigh… just keeping it real) 2013 actually started on a bit of a downer. Over the holidays, our basement flooded (gag… again) and we quite unexpectedly lost our first dog, Reuben. Brutal (Losing Reuben, that is. The flood sucked, for sure, but losing the dog was way harder than we ever would have imagined).  As difficult as it was at the time, we pulled through and moved on. 555815_10151474637576217_495864433_nBefore you know it, we had a crazy little puppy, Quinn, running around our newly renovated basement. As much as a special (spazy!) dog like Reuben was irreplaceable, Quinn, who just recently turned one, has turned out to be a really great dog.    And we took advantage of the basement situation to downsize the “Rodgers zoo” (score for Andrea!). The rest of the winter seems uneventful in comparison but we benefited from Brandon’s 5 weeks of paternity leave (which in typical Brandon fashion, was used more to care for the new puppy), lazy days at home and the cottage and Andrea finally got into a workout routine that worked for her (seems like small news, but it changed her life!) and discovered the Looneyspoons Collection cookbook (absolutely fantastic!!!)

With the arrival of spring came numerous projects (some more necessary than others of course) and the countdown to our much-anticipated summer off all together. The best renovation projects from the spring/summer have to be the addition to the mezzanine at the cottage and the new deck at home. Both of which were realized by Brandon and his Dad. What a team!

582345_10151951978296217_1642385809_nThe summer… was incredible :)… and it went by so fast 😦

We thoroughly enjoyed the cottage, discovered how wonderfully content a campfire can make Andrea, found a hidden path to explore and spent lots of time looking for frogs and other critters. We took advantage of the intensive outdoor swimming lessons and spent hours and hours at the soccer field with both Layla and Meaghan playing this year. The summer FLEW by, but by the time school was starting up again, we were all ready for a little routine in our lives. To say we got more than we bargained for us an understatement…

Ooof… Change is great. I love it. But too much change at the same time is… really really difficult (to put it simply!). The fall hit us all pretty hard as our weeks filled up with various responsibilities, commitments, activities and events… oh… and more renovations (of course!)…

Brandon went back to work and continued working towards his masters’ degree in teaching. He prepared (weekly tutoring) and studied for the infamous and very difficult “French test” that is required for him to receive his diploma (which we just found out he passed – with a high enough percentage to teach French! Bravo!). He also kept up his regular exercise and continued playing in a weekly basketball league… among other things.

1013924_10151750423136217_759018254_nLayla started grade 1 (and we said hello to homework in the evenings. um. not fun.). It is incredible to see her learning so much and we’re both thrilled and proud that she’s doing so well in school – and especially math! Meaghan returned to daycare 3-days/week and is very interested in her sisters homework, trying hard to keep up despite the two-year difference. You wouldn’t know it to look at them though – Meaghan is almost as tall as Layla now and we are asked regularly (by strangers) if they are twins! Violet started going to daycare in September (sniff sniff!) but integrated with ease. Despite the onslaught of germs leading to sickness after sickness over the last few months, we’re confident that she truly enjoys her days playing with other little ones.  The “big girls” also did cheerleading and gymnastics through the fall. They are all growing up way too quickly and although they drive us a little wonky, we’re so proud to often get really positive feedback about how good and sweet and polite they are.  I guess we must be doing something right!

Andrea (who always needs some sort of project – if it’s not a baby on the way, it’s a mountain or… a masters…geez) returned to school and work in September. She thought she had it all worked out quite perfectly… the various pieces of the puzzle falling into place… but once again she learned the important lesson that it is impossible to do everything part-time and do anything very well at all (sigh!). Her first class in over 7 years turned out to be the most challenging class that she had ever taken. Foreign Policy Theory is interesting (to some!) but particularly complex… and introduced her to her first school related all-nighters ever (EVER!) She handed in her term paper on December 19 and is crossing her fingers that next semester will be easier. She’s also still REALLY happy with the kitchen/living room renos that we managed to complete in September/October. That white subway tile backsplash was a real tough job on her weenie arms but it turned out exactly like she was hoping it would!

1468811_10152063166921217_1714347926_nOver the next couple of weeks, we are going to take a step back… and enjoy some much-needed down time with each other. We’re so blessed to have the cottage for that. Meaghan said it best when she said grace before dinner a few weeks back “Dear God, thank you for the food and thank you that it’s Friday because we get to go to the cottage and I love that”. Aw. Needless to say, we are so happy to see that they realize how special it is to get away and enjoy the simplicity of spending time together… away from distractions… away from the hectic… away from the “just wait a minute while I…”. This Christmas (or slightly after!) and in the coming year, we are wishing you all the same in some way or another.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2014. It’s going to be a good one… I can feel it!

