• LIFE

    Aston’s Story – Kyle

    Yesterday Sam shared her version of Aston’s Story, today is Aston’s Story through my, Kyle’s, eyes.

    There are two things I hate about clocks. Clocks that make a loud, audible ‘tick-tock’ sound and clocks where the second hand doesn’t hit the minute hashes exactly. This clock did both and added to the frustration of our current situation. 

    We were sitting in Surrey Memorial Hospital in a room that was basically a family doctor’s office but based on the devices on the floor it was quite obviously used for women’s stuff. We were there waiting for a definitive answer to if our baby in Sam’s belly was alive or not. Basically, this was going to be a day of incredible relief and joy or the worst day ever.

    Let’s back up though. How did we end up there?

    The below was written in real-time as we wanted a documented account of what we went through and what we were feeling in the moment.

    Wednesday

    On January 8th at our regular checkup, the midwife couldn’t find the heartbeat. She requested an emergency ultrasound for the next day, which we found out later can take up to a week sometimes, doesn’t seem to be much urgency for that emergency eh?

    I got the text at work in between patients and I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t because I had another patient who needed me. I got through the day. Sam picked me up from work and cried when she saw me. I rubbed her leg from the passenger seat trying to not cry myself. We drove home; the boys were super happy as they always are to see me after work. A contrast of emotions that was not lost on me. We spent the night hoping, praying, and trying to stay positive. I struggled to stay positive. I was extremely cautiously optimistic, in fact I was probably more pessimistic than anything at this point. We put the kids to bed, watched a couple episodes of Scandal, and then went to bed, but not before praying once more. Praying for news that would bring great relief to our current stress.

    Thursday

    We woke up and couldn’t do anything but wait and pray. Wait for the ultrasound appointment and pray for good news. I kissed my pregnant wife and walked out the door to head to work. I had a knot in my stomach. It felt awful. It hurt. Physically and emotionally. My first patient canceled on me so I had an hour to do nothing before my next two patients. 

    Finally, at noon, Sam got a call from the midwife clinic; they hadn’t gotten an ultrasound time yet but wanted to do a bedside scan at the clinic. Sam went in and I prayed. I had an hour lunch break and it was just past noon. I hoped for some news before I had to see my next patient. 

    My next patient was Joe. Joe is a beauty, a big guy and always a joy to treat. 12:53pm Sam called and said they couldn’t find the heartbeat on the bedside scan either. The placenta was anterior (in front) which was making access to the baby’s heart difficult. Two separate midwives tried to hear it. The first one thought she had it but couldn’t get it again. The second one could see the baby but no heartbeat. That gave me hope. I kept telling myself “yeah, baby is fine, the placenta is just in the way, that’s all”. I was optimistic. Cautiously optimistic, but optimistic. We were told to go to the hospital later that day to get a real ultrasound to confirm either way.

    Joe was in the waiting room so I called him and told him the news. He says, “go, why are you still here? Get out of here!” So I did.

    I walked home to meet Sam before heading to the hospital. It was a long walk. I turned on my favourite podcast but I honestly couldn’t tell you what the episode was about. I don’t remember anything because all I could think about was Sam and the baby. 

    This baby was going to be okay, the placenta was just in the way.

    I got home, hugged the boys, again happy as clams to see me, that contrast of emotions rearing its head again, and off we went. The silence was deafening. Neither of us saying much on the way there. Honestly though, what do you say?

    We arrived at the hospital and waited for our turn. The porter came to take us to the ultrasound room. I wasn’t allowed in but the tech said they wouldn’t be long. He wheeled Sam out a few minutes later. Sam said “he said he can’t tell me anything either way”. Understandable, but that just added to our angst. I asked if she could see the screen, she couldn’t.

    Back upstairs we were taken to triage and put into a room. Literally what you’d expect to be in for a doctor’s visit. The bed with stirrups, except this one had a microscopic and a used speculum on the floor under the sink in a bin. According to the sign on the wall, that’s where it was supposed to be. Gross.

    The midwife came in and Sam started crying. The midwife gave her a huge hug and told us she was going to go wait for the results. Minutes later she walked back.

    At 3:40pm to be exact, without hesitating the midwife says the four worst words I’ve ever heard in my life, “there’s no fetal heartbeat”. Devastating. Bursts of tears from both us. More hugs from the midwife. 

    This wasn’t actually happening to us, right? No, it was. Our baby had gone home before we even had a chance to say goodbye. To hear its cries. To hold its hand. To name it. To see its older brothers love on it.

    Now what? What happens next? The midwife said she would give us a minute before we talked about what we wanted to do next. Sam cried some more. I couldn’t cry again. I felt numb now. I felt like something was wrong with me. I just got the worst news of my life and I can’t even cry anymore.

    When she returned she presented us with two options, deliver or operate. Delivering the baby involves a pill that induces labour and then the baby is delivered as a normal delivery would be. Surgery involves general anaesthesia. Then they go in and remove the baby and the placenta. I told Sam the choice was hers. Whatever she was most comfortable with. If she could handle the emotions of delivering the baby then do it. If not, opt for the surgery. She had my support either way.

    At 4:24pm the midwife comes back in with the OB to further explain things and hear our decision. We had decided to take the pill. It was the one that could get done the soonest and didn’t involve going to a different hospital. The OB agreed it was the best choice. She explained the procedure a bit more and explained that it’s like labour but it can go from 0-100 really fast and usually within 24 hours of taking the pill.

    She also talked about why this might have happened. While we will never know, and frankly we don’t want to know. The OB explained this late in pregnancy it’s mostly like a chromosomal abnormality that caused it. They said they could do an autopsy on baby and examine the placenta for more answers if we wished. They’ll examine the placenta regardless but we’re not sure about the autopsy. If they do it, we can’t take our baby home, have a burial, or anything like that. At that point, it’s no longer ours. We think we want our baby but who knows what the emotions will be like tomorrow. I know I want to see my baby. Touch my baby. At least be able to say goodbye to my baby. That much I know for sure. There’s no way I’m leaving without saying goodbye.

    We asked the midwife if we could have the ultrasound photos from today’s ultrasound. She said of course and brought them back in a few minutes.

    They took Sam’s blood pressure, temperature, pulse, and some blood. To make sure she’s healthy and that she doesn’t have an infection or anything.

    After that, we were free to go, free to leave the hospital without our baby knowing that tomorrow if we kept the baby, it would be coming home in a box instead of a car seat.

    It’s the second time we’ve left the Family Birthing Unit without a baby but still pregnant. When Zaden was born we got sent home, but that time we knew we’d be returning to deliver a healthy baby. Tomorrow we go to deliver a fetus.

    Zaden’s turns 1 in two days. Every January from now on we will be reminded of the lowest point in our life on January 10th followed by one of the highest on January 11th. We’re celebrating his birthday on the 12th this year. We want to bring some normalcy back to our lives and he still deserves to be celebrated, but it’s gonna be hard with the present reminder that we’re no longer going to be a family of 4 for now. Maybe ever, who knows, that’s a conversation for a later date.

    We got back to the car and started the long list of phone calls we had to make. My mom was first. Dad was at our house and we would just tell him when we got there. I called and said, “our baby has gone to Heaven”. I’m not sure she even understood me as I lost it before I even started talking. I guess I remembered how to cry again. I was no longer numb. It hit me. Hard. My baby had gone to Heaven. Thank God, but selfishly I wasn’t happy about it, obviously. My mom said, “I prayed so hard that this wasn’t the outcome.” Me too mom. Me too.

    Next, Sam called her mom. Mom’s just know. It’s crazy. As soon as her mom picked up and before Sam said a word mom says:

    “Sam, what’s wrong? Is everything okay?” 

    “No” Sam says. “We lost the baby” 

    I can hear mom start to cry with Sam. Me too again. The numbness was gone, that’s for sure. We will save the other phones calls for a later date. There’s only so many times in a row you can make that phone call. We had friends, grandparents, and other loved ones to tell still. Not looking forward to that.

    The car ride home was filled with music. The first song Sam put in was Highlands by Hillsong United. We saw them live and heard the song for the first time; it has been a favourite of hers ever since. The course is so good and fits our exact situation at that moment:

    So I will praise You on the mountain

    And I will praise You when the mountain’s in my way

    You’re the summit where my feet are

    So I will praise You in the valleys all the same

    No less God within the shadows

    No less faithful when the night leads me astray

    You’re the heaven where my heart is

    In the highlands and the heartache all the same

    We’re in the valley right now. Never been deeper in it than we are right now. And there’s a whole lot of heartache, that’s for sure. But at the same time, God is no less God because of our situation. Perfect song choice babe.

