I’m not sure I believe in a stand alone photo.  I mean, not when it comes to family photos at least.  I want to be able to look back on these one day and bore someone with allllllllllllll of the details.  You know, the details about who we all were.  When these pictures were taken.

I’m AGE 32, teaching science for my 10th year and enjoying my side-hustle as a mug designer with my best friend.  I take full responsibility for my caffeine addiction, the number of photos in my camera roll, and crying during episodes of The Bachelor.  I’m a homebody that loves to travel with other homebodies.

Phil is AGE 34 and is rocking his job as an Activities and Athletics Director.  The man works more hours than I can count and yet he’s equally as energized and AWESOME when he comes home to be “Daddy”.  He is the definition of organized, loves to eat pizza, and has big dreams of being a contestant on Survivor or Amazing Race one day.

Nory is one month shy of AGE 5, thriving in KG1 and obsessed with gymnastics.  She loves accessories, Barbies, and Beanie Boos.  She loves to colour, craft, bake and dance.  Musical tastes include the Descendants soundtrack, Taylor Swift and Jojo Siwa.  A twirly skirt over leggings is her signature style.

Jet is AGE 3 plus one month, thriving without preschool (ha!) and obsessed with soccer.  She loves her Daddy, her friend Omari, and Cheezies.  She loves to bake, do puzzles, create with playdoh and be carried around the house until your arms are tired and you can’t possibly hold her any longer.  Also, you’d think she was sponsored by Crocs.

Together, we are The Parkinson Family.

We like our house to be full of silliness and laughter and we’ve recently installed a “dance wall” so we can perfect our dance moves in the mirror.  We like our house to be warm and cozy, but when it comes to temperature, we argue over what that actually means.  We have a meal planning board in the kitchen, but have used it zero times because we simply CANNOT get it together.  We also have an indoor trampoline.  And, if your kids stopped napping at an UNFAIRLY EARLY AGE, you’d probably broadcast this with zero shame too.  And on the topic of NO SHAME, we used orange-flavoured tic tacs to bribe our children through this photo session.

This is who we are.

This is who we were.

When these pictures were taken.

A big thank you to Jaqui Franco Photography for capturing our little family <3

I feel like I’ve heard somewhere that the first day of the year is a good indication of how the new year will unfold.  If this is true, we are in for a WILD, TANTRUM-Y, FRUSTRATING and EMBARRASSING 2018.

Things that happened:

→ We went for a walk and both girls decided that they needed to pee when we were close to ZERO bathrooms.  We had to do a shield and squat near the Russian embassy.  Nory was mortified for the next 500 m and I was nervous about police action.

→ The girls complained about being TOO TIRED to walk DURING OUR WALK, but then found a steep hill in front of the President’s house which they proceeded to climb (and run back down) MULTIPLE TIMES.  Poor things must have been so tired…

→ Jet thought it was a good idea to store a pussy willow up her nose.  I only noticed when I turned around to see if her and Daddy were still following the rest of us.  Wonder how many people got a chuckle out of that…

→ We tried to feed the “world’s friendliest squirrels” and they weren’t in the mood for snacking.  Nory declared the outing as “the worst day in the whole world” and then, it started to rain.  (Also: WHAT DO PEOPLE FEED THESE DARN SQUIRRELS?  We tried multiple varieties of nuts and we couldn’t make them come eat from our hands like all y’all talked about on Trip Advisor.)

→ Jet got a rash on her face (from lip gloss, maybe?).  I was freaking out that we needed to get an anti-histamine ASAP, but nothing was open because….January 1st.  (Things I love about Kuwait:  THINGS ARE OPEN EVERY DAY.)

→ Our cozy air bnb turned into TANTRUM CITY a la Juliet Tyko.  Haven’t seen a tantrum like that one since LAST SUMMER.  My heart was racing and I had to go shower because I just couldn’t deal. 

→ The kids wanted to reenact Frozen scenes with freaky pop-out masks.  Juliet was Anna, Nory was Elsa, Phil was Kristoff and I was Olaf.  Anna and Elsa stole the show, even though Olaf has a pretty significant “In Summer” number that I was dying to perform…

→ TANTRUM CITY continued. Only worse.  I think I was balling IN A BALL on the couch at this point.

