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Ryan’s Anchor Day ~ R.A.D.

They say the triangle is the strongest shape because high amounts of forces can be sustained without deformation.

I have recently seen in my life, the strength that comes from three. I know if we were talking metaphorically, I would be one of the three points of the triangle but the truth is, I think I’m actually surrounded by it instead. There are three people who have each played a major role in my journey so far. I am indebted to Hailey, Nicole and Jessie. It was no accident that I felt prompted to reach out to Hailey and Nicole. I didn’t know it at the time, but the triangle was starting to take shape.

Hailey – I’ve known Hailey since we were teenagers, so about 21 years. We hit it off right away, dated for a short time but otherwise have just been great friends since. Though because of our distance (she lives in Canada) and the multiple times going off social media, we never really spent too much time confiding in each other. Until December of last year, when I felt like I should reach out to her for support with my divorce. Hailey listened to me and supported me without judgement, but she also didn’t let me get away with my unfair projection of feelings. She kept me accountable, never just saying what I wanted to hear, and without shame. She made a huge impact on my initial ability to acknowledge my shortcomings and then FORGIVE myself for them.

Nicole – I have known Nicole for many years and I was best friends with her oldest brother ever since Elementary School. She has played a major part in my journey because she helped me realize it doesn’t matter what other people think, and I should just be myself and do what makes me happy. She always recommends helpful things to read, watch and listen to. She is always telling me things will get better and that I need to keep working hard. Most importantly, she recommended I see the best Therapist I have ever worked with, Jessie owner of Blue Clover Therapy.

Jessie – I have seen a handful of different therapists over the years but I never found one that I trusted and felt good about. I wish I could say it was me who was just ready to make the changes to finally stick with one therapist, but the truth is, Jessie is really just that good. Each week she gave me assignments that stretched me little by little. It wasn’t overwhelming and didn’t overload me. I felt that Jessie genuinely cared about my progress and about me as a person. She has been an amazing source of strength and guidance in my journey. The first thing I remember her telling me is to look at this as My Journey from now on. My Journey of success, finding myself again, being a better father, a better employee, a better friend, a better person, etc..

April 5th – Something happened that night … I had carried this secret of my suicide plan for a while, and had planned May 17th as the day. However, the burden of everything I was dealing with became so heavy, I didn’t want to wait until May 17th. I was ready to end it all that night, but for the first time since I made my plan, suicide started to scare me. I laid in bed crying and praying that I would be able to die in my sleep, or that I would have the courage to kill myself that night. I felt someone speak to me and they said, “Fine, but you have to say goodbye to Hailey, Nicole and Jessie first”.

I couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye…not yet. But what I did do was text Hailey, saying I was scared and wanted help. Because it was around 230am, she was already asleep so didn’t respond, and all I could do was cry myself to sleep.

April 6th – The day everything changed. Hailey noticed first thing in the morning that she had missed a text from me, a worrisome text no less, and apologized profusely for missing it. We messaged back and forth throughout the day but still, I was unable to shake the darkness. My mind continued to be fixated on my May 17th plan and as usual, I was on the internet looking at guns and checking to see how much money I had saved. During that time, a video text came in. It was Hailey, staring me in the face with true and genuine love and concern. She said, “You’re okay, you are going to be okay. If anything ever happens again like last night, you text and you call me and you facetime me and you facebook call me until I answer because that’s not okay that you were feeling that way all by yourself. So that’s the rule, and you are obligated! I’m here for you and you’re okay.”

All of a sudden, it all came together. The darkness couldn’t break the strength of that triangle and I knew I had to make a choice. Actually, I knew I wanted to make a choice … a different choice than I had previously made. I CHOSE LIFE! I wanted to live! That was the turning point for me. The following weeks felt different. I was feeling happier, I felt loved, I felt like there was hope and that I was actually going to be okay! I then chose to tell Hailey, Nicole and Jessie about my suicide plan. As expected, they each met me with pure compassion and love, and the threat to take me out themselves if I ever planned it again 😉

It wasn’t an overnight easy path, to be honest. Like I mentioned in my last post, it was easier when I knew it would be over soon. But now I had to actually DEAL with my thoughts and feelings. I decided If I was here to stay (and I am), I had to figure it out. I was not living defeated any longer. So I needed to make a new plan to replace my original suicide plan!