    I chose the next one, my favourite song on that album. The first line says “I’ve been strong and I’ve been shattered within a moment.” Yup. But the song finishes with the line “Your love’s too good to me leave me here”. Damn right. I won’t be in this valley forever, my God is too good for that. He loves us too much.

    We got home and once again the boys were so excited to see us, Nixon excited as ever to tell us that Grandpa was here. That damn contrast again, there it was. I love those kids, nothing phases them. Their innocence is so sweet.

    My parents took the boys for the night so that we could have a night to ourselves and not have to worry about finding last minute care for them tomorrow. It was nice to see them though. Family makes you feel better no matter what. And talking with them, even if for just a moment, we’d forgotten why they were here. It was nice to forget for a moment. Our kids left for grandma’s house in such joy as we were left to ourselves to prepare in despair.

    What are we supposed to do now? What do you do? Nothing feels sufficient and doing nothing feels insulting. I went to change into my pajamas and then found Sam in the boys room crying into the newborn onesie she had bought for baby. It was a 3 pack. One of them had llamas on it and the only reason Sam bought it was because Nixon said:

    “Mommy we need to buy that for baby. Baby likes llamas.” 

    Sam said “no we don’t need it”. 

    Nixon replied, “I buy it for baby”. 

    Love you buddy. But baby won’t ever get to wear it. There is no more baby buddy. Every Sunday at church Nixon looks forward to seeing the llamas at the farm next door. That’s where the love of llamas comes from.

    Sam called her mentor to talk. Straight to voicemail. She was away but called us back after we texted her the news. Sam couldn’t even talk. No words were able to make it through her sobs. We explained what happened then she prayed for us.

    Sam’s sister popped by with some snacks. Her first memory of me was downing an entire bag of Lay’s Salt & Vinegar chips so that’s what she brought. We ended up talking about beer for a while. That was nice. Again, we go to forget about the valley we were stuck in for a moment.

    Now? Now Netflix goes on until we fall asleep. I hope we can sleep because that’s what our eyes, hearts, and minds need right now, rest.

    Friday

    I slept well. I got about 10 hours. Perks of not having kids at home to wake you. Sam didn’t sleep well. 

    Sam needs to sleep with the window open every night and thus our room is freezing. I went to shut the window and I noticed that the ground was white. It had snowed all night long and our backyard was blanketed in it. I love the snow. Everything was white and so peaceful. God knew.

    The worst part of today is the waiting. We’re just another name on a list at this point. We might get called in a few minutes or a few hours. I just want this to be over, mostly for Sam because it’s infinitely harder on her than it is me. She has to do all the work, I just sit there and support however I can.

    We carried on with our day as we would any Friday, except we had no kids today. The day was uneventful. I had a dentist appointment and we ran some errands for the party while we waited for the phone call we both dreaded and wanted at the same time. Dreaded because it meant it to time to deliver our baby that we wouldn’t get to bring home but wanted because we wanted this over with.

    It was 1:30pm when the phone call came. They wanted us there at 2:30pm. 

    We’re currently sitting in the waiting room for our time to go in. A nurse Sam knew came by to say hi and give her a hug.

    It was about 3:00pm when we were finally called in to our room. The charge nurse came to get us because she didn’t want us waiting out in the waiting room. She gave a brief overview of what was going to happen. She referred to the baby as “the product”. That bugged me. Sam too. That’s my baby ma’am, not my product. 

    Other than that, everyone was so nice and respectful of what we were going through. Our nurse was Grace. She was a real sweetheart. No task was too much for her and she made every effort to make sure we were comforted as much as possible. 

    Another OB came in to explain the procedure to us and asked if we were ready to start. We were. No point prolonging the inevitable. We just wanted to get it over with and go home.

    Nothing moves quickly in this hospital. We’re waiting for the first set of pills and have been for 20+ minutes even though the orders were made before we even got here.

    We had to decide what we wanted to do about an IV in case Sam wanted pain meds at any point during the delivery process. We decided to get in put in now just in case rather than having to get it inserted while she’s in pain.

    At 5:00pm the nurse came in and inserted the medication. Two tablets. Now we wait. It could be quick or it could take a while. They’ll insert 2 tablets every 4 hours until the baby comes. This baby better come today because I don’t want this baby and Zaden to share a birthday.

    Grace was amazing. Always getting us whatever we needed. Warm blankets were constantly being brought in. She said the hospital food had improved but wasn’t great and Sam couldn’t have a full meal after the pills were inserted anyways. So she went and brought us crackers. Lots of them. Snacks were allowed but they just didn’t want her to have a full stomach because as any mother knows, it has a tendency of coming back up during labour.

    5:18pm dinner is here. Hospital food, eh? Yeah it’s not great. It always looks like it belongs in an old folks home. It would be fine if they seasoned the food. It always lacks so much salt. That’s the problem. It would be fine otherwise. Our mind was preoccupied but we usually bring our own. FYI for those having babies soon. Bring salt.

    5:56pm Grace came back. She came back with nipple cream to use as lip chap since hospital rooms are so dry, some hand lotion, and towels in case we wanted to shower at all. Before she left she said, “are you guys at all interested in popsicles?” Grace, come on, that’s a yes no matter how old I get. Sam didn’t want one but Grace said she would bring one anyways because Sam might want one later. If you’re delivering at Surrey Memorial, you want Grace as your nurse.

    I haven’t cried yet today. I feel numb again. I feel bad. I feel normal and I feel bad about it. I’m sure it’s coming because this baby is coming eventually but I feel bad that I haven’t cried yet.

    Popsicle ‘cheers’

    7:00pm Grace returns, with popsicles. Sam picked orange, I got pink. It tasted like medicine, maybe it was, but I didn’t care. Something other than Salt & Vinegar chips was good enough for me. Every baby we’ve had we’ve gone across the street and gotten tacos. It’s the best taco place in the city that tastes as close to Mexico as I’ve had around here.

    Grace keeps reminding of us the pain options. It seems like they really care that this is as painless as possible. They also offered lorazepam, anti-anxiety medication. All of this is available “on demand” as the OB has literally ordered everything so if she’s not there the nurse is able to give it to us right away. The care has always been good here but this has been a special kind of care for a special situation and we appreciated it very much.

    8:02pm my eyes are filled with tears finally. 7:35pm Sam has to go to the bathroom. When she went to wipe there was a bulge, she yelled “Kyle it’s coming, get me something to catch it. A container, something.” I rushed over to find something to catch it. First I hit the call button and yelled “she’s having it” the nurse replied that she was coming. The water cup would be too small so I grabbed the water jug. I ripped the lid off and dumped it in the sink on my way to the bathroom and stuck it between Sam’s legs. Yup, there was something. 

    Grace’s shift had just finished and this was our first interaction with Courtney. Me holding a water jug between Sam’s legs as she stood at the toilet. Nice to meet you too, Courtney. 

    Courtney said we needed to get to the bed. It was happening. I rushed over to the bed and threw all the blankets that Grace had brought us off the bed.

    A whole gamut of nurses followed and introduced themselves. I don’t remember any of their names besides Courtney even though they introduced themselves to me just 15 minutes ago. Sorry but my mind was elsewhere. One nurse called the OB. Another nurse got an IV pole. Courtney monitored the action between Sam’s legs.

    Sam was crying and had been since the bathroom stuff started. I started crying too. I was gonna, hopefully, see my baby.

    The OB arrived. A large Eastern European lady, she was mildly friendly. She came and punctured whatever it was. She called it “the membranes”. I won’t get too detailed here, but yeah, there was fluid.

    I turned the music up and put Highlands on repeat. I held Sam’s hand and we cried together. I sang the song in my head as to not distract or annoy Sam. We cried and cried. I don’t know how the nurses do it; there’s a couple delivering their stillborn baby bawling their eyes out and they just push on doing their jobs. This is not a knock on them but the strength they have to control their emotions and remain focused enough to do their job well was impressive. Scary, but impressive.

    Sam was told to push whenever she felt the cramping start. She must have been offered pain medication at least a dozen times and refused each time. She’s a trooper. She took the gas though, laughing gas. More for the distraction than for the actual pain relief. That happened with Vanek and Zaden too.

