3 Things to Remember About Rest During the Holidays

We got back from a family vacation in Phoenix last Monday, and I have to confess, I made a common vacation mistake: I fell for the lie that I could cram my schedule full and push myself like crazy until the moment we left on on our trip, because I could slow down and relax once we were on vacation.

My muscle therapist warned me I was making a mistake. When I had an appointment a few days before we left on our trip, he asked me, “What are you planning to do about your stress level?”

“I’m going to Phoenix!” I replied enthusiastically. He snorted, shook his head, and said, “The more stress you have when you leave for vacation, the longer it will take for you to unwind.”

I felt truth in his words, but by then it was too late – I was exhausted from two months of a crazy schedule and lots of life changes to deal with, so by the time we got to Phoenix, I felt frazzled. It took me half the week to finally feel truly relaxed.

It felt great once I’d finally purged the stress from my body, but by then, the vacation was already half over. The weather was beautiful, and we did some really fun things out there, but I came home feeling regret about how it had all played out. I wanted to go back and do everything differently.

As I’ve thought about it since, I realize that I have the tendency to fall back on this same strategy for Christmas, too – go hard, hard, hard, all through the craziness of November and December, and then wonder why I can’t enjoy the actual week of Christmas. “Christmas has just lost the magic it used to have when I was a kid,” I think to myself every year.

Or maybe I keep approaching the holidays like a marathon runner who pushes with everything in him to the finish line, only to throw up and collapse the moment he crosses it.I’ve begun to wonder if there’s any way to arrive at Christmas without the “throw up and collapse” mentality. What can I learn from my vacation mistakes to take with me into this next busy holiday season?

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

1) Let it be what it will be.

A lot of my stress leading up our trip came from wanting everything to be “perfect” once we got there. I always put this pressure on myself to get all the right snacks, the right clothes, and try to keep everybody in perfect health, etc. I get this idea in my mind that vacations or holidays need to be unrealistically wonderful – it’s family! And we’re SO HAPPY together! And we need to make MEMORIES!!! ALL THE PRESSURE!!!!

Guess how well that works?!

Everett got sick the day before we left on our trip, and it wasn’t great, but it was fine. Everyone survived, we still had a good time, and came home with great memories.

I realized that what I want is to have these special times feel like a little taste of heaven, but the problem is that life still happens on holidays. We’re not immune to sickness or any other life problems, just because it’s a “special time”. It’s like the bride I heard about years ago who had strep throat at her wedding. It just seems like that shouldn’t be allowed or something. We should be immune to problems during all vacations, holidays, and special occasions.

But it’s life, so these things happen. I can’t hold vacations or holidays up so high in my mind or expectations.

Christmas is just Christmas. It can be a time that is special and beautiful, but it can also messy and painful. I need to remember to let it be what it will be.

2) The unfinished tasks will still be there after the holidays.

Another reason I pushed myself so hard up until we left for Phoenix was because I wanted to feel like I had finished EVERYTHING, and there would be no loose ends to come home to. I was trying to work ahead so I could relax more on vacation, knowing there was nothing unfinished to go home to.

But when we were on vacation, I realized how impossible that goal had been – there’s always more to do, because life goes on after vacation, so the to-do list is never done. In trying to finish what could never actually be finished, I took on more stress, and then took longer to relax.

It would have been far better to hit “pause”, slow down life in general, and arrive on vacation already feeling relaxed, ready to enjoy myself.

3) Rest can’t be banked.

Deep down, I know better than to think it actually works well to push like crazy now and rest later, but we live in a culture where we hear this idea all the time. We neglect sleep in order to get more done. We are being “productive” and “successful” when we abuse our bodies to reach unrealistic goals.We can skip rest and relaxation, but we can’t do it well. I look at the weeks ahead, and I know the only real way to have the Christmas I want is to get there slowly. I need to pace myself. I need to relax NOW so that I can enjoy not just the week of Christmas, but everything leading up to it as well.

Maybe that means planning ahead a bit better so I don’t leave stuff to the last minute. Or saying no to some of the Christmas events, because we don’t actually need to go to EVERYTHING. Maybe I’ll buy a bag of chocolate covered almonds and bake a few less kinds Christmas treats. Everyone will survive. My kids think they want all their favourite Christmas baking, but what they really want is a kind, loving mother in her right mind.It means being realistic about my expectations, my energy level, and my priorities, instead of allowing myself to get swept up in the pressure to do it all.

Let’s do this well. I want to hear all your best tips for making Christmas simple and restful!!

Vacation Favorites

Have you ever noticed how awesome we can truly be at forgetting the bad stuff, and only remembering the good stuff? It is possible for pain to fade fairly quickly – it’s why women keep having babies. It’s also why we’ll go on vacation again next year.

