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24 Jul

“There is family you are born into, and family you choose. Tamara has always been a member of my chosen family…”

On July 13th my best friend married my brother in law. In some ways, my life is like a fairy tale. I fell in love and married a man I’d been secretly in love with since high school, and now my best friend, whom I’ve known and loved for 15 years, shares my last name and I get to call her “sister”. Does life get any better than this?


Tamara and Jerred were married at Gatzke Orchards in Oyama, BC. It was an incredible wedding with thousands of personal, beautiful DIY details.


The groom, my handsome brother.

Tamara has been a part of my life for so long that my family has amalgamated her into their lives like an honorary Kushniruk (yeah…my maiden name is a doozy.) and it was amazing to see them there on such a momentous occasion.


My younger brother.


The day before the wedding was vibrating with the excitement of the day to come and we were treated to an incredible feast by Tamara’s other bridesmaid Liz and her husband/chef. Just thinking about the food and set-up makes me drool. It was amazing.



This wedding deserves its own Pinterest board.


The day of!




Tamara looked so beautiful. I felt such pride and love being a part of such a huge moment for her. Getting to watch her transform from my gorgeous friend into a stunning bride. Yes…when she slipped into her dress and turned around, I cried…a lot.

There are so many things about the day that made me smile. The guests and the decor (that I knew first hand contained all of our blood, sweat and tears), Tamara’s excitement seeing everything come together, Jerred’s very obvious adoration for the woman he was marrying, being maid of honor and having my girls be flower girls, getting to spend time in the gorgeous Okanagan. So, so, so many delightful and memorable moments.


Bridesmaids and two flower girls. (Thanks for the photo Liz!)

Mom and Girls

My mom and my two girls! (Thanks for the photo Mom!)

4 Sisters and Nova

My younger sister and I, with Nova.

Flower Girls

Flower girls! (Thanks for the photo Liz!)

Crazy Nova

Crazy looking Nova at the end of the night. (Thanks for the photo Liz!)

This wedding and Jerred and Tamara’s marriage is so close to my heart. I’m so looking forward to family holidays and get-togethers and for our children to be cousins. I can’t wait to see where their lives are headed and how much happier they are going to make one another. I cannot believe my good luck. I get a sister, my children get to have my friend in their lives in an entirely new capacity, and my FAMILY has gotten so much bigger and better. The things I have to say are so overwhelming, but I think it’s safe to say that when I think about my life, I feel more than blessed, I feel incredibly full of love. Both love received, and love given. And there’s a whole lot more to go around.

For the photos of Jerred and Tamara’s incredible day, stay tuned on their AMAZING photographer’s page: Blush Photography by Angela Waterberg. You DEFINITELY want to see these.

Tamara has always been a member of my chosen family, but I am so happy that on July 13th, she joined my “you have no choice” family.

Walking with Tamara

Blush Photography

What time is it? Time for Nova’s second birthday party!

10 Jun

I think that as Nova gets older my excitement for her birthday will increase until it reaches a peak (right around the time she stops wanting me to be involved in planning her birthday parties) and will hopefully dissipate into a dull thrum that only makes my body vibrate a little instead of sending me into fits of clapping and inexplicable glee.

Her favorite show is Bubble Guppies, thanks to that fateful first showing at the Langemann’s home, so we decided to go full throttle with the Bubble Guppies theme. There were TONS of awesome printables on the Nickelodeon website and I was inducted into the wide, wonderful world of children’s television programming. We don’t have cable so my exposure to these sorts of things is few and far between but I have a whole list of shows I now want to download and “preview” for Nova. (In case those quotations aren’t clear…I’m previewing them for myself…because I’m secretly a small child and I love cartoons.)

Janet came over on Friday so that we could celebrate a few crucial milestones involving school, work and life in general, and we set to work crafting away for the next day.

getting ready collage

When Cale got home we put him right to work, and proceeded to remain awake until well into the wee hours of the morning.

The next day, the birthday girl, in true diva fashion, slept in until 10am.  Her party was set to begin at 11, but hey…it was her day right? We didn’t wake her. It’s worth noting that Nova, like her Mother, is not a graceful riser. She’s usually shadowed by an enormous, cranky thunder cloud until after she gets some sort of sustenance in her (cereal for her, coffee for me) and then you can have what closely resembles a conversation. We decided that we wouldn’t push it. Thankfully we managed to get her up, the car packed and our show on the road and arrived at Confederation Park just after 11. Not too shabby. Cale’s Dad was just pulling up as well so we had some help with set-up.