    After the membranes were ruptured there was no more action. The OB did a check and her cervix was only 2cm dilated. We need to get to 10cm. The OB said we would get another dose on the induction medication at 9:00pm; until then, just monitor the cramping. She again reminded us of the pharmacy’s worth of drugs that were available whenever Sam wanted.

    I just heard a newborn cry next door. Man, I would do anything to hear that sound from my baby. Anything. It’s going to be weird to have a baby come out dead silent. I wonder what that’ll be like. I’ll find out soon, hopefully before midnight.

    9:00pm Sam got another dose of pills inserted. 

    At exactly 10:25pm it happened. Our baby was born peacefully and quietly. It was painful. Really painful. I think it was worse to see how much pain Sam was in. Physically and emotionally. That hurt. I didn’t cry though. Why couldn’t I cry? Sam was wailing and I couldn’t even shed a tear. The placenta still has to come. I sat back down in my chair and it hit me. I started bawling. I was mad. Angry. I wanted to punch something. This was not okay. No baby is supposed to be born looking like that. My baby is supposed to be crying and I’m supposed to be crying tears of joy. Not these tears of anger. A nurse started rubbing my back. Physical touch is my love language and even though this was this nurse’s first time in the room and I didn’t know her name, I felt comforted by that. Thank you nurse.

    We’re gonna be okay. We will get through this. That’s what we keep telling ourselves as Highlands is back on repeat in the background.

    A different nurse offered to bring the baby over and show Sam. Sam wanted to wait and the nurse just said to let her know whenever she was ready. I don’t think Sam will want to see until the placenta is out. When there is some sort of finality to all of this.

    I saw the baby when it was delivered. The nurse put her hand over it and “said sorry, you don’t have to see it. I replied and told her I wanted to and she removed her hand. I don’t know what I expected but that was exactly what I expected. I won’t describe it to save you the details but it’s what you’ve seen in your science textbook. I felt a peace in seeing it. That’s when I didn’t cry. I can’t explain it but I smiled when I saw it. That’s my baby and even though I don’t get to bring it home to be a part of our family this baby will always be a part of our family just not the way the other three have been.

    Sam is funny during labour. She’s loud. Lots of “mmm mmm” mumbling noises. At this point, she had accepted several doses of morphine as the pain levels ramped up. When Sam is on drugs it’s comical and in this time of extreme sadness, unintentionally she brought comedic relief to me. These are some of my favourite quotes:

    “I know I’m annoying but If I’m going to sit here in this much pain you’re going to fricking listen to me”

    “You should’ve brought your noise canceling headphones so you didn’t have to listen to me but then I would’ve killed you”

    “This is shitty. I know I’m not supposed to say that but I’ll ask for forgiveness later”

    “Oh golly miss molly”

    “That OB didn’t need to dig around in me like she was searching for treasure in a sand box”

    **Another contraction** “Here we go again, because why not? This is fun”

    “Placenta why are you still here? You need to leave”

    **Nurse checks Sam**

    Sam: Still nothing?

    Nurse: No

    Sam: Rude

    You might think I’m mean by recording this but this little bit of humour was much needed at this point and we will both laugh about those quotes one day. I smile reading them even now but one day we will laugh.

    12:25am The placenta finally came. The OB confirmed that all was good and the nurses could start cleaning up. The miscarriage was officially completed.

    Courtney asked if we wanted to see the baby. We were ready. The baby was laid on a pad in a little tub and the tub was placed on Sam’s lap. She started crying.

    The baby was a grayish purple. You could clearly see the spine and the ribs. You could count the ten little fingers and ten little toes. Baby’s mouth was open. Sam said it was a girl. Courtney said it was too hard to officially tell. Looking at our baby was surprisingly peaceful. After the initial round of tears there was just silence. A calming silence full of stillness and peace. It felt nice.

    Sam was done looking but I was curious if I could tell the gender. I opened baby’s legs. It was a boy. Apparently we can’t make girls. We had only decided on a boy’s name hours earlier. Aston Gabriel Enns was born on January 10, 2020 at 10:25pm. Gabriel means “God is my strength”, it seemed fitting.

    I grabbed the tub and held baby on my own for a few minutes. So peaceful. Peacefully still and peacefully whole. Aston has gone home but one day we will meet him again. His brothers will meet him. We will hear him laugh, see him smile, and see him play with his brothers. Our family will all be together one day. But for now he’s right where he needs to be. The best place he can possibly be. God has him now and that’s better than anything we could do for him.

    We both felt that an incredible weight had been lifted off of us. Relieved that it was over and that we could start to move on. Whatever that looks like.

    The blue butterfly is taped to the door of our room to represent loss so that those entering the room can be senitive towards the situation

    After everything had settled the nurse wanted to get Sam to pee. It apparently it was important that her bladder was empty. The nurse asked if she was okay to go to the bathroom. The nurse and I helped Sam to the bathroom and about halfway there Sam asked us to stop. She was dizzy and light headed and needed a break.

    And then just like that she went limp. I caught her. Thankfully. She started to seize. It was suttle but I knew exactly what was happening. The nurse supported her on the other side. Sam’s eyes rolled back into her head. I patted her face. I called her name. No response. Nothing. Then her eyes opened. Wide. Really wide. They were staring right at me but I knew there was nothing there. She wasn’t looking at me but her eyes stared daggers at me. Except I knew there was no life behind that stare. Courtney looked at me and asked if I had her so she could call forheelp. She pulled the call bell out of the wall which rings differently than just pushing it because the sound we usually hear in the hallway when we press the button didn’t happen; it was a constant noise and immediately 4 more nurses came into the room. I was scared now. I prayed. God I can’t lose my baby and my wife. Not today. Not like this. That wasn’t an option. I needed her back and it needed to happen now. I heard her body take a breath. I was expecting her eyes to open or for her to respond to me calling her name. Still nothing. A nurse grabbed a pillow and laid it on the floor so we could lay Sam down. Once on the floor a nurse called her name, “Samantha”. She opened her eyes and answered, “yeah”. Thank God. Sam was really dizzy and hot. The nurses reassured me everything was okay. This was normal after delivery. Not in my experience, but they’ve done this more than I have so I’ll take their word for it.

    I had my wife back, that’s all I carednabout. The nurses came up with a plan to get her back into the bed. They lifted her up and laid her down. She was safe in the bed and that’s what mattered. I got a cold washcloth and laid it on her head.

    Now we could get some rest. Some much needed rest.

    Since I’m writing this “live” it looks like I’m a jerk husband who is always on my phone and I think Courtney is disappointed in me for not being there to support my wife but I’m really doing what Sam wants in documenting this experience.

    Sam just fell asleep. I’m going to do the same. It’s 1:37am which is about 3 hours past my bedtime. Goodnight.

    Saturday

    At 5:27am Sam woke me to tell me she was going to try to go to the bathroom again with Courtney’s help. I was nervous as I watched from my bed this time. She made it. She feels way better after sleeping a bit. Courtney is gonna help her shower and wash up.

    I’m tired. 4 hours of sleep isn’t enough for me. I’m really excited to go home today just so I can have my own bed again. I miss my bed right now. I know Sam does too.

    I can hear newborn cries next door again. I hope that family is doing well. Genuinely. I hope they treasure that baby every single day. What a gift.

    At 12:10pm it was finally time to go home. The morning was uneventful. Just lots of waiting until we could go. Sam had a mild fever and some elevated white blood cells so the doctors were worried about infection. After one last vitals check with no fever, we were good to go.

    We stopped to pick up a box to bury Aston in. We found one and went to the one spot that means something to us. A spot down by the river where we used to go on dates, where I proposed, and where we took our wedding photos. It seemed fitting.

    At 1:15pm we arrived at the river. We took turns holding him. He was cold from the ice. I rubbed his forehead and told him I loved him through my sobs and tears. I promised we’d meet again one day under better circumstances than these. Whole times, peaceful time, and joyous times. I passed him to Sam and she held him and cried. She said her goodbye and we placed him in the box in the onesie we had picked out for him to come home in. His body barely filled the neck of the onesie. He was too little for that onesie. Much too little. But it was his and he got to wear it. We closed up the box and went over the dyke to the river. I had dug a spot for him and we laid him in. 

    I covered it up, laid my hands on it and prayed to God, “He’s yours now. Take good care of him. You’ll take better care of him than we ever could. We love him and we love you.” 

    We sat and cried for a minute together. It was windy. Very windy. The water was being blown right up against my jacket. God was showing us his might, He is so strong. He was there with us. He always is.