→ An account called “wild homes” started following me on Instagram.  #GoTeam #NicheBuddies

Of course, reflecting upon all of this before bed that night, scrolling my social media to try to escape from our Parkinson Chaos, I came across THIS:

So cute that these people are jumping around, being hopeful and stuff.

Ha.

Let’s just be thankful for NEW DAYS in this season of parenthood.

Let’s DO THIS JANUARY 6th! ;)

For my birthday and Christmas, Phil gave me a phone stabilizer so that I could make smoother videos of our family (#BestGiftEver).  I hadn’t used it yet, but after learning that you have to book tickets for the Science Centre in advance in this country (who knew?!), I decided there was NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT to give my flashy new Osmo Mobile a try.  And so, we rounded up the troops, put on our socks from Kabak, and turned up the music!

Our new year’s resolution?

TO DANCE. 

Sending so much love your way for a HAPPY 2018, filled with KINDNESS and DANCING!

Love,

The Parkinson Family

XOXO

I can’t even believe it is the end of another year.  You guys, I still remember when it became YEAR 2000 and I was too scared to leave my family on NYE in case anything crazy happened!  Now here I am, married for 7 years, raising two little girls, and welcoming year 2018 in Warsaw, Poland.

I just spent the last couple of hours looking through old blog posts from this past year.  I read about the happy, the sad, the frustrating, the silly, and the exciting.  It was so nice to see it all here and I was reminded of an article I read in The New York Times.  It’s called “The Stories That Bind Us” and Bruce Feiler concluded his piece with this:

“The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.”

Every time I come to this place, I think back to this.  It’s not a waste of time, the hours I spend here.  And so, my goal is to spend EVEN MORE TIME HERE in 2018.

With that, here is a little recap of our 2017….

JANUARY

We returned from a wonderful trip in Budapest.

Phil went to Cyprus to chaperone a tournament and I reflected on being an unrealistic optimist.

The girls at Fisherman’s Bastion on the Buda side of the Danube.

FEBRUARY

Nory got her first report card and we celebrated with a family trip to Build A Bear.

Grandma came to visit for Nory’s 4th Birthday Party.

Juliet was in the thick of her BITING PHASE and VOMITING IN THE CAR PHASE.

Three pajama girls at Nory’s Pajama Party :)

MARCH

We shared how we keep busy while Phil is at work (ah-hem, something he’s at ALL THE TIME!).

The Glue was featured in Kuwait’s Bazaar Magazine!

Em and I planned a Mother’s Day celebration for the lovely mamas in our community.

APRIL

We had the most relaxing and BEAUTIFUL holiday with Coco at the Shangri-La in Oman.

The Glue had it’s first birthday party!

Playing at what HAS TO BE the world’s prettiest splash pad at the Shangri-La.

MAY

Kumari flew home to Sri Lanka due to the death of her six year old nephew.  We were heartbroken for her family, but were fortunate to find her an almost-immediate flight to Colombo.

I got emotional about certain expat mamas leaving our community.

We had a professional FAMILY PHOTO SHOOT by the beach.

We celebrated A WHOLE LOTTA THINGS.

JUNE

Juliet celebrated being two and a half.

Nory and Jet went to the salon for the first time, Nory decided she wants to be a fairy when she grows up and we flew home to Canada for the summer.

Painting in our Canadian backyard…in long sleeves…because we just weren’t used to the cooler temperatures YET.

JULY

We celebrated Canada turning 150 and I HAVE ZERO BLOG POSTS to share with you about that.  I also have very few summer blog posts to begin with.  WHY?!

We thought about what it means to have a GOOD DAY.

We drove to Toronto and back and NEITHER CHILD VOMMED IN THE CAR! #ThatIsAFirst

I introduced you guys to Naked Ken.  (He’s still thriving, btw.)

Rooftop BBQ with the HOIT CREW at Uncle Graeme’s and Auntie Aubrey’s.

AUGUST

Nory launched her YouTube channel, “Goggle Girl“.

