Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rookie Mistake

So........ we were awoken too early today at our hotel by a crane.....a mechanical crane......I had a little conversation with the hotel about not waking guests......they were appreciative of the feedback and will see what they can do....... anyway - we were up early and had another great breakfast and packed and hit the road.

It had always been the plan to come to Leavenworth on the way back to Vancouver but we (I) decided to keep it a surprise - an end of Summer gift to my family.  It's been a quiet and largely unstructured summer and so I wanted to have a last hurrah....... you see that...... I wanted to give them a last hurrah.....

So we drove out of Portland on Route 84 that snakes across the "top" (north) of Oregon along the Columbia River.....and the children didn't even notice...... they read...... Allan and I enjoyed the views of the mighty Columbia and wondered when the kids would clue in.

We soon left the coastal lush green-ness and the sky cleared and the sun came out and the vegetation got drier and dustier.  We crossed the Columbia and headed up a steep cut full of Wind Turbines (which I find kind of creepy to be honest) and onto the plateau where hundreds of small farms spread out into the distance where Mount Rainier loomed large.  It was so pretty.  The rest of the drive was over dry ridges and into lush, farmed valley's as we headed north on Route 97 through Yakima and up into Leavenworth.

Thing sort of unraveled a bit over lunch in Yakima.

The kids knew we were in Yakima but assumed we were just taking a scenic route home.  When we hinted that might not be the case, David guessed Leavenworth immediately and Lindsay........ was......not pleased. 

I did not realise that high schools sent  out the class schedules for their students the week before school.  I further did not realise that getting the schedule and finding out all your friends schedules is a BIG DEAL. And I had just delayed Lindsay from all this CRUCIAL information and time with friends to dissect it all.  A fabulous resort and another couple of days vacation were nothing in comparison.

She was mad/sad and I felt bad........ I wanted everyone to be happy...... so I offered to call the school and find out...... but even that was not well received....... so Allan did a good Dad deed and emailed the Principal and asked if he could do us a HUGE holiday-saving favour and email the schedule to us.  

We got in the car in Yakima and drove 90 minutes to Leavenworth with me praying the email would come and we could get the info.   We pulled into the parking lot of the Starbucks in Leavenworth and pointed all i-devices at the building to get the free wifi.  The schedule was there and we owe Mr. Kamide a bottle of wine!! Sadly the schedule was apparently less than desirable...... clearly today is NOT my day for family happy faces!  Of course Allan tried to explain that the Grade 10's assessment of their teachers may not , in  fact, be the full truth and that she owed it to the teachers she got to give them a chance and to go in with a good attitude....... this may have to be repeated when the teenager is in a better frame of mind. 

So we headed up to the Sleeping Lady Resort with me feeling a bit down but I must say the warm breezes and lovely swim and free wifi to chat to friends about the disastrous class schedule (as far as Lindsay and her friends are concerned) and we have a somewhat more cheerful teenager and I am not feeling quite as foolish as I was earlier.  Where is the manual for raising a teenager anyway?????

David, on the other hand, was welcomed with a Happy Birthday card at the resort and they just delivered an incredible plate of desserts to him!! How nice -how hard to believe I was pregnant with him 12 years ago......how time flies!

Off to have pizza and a glass of wine at the Grotto and make plans for the birthday day tomorrow - the kids want to go horse riding and to the town and I just want to lie in the sun at the pool - a compromise will have to be found!

A little taste of Portland photos.....

View from our suite

City of Bridges
Through the Wardrobe

Al squared



Food carts

Milkshake Heaven

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Food Glorious Food and other stuff

Wow my blog went over the 10,000 hits mark yesterday.........I never ever thought that would happen when I started this journey....thanks for the "hits" blog friends!

We had a great sleep last night after the great BBQ food and then the hot tub..... woke ready for the day!  Having a full (and I mean FULL) breakfast buffet in the hotel is such a bonus (and cost saving) but all I have had is yoghurt and special K!  One has to spend ones calories wisely....... (Fiona - see I am trying!).  But the kids load up and love the freedom of eating whatever they want, as crazy as the combination might be!

We headed off to Powells Books, coffee in hand..... and had a delightful couple of hours wandering around the variously coloured rooms...... oh to have endless cash......... so many old books, so many new ones, so many topics....... I even found books for the daycare that are "indestructible" chew proof, rip proof, non-toxic and 100% washable!!  We came out with a bag full of books - David alone got 5!!  I found a great one for Allan called "A Man with a Pan" - culinary adventures of Fathers who cook for their families!  There truly is a book for every topic imaginable.

This was bad planning at the beginning of the day as we were now schlepping a bag o books with us but Allan shouldered the burden and his arms are now an inch longer....or the left one is!!