    We sat in the car before driving home. More tears. Questions. Why? Anger. Sadness. All of it. We didn’t want to leave him. There was supposed to be a car seat in the back seat with him sleeping peacefully, not an empty container where his body laid just minutes earlier.

    It’s okay. Or at least it will be. God knew. God ordained each of those days and decided it was time for Aston to go home. Go home buddy, your Father is waiting for you.

    Through all of this we’ve felt nothing but love. Everyone at the hospital, minus the first charge nurse who referred to Aston as “product”, was so kind and loving. We came home to Skip the Dishes gift cards, freshly baked muffins, and a meal in our fridge. Someone had cleaned our house for us, too. Thank you so much to everyone who sent a message, said a prayer, helped out with food, watched our kids, helped plan Zaden’s party while we were in the hospital, or even just gave us a thought. We love all of you. And you, you that’s reading this. Thanks for reading. Thanks for allowing us to share our story with you.

    And Aston, I love you and I miss you. I’m so happy that you are in the best hands you can be in. I’ll see you again one day I promise. I can’t wait to see you again when we’re both more whole and perfect than we’ve ever been. I can’t wait to see you with your brothers; you’re going to love them, they’re great. When they’re ready I’ll tell them all about you, they’ll know you too. We won’t forget you. I won’t forget you. Ever. I’ll always remember the short time we had together and think of you often. You’ll never be forgotten. I love you. Love, Dad.

  • LIFE

    Get To Know Us – Samantha

    Yesterday you guys got the chance to learn about me, Kyle. Today, you get to learn a little bit about Samantha, call her Sam. She’s the one behind the scenes that keeps everything in order in our house to allow time to be dedicated to this blog.

    Get To Know You Questions

    Where did you grow up?

    Born in Edmonton Alberta, lived there for 10 years. Yes I know it’s cold, but truthfully I like having snowy Christmases! We moved from frigid Edmonton to Melbourne, Australia for 2.5 years because of my dad’s work (where my love for hot summers came from). We then landed in Cloverdale, British Columbia in 2001 and have been here ever since!

    What do you do for a living?

    I wouldn’t necessarily call it a living…Kyle makes our living but I am employed as a substitute teacher (TOC) by one of our local school districts.I’ve been doing it for 2 years where I work on Kyle’s days off and it is a perfect fit for our family!

    What was the funniest classroom story you’ve ever had?

    It happened while I was doing my practicum to become a teacher. I was teaching science to a grade 3/4 split class and was being observed by my university professor. We were talking about the different units they had already covered in science that year and ended up on the topic of habitats. I was asking them to recall what they remembered from the unit when one student raised his hand, trying to show off in front of his peers, and emphatically stated that they had learnt about orgasms in the last unit…he meant organisms. I didn’t point out his mistake but simply asked what about organisms he had learnt and he just kept repeating orgasms…over and over and over again. I managed to keep a straight face (because I didn’t want to draw attention to it because I didn’t want to explain it) but my professor had turned away and was in tears laughing at the whole situation.

    A close second was with the same class (I swear they were very bright children) when I shared with them that I was pregnant (about 6 months along at this point). One little girl raised her hand and asked if it happened that morning…

    What is your biggest fear?

    Spiders and heights, in no particular order, I fear them equally.

    What is your favourite sport to play?

    According to Kyle I don’t play sports, however I danced competitively a lot as a young girl and I count that as a sport.

    What is your favourite sport to watch?

    Hockey & baseball. Good thing the seasons are opposite.

    What is your favourite meal?

    Sushi. All the time. Yes is always the answer. Spicy tuna rolls specifically.

    What is your favourite TV show?

    Meh, not a huge TV fan. A little bit of reality TV (Bachelor/Bachelorette & Survivor) and Young & the Restless (I blame my mum for that one)

    What is your dream house?

    Anything designed by Joanna Gaines.

    What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

    Depends…I like coffee but also love a good raspberry (any fruit really) cheesecake

    What is your favourite chocolate bar?

    Reese’s Pieces. Eating some as we speak.

    What is your favourite genre of music?

    Country

    Fun Things About You Questions

    What are you interested in that people people haven’t heard of?

    I can’t say I’m interested in it anymore but I used to love playing ultimate frisbee.

    What was your favourite CD album as a kid?

    S Club 7. They were huge in Australia.

    Where have you been that you would not go back to?

    Paris, beautiful but overrated.

    What job would you be terrible at?

    Anything to do with insects, especially spiders. Count me out by a mile.

    What skill would you like to master?

    Piano & guitar. One day I will put in the time to learn.

    What was the best compliment you received?

    Being a mum a natural fit on me. Some days it sure doesn’t feel like it.

     

    Either/Or Questions

    Bacon or Sausage?

    Bacon but not crispy.

    Pepsi or Coke?

    Coke

    Cake or pie?

    Pie if it’s fruit filling & always with ice cream.

    Tea or coffee?

    Tea unless the coffee is loaded with sugar (aka fancy Starbucks drinks)

    Pancakes or waffles?

    Waffles, fresh fruit on top

    Food truck or sit down?

    Depends on who I’m with. Kids? Food truck, no kids? A quiet sit down meal is a treat.

    Tacos or nachos?

    Nachos.

    Ketchup or mustard?

    Mustard

    Wine or beer?

    Radlers or neither.

    Salad or fries?

    Fries

    Ham or turkey?

    Ham

    Drama or comedy?

    Drama

    Action or thriller?

    Depends if it’s a book or a movie. Movie – action, book – thriller.

    TV or book?

    Book. I have an issue with a lot of noise in a day.

    Luke Bryan or Jason Aldean?

    Jason Aldean. Kyle & I’s first public date so he holds a special spot in my heart.

    T-shirt or tank top?

    Tank top – should mean it’s summer and warm weather.

    Modern or rustic?

    Whatever style Fixer Upper is.

    Car or truck?

    Car. Even though my days of driving a car are limited.  I blame the kids.

    City or country?

    Country but I like being close enough to go wander downtown every now and then.

    Young & the Restless or General Hospital?

    Young and the Restless, been watching it with my mum since I was 5. Never watched an episode of General Hospital.

    Fly or drive?

    Drive. All about the road trips.

    Winter or summer?

    Summer but I love a snowy winter.

    Ocean or lake?

    Lake for swimming. Ocean for everything else.

    Salty or sweet?

    Changes hourly. Blame the pregnancy.

    Tim Horton’s or Starbucks?

    Starbucks.

    Glazed donut or jelly?

    Jelly. I love all the fruit (yes I know there is no real fruit in the jelly but just let me have my moment)

    Reese’s Pieces or Reese’s peanut butter cup?

    Reese’s Pieces.

     

    Wow. That was a lot of questions. Hopefully, you learned a little about me, hopefully you had some fun doing it and hopefully you’ll join us on this journey. Follow us on Instagram, sign up for our email list, and let us know you’re there so we can follow you back!

    Never stop adventuring!

  • LIFE

    Get To Know Us – Kyle

    We’ve had a lot of new people follow along on our journey lately so we decided you guys should have a chance to get to know us. First of all, if you’re new here, welcome! If you’ve been around here a while, thanks for sticking with us!

    Over the next few posts we will share a little bit about ourselves and the boys. Today, we’re going to give you a chance to learn a little bit about me, Kyle, the man behind the majority of the blog. Yes that’s right; the husband does most of it, which hopefully brings a unique perspective to our blog and social media accounts. I do it because I love it. I love creating exciting and interesting content for you guys to see and read and I love following the exciting things you guys are up to. Make sure you let us know you’re following along so we can follow you back. Sam loves following you guys but isn’t as excited about creating content and since I love it, I do it. Here’s a little bit about me:

    Get To Know You Questions

    Where did you grow up?

    Ladner, BC. It’s a small town about 30 minutes south of Vancouver. It’s a farming town, though I didn’t grow up on a farm. The town smelled like manure a lot of the time and that was the one thing people made fun of us for. There are about 20,000 people there I would say and it hasn’t grown a whole lot as not many people leave there as you’ll see if you go to the bar in town; it’s a high school reunion every time.

    What do you do for a living?

    I’m a Registered Massage Therapist. Please don’t call me a masseuse. We fix people, masseuses make people feel good. It’s a great job and so far I love it. I get to help people feel better and meet tons of interesting individuals. It also allows me a ton of time off as I only work 3-4 days a week so I get lots of time with the family.

    Who was the most interesting patient you’ve ever had?