One night I was talking to my friend Krista, and she brought up a good point. She said I needed to look at May 17th differently now. With my divorce, I didn’t want to think of May 17th as my wedding anniversary anymore. Also, I decided it was no longer going to be my last day on this earth. I credit music from The Anchor to really saving me the second time, and I loved the idea of committing to being anchored here, for good.

I decided from now on that May 17th is going to be RAD (Ryan’s Anchor Day)! It’s the day that I drop my anchor on this earth and promise myself, my kids, parents, siblings, friends and God that suicide is no longer an option for me. It’s the day I dedicate myself to My Journey.

I decided to take it one step further and found a way to give myself a daily reminder of this commitment. I commemorated the first Ryan’s Anchor Day by using the money I saved for a gun to get a tattoo! Something I can see every single day to remind myself to push forward and to enjoy My Journey.

This tattoo  (on my left forearm) consists of personal meaningful symbols that I want to see every single day.

  • Compass = My Journey
  • Blue Clover = Jessie and her guidance in my journey (Blue Clover Therapy)
  • North / Mountains = “N” for Nicole & her love of the mountains (also the peace I feel in the mountains)
  • South / Palm Trees = “S” for Hailey (aka “SkitalZ”, a nickname I gave her when we first met) & her love for palm trees (also the happiness I feel in Hawaii, my favorite vacations growing up)
  • Symbol at the bottom = The Anchor’s band logo. Since the tattoo commemorates Ryan’s Anchor Day, I felt it necessary to have an anchor in my tattoo, so I used The Anchor’s band logo. Their music continues to give me strength and inspiration to push forward.
  • 4 Letters on top = Initials of my four kids
  • 4 Letters on the bottom = Initials of my dad, mom, brother and sister.

With this tattoo and my new plan, I feel like I am starting a new chapter in my life! A new exciting chapter filled with hope, happiness, love and commitment. It was a painful hour and a half but I am very glad I did it. I am super stoked to have something I can see every day to remind myself that this is my journey and I am capable of taking care of myself and my kids.

Wryun (Ryan) Henricksen is an ex-husband and father of four amazing and rambunctious boys. After years of struggle, he recently found the strength to choose life and declare May 17th as RAD – Ryan’s Anchor Day! This is his story.

Questions or (kind) comments can be left below or sent directly to Wryun at wryunbeard@gmail.com

Why Do We Say That Blood Is Thicker Than Water?

I know we’ve all heard it a hundred times in our lives and it’s usually meant to imply that our blood bonds are stronger than anything. That our loyalty to them is deeper and forever and those relationships are worth saving at all costs.

Image result for blood is thicker than water

While I believe relationships take effort, I don’t believe they should take work, at least not on a long term, ongoing basis. I do believe certain relationships warrant more effort or possibly work based on their origin, but I understand more than ever, the value of surrounding yourself and filing your life with *your people*.

And I don’t believe *your people* has to only or always mean those who share your blood. And here’s why:

I was adopted and so was my brother. As a result, I am blood related to exactly 2 people.

TWO PEOPLE.

Only two that, based on this statement, I should feel a sense of loyalty and lifelong obligation to. And I do, believe me I do, but it’s only because I chose and was able to have biological children (and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we are biologically related, just to be clear). 

 

kids-blood-is-thicker-than-water-loyalty-these-are-your-days-family

{Photo Credit: Eternal Reflections Photography}

You might understand why such a statement would rub me the wrong way. My cousin has 2 biological children and 2 adopted children (who are also biological siblings), but at the end of the day she has 4 children. Period. And they love and protect each other with the same fierceness, regardless of their *blood status* within the family. Her and I have spoken often of this, particularly when certain issues have come up in our own lives and extended families. Or in the lives of our friends. We have to stop this….

Blood is NOT thicker than water.

Love your families and do what you can to keep those relationships strong and positive – because in many ways, those SHOULD be your people. Or a good foundation of people, at the very least. But let’s not do it because they share blood and instead because we value their existence and role in our lives.

How about love is love. Loyalty is loyalty. The people who matter to you are the people who matter to you. Period.