Nory turned four and a half!

We returned to Kuwait for another school year and reflected on the kindness of strangers.

A 4.5 year old SWEETIE <3

SEPTEMBER

Nory started kindergarten and she also became obsessed with gymnastics.

I went through a bit of a rough patch.

We got a Hilton membership for the school year!

First day of KG1!

OCTOBER

Everyone was sick, but we still managed to celebrate stuff.  Such as Thanksgiving.

We had a Halloween Crafting Party with Nory’s friends from school (plus Juliet and Omari).

My heart melted over my Beauty and her Beasts.

My heart still can’t handle the cuteness! <3

NOVEMBER

We acted so Christmassy.

I was in the thick of a course, got sick AGAIN, and had to rally for two holiday bazaars with The Glue.  (Ah-hem, LIMITED POSTING!)

HOLIDAY CUTIES <3 <3

DECEMBER

Grandma came to Kuwait and we had a surprise day off on Juliet’s ACTUAL third birthday!

The Glue had two more holiday bazaars!

We had a Paw Patrol Party for Juliet.

I turned 32.  Oyyyyy.

We flew to Warsaw, Poland for the holidays!

PAW PATROL OBSESSED.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen so many pretty pictures and videos of snow falling in Warsaw.  It hasn’t seemed to accumulate in any of these pretty captures but, still, IT SNOWED.

Well, wouldn’t you know it.  We arrive from Kuwait and it is “surprisingly warm” (I mean, STILL COLD TO US) and raining.  I’m pretty sure that packing snow pants is a curse ;)

Luckily, the girls are thrilled with all the GREEN and so we’ve decided a GREEN Christmas works well for us too :)

Arriving just before Christmas has meant that most things are closed and we spent Christmas Eve doing crafts, playing at the park, and shopping for our Christmas dinner at the local convenience store.  GO TEAM!

Our Christmas Eve attire was especially ON POINT this year because the annual pajama elf (ah-hem, AUNTIE GEM!) surprised us with MATCHING PAJAMAS for the whole family!  Phil was thrilled with the gift and I hope he will be EVEN MORE GRATEFUL learning that basketball star, Stephen Curry, had the exact same experience!

Fingers crossed for more matching pajamas next year ;)

Christmas morning was a perfect display of each girl’s personality.  Nory was all about getting every single thing de-tagged and organized and played with, while Juliet bailed early and decided to find her very own place to re-watch THE OIL SPILL SCENE in Free Willy 2 (something she watches with anticipation each and every day).

After a lazy morning, we headed to the Warsaw Zoo.  Zoo visits on Christmas Day have become somewhat of a tradition with us, since zoos seem to be one of the only things STILL OPEN on Christmas day.  Em and I watched “The Zookeeper’s Wife“, which made the experience a pretty moving one.  A big thank you to Sarah for the recommendation! xo

Pictured above:  Proof that my kids have NERVES OF STEEL.

Before eating our convenience store dinner (haaaa!), we went to check out the Christmas lights at a nearby park.  It was the perfect evening for a stroll and I really think everyone else would have agreed with us if our children hadn’t started playing a wild game of WITCH (spontaneous, multi-direction sprinting and screaming.)  We left shortly into the game so that other walkers could have a peaceful Christmas.

It is now Boxing Day morning and we have discovered that the Polish refer to this as “the second day of Christmas”…..which means everything is closed…..even the convenience store.  Fingers crossed we can survive with the food we have and the hanger that results ;)

SENDING LOTS OF HOLIDAY LOVE to ALL OF YOU!!! XOXO

So many of my arguments with Phil begin because I think something is funny (or that it will, eventually, be funny) and he thinks it is super stressful and totally inappropriate to laugh in the slightest.  This usually introduces a few minor disputes throughout the course of a travel day because, I repeat, I find most things to be funny.