There were already a few Mom’s and kids kicking around at the park and Nova bee-lined for the playground. I knew she’d be in good hands so her Dad and I started setting up. There were two picnic tables, a rain cover that the elder Mr. Boden had brought along, and some blankets for picnicking provided by Janet and Kristin. Thank goodness for the rain cover! Almost immediately after we arrived it started to drizzle! I held out hope in the rain forecast, which promised cloudy skies but no rain, and was rewarded for my optimism when the rain stopped a few moments later and we were in the clear for the rest of the afternoon.

blankets and tables collage

Nova had an amazing turn-out! There were a lot more kids and babies than at her first birthday, and so many of our loved ones showed their beautiful faces!

party guest collage

I can’t even begin to thank everyone who came, but don’t worry, you’ll all be getting mail sometime in the next year. (I’m terrible at sending out my Thank You’s, but they DO make it eventually!) theboys

It was so great to see Nova connecting with other kids (which is still a relatively new development) and ALSO to watch her come out of her shell a bit. She tends to be pretty bossy when she’s one on one with anyone else her age but in a large group she’s quite shy so it was neat to see her warm up to both the children and adults and show off how creative and…well…demanding she can be. Ha.




Nova’s beautiful Aunties made my heartstrings sing by totally taking the reigns and easing the load on Cale and I so that we were able to socialize a little and keep SOME semblance of “flow” to the day. There were no organized games or anything. While I love them dearly, I thought that trying to harness 8 children of various sizes and ages would be a task best left for someone stronger, louder and more patient than I am, so we mostly let the little ones amuse themselves!

I packed up goodie bags full of fun outdoor items and let them all go to town.



I even tried my hand at baking again. These are homemade Martha Stewart Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream icing. I’ve never made icing, let alone Buttercream, and this was the first time I’d iced a cupcake since the 8th grade. There was some trial and error but overall they turned out really well! What I lack in presentation I made up for by imitating brownies in cupcake form. Ha. Everyone was either VERY good at lying to me about how good they were, or they were actually not half bad! Either way, I may keep this up.


Nova was pretty excited by everyone singing Happy Birthday to her. At first she seemed confused and then when she realized she was the center of attention her eyes lit up and a little smile creept onto her adorable little face and you could tell she was soaking it all in. She even managed to blow out her own candles, with just a little help from Dad.


I’m so pleased that the day was a success! It was as low key and laid back as I hoped it would be. Our guests could feel free to come and go as they pleased, there were enough hot dogs for everyone, and all of the kids made off with some loot. I was so proud of Nova for being such a great playmate and sharer. There weren’t really any tantrums and if there were they were dealt with efficiently and humanely by the parents present. We have friends and family from all walks of life and it’s always such a pleasure to throw them all together and see them connect effortlessly and hilariously.

I can’t wait for her 3rd birthday when she’ll hopefully have some input! (Although I’m sure the inevitable reminder of the passage of time will have me waxing poetic on the internet for weeks before-hand.)


Thanks for this one T.


Lux and the Lord

9 Jun

I want to blog about Nova’s birthday party, but I can’t neglect to mention the milestone that was Lux’s Baptism.

I need to start making lists of “must have” photos at events revolving around these ladies.

I searched and searched for days for the perfect outfit for Lux. Nova wore my old outfit and I wanted to find Lux something similar, but still unique to her little cheerful disposition. I finally found what I was looking for, at Sears of all places, the day before!

Lux was baptized on May 26th, 2013, and she didn’t even cry when the water touched her sweet little head.

I’ve been going to my home church, Faith Lutheran, since I was very, very young. All of the people who go there are like a second family to me. We convened every Sunday for years and years and years until in typical teenaged fashion I began to form my own opinions and beliefs and decided waking up that early on a weekend wasn’t worth it and slowly stopped going regularly. Now I’ve moved several times, life gets busy, I work weekends, and have formed my own strong belief system, but I very much miss that sense of community and love and I very dearly miss the congregation that I grew up with. I miss knowing about their lives and seeing their faces regularly. These are people that I love very dearly and who love me and my continuously growing family. They threw me a surprise bridal shower and baby shower, have supported my family during times of joy and sorrow, and will always have a very real, very loved place in my heart. I’m grateful to my Mom for dressing me in my Sunday best and dragging me kicking and screaming, even when she may have wanted to give up.

Nova was baptized there, and now, so is Lux!



I wasn’t sure how Nova would hold up but she did very, very well. She ran around a little during the ceremony but didn’t scream or throw things or cause any general mayhem. Her Grandparents were very good about keeping her contained and well-behaved.