Because I’ve got friends who are like sisters and cousins who are like strangers, children of friends who are no different than my nieces and nephews (who I love like my own) and adults who are like extensions of parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles – to me and my children. There is no definitive blood line I need to follow and maybe it’s because I just simply don’t have one I could follow.

But please just think next time you consider using such a phrase. I know you likely mean well and I understand the point you might be trying to illustrate. But how about next time when you want a relationship to work out, you simply say:

You matter to me.

 

 

 

Fun and Delicious Kool-Aid Popcorn

This is a great treat to make with the kids and it’s so delicious too! Years ago, when one of Jonah’s preschool classmates handed out baggies to everyone, I may or may not have eaten the entre thing. *oops*

kool aid popcorn these are your days snacks kids 2

2 cups sugar

1 cup white corn syrup

2/3 cups margarine

2 packages of Kool-aid

1 tsp baking soda

Boil the sugar, syrup, and margarine together for 3 minutes. Stir in baking soda and Kool-aid and pour over 6 quarts of popcorn.

Bake at 225 for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and break up immediately.

ENJOY!!! (Make two batches and add the festive flair – red/green. orange/black, red/pink, or perhaps just a few random colours for fun!)

{Grace and Salt} #companiesthatgiveback #payitforward #thesearethedays #adoption #T1D

grace and salt logo these are the days adoption diabetes

I feel like nothing I say will do this story justice.

My heart is so full for this family and their purpose, and I can’t wait for the day they set foot back in their home as a family of FOUR!

The last two weeks I have featured companies that give back to other organizations, and while Grace and Salt is as well, they are doing so in a different way. Instead of donating their funds to another organization’s good deeds, they are using the profit to help fund their international adoption of not one, but two sweet children from Uganda. {Oh my heart}

photo grace and salt these are the days adoption diabetes

Their original plan was to pick up their newly adopted son, but while there, and after a medical diagnosis of Keary (T1D), they discovered an undeniable need to adopt another sweet child (June Bug), who was also recently diagnosed with T1D. The catch? They had just a month to raise $35,000 for this second adoption.

While Keary and her husband are in Uganda, they are actively trying to raise the additional funds needed for June Bug’s adoption. Aside from accepting straight donations {here}, they also have an Etsy shop filled with adorable printables. They have raised just over $23,000 and have less than 10 days to raise the rest, and every little bit helps…in fact, if every one of their instagram followers donated just .30 cents, they would meet their goal! How amazing is that! It’s not something that has to take massive donations or put anyone out. It’s easy, really easy. AND if you’d rather, you can get one of these adorable prints from their Etsy shop in return {Also, follow their story HERE}

graceandsalt these are the days adoption diabetes

Love Knows No Borders | Be Love | Let’s Adventure Little One| XO

You’re My Favorite| Ampersand | Let’s Snuggle

The Shine Project #companiesthatgiveback #payitforwardfriday #thesearethedays

I’m not sure how I first heard about The Shine Project, but it was late in 2012 and shortly before I placed my first order. I was attending a work party with a white elephant gift exchange and I wanted to get something practical (stemless wine glasses) and something meaningful (bracelets from The Shine Project). I couldn’t have been more excited and in fact, even got a bit choked up while explaining to my coworkers what the bracelets represent.

the shine project logo these are the days

You can read the full story of how it began, but the bottom line is this, Ashley Lemieux created an opportunity for inner city kids to work and raise enough funds to attend college/university. It started simply with just $500 in supplies, a few simple bracelet designs and a hope that even just one would sell, but within the first week they were sold out. And if you check out the shop now you’ll see all sorts of designs. All of which I want and need in my collection.

Over 40 scholarships have been given since 2011, and 100% of donations given to the non profit go directly to the students.

Threads by The Shine Project currently employees 11 inner city students.

What I love is, in addition to the opportunity to attend school (some of them, the first of their family) they are gaining invaluable life and work experience through being involved in everything from customer service, shipping, jewelry design, t shirt design, new product design, sales, and events. The students who are given scholarships through the non profit are then given jobs through Threads, so they can be mentored and guided every step of the way.

