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Oh Brother

So we needed a printer.

Our previous printer has successfully weathered it’s second year stored in our garage. It was an inkjet and we could no longer find ink for it. At least, not for a price any sane and reasonable person would consider paying. So there it sits. Waiting.

As I said, we needed a printer. I have been making do by completing any printing we required at a friends house, but that needed to stop. Procrastination tends to end in inconvenience and I finally tired of leaving the house just to print a form or an email enough that I buckled in to my desk chair, did my research and ordered a new printer.

I went with a color laser printer. A Brother HL-3170CDW Colour Laser Printer to be exact.
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Our printing needs include legal forms, letters, Pinterest and crafty type printing, educational activity books for children, the odd picture or chart and just regular text. Other needs included: toner/ink availability and low cost replacements, small size and Airprint compatitable.


Note on printing photos: I went with a laser printer because we don’t need high quality photo printing. With the ease and low cost of ordering prints from places like costco, walmart etc owning a dedicated photo printer just doesn’t make sense.

Bottom line:

-Shipped to my door in a few days

-Package included toner cartridges which my 5 year old was able to help me install

-Plug and Play printing: after connecting the printer to my wifi which was a breeze, we were able to print effortlessly from our smart phones, computer and tablets.

-Completely wireless

Update: We’ve had this printer for a couple weeks now and I remain very impressed with the quality of print both for color graphics and text. We use it nearly every day and we are very satisfied with every aspect of its performance.

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It crossed my mind, “this might be the end…”

FeaturedIt crossed my mind, “this might be the end…”

It would be unfair to say that I had not noticed how much time has passed since my last post.

In fact, I have noticed.

Nearly every day I noticed. But the truth is that the nagging desire, even longing, to come back here and write again was trumped by other particles, much less passively needy, in my daily climate.

That being said – while I hope you’ll pardon the long absence – I’m excited to be back!

And while we’re speaking of being back; we ended our out of province holiday early, but to follow through here are some iPhone shots at the beach. We were able to meet some long time friends who we hadn’t seen in a long time…

 

We rode a Ferry to Nowhere

FeaturedWe rode a Ferry to Nowhere

It’s not something most people prepare for.

When we got there, the realization stopped me in my tracks. At least, it would have…

…had I been riding on tracks, or leaving them.

Regardless, we had travelled by ferry to stay with Allie’s mother on Vancouver island and upon arrival I noticed there was no cell service. Zero. Zilch. Ick, but…no problem, internet sevice will suffice.

Wait, what?! This is grim. Very grim. No Internet either.

Likely the sun will still rise tomorrow (I’m actually cheating here when I sound so confident because it’s been two full days since we landed and the sun hasn’t failed to appear), but sometimes you find yourself in a bit of rough water.

Below are snapshots from our ferry ride that I planned to share with you earlier but it turns out… well, you know.

Enjoy ūüôā

Wild Horses Couldn’t Stop Us

FeaturedWild Horses Couldn’t Stop Us

Because we hadn’t done anything interesting or particularly exciting recently we felt a family Road Trip would be best suited to break the doldrums (kidding of course; this trip was pre-planned long ago which is why it ended up being so inopportune in timing)!

Never-the-less, we saddled up the truck and off we went, heading west. 

sign  Amazingly, while careening down the highway doing the old ‘post departure inventory’ in our heads (not sure why one does this; should you think of something you forgot it’s too late anyway and only serves as a source of stress) we felt self satisfied at concluding that we hadn’t forgotten anything. Although perhaps our self satisfaction was misplaced as we were bleary eyed and had missed way too much sleep prior… I doubt we could have picked out anything we’d forgotten anyway. Still, at the time we felt sensible enough. Besides, it was much later then we had intended to leave and the daylight had broken nearly an hour ago… adding to the illusion we were fully coherent.

So anyway, there we were… a baby, a 5 year old, 2 adults and 1 loaded truck, careening along.

Que the wild horses. Now, I’m not an expert on horses so; were they indigenous or merely domestic animals gone wild… I don’t know. But they were there, on the side of the hwy somewhere near the middle of nowhere. Of course, we stopped for pictures…

horseshorse

Well, on we traveled, enjoying both the anticipation of what was yet to come and the freedom to explore the road ahead.

