Nathan and Emily both took up baseball two years ago and loved it. They loved it so much that they played it again this past spring at their respective age levels. Nathan then tried out for the Penticton summer rep team, made it, and they went on to play at Provincials. Nathan is now playing Peewee AA fall ball with the same (amazing) coaches he had this summer and they have some weekend tournaments coming up.

We are officially a baseball family.

I grew up in a hockey family and Matthew was/is a basketball superstar, so this whole baseball thing has been a big learning curve. We’re catching on, with the help of our young baseball fanatics. Every Blue Jays game is on our big screen T.V. with all three of our kids completely engrossed in it. (Graham may not have picked up the same love of playing baseball, but he sure does love watching it and cheering on the Jays.)

During one of the Jays games, we decided to look up when they next played in Seattle. Flying the five of us across the country to Toronto is more expensive than taking our family to Mexico, but Seattle is close enough for us to drive to. We took in a Jays/Mariners game last year and it was more than worth the drive down to see them. There were three games scheduled for this September, with the second game being at night and the third game being held during the next day. Two games and only one night’s cost of staying at a hotel? SOLD.

If you followed along on Instagram or Facebook, this is old news, but here are some photo highlights from the trip:

Safeco stadium

The field

If you get to the stadium when they open the gates, you can run down to centre field and watch the teams practice. If there’s batting practice, kids can collect the stray baseballs. There wasn’t batting practice before the day game, but after warming up, a number of the players walked along and gave autographs.

Dermody Estrada and the crowd Estrada Grilli

To say that my kids were thrilled is a gross understatement.

(I got a text from my Uncle Tim as we were driving home that he saw me on the highlight reel standing behind the kids as they got their autographs. Neat.)

Day 2 Seats

It was a very quick trip: We were away from home for exactly 39 hours, took in two baseball games and managed about eight hours of sleep on Tuesday night. Having teens/preteens may have its challenging times (emotionally), but travelling with them is a billion times easier than when they were wee. We all had the best time and this is looking to be the second annual of many more annual trips for our family to cheer on our favorite ball team in person.

Team Dykstra

Team Dykstra

The Beach

If you’re friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen a pretty repetitive feed of blue skies and water. I’m working shorter hours for the summer so that I can take the kids to the beach. It means that less money is going into my bank account, but it also means that less money is going out to pay for things like camps and whatnot to keep the I’m Bored complaints at bay. Bonus: I get to go to the beach and read books/flip through magazines while my kids frolic in the water. Everybody wins.

We had talked about whether we should go on a family vacation somewhere, but we live in the Okanagan for crying out loud. It’s where people from all over B.C. and Alberta come to spend their summer holidays. Why would we leave? Plus, we have Apex to go to if we want to escape the heat (Higher altitude) and take a break from our daily return at home.

The kids have embraced summer as well and are at the stage where they sleep over at friends’ houses or friends sleep over here and I can have a Suburban full of beach bums, or I can be down to only one of my own beach bums to hang out with. That happened today, with Graham and Nathan out with their respective friends. Emily and I took the opportunity to rent a couple of stand up paddle boards for an hour and get out on the lake.


So fun.

Happy! August, friends. Soak it up before September comes and lazy days are just a distant memory.

Header Image

GHES marathon 2016

We live in a small town (Population 11,000 ish) that consists of many retirees, as well as many young families. It may look like your average sleepy little hamlet, but anyone who lives here — or even visits –will tell you that there’s something special about our community. A large part of that is reflected in how we take care of each other.

Volunteering is something that is woven into the fabric of our town, and it’s not just those with political aspirations or retirement “free time” who volunteer. Entire families volunteer their time and the kids love it. Here are a few kid-friendly volunteer ideas if you’re wondering how to get your family involved.

1. Your local food bank. I was on the board of our food bank for a few years and would take shifts in the store. My kids loved to come with me and help people shop. If that’s not your comfort zone, food banks are always in need of people to help sort food and stock shelves. If you have teenagers, that age group will dress up on Halloween and trick or treat for canned goods. They get to channel their inner little kid, and the food bank gets extra donations.

2. Sporting events. We live in an area that is full of active people. Our town hosts some pretty big sporting events (5K and 10K races, triathlons, mountain bike races, a long boarding competition, etc.) and neighboring communities host event bigger events (I.e. Iron Man). Sign your family up for any number of ways to help out and in addition to making participants smile and boosting your town’s reputation and economy, you might even get a t-shirt or other souvenir out of the deal.