It just makes my heart happy. And these gorgeous pieces would make my jewelry collection happy too!

the shine project these are the days companies that give back pay it forward friday

 Anchor|Black Onyx Pixie|Feather Stack|Druzy in Silver|Nykelle

the shine project these are the days companies that give back pay it forward friday

 

Ruby Pixie|Blue Green Triangle Druzy|Pink Triangle|Personalized Bangle|Silver Love Stack

 

Which are your favourites?

 

 

A Boy Can Never Have Too Many Swimsuits Either #swimsuitsforboys #thesearethedays #notsponsored

Since I don’t think girls should have all the fun and because Amazon has an awesome selection for boys too,  here’s a collection for them too. After all, Jonah’s drawer is just as full {or over-full lol}.

It’s a real problem you know 😉

Have fun browsing, and shopping. And same as before, if you go to buy one and it’s sold, I’m sorry. *big grin*

adidas baby buns big chill carters flap happy hurley kanu laguna nautica osh kosh solo international us polo association wippette zeroxposur swimwear these are the days cute like me amazon swimwear

1|2|3|4|5|6|7

adidas baby buns big chill carters flap happy hurley kanu laguna nautica osh kosh solo international us polo association wippette zeroxposur swimwear these are the days cute like me amazon swimwear

8|9|10|11|12|13|14

adidas baby buns big chill carters flap happy hurley kanu laguna nautica osh kosh solo international us polo association wippette zeroxposur swimwear these are the days cute like me amazon swimwear

15|16|17|18|19|20|21

The boy section at any store is always so much more blah than the girls, so it was especially fun to see all of these awesome options for the little guys in our life!

Featured Brands:

Adidas|Baby Buns|Big Chill|Carters|Flap Happy|Hurley|Kanu|Laguna

Nautica|Osh Kosh|Solo International|US Polo Association|Wippette|ZeroXposur

A Girl Can Never Have Too Many Swimsuits! #swimsuitsforgirls #thesearethedays #notsponsored

Because if your kids are like mine, they can never have too many swimsuits. Here’s a fun little collection of girls swimsuits from Amazon that is making me all googly eyed. If you try to buy one and it’s sold, I’m sorry 😉

baby buns big chill billabong carter gossip girl hello kitty jantzen lemons and limes maaji nautica pink platinum roxy tiaobu vaenait swimwear these are the days amazon

1|2|3|4|5|6|7

lemons and limes carters nautica jantzen baby bums roxy vaenait gossip girl these are the days cute like me amazon swimwear 2

8|9|10|11|12|13|14

baby buns big chill billabong carter gossip girl hello kitty jantzen lemons and limes maaji nautica pink platinum roxy tiaobu vaenait swimwear these are the days amazon

15|16|17|18|19|20|21

I could go on and on. Oh and don’t worry, boys swimwear is coming up next!

Featured Brands:

Baby Buns|Big Chill|Billabong|Carters|Gossip Girl|Hello Kitty|Jantzen|

Lemons & Limes|Maaji|Nautica|Pink Platinum|Roxy|Tiaobu|Vaenait

 

Fancy Time in Kelowna #ManteoResort #thesearethedays

After checking out of our *not fancy* hotel, we got ready to visit our cousins at their {soon to be ours} actually fancy hotel. Jonah even got his fancy manners on :

fancy manteo resort these are the days cute like me kelowna

They were both SO excited ~ in fact, when I asked Brooklyn after camping what her idea of a great holiday would be, she said, “A fancy hotel with a pool and a twirly slide!” Little did she know…

I was smitten right away. The resort itself is beautiful and huge, and the views are stunning.

Manteo resort kelowna cute like me these are the days okanagan lake

Manteo resort kelowna cute like me these are the days okanagan

The pool area, although smaller than we anticipated {considering the size of the resort}, was awesome. There was the pool with twirly waterslide {for Brooklyn, no doubt}, a splash pad and kiddie pool area, plus two small hot tubs. We all had a blast and spent the better part of 6 hours there both days.

manteo outdoor pool waterslide kelowna cute like me these are the days

We loved playing in the water with the kids and laying poolside, while watching them make memories together. And then, ordering food and drinks to the pool {like we had done in Mexico} made the kids feel extra spoiled. #spoiledrottenistheonlywaytobe

Merman these are the days cute like me manteo kelowna

{Sidenote: Doesn’t Jonah look like a Merman?}

Because we were on the arrival list for later that day, we were able to use the facilities as hotel guests, rather than visitors of guests. I’m not sure it made a huge difference for our experience {except being able to take out towels lol}, but the staff was awesome made me feel like we were welcomed guests.

