Sneetches …and other stories

We’ve been getting creative here with toys…

Although, playing with toilet paper rolls has actually been a thing that we have always done.  Our home in Ottawa has seven bathrooms, so when i would lug in all of the groceries from Costco, the kids knew they had a job.  They were always in charge of stocking each of the bathrooms.  This of course always resulted in fun play with the rolls!

I was at the consignment store and I scored big time!  I must say that I am a total sucker for books.  Sitting there all lonely on the shelf was the book Sneetches, and it honestly looked brand spanking new!  Accompanying the book was a plush Sneetch… BOTH together for only six dollars!!  The plush Sneetch still had tags on it!! I have always loved that story to pieces – it is so fun and has a great message.  We read it this afternoon before getting ready to head to the OWC for the Wake Open competition…

We have been settling into our Orlando home quite nicely.  We got bunk beds for the kids… They certainly love the idea of bunk beds!  I still leap in my tracks when lizards cross my path. This happens all of the time here in Florida… I’m hoping that I get used to it.  It was a scorcher today at record breaking highs, but we all managed to get out to support the Team Cooligan Boys at the Nautique Wake Open!

Renzo AND Little Rolles BOTH made it to the finals tomorrow, so it looks like another early rise and shine for us!

Early bird 

I was wide awake at 5am this morning.  It feels like I am living in a dream as there is so much happening so fast.  Pat has been waking up early as well sorting out endless tasks and juggling consulting calls.

This house is much smaller than our 6000 square foot Custom home in Ottawa and there’s nowhere to hide from kids!  It is another challenge that we face as Pat has a lot of work to do and I don’t even have our van to take all of the kids out with.  We are continuing to work out logistics and stay on top of homeschooling as well.

Today, me and the five kids piled into a bedroom and did our math together on the floor!  I must admit, it was super fun actually!  This whole experience really reinforces that we’ve been living with way too much “stuff” anyways!  We have collectively agreed to be more mindful when purchasing items like toys…. oh isn’t it crazy how the toys can pile up?!  … and how many do they often really play with anyways?…

I am sitting here having an evening cup of tea and recapping the day’s events in my mind.  I’ve received an abundance of love and support from friends and it has all been so energizing.  Even though we do not have many established relationships here in Orlando yet, the support from home makes us feel inspired and focussed.  It feels like we are a part of a team!  We are deeply grateful.

Oh, and the boys have another competition tomorrow… the Nautique Wake Open!  Actually, I’d better get those boys to bed!!….

Moving Forward

We arrived in Orlando and survived the ten days that Pat was in the Middle East thanks to the help of our amazing nanny and her daughter.  Honestly, I don’t know how we could have possibly done it without them!  We do not even have a vehicle here big enough to fit Team Cooligan in to get around!

They left this morning bright and early to head back home to Ottawa and that was extremely difficult for me.  I am sure that she turned the white lights on in the deck before she left.  I also smiled at the stepping stones that she made and painted with each of the older kids.

I woke up with a pit in my stomach and cried a lot this morning.  It was almost as though I was grieving a break up today.    The truth is, I was supposed to return home with our nanny today!  We were supposed to return together, just as we had arrived.

Last week while Pat was away in the Middle East, we received an incredible business opportunity.  It is all coming together really fast, but it turns out that we will be staying in the US for an extended period of time, due to necessity.  

I have spent the past few days making difficult phone calls and cancelling appointments including smaller things like our Bryson Farms home delivery service and the cleaning services.  And then bigger things like putting a halt to our backyard landscaping plans and pool installation.  One of the most difficult communications was with the girls’ dance studio, who are in the middle of competition season.  The wonderful team at Dana Hanes Dance Company welcomed us into their dance family and always saw the best in our girls.  They believed in Brooke and offered her a really fun solo dance that made her feel like the biggest superstar on Earth.  We presented one of  the dance groups with an enormous challenge, but we will be cheering them on in spirit.

As fun as it has been here, we are not on an extended vacation.  We are facing several challenges ourselves.  We don’t have our vehicle or our family pets!  Pat has had to cancel several upcoming business trips and he is leaving his seven gym locations to run without his physical presence.  We presently have limited access to funds and we are using blow up mattresses as furniture.

With all of that said…

Pat and I make a very determined team and we are 100% committed to remaining focussed and positive.  The truth is, we do not know what the future holds.   But we know first hand that building a business takes risk, commitment and extremely hard work.  

We are moving forward and giving this a shot!

We have complete faith in God and He has presented us with this opportunity.  We will trust in Him, work with Him, and follow Him, wherever He takes us.  

All glory to God.


We are so grateful and happy that Pat has safely returned to Orlando and Team Cooligan has reunited!

We were back at O’Town Watersports for training, but we kept it light and fun.

We also did a run on our own lake and boat with a wonderful coach this afternoon.  

Pat and I have had some big decisions to make in the last 36 hours and we are feeling extremely overwhelmed!  Today was a day of very difficult phone calls and emails.  I will post more on that tomorrow, but tonight we are enjoying a nice quiet steak dinner together.  

Our wonderful nanny leaves Orlando tomorrow with her beautiful daughter and Pat and I will be on our own … completely outnumbered by kids!

What a blessing they were to have here while Pat was away in the Middle East!  I am very grateful and wish them safe travels home tomorrow.

Dad’s Safe Arrival

After 60 hours of travel due to delays, Pat has finally made it back safely to Orlando!  The kids were so excited as we watched for his flight arrival on the screen at the airport’s cell phone lot.