I love the tradition and meaning behind Godparents. To us, it’s a huge deal to select someone to be a Godparent. I’m very happy to say that so far the choices have been very easy. Nova’s Godparents are her Uncle Jerred and Auntie Chantelle, and Lux’s are her Uncle Johnathan and Auntie Tamara. I mean, come on. Could it be anyone else?

17 Godparents

I love these three so much.

I love traditions that call for a coming together of family and a celebration of milestones in children’s lives. If I never had to celebrate another birthday again, but my kids could feel special on every other day of the year that would be a great trade.

16 Group Photo

I’m so grateful to our family for coming out to support Lux and to love her as much as well do. These kids are pretty lucky.

After church service, we headed back to Cale’s Dad’s for cake and a small gift opening, and Lux immediately fell asleep after her big day out.


I made cake. I’ve been really flexing my baking muscles lately so I made this cake from scratch, made the icing from scratch and then iced it myself. I don’t own a piping bag so I did this with a ziplock bag and pulled together ingredients since it was kind of a last minute plan. That’s supposed to be a sun in the bottom right corner…because Lux is my little sunshine, but…well…you can just pretend you got it.


A beautiful Winne-the-Pooh carousel from her Godmomma Tamara.

Nova was more into presents for this event than any other present giving occasion! Christmas is going to be fun this year. Ha.







Thank you to Tamara for picking up my camera and capturing these moments, thank you to my children for making me so proud and being so well-behaved, thank you to everyone who came from near and far (my Mom came from Penticton!), thank you to the congregation for being so wonderful and full of love during my formative years, and thank you to my brother and best friend for agreeing to care for, love, and nurture little Lux as she journeys through life, I’m sure she’ll need you more than you know.



21 May

5 b&w

Tamara and I have known one another since the 8th grade. Aside from family members or friends of my parents’, I don’t think I’ve known anyone else quite as long as I’ve known her. Over the course of the last 15 years we have had moments where we’ve been close, and moments when we’ve been farther apart. (Geographically and emotionally.) Yet somehow we just keep hanging on to one another. She is still the person I turn to for most advice and someone I count on to “know me” even when I have a hard time knowing myself.

When my husband’s brother moved to the Lower Mainland not too long ago, I thought to myself, “Now there’s a match destined to be made.” Jerred is a man’s man with a heart of gold and all he wanted was a beautiful, hilarious lady to come into his life willing to pick up his messes and cook for him. In return he’d treat her like a queen. Who doesn’t want one of their best friends on the face of the planet to be treated like she’s made of solid gold? Isn’t that our wish for all of our friends in their relationships? That they might feel valued and respected and loved unconditionally? I had a very strong feeling that if introduced, these two would spend an infinite amount of time attempting to do just that for one another. The other thing they have in common is an unfailing loyalty to those they love, and a generosity that can’t be equaled.


I thought it was such a good idea that I brought it up to Tamara, in a post-partum sweat, and couldn’t wait to hear what she thought of the idea.

She wanted to meet him.

*arm pump*

You can read the rest on their WEDDING BLOG! *explode*


This isn’t so much about them, but about her. She has been an incredible friend to me for so long, and I was thrilled when she approached me about a tattoo idea she had. I LOVE tattoos and would be covered from head to toe if my darling husband wasn’t so iffy about them. BUT…Tamara proposed a small, inconspicuous matching tattoo that I fell in love with, and once it was husband approved I made an appointment for us.

We went with anchors.

“The anchor tattoo has become a symbol of stability and a strong foundation. It is also a symbol of hope.” 

Tamara and I have been steadfast in our friendship with one another, never forgetting how far we’ve come and how much love, sweat and tears have gone into our relationship. Now that she will be my sister-in-law on paper, matching tattoos was the next logical step.


I love this lady a lot.


“As the waves crash over and over
You are my anchor
Every gale I meet
The plight of the seas can’t separate me.”

This is my 6th tattoo, and I find that they are only becoming more meaningful over time. ❤

Pretty in Pink

15 Apr

One of the advantages to being almost related to an amazing professional photographer (Tamara Lakeman Photography) is that sometimes she leaves her props at our house, and sometimes she sends me a text saying, “Feel free to use anything there in some photos with Lux!”

So that’s exactly what I did!

With a little help from my husband, every lamp we own, and a chubby baby we achieved some cute results! Nothing special, but definitely a couple of goodies for the ol’ scrapbook.

Thanks Auntie T!!!


Being so patient while I get everything set up.







I mean seriously…


Lux Faces Collage

This is how she says, “I love you Auntie!”

Her expressions kill me…for reals.