We surprised the kids finally and their reactions were perfect, though afterwards Brooklyn was a little upset we were staying two nights because she wanted to see her other cousin back at home {Seriously….kids can always find something to complain about. haha}.

Ours was a one bedroom suite {the LAST room available when I booked}, which ended up being so nice because of the kitchen ~ and of course the separate bedroom. And somehow, in that huge resort, we got booked in the room right beside my cousin! In fact, sharing a door in between our rooms, which was fabulous! But how does that happen? Crazy right?!

While there were things we would change {another day, another post}, we would stay there again. We really did have a great, relaxing time, and made some great memories. And there is no denying it is a stunning location. Our only regret really, is not having more time to discover more, both on the resort and around Kelowna.

okanagan vacation guide cute like me these are the days kelowna manteo resort

Photo from Okanagan Vacation Guide {a site I just discovered, but plan to use in the future!}

 

Pinterest Cooking Frenzy Part I #thesearethedays #makeyummyfood

In 2012 I set out to try some of the activities with Jonah that I had filled my pinterest board *Cute Kids Stuff* with. I spent time making that a priority and loved the memories we made while Brooklyn was in school. And especially since, later that year I went back to work, I am so grateful for that little burst of inspiration to DO, not just PIN. I have tried, for various reasons since, to keep this up. To keep my kids and making memories with them, a main priority. And we’ve had some amazing times as a result.

Now, I am wanting to take this further and do something for me – though it will, of course, benefit my family as well.

The kitchen is my happy place. Which is a good thing since about 80% of my day is spent in it. I love trying new things and especially love finding new family favorites. In addition, I love the opportunity to involve the kids and teach them different cooking skills or to appreciate the opportunity to try new foods.

So let’s get started ~ A few months ago I found myself in a bit of a Pinterest frenzy and tried 4 new recipes. Want to know what I tried?

It all started with wanting to try these delicious looking meatballs – Hoisin Asian Meatballs from Damn Delicious.

Hoisin Asian Meatballs - These juicy, tender meatballs are smothered with a sweet Hoisin glaze!

photo used with permission

I know, right?!

They did not disappoint – even my sweet, picky, 9 year old Brooklyn was a fan, despite trying to convince me she hates ALL meatballs. Ha, silly girl. And really uses basic ingredients – ground beef, breadcrumbs, spices, eggs, and of course Hoisin Sauce.

**Note: It probably goes without saying, but if you aren’t a fan of Hoisin Sauce you probably won’t like this. And you’re probably crazy 😉 **

While I was waiting for the hamburger to thaw, I noticed this yummy looking dish and decided to make it so I could munch while I cooked.

Chili Cheese Dip from Love Grows Wild

Chili Cheese Dip appetizer recipe

photo used with permission

Just three ingredients – cream cheese, chili, and shredded cheese and another huuuuuuge hit. But this time with my son, who ate two helpings of it before dinner. And, is actually eating more as I type this post. The recipe calls for chili without beans, but I love beans so I used a chili with them. No specific brand….I just used what I had on hand. And make sure you use a nice thick layer of cream cheese on the bottom. Mmmmmm

Olive Garden Copycat Dressing from Mommy Savers

olive garden salad dressing recipe

photo used with permission

I love the salad at Olive Garden more than I love any other salad. And I am always looking for a homemade version, so I knew I had to try this one out. The best part is it also uses ingredients often on hand, so no crazy grocery trips!

The verdict? Delicious, but not quite like the Olive Garden. And I have to be honest – it killed me a little to put corn syrup in it. BUT, it was definitely good and I am excited to have another homemade dressing to choose from.

Roasted Ranch Potatoes with Bacon and Cheese by Joyously Domestic

photo used with permission

Plain and Simple – these are DELICIOUS! And I didn’t even have any bacon to use, so I can only imagine. Also, strangely all I had on hand was Three Cheese Ranch – strange because I don’t like that dressing lol – but they were still great (just in case not having exact ingredients is something that freaks you out).