    Probably this lady who couldn’t tell me what she does for work. She works for the RCMP, but is in a very secretive division of the RCMP that worked in an undisclosed location with no signage. She told me her car broke down at work once and she had to have the RCMP tow it to a neutral location so she could call a regular tow truck to take it home because they couldn’t have the regular tow truck coming to her work. It sounded pretty crazy!

    What is your biggest fear?

    Dogs. Anything bigger than a chihuahua is too big for me. When I was young I was attacked by two dogs at the same time then again in high school. I’m okay with dogs that I know but if I don’t know a dog and it starts running or getting worked out, nope, I’m out! One time we were walking through a park in Vancouver and didn’t realize we were in the off-leash area of the park, what a nightmare that was!

    What is your favourite sport to play?

    Baseball. Always has been. This is only my second year not playing since I was 4 years old.

    What is your favourite sport to watch?

    Hockey. Is there another answer for Canadians?

    What is your favourite meal?

    Street tacos, hands down. Nothing beats it.

    What is your favourite TV show?

    I’ve been watching Criminal Minds since the beginning but I probably have to say Suits now.

    What is your dream car?

    I’ve always been a huge Dodge Viper fan since I was little, maybe one day I’ll own one.

    What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

    Anything coffee flavoured, which is weird because I hate coffee…

    What is your favourite chocolate bar?

    Snickers. Oh Henry! is close though.

    What is your favourite genre of music?

    Country, I grew up in farm country.

     

    Fun Things About You Questions

    What are you interested in that people people haven’t heard of?

    Credit card churning. Long story, but read the travel section of the blog if you want to learn more.

    What was your favourite CD album as a kid?

    Black and Blue by the Backstreet Boys. Yes, I’ve seen them in concert, I loved it, I sang every song, and this was only a couple years ago. #noshame

    Where have you been that you would not go back to?

    Paris. We just went and it was nice but I don’t feel like I ever need to go back.

    What job would you be terrible at?

    Anything to do with counselling kids. I couldn’t listen to some of those stories all day long.

    What skill would you like to master?

    Singing. I’m absolutely awful but I have no shame. I’ll belt out a good tune in the car every now and then.

    What was the best compliment you received?

    People who told me I was going to be a good dad when we first got pregnant; that meant a lot to me.

     

    Either/Or Questions

    Bacon or Sausage?

    Don’t kill me, sausage.

    Pepsi or Coke?

    Root Beer 😉

    Cake or pie?

    Pie, no ice cream.

    Tea or coffee?

    Tea

    Pancakes or waffles?

    Waffles, the Belgian kind.

    Food truck or sit down?

    Food truck all the way.

    Tacos or nachos?

    Don’t make me pick between those, that’s evil.

    Ketchup or mustard?

    Mustard if it’s dijon, ketchup otherwise.

    Wine or beer?

    Beer, good beer only though, no Coors or Kokanee please.

    Salad or fries?

    Fries

    Ham or turkey?

    Turkey

    Drama or comedy?

    Drama

    Action or thriller?

    Action

    TV or book?

    TV. Too much if you ask Sam.

    Luke Bryan or Jason Aldean?

    Jason Aldean, seem him twice in concert and will see him every time he comes to Vancouver.

    T-shirt or button up?

    T-shirt

    Modern or rustic?

    Modern

    Car or truck?

    Car

    City or country?

    Country

    Ski boat or yacht?

    Ski boat, I can’t even afford to fuel a yacht.

    Fly or drive?

    This going to sound spoiled but fly in business, otherwise drive.

    Winter or summer?

    Summer

    Ocean or lake?

    Lake

    Salty or sweet?

    Salty

    Tim Horton’s or Starbucks?

    Tim’s, I’m cheap.

    Glazed donut or jelly?

    Oh man that’s so tough, probably jelly because it brings back the childhood memories.

    Old Dutch or Lay’s?

    Salt & Vinegar Old Dutch, all other flavours Lay’s.

     

    Wow. That was a lot of questions. Hopefully, you learned a little about me, hopefully you had some fun doing it and hopefully you’ll join us on this journey. Follow us on Instagram, sign up for our email list, and let us know you’re there so we can follow you back!

    Next time you’ll get to learn all about Samantha!

    Never stop adventuring!

  • LIFE

    Three Under Three

    2019 is going to hold at least one big change for our family; we are adding baby number three! If you’ve followed along for any length of time and do the basic math that means that we will have three under three…technically, three under two and a half; either way, we’re about to be out numbered by our littles. We’re excited to share this news now, however, it has taken a while to come to this place. Let us explain.

    When we decided to get pregnant with Vanek (our second), neither of us thought through the entire process, we were just excited that we were going to have babies one year apart – how cool right? At times yes, but it was also a lot more work than I maybe bargained for, at least for the first 3 months. So when we talked about wanting a third, we wanted to make sure we were ready, at least more ready than we had been last time. Neither of us were in a place to be quite ready; I still felt like I was getting the hang of two and then we spontaneously took a trip to Bali which meant we needed to wait at least 6 months for the possibility of Zika to pass. Well, long story short but we were cleared of Zika at the end of March but still neither of us were quite ready, we had a big trip to Europe planned and figured we’d wait until after that.

    It only took one careless night before we found out baby number three would be coming sooner than expected (we’ve attached the video of Sam telling Kyle at the bottom). When I found out, I cried, and for the most part, not happy tears. I still felt uneasy about most day with the two boys, how the heck were we going to add another? I was scared, nervous and I ran through every situation possible (most of them highly unlikely). Kyle was also a little uncertain, after all, we had just had a conversation about maybe having two kids for a while and taking a longer break and then having two more later…or even just completing our family with two, we were in the midst of praying about it when we got the news.

    God clearly has different plans for our family, and while it took a while for our feelings to change, we are learning to accept it and even love it. It means that the amount of control we thought we had over our life is less as we allow God’s plan to take shape. It means much more trusting and relying on Him daily because we certainly cannot do it on our own.

    So yes, while this was not planned according to our agendas, God does not make mistakes, nor is He surprised so it was planned long ago by a loving, creative, powerful, yet gentle God and that is reassuring enough for us. Here’s to our party of five arriving January 2019!

    Never stop adventuring!

    PS. How cute is Kyle’s reaction? And this is the first announcement I’ve actually caught on video haha!

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  • LIFE,  marriage

    The Best Wedding Decision We Made

    Yesterday we went to our second wedding of the year and it made us think about our wedding. There are lots of things we wish we did differently as we look back, most notably hire a videographer, but there are many things we are very happy about. One decision in particular was by far our best.

    We’ve been married for three and a half years so far. Yes, it has gone incredibly fast thus far.

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    When we were getting married we planned it right around the time we knew that my board exam was going to be. To become a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) in BC you have to write a board exam which is an exam given by the governing body of all the RMTs in the province. That exam happens twice per year, in March and September. We had planned our wedding for September 5th so we knew there was a risk of the exam falling within our honeymoon time. Historically, the exam has been in the last two weeks of September so we took our chances and the odds were good.

    We planned for an ten day honeymoon, September 5th – 15th. So as long as the exam was the 16th or later we would we okay. The date the exam was scheduled for? September 13th. Well, that sucks. So we had to cancel our honeymoon, flights and hotel, and rebook. Luckily, we only lost on a few bucks as the airline gave us a credit for almost the full amount of the flights and the hotel gave us all of our money back. We still wanted to have some time away during our first few days of marriage so we decided to just go to Whistler for the weekend (we got married on a Friday) and reschedule our honeymoon for a later date. We could have just done a week holiday somewhere so I was back in time for the exam but delaying our honeymoon was by far the best decision we ever made. Plus Sam started school that Monday so logistically it made sense to delay it.

    We didn’t rebook the honeymoon right away but after my exam was over we started looking. If you’ve followed the blog for any length of time you’ll know we’re always on the hunt for a good deal. And a good deal we found. Groupon is one of our favourite apps, we recently went overour favourite apps for travelling families and it made the list, because it always has a deal. If you aren’t familiar with Groupon, it is a website where companies market themselves by providing their product or service at a discount.  There are hotels, restaurants, nail salon, etc on there. For our honeymoon, I found a deal where we would pay $99/night for a King apartment at a resort in the Dominican Republic. Our apartment had a full living room, king size bed, full bathroom, kitchen, and balcony. In our little section of the resort there were about 25 apartments that shared a pool.