…before you start to worry that I’m going to narrate the whole of our trip in glaringly monotonous detail, let me assure you I’ll be both succinct and speedy.

If a picture is worth a thousand words then perhaps you’ll enjoy these wordy glimpses of the rest of the day’s journey:

 

roadpoachers point

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Brenden and I exploring Poachers Point while Allie fed Kezia
tunnel3 amigosyohoice

After swapping out our home province for our nearest neighbor and close to 12 hours on the road we finally pulled in to our hotel for the night; successfully and happily completing the first leg of our journey. 

This was the view from our hotel window:

sunset

If you enjoyed these, stay tuned as I will be adding further updates as we venture on.

 

Good night.

 

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Moving, Costco and a blender

After spending much of the day in Family Restrooms… because that’s what families with a 5 year old and a baby do, they hang out near or in public restrooms. Mostly in them.

We were in the city to shop for furniture after the ‘Great Move’.

And of course, when I say ‘Great’, I mean terrible. But I also mean, epic. It was spectacular in it’s chaotic characteristics. It wasn’t even so much the fact that it went poorly… because it didn’t. It went well. Many people showed up to help, worked very hard and we were so blessed by it. But we were still moving the following day. And the one of after that.

During our long moving career, we have gone from house to house… big, small, odd, old and now new. It has felt like watching a child try to inflate a balloon for the first time. You know when they exhale and the balloon inflates, but then they inhale the same air and it deflates again? Have you seen that? Yes, I don’t doubt it. And so our stuff and ourselves have been packed into a small space, then suddenly inflated throughout a larger place only to once again be compressed back into a smaller one.

This time we thought we would outsmart the cycle. Our plan was to give away most of our mismatched belongings (like furniture) and then rebuild once in the new but smaller house, thus magically ‘fitting’ into the new place. Well, we got rid of many things, but somehow the other house had so much storage (and not at all in one centralized location) that we had managed to accumulate a plethora of belongings so great that… well, enter the ‘Great Move’.

…and subsequent to that, we find ourselves in the city, still reeling, exhausted and shopping for ‘stuff’.

We decided to finish up the meat grinder day at Costco, somehow managing to stay focused enough to load up the cart with our list items and we were starting for the tills… I was feeling plagued by this feeling that we were forgetting something. Then I saw it… The Vitamix roadshow demo.

‘Allie, look over there!’ I pointed, directing her gaze away from the warehouse sized bin of apples. 20 minutes of smoothie samples and grain grinding demos, we were again headed to the tills. This time with a Vitamix blender. Now, before you fault us for falling for costco roadshow demo sales, you need to understand that this particular blender has been on our ‘to buy’ list for years. In fact, I had donated Allie’s old blender mere days earlier promising her..

‘I’ll buy you a food processor.’

If you’re into eating healthy you probably can understand the value of a capable blender/juicer/processor. Salads are tremendous amounts of work, make you feel like a rabbit gnawing through vegetation and just generally take a long time. Smoothies on the other hand… sweet! We wasted no time in using it.

Puts a smile on my face.

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Remember when…


You moved last?

Boxes everywhere. Stubbing toes. Searching for that roll of packing tape you just used. Frozen dinners.

Chaos.

Yeah. It’s here.

Don’t hear me wrong, I have an amazing team mate who is ultra organized and never lets the chaos get out of hand. Allie is tireless. When I am tempted to huddle up in a corner boxed in by wayward furniture, she always has a plan. In fact, she’s already planning our family holiday for later on this spring. I’m not kidding, she’s booking a hotel as we speak.

But stuff is still everywhere. Brenden is feeling unsettled… roaring around the house with his dinosaurs. Kezia is laying on a playmat on the floor with a mobile above her.

I feel like I should apologize for how quiet it’s been here… but maybe I don’t need to, maybe you don’t mind or care.

It bugs me though; having a place to write and not having time to write anything. I’ve been trying to write a post here for a week now, and all I’ve accomplished is this. I will be back… I will be more dedicated.