3. A soup kitchen. I was at a conference in the spring where we split into different volunteer groups. My group went to the Salvation Army where we helped prepare the food, and then served it. It was AMAZING. Last week, my eldest son and members of his youth group went to a soup kitchen in a nearby city to serve dinner and when he returned, he talked my ear off about how fun it was and how he can’t wait until they go back in a few weeks.

How do you and your family volunteer? I’d love to try something new with our family.


If you know Nathan at all, then you know that he cannot stop moving. He goes to school an hour early so that he can shoot hoops/toss a football/play ball with his friends. During the school year he played for the school basketball team, was part of the Orca swim club, and then played spring baseball as well as on a basketball team that played in Kelowna.

From April through to the end of June he went from school to basketball practice, then straight to baseball practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Friday nights were basketball games, and he had baseball games on other nights as well as the weekends. It contributed to the June madness, most definitely.

A parent of one of his baseball buddies suggested that he try out for the summer rep baseball team in Penticton. He is a natural athlete — he excels at any sport he tries, just like his Dad — and he seemed to have a gift for baseball. We took him to tryouts, and he made the team. Of course he did. The commitment was for five weeks of practice, three nights a week, for two hours (it was usually three), plus games on the weekend. We tend to book the kids in…nothing for the summer, but how could I say no to that smile?

Nate Diggity

(If you’re a Facebook friend or follow me on Instagram, then you already know that we spent this past weekend at Provincials. Provincials! Hence the t-shirt he’s wearing.)

The season was fast and furious, and all of the practice and travel to weekend games on top of work and everything else left me running on fumes by the end of last week. I wouldn’t change anything, though, because Nathan had the best experience. He had amazing coaches, great teammates, and I got to watch him do his thing at Provincials.


He’s got a great swing:


He did an amazing job pitching:
(Not everyone gets to pitch.)

I missed the Saturday morning game as I was picking Graham up from camp, but I heard all about the sweet plays he made when I got back.

We went into the last game with three games, and three losses. We started out a little slow, but then we were in the bottom of the fifth inning and something clicked. Nathan made a dive in the outfield and caught the ball to get a batter out. I didn’t catch it on camera, because I was too busy watching the game and cheering as loud as I could. I did manage to catch a few other moments, mostly of him up at bat.

Swing, batter batter


Nathan got on base, and so did another teammate, and then another, and then another, and Nathan got his second run of the game. He turned after he crossed home plate to cheer for a teammate who was called safe at third.


We got six runs that inning (the max for all innings except for the seventh), and shut them down in the sixth inning with no runs. We did the same in the seventh. The game was the best we played all weekend. It was close, but we lost in the end by only a few runs. The excitement for those few innings when they were knocking the ball into the outfield, crossing home plate, and shutting down the other team is all they remember of that game. They may not have made it to the finals, but they made it to Provincials, and even have the t-shirt to prove it.

(I know he’s my kid, but his attitude on and off the field, with his coaches and fellow teammates, make me just as proud as watching him being the sporto he is.)

Me and GMy kids attend a sleep away camp every year and are gone for six nights straight. I know that many people rejoice for the parenting break that comes when their kids are away, and some have kids who go away for an entire summer (!), but I have to admit that it’s a little hard on my heart to have my babies away from home. We spend a lot of time together, me and mine, and having their beds empty is…weird.

The change in family dynamic is always interesting, though. Last year a different child was gone for three weeks straight and this year Nathan and Emily are attending camp together this week. That leaves Master Graham as an only child and he’s pretty excited about it. So am I. We have similar personalities (Ambivert nerds, unite!) and we get each other. The other two get a lot of parental one-on-one time, based on the activities and happenings of our family, whereas Graham does not. This week will be ALL GRAHAM, ALL THE TIME. (Well, except for when we’re at work, but you aside from that, it’s ALL G.)

I’m feeling especially sensitive this morning (Thanks, Lucy the Wonder Cat, for tossing a mouse around our room at 4 a.m.) and my eyes are a little watery when I think about Nathan and Emily who were so excited to be at camp, but pretty watery themselves when we said goodbye.

Five more sleeps until they come home, balanced by five days of adventures with G Force. Here’s to a good week for everyone.

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