We hopped on the Streetcar and rode it to the end of the free zone which gave us a great tour of downtown Portland (and a chance to sit!).  We spied some food carts on the trip so on the way back we stopped and had our first course! Chicken and smoked sausage gumbo with cornbread - we all had a taste - very good!  Then hopped back on the streetcar and headed back to the centre of the City to the main food cart hub.

Oh the torture of choosing what to eat...... the "paradox of choice" as Allan calls it - it seems so great but really it's not!!!  In the end David and I split Fish and Chips from the Frying Scotsman and Allan and Lindsay forgot they were in the land of giant portions and each had a take out from a Taste of India...... we sat in a square close by and enjoyed lunch in the sun. 

And then we shopped.  Tax free.  Alot.

The Blueplate Diner (another Triple D rave) just happened to be on our walk back to the hotel so we sat at this old fashioned soda fountain bar and  Allan and Lindsay had milkshakes and David had a "Brown Cow" (ice cream and rootbeer - YUCK!) and I had....... coffee....!

Now those who are not reading are snoozing (or blogging) before we head for dinner later at the Kennedy School in the NW district - a school that has been made into a hotel/restaurant/ movie theatre - a recommendation from a former Portlander.... looking forward to it!

Tomorrow we head out of Portland........... stay tuned.........

Monday, August 29, 2011

PDX

We had a lovely trip down to Portland.  We left Richmond just as dawn was breaking  - it was so pretty with the sun tinting the sky purple and pink and the mist clinging to the fields......

The border was no problem and we made it to Bellingham in time to be among the first customers for breakfast at Avenue Bread on James St.   Yummo!

We then powered down the I5 through Washington and into Oregon, bypassing Portland and heading directly to the Woodburn Company Stores Outlet Mall.  Us and 2 million other back to school shoppers!  We did very well - and by we I mean Allan and the kids..... man .... we pay toooooo much for shoes in Canada!

After exhausting ourselves shopping with the masses in 32 degree heat we headed back north to Portland.  We had told the kids we had some crappy hotel in Beaverton so when we pulled up in front of the Embassy Suites in downtown Portland - the hotel they (and we ) love, they were so excited and very pleased.  It was fun to have pulled this little prank on them :).

This, of course, meant that half a block away was Habibi Lebanese food and we dined there again and again had an incredible meal of lamb and Hummus.......we had tried to re-create this meal back home after the last time we were here but in being there again we realised we failed..... we will redouble our efforts at home this Fall......we cannot afford to drive to Portland for good, silky, smooth hummus!

A lovely walk along the Willamette River in this City of Bridges before retiring to our lovely and large suite.

Today despite the weather prediction to the contrary it was mizzly and cool so instead of walking to OMSI we drove.  The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry was AMAZING and we had a very fun morning exploring Narnia and Physics together!  The boys went on the submarine tour and Lindsay and I went for a walk along the river in clearing weather.

A quick lunch at a coffee shop and then we drove across town to Washington Park and the Rose Garden!  Amazing array of roses of every hue ...... truly incredible and high above Portland the views were amazing back towards the City.

We then drove back through the Alphabet District to the Pearl District which is an amazingly well re-developed area of the City with trendy homes, boutiques, home decor stores and antique/vintage stores - we had so much fun poking in and out of various stores that we ran out of time and energy for Powells (which we will do tomorrow) and retreated to the hotel via Voodoo Donuts (with no line-up).

After a brief rest and downloading the camera's we headed out to Podnah's BBQ Pit - a stop we learned of through the TV show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. (Thanks Janice K for the hint about the lack of a sign).  We had incredible ribs and pulled pork and finally remembered that 2 American meals feeds our family of 4 very well.

Now back at the hotel - too full and weary but happy.  A hot tub and bed is all that is left to accomplish today ...... aaaaahhhh vacation!

Having great family times, chats, laughs.... feeling blessed! 

I would love to post photos but I am `borrowing` this connection from somewhere so I will post photos later.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Open Door

I know you think I am away in Portland........ Surprise......we leave tomorrow!  Yesterday was just a preview of what we are planning to do!  Good thing too because we got a couple of excellent tips from fellow Oregon lovers in blog land!  Thanks!


We needed to be in town today to get some "stuff" done that the work week did not allow for.  Allan is doing a project at Terra Nova Children's Centre and we wanted to get it painted today - brown paint, like melted chocolate. Of course!

I also wanted to get my toes painted. Do some birthday shopping for Mr D and change some money.  Also last minute other stuff.

So I got up early and had a great workout which set the day on a fast pace.  So things are nicely on track.

One of the fun things this summer has been Lindsay and her friends.  SO great to see her developing strong peer relationships.  I never know when I come home how many girls will be around (happy its just girls for now :) and how many will be staying for dinner.  I have learned to be pretty low key and flex and Lindsay has been respectful and helpful.  I always wanted to have the house that the kids would hang out at and so the door is always open.

