Me :)

About Justine

I believe in going too far, in trying everything once, and that we should always risk being truly seen for who we are. I fake being tired to get out of driving on roadtrips. I reread books because I miss the characters.
I believe that emotions are meant to be felt all the way, and that you should take time to indulge in guilty pleasures....except without guilt. I love to cook and bake. When I make cookies, I eat the first dozen and dont tell anyone I baked that many! We put a gym in our garage so I can work off all the food I make, and make room for more calories!
I greet everyone with a hug, full embrace. Never half ass it. I am afraid of the dark. Seriously. Murderers and cougars come out. I refuse to wash my pillow after we get back from camping because I dont want to lose that campfire smell. I believe in living life full. After running after two kids all day, mountains and wine are the only therapy I will ever need ;)

Dirty Thirty

March 3rd, 2015



I’m not an easy person to surprise. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being surprised. I just am not the easiest person to surprise. I like to make plans…I like to know what’s going on. Not all the tiny details, I just like when my calendar is full of fun things and I like to throw out ideas, and help plan what we’re doing! I also am very close with my sisters, and my Mom. We talk everyday. Same with my close friends. We talk almost daily. It’s hard to surprise me because we are so used to not having secrets it’s easy to let something slip.

So when Marco said “Block off Friday the 28th of February” I was intent on keeping it secret. I didn’t want to know what was happening until right before. He not only succeeded, he blew me away! With the help of my family and friends he pulled off the most amazing birthday surprise EVER.

He started by having the BEST birthday day with me, I think to throw me off….making me think that what he had planned for Friday wasn’t going to be a big deal after all. He also kept throwing out hints, weird hints, ones that didn’t add up and had me SO confused. To top it off, when I told my sister that Marco had “plans” for me for Friday, she got kinda mad. Saying whatever it was she hadn’t been invited and she was going to be some pissed if he planned something and didn’t invite her. My best friend Jessica knew what the plans were, because Marco had planned the date around when she could come work wise, and all she told me was that we were going sky diving…which we all know would never EVER happen. haha (Read WHY here)

Well Friday morning I woke up, and I was told to dress like I was going to do something physically active. We hopped in the car and headed back out to Chilliwack and Marco told me we were just going to explore. Drive up forest service roads, get out and hike whenever we got as far as the car could take us, and try to finally accomplish my goal of getting a good photo of the Border Peaks. Somewhere along Chilliwack Lake Road there was a forest service road that FINALLY had the gate open, so we ventured down it, praying the entire time the gate wasn’t currently being closed, locking us in! We made it in as far as the demolition site for the military. I wanted to get out and walk in further, but the “WARNING LIVE BOMBS” signs had Marco forbidding me to step foot out of the car haha. To give him some credit, I am glad he didn’t….the guy came to close the gate just a few minutes after we drove through it!

We drove a bit more and ended up at the end of the road. Holding hands we walked down to Chilliwack Lake and while he found rocks to skip, I took my usual amount of photos, and pretty much just stared at the mountains. Marco rolled his eyes when I insisted on selfies, and I pretended to push him in the water. (I really should have haha)

Later that afternoon, my only instructions were to get ready by 5:00 and “maybe you should wear a dress.” It was a bit amusing to see Marco running around like crazy trying to get everything ready having no idea what he was getting ready for! The kids surprised me by dressing up too, Luca was quite proud of the gel in his hair :)

Luca picked the first part of the evening, and he truly is my son. We had dessert first! We went to the coffee shop I used to work at and shared two pieces of cheesecake. Soph kept licking the whip cream off the plate! We piled back in the car, and went for a family drive as the sunset (one of my favourite things!) and Marco kept turning into different driveways of restaurants or different roads to throw me off. haha he thought it was hilarious watching me get excited and then tell me “just kidding!” We FINALLY turned into the driveway of one of my ALL time favourite restaurants, Restaurant 62. We went there for our first Valentine’s together so it’s always been one of our favourites for special occasions!

I walked in and in the back of the restaurant Marco had rented out the entire room and it was full of my entire family and all my closest friends!! Literally all my favourite people in one room and I made sure to give each and every one of them the biggest hug ever!

Dinner was amazing! Seriously nothing makes me happier than big dinners. There’s something about spending time with your favourite people, sharing stories over wine and food that is so special! Looking around and seeing everyone laughing, and smiling makes my heart so happy! After dinner, it was hugs all around again (What can I say, I like warm hugs ;) and we stayed until everyone else was gone, making sure to kiss Marco whenever I could to say thank you!

We pulled into the driveway at home and something seemed off. Different lights were on than we normally leave on. Marco said “uhhh by the way the birthday surprises aren’t over!” I walked into our house that had been ENTIRELY decorated by my amazing sisters and friends while we were out getting dessert. There was a MASSIVE 30 balloon, white lights, a tea bar from David’s Tea, a wine bar, photos from the last 30 years of my life in the shape of a 30 on the window, cupcakes and everyone from the restaurant was back there waiting! I had NO CLUE!