We did get some training in, but we kept the activities pretty light and fun!

We are so happy to have all of Team Cooligan finally reunited again and enjoying some quality family time.

One more sleep

Pat has been away in the UAE for over a week now and we have been enjoying exploring Orlando.  We found a great ballet school for Brooke and the boys have been wakeboarding daily.

I purchased some household items and furniture.  We found our nearest grocery store and a few nearby restaurants and met friends at the nearby park.

It has been adventurous and enjoyable, but we really miss Pat.  Unfortunately, he was late leaving Instanbul and missed his connection in Toronto.  It looks like we will have to wait one more sleep until we get to hug “Jumbo Dad”!  

This is sometimes the price of hard work and entrepreneurship.  It is a teacher of patience and gratitude.

Gravel Tour 2017

No alarm was needed, we were all up and out the door bright and early today!

Because today was the Gravel Tour 2017 and Team Cooligan has been training very hard for this!

This event was a fabulous family event at the beautiful Orlando Watersports Complex.     

There were plenty of kids and families and the energy was high!  They had a huge Floating Twister game mat in the water which the kids gravitated to as they waited for their names to be called…

First up was Rolles!

At five years old, he was the youngest competitor and he did fantastic!  He didn’t fall once and he had the hugest smile after his run and that is the most important thing… he had a BLAST!

Next up was Renzo!  He was a bit more nervous, but he left the dock with an enormous smile!  

All of the Team Cooligan Kids filled the dock… even little Brandy was there to watch her big brothers!

They both did amazing runs without falling… all of their extremely hard work with Coach Glen had definitely paid off!  

Spirits were high and we were so happy!  

Today was also extremely emotional as I was in constant contact updating Pat via text messages.  He really wanted to be there for the boys’ debut competition.  Pat works extremely hard to provide for our family and sometimes the sacrifices are bigger than others.  Pat was at the Airport in Dubai on edge for updates.  

Finally, when it was podium time, we all walked over to support each of the competitors.  It truly didn’t matter what happened at this point because they both performed to the best of their abilities and had so much fun doing it.  Winners were announced and I savoured that moment with all of my motherly energy.  I deeply thanked their Coach and his beautiful wife who hugged me and showed me the text that she had just sent to Pat…. it was a video clip.  I smiled at her and I thanked her again because I had missed capturing the entire moment on my phone.  She smiled at me with a wise motherly understanding and casually said, “that’s partly why I’m here… it’s what we do”.  

After a bit more play….We headed home for ice cream cones!

For dinner, I ordered some delicious seafood from the local Fish On Fire restaurant to celebrate another fantastic day in Orlando!

Thank you Lord.

Last set before competition!

The boys had their last training set today before their debut competition tomorrow… and they are ready to ROCK!

Brooke “the wakeboarding ballerina” received some incredible instruction at a nearby Ballet studio.

The studio is right next to a really cool trendy cafe with yummy teas, housemade kombucha and gluten free treats and meals!

We got the boys hair cut and grabbed a pizza to bring home for an easy Friday night dinner.

Now it’s time to rest up as tomorrow is an early rise to get to the OWC!  

This is the sun setting in our peaceful backyard.  

Amazing Coaching

I was so grateful to enjoy watching the boys practice their runs for Saturday’s competition!

After over an hour on the lake at OTown we headed back to the OWC for training!  It took just a few tips from the amazing Coach Keenan and Team Cooligan was tearing around the water park!  There were big cheers when Rolles made it around the toughest corner!

Renzo got cheered on when he hit a big kicker and landed… twice in a row before letting go with a dab!  He also let out some squeals of joy for himself!

It was so much fun to watch the team come together for support and encouragement!  

Brooke is less experienced than her brothers, though she was enthusiastic about joining in the water fun.  I watched her as she kept voluntarily dropping her hands at the “big turn”.  Finally, when she was on land chatting with me, she expressed that she was scared of the corner because she had face planted there once and split open her lip.  Again and again I continued to watch her zip around and drop her hands at that corner. 

 We were there for over two hours and at one point, I had sort of zoned out at a picnic table.  Coach Keenan approached me and calmly yet confidently said “come  on over and watch …because this is the time Brooke is going to hit the big corner”.  I got up and leaned against the ledge and sure enough, I watched Brooke rip around the corner with her Spark “Wonderwoman” board and she confidently leaned right around the corner.  I thanked Coach Keenan immediately, for I would have certainly missed the moment if he hadn’t approached me.  And it was such a beautiful moment watching her two brothers scream for her on the bridge!

Update from Orlando

We have a bed now!  Although I am still sleeping on the floor with Brandy until she gets a crib…

I am sooooo looking forward to a good nights sleep on that bed!

We’ve discovered some cool things in the area…. garbage day here is TWICE a week!  For this family that is a huge deal!!  Plus recycling comes once every week and they just take all recyclables …I don’t have to separate paper and plastic!

Brooke and I discovered a really cool street during our run where both sodes of the road are waterfront properties!

Bella found a “truffula tree” today from Dr Seuss’s The Lorax!  The flowers were like soft little Pom poms!

The weather has been gorgeous and the kids have been wakeboarding every day!  Boys have their first comp on Saturday morning and they have been working hard!  After an afternoon of wakeboarding, I cut up some kiwis for a refreshing snack and there was a heart shaped surprise inside… reminding us that we are on a good path…