All of us are looking forward to getting settled in the new place! It’s undeniably better. When you’re moving forward in life, sometimes we have to unsettle the status quo to be able to step into the extraordinary. When you stop making corrections in your life, that is when improvement ends.

Like the box in the picture points out… this way up.

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That feeling when…

…you take another sip of coffee and realize your cup is empty.

What is a Sunday afternoon in winter without a hot cup of Coffee or Tea?

In my family, Sundays are about decompressing from the week. They’re about enjoying peaceful moments… ¬†like rocking my baby daughter to sleep for her nap.

I hope that you get a moment to have a hot cup of whatever you enjoy today!

Happy Sunday!

 

7 smart budgeting tips for 2017

Featured7 smart budgeting tips for 2017

 

Everyone has one. Or at least, should have one since we all have to balance our spending with income. Good money management should be a basic skill that each person possesses.

And yet, money consistently comes out on top as the #1 stress for individuals and families.

Allie and I spent far too long fumbling with our spending and being in and out of debt. Eventually though, by being intentional about it and using the strategies below, we have been able to move our spending well inside our income amount. We have no debt, a growing savings account and we are able to do things like spontaneously going on mini holidays or buying a new smart phone.

Maybe you’re like I used to be; the thought of a ‘budget’ made me feel confined, limited and stressed. Or maybe you’re a rock-star and you’ve got the most detailed and well functioning personal financial operations….

Here are 7 smart budgeting tips that will help you in 2017:

  1. Know your income. Successfully managing your money means only spending what you have.¬†If you don’t know your monthly income you will find it very challenging to stay inside that amount and avoid going into credit debt.

  2. Be extremely detailed. One of the biggest mistakes I used to make in managing money was not being detailed enough. For example, spending $2.08 for a coffee at Tim Horton’s twice a day doesn’t seem like a big deal and you might be tempted to overlook it in your budget. But after 1 month of a coffee twice a day, 5 days a week, you’ve spent $83.20 of whatever you brought in as income. It adds up fast and can put a bigger hole in your budget then you realize.

  3. Communicate.¬†If it’s just you, then this just means to be aware of what you’re spending where and when. But if there are more then 1 person working off the same budget, spending a little extra time sitting down together to make sure everyone is on the same page will save you from blowing the budget without knowing it.

  4. Don’t borrow from next month.¬†I used to do this all the time when I was justifying a ‘one time’ expense that I didn’t want to wait for. It might seem like you’re adding flexibility to your life but in actual fact you’re just throwing next month into bankruptcy. If you can’t fit in this month, try temporarily reducing your spending on something like fast food, so you’ll have extra cash at the end of the month.

  5. Use an app.¬†Budgeting apps can be extremely helpful. Need to budget on the fly, try an app like Mint that tracks your spending and account balances, letting you stay on top of how you’re doing in real time. Or try an app like Apple Numbers to put together your budget on your smart phone while you wait for the bus.

  6. Have an Emergency Fund.¬† Want to know the fastest way to blow up your budget once you get it running well? Unexpected expenses. Having an emergency account (with money in it) will help you manage sudden one time expenses that you can’t plan for.

  7. Aggressively pay down credit Card debt. It might seem like a convenient way to manage expenses but it will cost you. A lot. Most credit cards will charge you 19% interest on any balance you carry. If you took 5 years to pay off a balance of $5000.00, with a monthly payment of 129.70, you will have paid $2782.17 in interest. You can see that it is in your best interest to pay off credit debt and ultimately keep that money in your pocket!

 

Well thanks for taking the time to read through these 7 strategies! If you found any of these helpful or you think of one I missed, please comment below. I would love to hear feedback and I will implement it in future posts.

All the best!

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That moment when…


You finish brushing your teeth before bed and suddenly realize you’re ravenously hungry.

Now what?

Sitting alone in the dark at the kitchen table eating a bowl of plain Shreddies with honey and milk, that’s what.

Wracking brain for something to write in a blog post. Nothing.

Place empty bowl in sink and head back to bedroom.

NOW it’s time for bed. Teeth brushed a second time…


Browse WordPress on phone, while laying in bed.

….compulsively start blog post.

Google pictures of chocolate cake to use as a post heading because it’s too late to go take a picture of something good in the fridge.

Finally find a picture of cake on Pinterest.