It was so fun! We drank many many glasses of wine and threw on an epic 90’s playlist. Marco literally filled my day with my all time favourite activities and my favourite things. I have never felt so loved and so fortunate to have these people in my life! I was definitely spoiled!! Marco set the bar VERY high for his 30th next year!

A HUGE HUGE thank you to everyone who made last week SO incredibly amazing! It was better than I ever imagined and I love all of you so much!!


Day one as a 30 year old!

February 26th, 2015

Day one as a 30 year old was pretty fan-freakin-tastic!! I woke up to bacon and pancakes with strawberries on top, french press coffee and handmade cards by my son!

After we dropped the kids off at school/daycare, me and Marco headed up Chilliwack Lake Road to hike to Lindeman Lake! I had been this past Fall with my Dad and fallen in love with it and was so excited to spend the morning of my birthday showing Marco how gorgeous it is!

The weather was PERFECT! Nice and cool. Cloudy, but not cloudy enough that it socked in the mountains. The park is technically closed over the winter but all that means is the gates are closed to the parking lot and the bathrooms didn’t have toilet paper! The good part is there was only 2 other cars there! We practically had the entire hike and lake to ourselves!

I could have spent all day there! We made plans to head back sometime this summer for an over night date and camp! Imagine waking up and having coffee to this view!! I would hang our hammock right over the water and read….or have a glass of wine! ;)

We explored the lake, and then reluctantly headed back! Marco laughed at how many photos I took, and I reminded him how much worse it will be when we do Banff this May!

After we heated back up in the car, and had lunch at Chopped Leaf (the greatest lunch spot ever!!) we picked up the kiddos! Luca took me on a date to Starbucks, and bought me tulips!

We came home to the BEST surprise ever! One of my closest friends had sent me flowers! I haven’t had flowers delivered since my wedding day!! It was the best surprise!! Then came homemade dinner while I loaded this mornings photos, and my Dad dropped off dessert for me :) (my AMAZING Mom is sick and she still sent over a homemade cake on my birthday!) 

After dessert was Volleyball!!! Marco and I coach a U-18 team with one of my other close friends! The other assistant coach (who is also a close friend and fellow UFV alumni) surprised me with balloons and cupcakes!! We came fully dressed to play and it was SO MUCH FUN!! I haven’t played volleyball in almost two years!! I think I kept up with the youngins ;) 

It was the perfect ending to an amazing day!! Feeling so loved and so grateful for everyone in my life! 

Only one day left.

February 24th, 2015

There is only one day left, ONE DAY, left of my twenties. One tiny 24 hour day. That’s all.

10 years ago I remember exclaiming to another 20 year old friend, “Ohmygosh in TEN years we will be 30!!!” as if it was so far away, as if it never would really happen, because really, at 20, 30 seems SO old. I could have kids! Or a career, or be living with a BOY!

As D-Day approaches, I’ve had mixed feelings. Mostly of indifference. Really it’s just a number. 30 is the new 20 right? And reminding myself that some of the coolest and BEST people I know are over 30.

But this past week, as it crept closer and closer and friends oh so lovingly reminded me “hey only 4 more days left in your twenties!” I started to feel a bit of panic. I haven’t travelled as much as I wanted. I had more responsibilities than I wanted. I haven’t accomplished as much business wise as I wanted. I’m not as healthy as I hoped. And I only had x amount of days to get there! I felt I had failed by not creating a “things to do before I turn 30 list”. I felt I had all these things I should have done to celebrate the ending of a decade.

And then I remembered something one of those oh-so-cool over 30 year old friends I am so grateful to have said to me last year at a photography conference. She said she really became herself when she turned 30. She stopped caring what other people thought. She really started living with confidence, and so far her 30’s were the best years of her life so far. She said turning 30 shouldn’t be filled with dread, it should be filled with celebration because the best part of your life isn’t over, it’s really just starting.

With that in mind I took a giant step back and took a look at my life. I do live with a boy. And it’s AWESOME. I do have kids, and a career. But I don’t think it matters what you’ve accomplished or what you have. Who defines what success is anyway? Who was it who stupidly decided that 30 was the year in which you evaluate your entire life thus far and decide if you’ve done enough? Who gave us this sense that turning 3o is the big end of some massive part of our life that we will never get back?

I intend to make 30 a big deal, in a positive way. Rather than seeing a door close, I’m gonna open one. I’m going to say goodbye to the un-sureness about life that clung on from teen years into my twenties. I am going to celebrate 30 surrounded by the people I love the most! I am going to dance my way into this next decade, fully embracing who I am as a person! I’m going to do all those things I want to, not because I feel I should have done them already but because I have so much life left to live. I mean really, I’m only turning 30 ;)


Cascade Falls

February 10th, 2015

We live in one of the most amazing areas. We can get to places like this within half an hour, sometimes less!! My mission this past year has been to find and explore as many local sights as I can, to instill in my kids the same sense of adventure and loving the outdoors that my parents did in me!