I think it’s funny that our kids want to pretend to be cats on dirty airport floors…

I think it’s funny that the girls want to stop and look at the plane we’re about to board rather than board it (and that the last thing on their mind is to HURRY UP for the carry-on luggage space)…

I think it’s funny that Jet wants to hide under airport seats because she’s had too much of PEOPLE and needs a break…

I think it’s funny that Phil almost vomited during a bumpy landing and that we forgot Juliet’s stuffed toy lambie on the plane and that Phil had to run all the way back to our plane with a security guard (STILL NAUSEOUS) to rescue our beloved stuffy.  (By the way, PHIL IS A HERO!  HE FOUND LAMBIE!!!!!!)

I mean, I guess I can understand Phil being *moderately* upset about that last one ;)

*** WE LOVE YOU, PHIL! ***

Anyways, I’m okay to admit that we are a bit of a disaster when we travel.  No matter how many times we do this, I never feel like we’ve “got it together” and the entire journey is one big comedy sketch full of characters that are happy and not-so-happy to be there.

A big thank you to some of our recent cast members that made the journey SO MUCH FUN:

Ms. Sharon, Nory’s KG1 teacher! <3

The Crace Family (THE MOST HYSTERICAL GROUP OF FIVE YOU WILL EVER MEET. BEGGING THEM TO START A VLOG.)

We made it to Warsaw, you guys!!!!!!

I love posting updates about the girls on their birthdays, but I’ve never done one for myself.  And since I’ve already had this blog for 8 years, there’s a chance I will have it for 8 more.  And, if that’s the case….

  1. I will be FOURTY YEARS OLD.  OMG.
  2. I think it will be fun to look back on the 32 year old me.

So, here it is – 32 things about the THIRTY TWO YEAR OLD me :)

one:  I love holidays.  ALL OF THEM.  Even the made up “National ______________ Day” ones.  This is why I love December so very much <3

two:  I find REAL JOY in making coffee after work and, if the girls allow, catching a few minutes of what I like to call “the news”.  People laugh at me, claiming that MY VERSION OF THE NEWS is not ACTUALLY the news.  But, meh.  Good Morning America has IT ALL, people! :)

three:  I sleep on the right side of the bed.  (Phil would argue that I don’t have a “side” and that I take up THE WHOLE BED, starfish style.)

four:  I am terrified of birds.  And I’m not very fond of other creatures that move unpredictably.

five:  I only ever make 12 cups of coffee in the coffee maker.  I don’t know how to make any less.  So it’s 12 cups, whether it’s me alone or a household of guests.

six:  I love housecoats (ah-hem, “robes” as some of you may call them).  I have three of them with us in Kuwait – two are from the kids section of Debenhams and the other is from “Claire’s”.  They are cozy and FABULOUS and worn ALL THE FREAKING TIME :)

seven:  Green is my favourite colour.

eight:  Driving stresses me out.  I have my license in both Canada and Kuwait and I will do anything possible to avoid driving in either place.  Public transport (or walking!) is MY JAM.

nine:  In the world of Starbucks lattes, I always ask for my drink to be made less sweet than the norm.

ten:  I inherited the love of taking pictures from my mama.  And, confession time, I currently have 33,732 photos in my camera roll.  Thank goodness for the iCloud.

eleven:  I’m not a big water drinker.  But when I do drink it, it’s always room temperature and has to be CHUGGED (because I’m spontaneously and dramatically dehydrated).

twelve:  I love writing cards.  I think the act of writing a card to someone is one of the sweetest gestures there is <3

thirteen:  Ever since having Juliet (three years ago), my hair is straight in the front and wavy in the back.  If I don’t straighten it in the morning or braid it overnight (or put it in a top knot), it’s a really good conversation starter.

fourteen:  I’m living proof that you CAN, in fact, survive on peanut butter.  My body runs on that stuff.

fifteen:  I want to hike to Machu Picchu.  Because Phil and I got engaged at Mount Kilimanjaro, I thought it would be a fabulous “10 year anniversary” trip.  He’s learning this RIGHT NOW, as he reads this :)

sixteen:  I love the movie Legally Blonde.  I have such great memories of wisdom teeth recovery and watching this movie on repeat while my Dad took care of me :)

seventeen:  I don’t use Twitter or Snapchat.  They confuse me.

eighteen:  I think people mistaken my kindness for naivety.  (I think kindness is my SUPERPOWER.)