With love,

The Rodgers’ Family

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Dear Violet… a year has come and gone…

My sweet baby Vi…

There is a storm brewing outside. I saw a flash of lighting out of the corner of my eye and heard the thunder a couple seconds after.

A year ago we were having the same weather… but a year ago there was a storm raging in my body as well. Sweet baby… when you decided you were ready to come out and meet us, you weren’t messing around! We made it to the hospital just in time. And trust me when I say – it was a noisy, bumpy, and wet ride to get there. I moaned and hummed through my rapidly intensifying contractions and kept the windows of the jeep open despite the pouring rain. I somehow managed to walk from the hospital parking lot (there was no way I was letting your dad drop me off to go park, I didn’t want to be left alone!) to the main entrance… I must have been quite the sight to behold with my enormous belly, sopping wet… and in pretty incredible pain! It was my most dramatic labour by far… like something out of a movie. And then they asked me to pee in a cup –

WHAT? Continue reading

Summer Memories…

(Apparently I’m on a role this week… or feel like I have a lot to share… 3 posts in 1 week, crazy Andrea, crazy!)

Today is officially the first day of summer.

Pretty exciting, huh? Even more exciting when you’re a kid, a teacher or let’s say… someone extending maternity leave for a little while to be able to enjoy a few more sweet moments with the little one. Yes. That would be me. Yay!

Here’s to… soccer, swimming, long walks, picnics, searching for tadpoles and other critters, lazy afternoons, strawberry shortcake, campfires, trips to the cottage, the zoo, the water park, late nights, early mornings, BBQs, sunscreen, bug spray, reading on the swing or hammock, flying a kite…

This week I finally finished updating my family photo albums (a project I had on my to-do list for my year off work) up to Christmas 2012. 1800 or so pictures later (not kidding – I had yearsss to do – making it a rather expensive project)… I noticed something about our picture-taking. Aside from my trip to Kilimanjaro in 2011 (which filled an album all on its own) a really big part of our family pictures are taken in the summer. And they are beautiful pictures… happy pictures… fun pictures.

summer pictures

And pretty soon, this summer will be summed up by a collection of pictures as well. This special summer – where we are ALL off, ALL home, ALL together, ALL the time…

Continue reading

Not completely myself…

periodI haven’t been feeling completely like myself lately.

Anyone who knows me relatively well can vouch for the fact that I am a tad wonky on a good day. I overanalyze conversations, relationships, missed opportunities… I’m a little restless… a little indecisive… I love a good project…. that I don’t want to miss out anything while I’m trying so hard to find a way to do everything (and nothing at the same time…uh…huh?!)…

But lately… oh.my.good.ness… I’ve been seeing RED. Last week I had so much less umph (yes umph) in my work outs. This week I could have boiled an egg with the rage coursing through my veins for what really… was… nothing.  I could have confused a psychologist with the many different directions my thoughts have been taking me… Continue reading

Finding time… to Budget

Who is responsible for keeping track of cash flow in your home? I’m not sure how or why it happened, but I’m pretty sure it’s always been me in ours.

With money management being one of the top reasons for conflict in a marriage, I think that Brandon and I are pretty lucky to share a similar view of, and approach to, money. How we save. How we spend. How we give.  How and why we sometimes fail at following our budget (!)

When I started writing this post I was ready to tell you all how I think I’m pretty good at this whole “budgeting” thing. Continue reading

Finding time… for my girls

If you haven’t already, please meet Layla, Meaghan and Violet. My 3 beautiful monkeys/princesses/goofballs.

I’ve been a “Mom” for just over six years now. Sometimes… I’m not sure I really remember life before kids. I know I’m not the only one but still – is that weird or what?

Getting to where I am today – a youngish mother of three – the increased responsibility, the more mouths to feed, the extra demands, the multiplying hugs and kisses going around…heck… the sometimes overwhelming quantities of dirty laundry (!) – certainly didn’t happen overnight. Continue reading

Pumpkin and Spice – Last Minute – Twice!

I’ve made these delicious muffins to share with friends twice now – both times at the last-minute. The first time was in my untimely scramble to offer something fresh out of the oven to a new mom. The second time was to have something special to serve to one of my favourite coffee date moms, who stopped over with her daughter(s) for a “quickie” play date the other day. I think it is safe to say that I’ll be making them again. Often. The recipe is from The Looneyspoons  Collection (which has been my go to cookbook for the last few months – more on that another time).