We have been fighting colds and flu’s since before Christmas and this past week was especially trying! All of us cooped up inside, cranky from being sick and wanting to just do something other than have another day on the couch! So we made a vow that rain our shine we would get outside, even if it was just for a few minutes!

I saw a fellow instagrammer post photos of the Cascade Falls Suspension Bridge, and we had our spot! :) We met a few of our closest friends there, and explored. We all got soaking wet but it was glorious. I think I said atleast 5x “Why have I NEVER been here?!?!” It was a 30 minute drive my house!! Seriously!

There is something about being outside that erases any type of bad mood I am in. Regardless if it’s sunny or rainy, once I’m out there I don’t wanna come back. It started getting foggy as it got darker and I had an even harder time heading back…fog is one of my most favourite types of weather….it makes everything seem cozier :)

My hair was wet with that amazingly attractive pacific northwest frizz, and my feet were soaked right through, but it was so worth it. I can’t wait to go back in the summer and swim in the ponds once the river dies down!


The best example.

February 9th, 2015

If you’re lucky enough to find a weirdo, never let them go.”

My parents celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary this past Friday. 33 years. These two had FOUR crazy children, and still manage to have one of the strongest marriages ever.

I posted a photo of the two of them to facebook on Friday, and was surprised with the amount of comments and messages saying how lucky I was to have them in my life. How blessed I was to have them as an example of what marriage should and can be. I’ve always been so grateful for their amazing model of marriage, but it got me thinking about what exactly they had taught me about marriage. What their example alone had shown me.

Laugh together. Growing up my parents were always laughing. Sure I heard them fight lots. But they taught me that even though couples fight, they makeup and laugh often….and not just the polite chuckles of amusement, but the laughing so hard my Mom has tears streaming down her face, and my Dad is having a hard time catching his breath he’s laughing so hard. My Dad knows exactly what to say to put a smile on his face and he says those things often.

It’s okay to drive each other nuts sometimes. It is. Two different people living together in the same house for years…they’re gonna get on your nerves OFTEN. My Dad was in the army, he likes the house military clean. My Mom loves disco music and dancing. My Dad prefers to watch documentaries and British TV shows. My Mom prefers the occasional soap opera (or 40 years of Y&R ;) and Castle. They get one each others nerves…and that’s okay. It’s normal. They work around it, and love each other regardless of their pet peeves.

They take trips without each other. Every year my Dad goes on a weekend fishing trip with his friends from work. My Mom every year goes away with us girls, or her Mom for a weekend. I remember asking my Mom if she missed my Dad when he was gone, and she said “of course! I love the time away from each other to do our own things, but every night I miss him and am so excited for him to come home.”

They date. All 4 of us kids have moved out now, and they’re dating still. Weekly nights out for dinner, dinner parties with friends, or something simple as a trip to Costco together….those ones always make me smile…they both didn’t need to go to Costco, but they went together anyway. :)

They think of doing nice things for each other still. When Marco and I were first dating, I was always thinking of things I could do for him. The longer you’re together though, it gets harder to remember to do those things. My parents still have it down. My Dad still picks my Mom flowers that he sees while he’s out for his weekly runs. My Mom still bakes his favourite cookies.

They cuddle and kiss in the kitchen after dinner. This is my most favourite memory growing up. Every night after dinner, my Mom would start cleaning the kitchen, and my Dad would hug her and kiss her and usually tickle her in the middle of the kitchen with all us kids watching. We would usually make gross noises and yell EW….but honestly, we loved it. Seeing how much your parents love each other as a kid is the BEST thing ever. It made our home so happy.

Its ok to not have the same interests or hobbies, but try each others every once and awhile. My parents are in the opposites attract category. My Dad is an avid runner and hiker. He climbs a few mountains a year, hikes almost weekly, and has run a few marathons. My Mom prefers walks around the neighborhood. My Mom is an amazing cook and baker…so much so that when we all moved out she made us a cookbook of all of her recipes that I still use weekly…my Dad on the other hand breaded chicken with only cayenne pepper and has a hard time following a recipe (he does a mean BBQ and Sunday morning breakfast though!) They each have their unique personalities and they didn’t lose themselves in their marriage. They didn’t change who they were to try to make each other happy. They kept up their individual hobbies and are happier for it. Even better, they occasionally try each others hobbies out… Mom once or twice a year tries out a hike with my Dad….and my Dad sometimes tries cooking ;)

Mostly they’ve taught me that it is possible to fall in love with the love of your life, get married, have kids, raise a family, watch them all get married and move away and have a relationship that’s better than ever before. They taught me the value in marrying your best friend and making sure that person stays your best friend for the rest of your life. They’ve showed me that even when money gets tight, life gets hard, family members pass away, and their kids give them challenges (not me, just my siblings;) that you’re a team, that those hardships are a little bit easier because you don’t have to face them alone and that at the end of every day your best friend is there to cuddle and kiss you in the kitchen after dinner, to check to make sure the oven is turned off and the front door is locked before going to bed, and to lay in bed and laugh and talk to before going to sleep without fail, every single day.

Mom and Dad….I LOVE you! :) Here’s to another 33 years and more! :)


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