Well there you have it – FOUR Pinterest wins! And trust me, there are more coming. This Pinterest frenzy continues and you are going to be so glad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Proud To Be A Crappy Mom! #notacrappymom

Before I had kids I knew exactly how to parent them {HA!}, what choices were right and best, and why certain children acted in certain ways. As I’ve gotten older and my parenting experience has broadened, I’ve learned A LOT. I’ve learned that there is no right way to parent, that every child really is different, and that every step is different than the last. So all in all, I will always have a lot to learn about parenting…but I do feel I know the most about parenting MY children. And even that is still a confusing and long road sometimes.

And one thing I dislike more than anything are the mommy wars that can result from different parenting styles. Just today I saw this awesome photo from Granola Babies on Facebook and immediately shared it. It’s perfect. It’s true. And even still, with mommies on both sides of these issues, mommy wars continue to rage.

Life with Levi, a blog I love to follow experienced one such war today over the topic of circumcision. I admit, I missed the drama over on her Facebook page, but the comments following lead me to believe some incredibly judgemental and unkind things were said…and directed at specific moms. It’s pretty sad to be honest. As a result, she wrote a blog post about being a crappy mom and all the things she is doing that will undoubtedly *screw* up her kid. All tongue in cheek of course, but the principal is not lost.

I have amazing kids, not without their challenges {are any kids really exempt from this?}, and there have been times in my *parenting career* that I have been at a complete loss as to how to best navigate the situations facing me. I have  been criticized over the years with regards to my parenting and my children, although I can honestly say I am comfortable in my choices {interestingly completely the opposite of how I thought I would do it prior to having kids lol}, and really believe in and see the amazing little people I have the privilege of raising.

But, in keeping with Jen’s theme, I thought I, too would add a list of things I do that may qualify me as a *Crappy* Mom and will undoubtedly *screw up* my kids:

*I had them 3 years apart

*I don’t call them names

*I tell them a hundred times a day that I love them {overkill, if there is such a thing}

*I show them too

*I lay with them at bedtime

*I like to cook *real* food for them

*Sometimes we eat macaroni and cheese

*I don’t immunize

*I don’t like time outs

*I rarely take them for checkups

*Sometimes we stay in our pyjamas all day long

*I don’t discipline for every infraction

*We like to take them on holidays

*We TALK, TALK, TALK, a lot about appropriate and inappropriate behaviors

*In the summer, we stay up REALLY late

*We love pop

*I don’t give them medicine very often when they are sick

*Sometimes I get angry

*I bathe them at least every other day

*I let them fight

*We play outside

*I breastfed my daughter for 15 months

*My son had real people food at 5 months old, and weaned at 11 months old

*I don’t always follow through

*He’s not circumcised {I can’t believe I just put info about his body parts on the world wide web}

*We read to them almost every night

*They’ve both had cavities

*They were both in their rear facing bucket seats until nearly 18 months old

*I buy my kids second hand clothes

*I also buy them brand name

*We watch tv

*I let them listen to Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Alternative/Hard Rock music, etc.

*They play on their own

*We have *No Manners Mondays*

*I don’t give them milk very often

*We engage in *Potty Talk* at home

*I love and adore their dad {truly}

*I let my daughter text {8 this month}

*We laugh A LOT!

*And sometimes when my kids are having a moment and I am feeling particularly frustrated, I feel impressed to just hold them instead of get angry….and so I do. And it’s in these moments that magic and memories are created.

{Taken from Life with Levi – it was so perfect I didn’t want to re-write it}:

These are all things I do as a parent. I don’t feel the need to defend or justify my actions. I am happy to talk with others about my parenting style, philosophy, or decisions, because I know being a mom (or dad) is tough, and sometimes it’s helpful to hear how {or even why} other people are doing things.

I don’t care if some people think the things listed above make me a “crappy” mom.

I am Brooklyn and Jonah’s mom.

What matters to me is that they feel loved, safe, and nurtured.

So far, I think I’m doing alright.

Perfection.

I am PROUD to be a {NOT} Crappy Mom.

And you should be too!