    IMG_5215

    The resort was massive. It took at least a half an hour just to walk from one side to the other. One of the perks of booking through Groupon was that we got VIP status at the resort. That meant we got access to private pools and private beaches. The private pool was right near our apartment and was where we spent most of our time. There was always a private cabana available which was perfect. The private beach has private cabanas too, but those were only available if you got there early enough to reserve one. The resort has eight different restaurants that you could make a reservation at and we ate at all of them plus the buffet a couple of nights.

    That honeymoon was twelve days in the Dominican Republic at an all inclusive resort where we paid $1,800 total. You can do the math and realize this was a steal of a deal. And we went in December.

    So why was waiting three months after the wedding to have our honeymoon the best decision we made? Two reasons:

    • it gave us something to look forward to
    • it gave us time to build our relationship with one another

    The first reason is pretty self explanatory. After getting married, most couples go on a honeymoon for usually two weeks. That’s definitely something worth looking forward to but what about after the wedding? There’s nothing left to look forward to. In the time before the wedding you’re looking forward to the wedding. After the wedding you go straight into the honeymoon and then it’s over.

    For us, we obviously were looking forward to the wedding then we got to go on a mini-honeymoon after the wedding for a weekend. Then we had something in the future to look forward to. For all of the spring and summer of 2014 we had the wedding to look forward to then for the fall of 2014 we had the honeymoon to look forward to. For us, it worked well because we had something to get excited about for almost the whole year rather than doing it all at once and having nothing but regular life to look forward to (not that that’s bad but most people would agree vacation is better).

    IMG_5193

    The second reason might need some explanation but for anyone who is married you’ll know that married life isn’t exactly rainbows and butterflies right off the bat, if ever. If yours was, please let us know your secret. Ours took a while to get used to how the other person does things and you quickly realize how different the other person is than you are. It’s usually the little things like how your spouse loads the dishwasher, what their bedtime routine is, where they store things in the kitchen, stuff you never would have considered being an issue before the wedding. But trust us, it can take some getting used to.

    Also, the sex is better after a few months. For those who have never had sex together before the wedding, wedding night sex will feel like the best sex ever by default but as time goes on you soon realize it isn’t even close. Research has shown that the best sex usually comes after ten years of marriage. Yes, ten! That being said, it will hopefully be better after three months of marriage than it is after three days of marriage.

    Now, if you’ve lived together before and been sleeping together before the wedding then the second reason doesn’t really apply but the first one still does and giving yourself a vacation to look forward to is always a good idea.

    Having something to look forward to, knowing your partner better, and having time to build all aspects of your relationship made delaying our honeymoon the best wedding decision we made.

    What was the best wedding decision you ever made? Let us know below in the comments.

    Never stop adventuring!

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  • LIFE

    Travelling With Little Ones: Our Packing Essentials (We Think)

    In the interest of full disclosure, we are part of the Amazon Associates program. This means that some of the below items may earn us a small commission if purchased through the below links. There is no pressure for any of you to purchase these items through our links; however, should you choose to do so we thank you very much for your support!

    As we have lots of travel coming up, we have decided to stock up on some items that we hope will make our lives a little bit easier while away from home. All of these items are items that we currently own and some we have used and others will get their first use this weekend as we fly to Los Angeles for a day at Disneyland before driving to Arizona for a week of sunshine and relaxation.

    Image result for ju ju be diaper bag queen of the nile

    Ju-Ju-Be Convertible Diaper Bag

    The Ju-Ju-Be is our third diaper bag in 21 months. Our first two were typical diaper bags that you carry on your shoulder. There was nothing wrong with either of them, the first just looked very diaper bag-ish and the second was a gym bag, but with two boys twelve months apart, I needed something easier to carry. I initially had my eye (& heart) set on the Fawn Design bag. It is absolutely stunning, but this time I vowed to put in proper research. As I watched several YouTube videos and read reviews, the Ju-Ju-Be kept being named as a top bag. So I watched more videos comparing them. It broke my heart but being honest to myself meant that I wasn’t going to get the Fawn Design bag and I decided on the Ju-Ju-Be. My reasons came down to this: the Ju-Ju-Be has more organization due to more pockets and it can hold more. If I only had one child who needed items in a diaper bag, I probably would have gone with the Fawn Design bag but with multiple young kids I need all the space I can get. I don’t have a Fawn Design bag to compare to but I have had my Ju-Ju-Be for a week and I am in love. I wish I had done the research when my first boy was born. The backpack option is the deal breaker for me (even though it does come with a shoulder strap option as well), I need two hands free at all times without a bag falling off my shoulder. I’m also an over-packer when it comes to everything (more about that for our Arizona trip later), and this bag can accommodate it all! A couple of the other features that I love are that the lining on the inside is always light coloured so that it’s not impossible to find something, there are a ton of pockets (both open and zippered) which makes organization a breeze, and the way it opens allows easy access to the stuff on the bottom. The shoulder straps are padded which is awesome because I plan on carrying it around a lot on my back over our next few trips. A bonus – my husband doesn’t mind carrying it! It is pricey but if you’re smarter than we are, it is only a one time investment and I believe it’ll last us a long time!

    Image result for kidco peapod travel bed

    KidCo PeaPod Plus Travel Bed

    Travelling with two kids under two meant finding a smarter sleeping solution than pack & plays because those things are heavy and bulky and we will not be hauling them around with us. Also, most hotels are not fond of having two cribs in one hotel room (especially in Europe), so we needed a new plan. I began researching all sorts of travel beds, and I came across these PeaPods. The first thing that caught my attention was that they are basically individual tents and the kids cannot escape from them – because our oldest isn’t in a bed yet, this was a huge concern of mine. Secondly, they fold up into a tiny circle and slip into a carry bag that fits into a carry on – perfect! They take less than a minute to set up and about the same time to fold up (once you get the hang of it). They also have a mattress pad that is attached on the underside, that can be removed for washing when needed. We got 2 plus sized ones because that way our kids can grow into them and I don’t need to worry about it for trips in the future. We didn’t simply purchase these for big trips, they have already come in handy when we’re at family gatherings and one or both of the kids needs a nap. Plus, during the summer they’ll be coming camping with us. We’ve been having the kids practice sleeping in them so that they are used to them for the trip and we’ve had zero issues with them sleeping so far. So, fingers crossed we’re in luck for our trip!

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    Summer Infant 3D Two Double Stroller

    Deciding to travel with our two boys meant finding a second stroller because we are not going to bring our rather large City Select through airports and around the world. Travel strollers are very common; however, it was more difficult to find one with two seats. There are a couple options that were a sit & stand or a small bench seat for the second child but because our oldest child is still under two I wanted a proper seat for him rather than the bench style. I also wanted both kids to be able to join us in sightseeing and face forward rather than one being stuck rear facing or stuffed under the other seat. After several searches and reading countless reviews, we decided on the Summer Infant 3DTwo Double stroller. This was a perfect fit for what we need because it isn’t the side by side which is often difficult to fit through door ways or along narrow streets, it has two full seats that recline, two full UV protectant sun shades and it folds up with one hand to be nice and small. We’ve been testing it out the last couple weeks and the kids love it and so do Kyle and I. The undercarriage is small compared to our City Select but more than sufficient for the few things we’ll put in there (that won’t be in our Ju-Ju-Be). Kyle asked the other day if we should just sell our City Select since the Summer Infant functions so well and while I love it, we’ll still keep our City Select for everyday use around home and use the Summer Infant for travelling!

    Image result for jolly jumper solarsafe net

    Jolly Jumper Solarsafe Net

    This was not a researched product but with a lot of our upcoming travel destinations being hot and sunny I knew I wanted a way to protect the kids while we are out sightseeing. This net is universal to most strollers so we will definitely use it at home over our City Select but I am most looking forward to knowing that the kids will be safe from the sun (& bugs) during our adventures.

    Image result for Herschel Supply Co. Survey Kids, Black, One Size

    Herschel Supply Co. Survey Kids Backpack

    This was an impulse buy that I am in love with, but it does serve a purpose. I am a firm believer that it is never to early to get kids to start pulling their weight. So, we purchased Nixon his own backpack to carry his items, especially on and off the plane. We obviously won’t put anything of great importance or weight in there but a couple books, toys and his stuffed bunny fit perfectly and that way he feels just like mum & dad with our backpacks & that also means it is less for me to carry. A bonus – Herschel is great quality (with a fantastic warranty policy) so this is a piece that will last us for a while!