Oh, my word. I haven’t been so tired since Everett was a newborn. We spent five days at the lake, and planned to stay another day, but we just couldn’t do it. Everett sleeps terribly at the cabin. When Ben looked at me with bleary eyes, and said, “I will not feel rested when I go back to work on Thursday”, I thought, “What in the world are we doing??!!”

At this point in life, sleep is precious. So we packed up, and went home. I may possibly have considered it our last trip to the cabin this summer. I was just that tired.

But two days later, I was editing photos from our vacation, and I caught myself thinking, “Oh, that was such a good time!!!”

What??! That is fantastic. Thank you, Jesus, for a brain like a sieve. And there were really good moments that were very enjoyable, so we’ll focus on those, and try again next year.

In the meantime, here are my photos that make it look like the best vacation ever…..

lakeB&ElakekidssunsetmorningmoonSee, I want to go back already.;)

Last Day of Vacation

Well, this is it. After this post, my blog will return to its normal state. No more sunny, vacation pictures – it’s time to get back to normal life!

But I’ll take one more day to share some lovely memories with you…

359On that last beautiful day, Kaylia spent a large part of her morning washing the car with Uncle Joel, while the other girls played, and the rest of the adults cleaned the condo and packed up.

361We hit the pool one more time after lunch, and the girls showed off their improved swimming skills.



374 392 393After swimming, we went back to Anika’s favorite park of all the parks we visited on our trip.396407 468

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It was such a beautiful evening! We ate outside at our favorite restaurant, and walked around downtown for a little bit.

Then we went back to the condo, and set our alarm nice and early for the next morning.

But…when we woke up the next morning, all ready to pack up and get to the airport, we got an email saying our flight had been changed. So we went out for breakfast instead! We walked to the restaurant on this beautiful morning…523

…and Kaylia decided she would rather hold hands with Uncle Joel than with me. That car wash must have been really bonding.524Then it was finally time to pack up and say goodbye.525And that is the end of that. So many wonderful memories!:)

At the Top of a Mountain

Ben loves to research things. If he needs to buy a car, an engagement ring, or tickets for a tourist attraction, he will research it. I am learning to appreciate this more all the time. It used to frustrate me slightly, because it felt like he took so long to make a decision, but now I like it, because I know that he will be able to make better, more educated choices, if I leave him alone with his compute for a little while. When he talks about something, he usually has good things to say, because he’s thought about it and researched it for a few hours.

So when he said that we should go on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway because Tripadvisor ranked it the Number One and Two attraction to see in Palm Springs, I listened to him. So did Joel and Sarah, although some of us were slightly more freaked out than others about dangling from a cable, going up eight thousand feet on the second steepest tramway ride in the world.

Palm Springs Aerial TramwaytramwayI went on a tramway once when I was a kid. It was a memorable experience – the ride was very exciting, I loved being at the top of the mountain, and I was chased by a mountain goat because it wanted the piece of gum I was holding in my hand.

Fortunately, we saw no goats on this trip up, and the view was quite breathtaking.


top of the mountain

Proof that I was there. (Ben and I had to make a conscious effort to trade off with the camera – now we have one photo of me in Palm Springs for every 100 photos of Ben and the girls….)

meThe weather and scenery at the top of the mountain was completely different than at the bottom. It felt a little like we were back in Canada! Cold, evergreen trees, and brown, crunchy leaves. Apparently the locals like to go up there to cool off in summer…


leavesLunch at the top of the mountain was also fantastic, really. We’ve eaten at many restaurants on this trip, and because of dietary restrictions, I have to stick with salads. After awhile, there are only so many ways you can do a chicken salad, but this one was extra delicious.

saladAs were the popsicles.


Oh, look, I made it into another photo. Joel offered to take family pictures of us anytime, which was always awesome, because he would take a minimum of 20 photos, giving me lots to choose from…


berriesAnd then we came down the mountain, back to palm trees and heat. That little taste of Canada was enough for one day!!

Now I’m sitting at home, blogging in the snowbanks, and wishing there was a quick cable car ride to get me back to palm trees…. But sleeping in our own beds last night was pretty awesome. And spring will come soon???!

A Day at Christy Miller’s Beach

My relationship with Ben is a product of my parents’ prayers, God’s grace, and Christy Miller books. I’m not sure which played the biggest role, but I do know that Christy Miller had a lot of influence in my life, even though she was a fictional character. I think my parents were fairly concerned about how I would weather the dating/choosing a spouse chapter of my life, but they needn’t have worried – Christy Miller taught me what I needed to know!!

I read those Christy Miller books over and over and over again, until every character seemed real, and Newport Beach seemed like home. I had never been, but it was all clearly pictured in my mind.

So you can imagine the pure delight I experienced when Ben suggested that we take a drive out to Newport beach on Wednesday. Ben did not realize the significance of that beach – he just read good reviews online. Turns out, Christy Miller had good reason to thrive on the beach of Newport….

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We explored, chased waves, walked to the end of the pier, went for a ferris wheel ride, and ate some fantastic food. Such a fun day!