nineteen:  I believe in “power red nails” on the first day of school.  My nails have been painted this colour every single first day of school that I can recall as a teacher.

twenty:  One of my scariest life memories (besides being attacked by a rogue crow in Canada or being chased by a cow in Sri Lanka) is opening my bedroom blind in the morning (one of those roll-up really fast ones) and seeing a deer staring right at me.  #WhatHorrorMoviesAreMadeOf

twenty one:  I was a lifeguard for many years and yet I really, really dislike swimming.  It’s cold.  And wet.  And I’d much rather be bundled up, all cozy with coffee.

twenty two:  I love Taylor Swift.  I even made my students design an experiment for Taylor Swift.  I even changed the words of her song “22” for the title of this post.  #FanGoals

twenty three:  How do people use google calendar to organize their life?  I can’t buy into the idea of organizing my life virtually.  I feel a paper agenda is a MUST and I am a huge advocate of the ban.do brand :)

twenty four:  Expiration dates exist on food items for a reason.  Phil hates that I believe and abide by them.

twenty five:  Prescription sunglasses have changed my life.  Worth.  Every.  Dinar.

twenty six:  I love when people match.  Children, couples, entire groups of people……I see it as totally un-cheesy and all “WOW, I WANT TO BE THEM!”

twenty seven:  One of my favourite tv shows of all time (maybe THE MOST FAVOURITE) is Parenthood.  Have you guys seen it?!  The story line just ropes you in and makes you feel like you’re a member of the famous Braverman clan.

twenty eight:  Phil always teases me because, all week long, I whine about how tired I am.  Then, on Friday and Saturday morning, I can’t sleep in and I’m bright-eyed at 4:45 a.m.  I don’t get it either, but I do love my endless cups of coffee and quiet time on weekend days :)

twenty nine:  Meat needs to be WELL-COOKED or not eaten.

thirty:  I always dreamed of happening upon a flash mob and my best friend made it happen for my 30th birthday!  I still tear up thinking about that day.

thirty one:  I suffer from extreme paranoia if I forget to put deodorant on in the morning.  I’m not quite sure where the paranoia comes from, but it’s BAD.  Like, begging Phil to drive home and get it for me B.A.D.

thirty two:  I really love to write and I want to dedicate more time to it.  Let’s hope I can make it work at Age 32 :)

For the longest time, Juliet insisted on having a “goat” party for her birthday.

Yep, a goat party.

A party created on the basis of goats.

Not cows.  Not horses.  Not any other related barnyard animal.

ONLY GOATS.

Obviously the idea made me panic because….YOU GUYS….what does a goat party even look like?  Pinterest couldn’t tell me either.

Thankfully, we were able to rely on Juliet’s love for Phil and Paw Patrol to sway her decision.  Her strong stance on a goat-themed affair became a firm request for a Paw Patrol celebration.  Phewf.

TOTALLY.  DOABLE.

If you have a three year old, your child is probably ALSO obsessed with Paw Patrol right now.  Phrases like “RUBBLE ON THE DOUBLE!” or “CHASE IS ON THE CASE!!!” are thrown into everyday conversations and a simple walkthrough of your home would reveal an obvious theme to any guest.  The families of three year old’s are PAW PATROL FANATICS, I tell you!

As I shared before, Juliet wanted the guest list to be kept small.  Many of the kids in our complex wanted to celebrate with her, but we honoured the birthday girl’s request to keep it intimate.  Here are our party people – complete with the ONE FRIEND JULIET INVITED…

Because the party was in the evening AND because our apartment has poor lighting AND because I have photography skills that max out after sunset…..we didn’t capture too many photos that are free of blur.  I did, however, manage to snap one daytime picture of each of the girls mid-afternoon…

(So maybe Juliet looks un-enthused, but their personalities are BANG ON in these photos.)

Each of the guests (even wee Naya!) received one of the customized tees and my new letterboard came in very handy for party decor.  How true is that quote for both puppy dogs AND children?!

Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us!  Special shout-out to Grandma who flew across an ocean to attend!

MUCH LOVE xo