ImagePumpkin and Spice and Everything Nice Continue reading

Finding time… for my couple

How do I find time to do the things that I do? Well… for starters (and as previously mentioned…) I don’t manage to always find/make the time for all the things I would like. However, when I do, I can probably attribute a big part of my success to my husband Brandon – for his support, his desire to be around, his chosen career, the things he allows to make demands on his own time and energy… the importance and priority that he places on being an active and present husband and father.

I am blessed to have such a man in my life.

And as our 9-year wedding anniversary approaches it is fitting to reflect a little on how we manage (or don’t) to find time specifically for us, for our couple. With three little girls and all of our other responsibilities, hobbies and interests – it is all too easy to let “us” fall through the cracks.

Picture by PhotoCreationsTZ

Picture by PhotoCreationsTZ

We know how important it is to make the time for one another.

We know that if we put our couple first the benefits will overflow to the rest of our family.

We love each other.

We like each other.

We enjoy spending time together.

And yet…

It seems like so many good intentions are lost at the end of a busy day… a busy week… a busy year… Continue reading

Finding Time…

In the last couple of weeks several people (fellow mothers) have asked me a variation of the same question…

How do you find the time to do everything that you do?

My first thoughts of response are rather confused…

…everything that I do?

The question boggles my mind because when I look at myself, my daily comings and goings, I am often disappointed in how little I have accomplished and how much I have forgotten or let slip through the cracks. When I read the monthly “Chatelaine Woman” articles, scan some of the “mommy blogs” out there, when I hear about the incredible things my colleagues are doing at work – I can’t help but feel that somehow, somewhere, I am coming up short. If only I was more organized. If only I wasn’t so torn between family and work. If only there were more hours in a day… or if only I didn’t have to sleep so much to avoid feeling worn out and falling sick (!)

So I am confused… but I am also surprised. Surprised to find out that there are some (if only a handful perhaps) that are looking at me with any kind of admiration for what I am doing.

And from surprise I go to pensive.  What am I doing these days and how am I finding the time? These are the thoughts and concerns of someone who is blessed. Aren’t they?

I’d like to take a few moments now to make a list and then follow up with individual blogs about each (or at least some – let’s not get ahead of ourselves Andrea!) over the next few weeks. Some would say that I’m “goal oriented” so this should get me to keep coming back and sharing my wacky thoughts a little more regularly (for now!).

Andrea’s List of Priorities/Preoccupations/Time-suckers

(in no particular order  of importance)
One-on-one time with Brandon (Chatting, smooching, laughing, dreaming… arguing… c’mon let’s keep it real!)
My girls (school, daycare, activities… discipline… pulling my hair out… one-on-one time)
Maintaining the family budget (or trying to)
Groceries and Cooking (Planning, Budgeting, Family Meals)
Laundry (Lots of laundry)
Exercise (Jillian Michaels is my new BFF)
 Maintaining (renovating/decorating/obsessing over…) our Home
Enjoying (and taking care of) the Cottage
Touching base and getting together with friends
Touching base and getting together with family
Writing down my thoughts (rarely and sporadically!)
Dreaming about possibilities and ideas for the future
Taking on personal goals/projects
Faith, Church and spiritual “questioning” 
Walking the Dog

I think that’s all I have for now. Some of the items are biggies. Some are just daily thoughts that pass through my head… regardless, I’ll start working on an elaboration of one of the above and hope to post something at the beginning of next week.

Disclaimer: I don’t know why, but I feel it is important for me to add this little disclaimer. I want you to know that just because I am writing about my experience, I in NO way think that I am special or accomplished for it. I in NO way think I am an expert.  Some may look at this and roll their eyes a little because most of what I share is simply daily household “to-do” stuff. Some will smile and sympathize with my approach…and my issues… my dreams… Others might read and wish they had more time. (ha… it sounds like I am assuming so so many will actually read!) Alas… in the end… how we spend our time is so unique to each of us (kind of like how we spend our money – but that is altogether different subject)… so take away what you will. I’m going to start writing some thoughts down either way 😉

Here’s to Spontaneous Memory Moments

From one imperfect Mom to another…

Happy BELATED Mother’s Day 🙂

I think it’s fitting that this comes from me after Mother’s day. It seems like I’m often playing catch-up or checking off items on my to-do list after (sometimes much after) I wanted them done in the first place.

With 3 little girls, a puppy, a house to maintain, a cottage to visit, a budget to keep under control, groceries to buy, meals to cook, papers to sign, activities to go to – and an endless list of tasks to take care of – not to mention fitting in some time to take care of myself, the love of my life and our couple… I am certainly never bored being a wife and mom. Continue reading