Anika is not quite old enough for Christy Miller books yet, but I spent the day priming the pump. We picked out which house along the beach “belonged” to Christy’s fictional aunt and uncle. We imagined her walking around Newport. Anika’s pretty sure Christy Miller ate at the restaurant where we had lunch…

Beautiful day, beautiful view. It was a bit cold, but I’m so glad we went!

Indian Canyons, Where All My Vacation Dreams Came True…

When we first got to Palm Springs, Ben asked me what I most wanted to do on this vacation, just to make sure we would fit in the most important stuff.

My answer? Go out into the desert to take pictures.


Yesterday, the desire of my heart was fulfilled. I could now go home satisfied. Fortunately, we still have many days of vacation left yet! I need to quickly come up with more desires of my heart….



palm tree




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Weekend Favorites, Palm Springs Style

So, I’m loving Palm Springs. I was actually caught off guard by how much I love it.


I’ve done hot vacations before, and I was expecting this would just be like the rest, but there’s something different about Palm Springs. I’ve never visited hot mountains. We’ve gone skiing and done the cold mountain vacation, but the heat + mountains + palm trees is making me very happy.


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Tomorrow, we’re going to hike in the desert! Can’t wait!

You Will Need Airplanes and Passports….


“You will need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips, airplanes and passports, and new songs and old songs. But people more than anything else. You will need other people. And you will need to be that other person to someone else. A living, breathing, screaming, invitation to believe better things.” (TWLOHA, via my cousin’s Christmas letter!)

planePalm Springspalm treessaladswimmingswimmingsun

IMG_8115 IMG_8116 IMG_8122 IMG_8127 IMG_8136 IMG_8144 IMG_8146This combination of planes and passports and coffee shops and and parks and swimming pools with these awesome people is turning out to be fairly fantastic!

I wish you a wonderful weekend! I’m not really sure how to encourage you in your snowbanks, other than to say that I’m sure the warmth of your dear friends can overcome whatever weather you might be facing right now! And if you feel like living vicariously through my vacation photos, I will see you back here on Monday!;)

Making Summer Awesome – Week Four

We’re back from a fantastic week at the lake! Making summer awesome was very easy this last week!

flowermisty dockWe went back for a visit to our old beach at camp…

Red Rock Bible Camp KayliaWe relaxed, read lots and lots of books, did some puzzles….puzzles

…and soaked in tons of sunshine!

soaking in the sunshineWe took the girls to Rainbow Falls…

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…and laughed at some ducks jumping over the falls!Rainbow Falls August 2013 532The week was hot, hot, hot, so we tried to spend every afternoon at the beach.

swimming kayak sand castleBesides just having a great time as a family, I think we accomplished a few other things, as well:

  • We experienced enough heat to make me ready for some cooler fall temperatures!
  • We relaxed enough to make me motivated to come home and get stuff done.
  • We were on vacation long enough to make us miss home, and be ready to come back!

It’s hard to say goodbye to a good summer, but I find the easiest way to deal with it is to go hard, squeeze every little bit of enjoyment out of it, and then move on to fall with no regrets.

But my friend Chantelle is right – summer is not officially over until September 22! I have a few more things on my list to enjoy…



Being Intentional About Summer?

I had a small epiphany the other day.

Someone was asking me how my summer was going, which has happened around a hundred times so far, and I answered, for the hundredth time, “Great! It’s been so good, what about yours?”

And right as I was saying that, what popped into my brain at the very same time was, “You’re lying. It hasn’t been that great.”

This caught me off-guard. After the conversation was over, I thought about it a bit more, and realized it was true – I haven’t really been enjoying summer as much as I thought I would, but I’m never honest enough with myself to admit it. I’m too busy counting blessings and choosing a happy attitude, and all that.

Which is good.

But sometimes, if there’s a problem, it needs to be addressed.

So I tried to think of why, exactly, I was not enjoying summer.

And the answer that came to mind was this: “I’m not doing any of the things I was looking forward to doing this summer.”

Summer has not be meeting my expectations.

The problems is, I never realized I had expectations, until they weren’t being met.

There were two choices before me: get rid of expectations, or start making them happen.

I think I’ll do a bit of both. But either way, I need to know what my expectations are before I can get rid of them, or before I can make them happen.

I think lots of disappointments in life come because we don’t realize what our expectations are. Some people truly are easy-going enough not to have expectations, but I am not one of those people. There’s usually a picture in my mind for everything.

I definitely had a picture in my mind for this summer. I just didn’t take time to think about what it included.

I’m making a list of what I thought I wanted to see happen, and I still have a month to make some changes!

What do I need to let go of?

What do I need to plan for the month of August?

What shall we do to make this summer spectacular?


Spending five days at the lake this week was definitely an excellent start to turning this summer around!

Can you think of anything you need to do to meet or change your summer expectations?