Feeling accomplished hit ‘publish’ post, clicking phone off and place it on nightstand.

1:23 am.

Hungry again.

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Snipets

At night Allie¬†likes to¬†sit on the edge of¬†Brenden’s bedside¬†when tucking¬†him in and read a story. He loves it. But sometimes the day was crazy or long or too short¬†and she just can’t find the energy to¬†read. In those occasions, (she’s a genius by the way) she¬†will¬†turn the light out¬†with him already¬†in bed, just his little boy face peeking out of the blankets, and the two of them share their favorite parts of the day.

Favorite parts of my day:

Holding¬†Kezia’s tiny face in my palms. Drinking a cup of tea. Sitting on the couch staring out the window¬†with Brenden looking for ‘crows’ flying. Eyeing the Market. A hot¬†shower. Writing this.

Hope your day was GRANDE. Feel free to comment below with your favorite moment…

Devastation

FeaturedDevastation

I wrote this a few years ago after my wife and I experienced the first of three miscarriages.

 

Little Girl

I watch the rise and fall

Soft sound of you breathing

Your quiet face peaceful as

The light plays over you sleeping

 

Holding you carefully safe

Your innocent laugh delights me

As I kiss your head and smile

Precious blessing in my arms

 

Running, your curly hair bounces

Radiant in the Spring light

Pulling a trail of dandelion seeds

Floating down to the music of your voice

 

As morning light wafts in,

Opening my eyes to another day

My dreams of you slip away again

And you’re gone away from us

 

You’re home now, you’re home

And your eyes drink in the beauty,

Engulfed in Light’s warm touch

You’re home now and I miss you,

Little daughter I miss you so much

We’ll be there soon, please

 

Don’t change little darling

’cause we’ll be there soon

Remember we’ll see you soon

We’ll hurry there, so soon

 

Daily Prompt: Devastation

The one with the Move

FeaturedThe one with the Move

So we started looking for a new house to rent. We have to move. I hate moving.

Our neighbors are noisy.img_4729But it’s not just our neighbors.

It’s that the washing machine and dryer are¬†adjacent to¬†Kezia’s room (so either she sleeps or the laundry gets done). It’s that our breath crystallizes when we head into the basement. It’s that we had flooding issues last summer. And finally, it’s that we are paying WAY to much for rent.

Allie and I have been married for nearly 11 years now and through most of that we have been small business owners/operators. Budgeting has never been simple for us and we’ve struggled to make¬†it work.¬†More often then not expenses far outpaced our¬† income.

(not actual amounts)

 

 

<- This is stressful…

 

 

…and feels like this:

Over several years though, we’ve been learning to be ruthless with our budget lines and force ourselves to make changes to various lines so that the whole mess balances.¬†[More on this later]

Sadly the rental market is dismal here and I’ve been feeling depressed about it all week.¬† Allie kept at me to trust God for provision and be persistent in looking for ‘the better’ solution…

As it turned out, we found it. The house is gorgeous inside and perfect for our needs. But the best part, it’s HALF what we’re paying now. Thank God for that! It’s amazing the relief that came with this. I’m ecstatic that we will no longer be drowning under our current rent payments.

Allie is downstairs packing… I should go join her.

 

 

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Frozen

p1070279This Blue Spruce tree lives outside our living room window. Woke up this morning and noticed it was covered in ice.

Brrr!

I turned and went back down the hallway to turn the thermostat higher.  I would have gone back to bed, but Brenden was up already so breakfast seemed only right!

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That time I made a salad

img_4691-1Which of course was today. Allie put a roast in the crockpot this morning so I decided to help by making a salad.

I don’t cook very often; partly because I’m not really great at it and partly because Allie is. In fact, she is a fantastic cook. And baker for that matter.

My endeavors in the kitchen often seem to end with mountains of dirty utensils, spilled ingredients and not a lot to show for it.

Today though I was motivated to help from watching her struggle to do EVERYTHING.

Our son Brenden is 5 so he’s pretty self sufficient, but our daughter Kezia is less then two months old. Allie is up many times in the night to feed her, and then powers through the day cooking, cleaning, laundering(just clothing)¬†and generally accomplishing stuff.