    Image result for Native Jefferson Child Pigeon Grey / Shell White

    Native Jefferson Child Shoes

    Having a toddler, meant that I wanted a versatile shoe that he can wear all the time and the Native shoe was exactly what I was looking for, especially with summer coming up. No more needing to worry about scraped up toes or stepping on sharp things; these shoes can be worn at the waterpark, beach, or on everyday outings. Needless to say, I might just be getting myself some!

    Image result for zhiyun smooth q3

    Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3 Axis Handheld Gimbal

    Kyle will talk about this item as it is his baby on the list.

    Hey guys, this is a really cool item that I’m excited to get. A gimbal is a mechanism that stabilizes a moving object. I’m sure you’ve seen one of these before, there is a very popular one all over Kickstarter right now, but basically you put your phone in it and as you move your phone it keeps it stable so that your videos aren’t shaky. As we look to do more videos for the blog and Instagram (follow us if you don’t already @adventureneverenns) this gimbal is going to come in handy and we will start with our flight Friday, time in Disneyland on Saturday, and our week in our Arizona next week so stay tuned to see this baby in action.

    When we get back we will review all of these items and how well they performed at what we expected them to do.

    Never stop adventuring!

  • LIFE

    A First Class Experience: Part 1

    Due to our long journey and us wanting to give you as much detail as possible about our journey, we have split this experience into 3 parts. Here is Part 1:

    If you didn’t already know, we recently took a very last minute trip to Bali. We had 48hr to get ready to go to Bali, including book our flights. This is where my obsession with travel points really pays off. With certain travel points currencies, availability for booking flights is sometimes greatest very close to departure date. In our case, 48hr to book our flights worked in our favour because we got availability on Cathay Pacific in First Class (F) from Vancouver to New York and New York to Hong Kong then in Business Class (J) from Hong Kong to Bali. According to Business Insider, Cathay Pacific has the 7th best First Class product in the world. To say I was excited is a big understatement.

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    The First Class Experience starts out at the airport with a special lane for check specifically for you. We were greatly kindly but the representative at the desk who made our check in process quick and easy and gave us our first two boarding passes along with lounge passes for YVR and JFK.

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    After checking our bag, free for First Class passengers, we made our way through security to Cathay Pacific’s Business and First Class Lounge. It’s a beautiful lounge with a huge nod to the Pacific Northwest with many cool wood features. The lounge has weird hours, 10:30am-3:00pm and 8:00pm-2:00am. This is due to Cathay Pacific’s flight times out of YVR where the lounge closes when they have no outgoing flights. We got there right at 8:00pm and there was only one other person in the lounge. By the time we left, there were maybe 10 people in the lounge which can easily accommodate 100+.

    The lounge features beautiful bathrooms, private showers, a noodle bar, self serve cold meals, and self serve drinks stations with anything you want ranging from pop, coffee, tea or alcohol. There was so much to choose from we didn’t know where to start. Advice we had been given from others was to not eat too much in the lounge so that we could enjoy our meal on the plane. We took this advice and had a couple drinks and snacks in the lounge but the noodle bar was tempting.

    The lounge featured a wide array of seating and we gladly took seats right at the window that overlooks the gates and runways. It was late when we got there and the sun was down but we imagine that in the daytime the view would be fantastic.

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    Once it was time to head to the gate we finished our drinks and made our way over. We were some of the first ones on the plane being in First and boarded some a special tunnel to get to First where flight attendants were waiting to escort us to our seats. From the first interaction with the flight attendants we were now Mr. and Mrs. Enns.

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    Mr. and Mrs. Enns made their way into seats 1A and 2A. According to many online bloggers, these are the best two seats on the plane for couples sitting in First. The reason being, between 1A/2A and 1D/2D there is a wall so it gives the most privacy. The reason we didn’t select seats across from one another is because you are so far apart and there are privacy walls into each seat that it’s really hard to talk to one another. 1A/2A give the most privacy and you can stand up and turn around if you need to talk.

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    After we got to our seats we were offered a welcome drink. Our choices, were water, juice, or champagne. We probably could have asked for anything but those were what were offered to us. We both chose champagne. On our flight they served Krug champagne. A bottle of Krug retails for about $300. It was easily the best champagne we’ve ever had, not that we’ve had much in our lives. The champagne was served with warm nuts and a hot towel.

    Soon after, the flight attendants passed out pajamas and amenity kits. The male amenity kit came with a toothbrush, toothpaste (in the smallest tube you’ve ever seen), face cream, lip cream (lip balm but in a fancy cream), a microfibre cloth, mouthwash and earplugs. The female kit came with all the same things plus a hair brush and toner. All toiletries and cosmetics in the kits were supplied by Aesop. We had never head of Aesop and that usually means we can’t afford it. We’re right, we can’t. The pajamas were custom made by PYE for Cathay Pacific. They were the most comfortable pajamas we’ve ever worn and we wore them the entire flight.

     

    The seats in First are incredible. You are basically sitting a La-Z-Boy chair. It was so wide that we could both sit comfortably beside each other on the same seat. There is a spot for your feet at the other end of your suite that acts like an ottoman. It was kind of weird because it was really far and even I at 6’2″ couldn’t reach it. As we soon found out there was another practical reason it was there. We will get to that later. The seats have a ton of controls and the seat can be configured many different ways. You can lift the bottom part of the seat up to rest your feet on, recline the whole seat or even turn on its massage abilities. The chair itself was incredibly comfortable.

    The best way we found to talk, though was to sit at the same seat. Yes, sit at the same seat. The seats were so wide that we could sit beside each other on the same seat and it was still comfortable. Or once your seat was turned into a bed we sat on the bed facing each other to talk.

    IMG_9428IMG_9430IMG_9431Once we got into the air the flight attendants passed out dinner menus. It was going to be a late dinner but we did get a full meal service on this flight. The dinner menu is changed monthly and January’s menu can be seen above. When we ordered, we figured we would pick something on the menu that would be served to us. We were wrong. Everything on the menu in the section you ordered from came. We both ordered the steak and so we were brought the scallop and salmon to start, then some soup and then our steak. The bread came to our table without us asking. We were fine dining on an airplane.

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    One of our favourite things about flying First was the ability to sit at the same table. Remember that spot we thought was a foot rest, it’s for your partner to sit at while oyu eat. It also extends your bed when the seat is moved in it’s sleeping position, more on that later. Your tray table in First has a spot for an attachment and the flight attendant made our table and set it for two. Complete with white table cloth, side plate, silverware and glasses.

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    Every piece of glassware and silverware was inscribed with CATHAY PACIFIC. The branding on the flight was second to none. Their name was everywhere.

    The food was fantastic. I ordered my steak medium and it came very close to medium, maybe slightly on the medium-rare side but for airplane food I couldn’t complain. Sam ordered her steak well and it came just that.

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    For dessert, the mango passion fruit mousse cake with raspberry coulis was amazing. I could have ordered about 5 more of them but we were going to be spending the rest of the trip on beaches and my body couldn’t afford that. We were about to gain enough weight on these flights as it was. Dining for 2 on an airplane should be like this all the time. It was the best way to eat.

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    Pardon the poor photo quality.

    It was about midnight by this time so we decided to catch a few hours of sleep before we landed. We went to the bathroom to change into our pajamas and while we did that the flight attendants provided turndown service and made our beds. Turndown service on an airplane, crazy. We came back to our beds fully made for us to catch some sleep and that’s exactly what we did for a few hours. When we woke up we had a snack and were soon ready to land.

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    We landed in New York around 6am EST or 3am to our bodies. We headed straight for the American Airlines Flagship Lounge to shower up and grab a bite to eat. We were greeted at the front by two very kind women who got us set up and gave us a quick tour of the lounge. It had only been reopened after renovation in July 2017 so it was still looking fresh. We headed straight for the showers. Everything is setup in the shower rooms for one person. We grabbed a few extra towels from a neighbouring shower room so we didn’t have to share one. The shower/bathroom (there is a sink, toilet, etc in these shower rooms, too) is huge as you can see in the video. We each got one end of the shower to ourselves which was glorious because Sam likes her showers hellishly hot and I don’t like burning to death in the shower. Each shower room had another set of amenities you needed including lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, shower cap, blow dryer etc. According to Sam, the blow dryer actually dried your hair properly and wasn’t like most hotel blow dryers.

    I left after my shower and Sam stayed to do her hair. I went around and took some pictures of the different areas of the lounge which you can see above. The lounge had plenty of seating of all different types. They had booths for two people and booths for one with outlets to do work in. They had bar seating, they had lounge seating, they had table seating. There was a quiet room with comfy chairs to take a nap on too. If you wanted a specific type of seat, they had it.