Under normal circumstances, I make ever effort to help, but for the last two weeks I’ve been recovering from minor surgery on my shoulder and Allie has been¬†doing¬†tirelessly taking up the slack.

I’m stirring gravy for the mashed potatoes as I write this on my phone…

Rarely do I encounter gravy with a meal when it fails to conjure up this clip from Conspiracy Theory:

 

Perhaps you are having something enjoyable for dinner as well – ¬†I hope so. If you’re not, please accept my sympathies.

oh, by the way, I finally wrote something more substantial under the ‘about’ tab so take a peek!

UPDATE:

img_4697
So unfortunately, I also made the mashed potatoes. No, you’re right, that whitish blob that has settled into the plate like self leveling grout IS the mashed potatoes.

I don’t know what happened.
Charles

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Let’s come to an understanding

img_4684

It’s late. At least, it is here.

Hi.

I actually have other stuff to do, but I’d rather be here, with you. I hope that’s not a mistake.

This page is a bit of a mess… I keep eyeing it; wanting to make it look better, wanting to do more. But no. It looks like my office. Barely even utility. I have plans. But for now, I moved to the kitchen table to avoid it all.

Now for that understanding we were coming to… I suppose I’ve been tossing around what to write about. Quite a bit actually. The truth is that I don’t really have it nailed down. What I do know is that it’s nice to have a place to mention things. You know, when you have something you want to tell someone, but it doesn’t fit the situation. Do you understand?

Speaking of paying bills. No, we weren’t? Well, remember the other stuff I mentioned? yeah. Well, speaking of that, I want to talk sometime about budgeting. Nothing scary like you’re thinking; it’s just I have some ideas.

img_4685

Had one of those.

I’m having trouble¬†finding a picture of¬†me. Personal? Yes. I just don’t know if it’ll help.

Anyway, thanks. You were super.

See you in a bit.

Charles

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Photographs

freighter

I spent several hours yesterday looking through our home photos. I was looking for pictures I could use as post photos here, but ended up spending hours pouring through memories.

The laptop was set up on the kitchen table along with our old DVD catalogs that I dug out of storage. I found so many little video clips and pictures of our son, Brendan, most of which I had completely forgotten about. There were also many old pictures my wife and I took while on dates or Sunday afternoon walks. As I watched and looked at each picture I was instantly brought back to where and when it was taken, like a time machine. I re-lived the moments. Most of them beautifully intricate in their detail and absolutely laden with emotion.

It was like an all you can eat buffet. And boy did I eat….

Success was a by product of my Memory Binge, but none the less, present. Locating several photos I could use here to Segway into blog posts, I piled them into a folder to pick from as I go. Each photo uploaded to this page was taken by either my wife or myself. Hopefully you find them enjoyable. I do.

Hopefully you’ll be patient with me as I learn where to put everything. I’ll have the ‘about’ tab updated soon!

Charles

 

 

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First Post

kites

It’s interesting the types of emotions the start of a new year brings. To varying degrees, everyone will tend to view the beginning in a slightly (or not) different light… based off their personal experiences and situations. Born out of some degree of¬†ecstatic elation¬†or¬†bitter desolation.

However, despite your particular facet, There is the inherent excitement that sparks and then lingers in our imagination; not unlike the massive starburst of a firework exploding after the countdown. Something about our nature leaps at the chance to be free from the rock solid earth of our everyday experience. To dream. To break free and soar on currents of previously unimagined possibilities.

Inevitably though, the brilliant embers of sky high potential run out of momentum and fall to earth, extinguished and soon forgotten. What happens next is what seperates the ordinary from the extraordinary.

The ordinary; a dismal infusion of necessity steeped in day after day.

The extraordinary; birthed out of unwavering determination and purpose. The truely EXTRAordinary only comes about by a metamorphasis. The crushing fusion of select elements morphed into something valuable by the unstoppable force of will and time.

Here we are, you and I, standing at the edge of unrealized potential. Goals. Dreams. Desires. May this year, 2017, be witness to the realization of our most epic imaginations! Heres to growth, success and the extraordinary in your life and mine!

Happy New Year! Please feel welcome here. More to come.

Charles