    After Sam finished doing her hair we headed over to the First Class Dining room which is another room off the lounge for First Class passengers. It is a sit down dining area with a full menu. We weren’t even close to hungry but we had to take advantage of our special privileges. We ordered fruit and juice and then left to go and relax a bit before our next flight.

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    We made our way again to the chairs right in front of the windows to watch the planes go by. The sun was just coming up so we had a beautiful sunrise to watch.

    We spent a little time relaxing and catching up on social media, even though at home nobody was awake, had a couple drinks and chatted with each other until it was time to leave to board our flight.

    On our flight from New York to Hong Kong we were back to our familiar seats, 1A and 2A, but this flight had a few special treats that we didn’t get on our first flight.

    Stay tuned for Part 2…

    Never stop adventuring!

     

  • LIFE

    So… We’re Going to Bali…

    After a whirlwind past couple days and an unfortunate airport incident on my brother’s Southeast Asia trip, Sam and I have decided to go join him for several days in Bali. Sam will stay for about 10 days and I will stay for 14 days.

    Yes, that’s right, in the past 48 hours we decided to leave our kids for several days and head over to Bali to travel with my brother. Thank God for amazing grandparents with flexible work schedules. It has been hectic trying to pack ourselves and pack for the kids but we are very excited. Obviously because Bali is beautiful and it’s going to be amazing but also because we’re flying there in First Class with Cathay Pacific. You can read all about the First Class Experience on Cathay Pacific here.

    Yup, this is one of the joys of having points. If you haven’t been following along, a few times per month I write a points/travel related article to help people begin their award travel journey and be in situations where you can afford to fly in seats you could never afford and sleep in hotels you usually ogle at from the outside. If you want to follow along please check out our TRAVEL section.

    We are flying Vancouver to New York on Cathay Pacific’s Fifth Freedom Flight then New York to Hong Kong in First Class then Hong Kong to Bali in Business Class.

    A Fifth Freedom Flight is a flight operated between two countries where neither country is that airlines’ home country. When flying, airlines must be departing or arriving in their home country. For example, Cathay Pacific is stationed in Hong Kong so all of their flights must be departing from or arriving in Hong Kong. Fifth Freedom Flights are the exception where certain airlines can operate certain routes without arriving or departing in the home country.

    It is a weird route to go to New York, the opposite direction, then to Hong Kong but guess what? That just means more time for us in First Class. About 22 hours in the air in First Class to be exact.

    If you haven’t noticed by now I am very excited. Cathay Pacific has one of the best First Class products in the world and they’re notoriously difficult to find space on. You usually have to book within a week of departing or if you’re lucky you can book about 330 days in advance although availability is much more difficult to find. They also boast some of the most luxurious lounges in the world to relax before your flight. Check out this lounge in Hong Kong.

    This flight is going to cost us about $250 CAD in taxes and fees. If we paid full price for this flight itinerary it would cost us almost $60,000 CAD.

    Unfortunately, on the way home we have to fly economy with the regular folks ;). That’s going to be rough.

    If you want to follow along on our adventure, follow us on Instagram @adventureneverenns where we will be posting and doing stories. We are on the way to the airport now and will start doing stories shortly.

     

  • LIFE

    A Night Out To Celebrate: Georgian Court Hotel Review

    Right before Christmas we got to celebrate Sam’s 30th birthday. She wrote about what 30 feels like to her in this post. I had been planning this night for months and certain things I would need other people to come through on to make it happen. One of those “people” was Best Western. More specifically, the Georgian Court Hotel (GCH) in Vancouver. Unfortunately, they didn’t.

    I started planning this birthday back in October and was super excited because it would be a night that would never happen unless it was a truly special occasion, like a 30th birthday. I invited 2 other couples that we are very close with to come down and celebrate with us. I booked each couple a room at the Georgian Court Hotel and paid with points during Best Western’s 10,000 points promo. The GCH is marketed as a Best Western Premier hotel, their top category of hotels meant to be their version of luxury.

    I hold Diamond Select status with Best Western, their highest category of status which comes with a complimentary upgrade if availability allows, thank you gift or bonus points upon arrival amongst other things. Neither of those were offered to us unfortunately even though there was availability. I did end up getting the points well after the night though.

    I had emailed the hotel, called corporate and called the hotel ahead of time to remind them it was a special occasion and see if they could do anything special for us. When we arrived and checked in and I noticed none of the benefits for Diamond Select members were being offered to us I knew right away they had dropped the ball. Most places when you tell them it is a special occasion will leave chocolates, a fruit basket, bottle of wine or something. A card at minimum. As we opened the door to our room I eagerly looked to the bed to see what they had left us. Nothing. Nope, not even a card. I was really disappointed because I was hoping to surprise Sam with some gift right off the bat but unfortunately Best Western didn’t come through for me. Now if you feel like I’m being a snobby status-holder please understand I’m well aware that there is no obligation on the part of Best Western to do anything. I get that. That being said, most places usually do something. As you will read about in a future post, I took Sam downtown the following weekend just the two of us and that other hotel chain really knows luxury and how to serve their guests right. Best Western just isn’t in the same class of service.

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    The room itself was fine. It had been updated and modernized, that much was apparent. The bathroom was a decent size with a rather large shower that could easily fit two people. The shower was my favourite as it had good water pressure and one shower head and then a detachable shower head. I spent way too much time in there. In the room was also a desk and nice office chair and a chaise under the window. Our room looked right at BC Place which I think was the only nice “view” the hotel could offer because the backside faced an alley.

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    The robes were cheap and it was obvious. They were thin and scratchy which were not comfortable to wear down to the hot tub. There is no pool at this hotel but they do have both a steam room and a sauna.

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    One rather disturbing thing we found was that when cleaning the rooms at GCH, housekeeping definitely cuts corners. We moved one of the ottomans that was beside to the TV closer to the bed to play a game and behind it we found an old pen, tons of dust and garbage. Obviously it hasn’t been moved and cleaned behind in a while and that was somewhat disturbing.

     

    One nice gesture was that every room had a Nespresso machine and water that were complimentary. Unfortunately, one of our rooms had no coffee available. After calling down to the front desk to request some it took forever so that couple never got their coffee and just came to our room.

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    All in all, the hard product (the actual hotel itself) was fine. Nicely updated and mostly clean with an amazing shower. The soft product (service, food, etc) left lots to desired as it was way below par with empty coffee machines and nothing done for the special occasion.

    Would I come back? Not if I was paying for it. Our room that night would have cost $281. For that amount of money you can go somewhere way nicer and get much better service. Luckily I paid with points but even still I’m upset at what those points actually got us. My advice is to go elsewhere and get something that is actually luxury. Next week we will write about our actual luxury experience at another downtown Vancouver hotel.

    Never stop adventuring!

  • LIFE,  marriage,  parenting

    Cheers to a New Decade

    t h i r t y.

    That number that seemed so far off for so many years but yet here it is, the start of a new decade and truthfully, I’m excited.

    I know society tends to dread turning older and even more so when it comes to thirty but why? Is it because we dislike responsibility and wish we could live young & carefree – aka Peter Pan syndrome, is it because we fear that this magical number of thirty means we can no longer have any fun and life instantly becomes boring? Either way, I know I don’t fit into either of those ‘camps’. Maybe it’s because I enjoy routine and predicability or maybe it’s because I’m choosing to be excited about the next decade.

    When I was younger I dreamed about what life might be like at thirty, I dreamt of being married, having kids, being finished school and maybe owning a house but more than all that – being content with the life I was living. I can truthfully say that by the grace of God, the majority of my dreams have come true and for the ones that haven’t, I’m learning to grow in contentment (I mean who can honestly afford a house here in Vancouver?!?). I love this feeling of being settled into life, day to day life feels a little chaotic at times but we have a rhythm and it feels good.

    I don’t believe my life is about to become boring, in fact I feel the exact opposite. As I am just entering into parenting, I think my life is about to get a lot more interesting, busy and fuller – which I am excited about. I didn’t have kids to have them hurry up and grow up, I want to embrace all the fun, and the not so fun, days of raising them. I am excited to journey with Kyle as we become better companions, build more memories and love deeper. Thirty is a chance to cherish old friendships and make new ones.

    I’m looking forward to this next decade. Growing our family (no we’re not pregnant), raising the two amazing little boys I already have, going on amazing adventures with my hubby and continually loving the life God has given me.

    Cheers to thirty & all the fun it will be!

    Never stop adventuring!