Today one of her friends is having a tough day dealing with a tough family situation.  Lindsay and another friend, despite their concern about it being awkward, walked into the village, got some flowers and went to be with their friend.  They are really such nice girls.

I am trying to pack, and we are on an official "eat down"....... that is when you buy nothing for a couple days before you leave town and eat whatever you have on hand, especially in the fridge.  By the night before you leave it is often down to some funky combo's.   Lindsay texted to ask if the 2 friend could join us for dinner......I warned them about the aforementioned funky combo's but they were game and wandered home giant slurpees in hand (Ewww - what do they like about those things!).

So despite the eat down I am off to get buns for burgers and chips.  Yoghurt and italian sausages is just too funky a combo to foist on others.

But I love hearing their laughter outside and the way they are friends to one another..... so it will be a full table for dinner and we will still get the packing done....... or be up late!

Totally worth having the Open Door!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Portland......

 P is for Powells Books  - From humble storefront beginnings in 1971 on a derelict corner of northwest Portland, Oregon, Powell's Books has grown into one of the world's great bookstores, with five locations in the Portland metropolitan area, and one of the book world's most successful dot-coms (www.powells.com), serving customers worldwide.


 OMSI
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.  Super excited so see the Chronicles of Narnia exhibit on now....

Oregon........how we love Oregon.....
 is for RETAIL ...Oh YES!!!  Tax free shopping at the giant Woodburn Company Stores Outlet Mall.

Back-to-school shopping just might be fun.......hang on.....what about me???  Oh let's be honest my shopping patience will be all used up getting the kids and Allan sorted for school......and I don't really need anything.....except maybe shoes...... :)
 is for Trader Joes - we'll be snacking and shopping from Bellingham to Portland ........ and back.......pretty sure a bottle or two of "beverage" will be sampled too.

And when that does not suffice we will find the famous Portland Food Carts and we will feast!
 is for Lindsays love of Lebanese Food which will be indulged at our Portland "must do" Habibi's ........ it's not just Lindsay who loves it..... :)
 is for adventure which we hope to find....no....in fact we will seek adventure.  We will drive new roads and go new places and try new things.......
 is for Nicky getting some space and downtime with her beloved family.  With camera in hand and journal at the ready I will revel in every moment of being on this vacation.
As devoted followers of Guy Fieri's TV Show "Diner's Drive-In's and Dives" (which is filming in Vancouver today!)
David did the research and we will be going to Podnah's BBQ Pit! We are going to eat good BBQ.  Yes we are!  And we plan to have a good old fashioned milkshake at Blueplate Diner
And Donuts.....Voodoo Doughnuts....... I wonder what David will pick this time?





Super excited for the break and for the trip......I will try and blog when I can....... and if not.....see you again soon! 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Brown Paint

I would hope by now, if you are a regular reader of this blog, I have established the fact that, although a bit OCD at times, I am, for the most part, a fairly intelligent woman.  I am able to conduct my daily affairs with a good degree of competence....if pushed, most of my friends would say I was sane.

Yet...there are some places that make me feel like I am over-using a limited supply of brain cells.

Today it was the paint store.

Clearly I have, in my 41 years on this planet, been to a paint store before.  Indeed I have purchased paint many times.  Furthermore I actually have an account at this paint store and have painted both the inside and outside of my current home....with paint......that I purchased.

I approached the store with nary a care in the world.

As I parked it dawned on me that I may not have all the information I needed.  I am purchasing this paint for a project at one of my daycares so I called the Contractor (aka my husband Allan) and asked some questions.  "How much paint do you need?"  I suggested a big can, he informed me a gallon (correct term) would be fine.  I asked if primer was necessary (you see how I am trying to establish that I am not a complete fool about paint)...."Probably" but to ask "them" about that. 

You see I am not afraid to ask questions.  I am a resourceful person.  A problem-solver.  When I take my car to the mechanic I do not stand there replicating the clang clang noise emanating from the rear right wheel because I ask Allan before I go and then I say there is a noise in the rear right wheel that may be the...... (insert correct term) starting to wear.  The mechanic looks impressed although when he has diagnosed the actual problem he calls Allan so maybe he knows I am putting on a brave face when, in fact, I know little to nothing about the rear right wheel other than it clangs.

So I breezed into the paint store today every bit the savvy Executive Director on a well-informed mission.

I asked about the primer.  I immediately got the pitying look from the lady helping me that I would be so stupid as to not know primer was essential.  My jaw started clenching and I pasted the fake "just shut up and give me the damn stuff" smile on my face.  She felt she should drive home her point by involving the two guys in the paint area who OF COURSE agreed one cannot, under any circumstances, paint wood without primer.

Fine, not really surprised - lets get some primer mixed up then. smile.

"What colour?" she then asks, all innocent and friendly......

"Brown". smile.  Not realising what I have just done.

"Let's have a look at the paint chip wall" she says

Noooooooooooooo not the paint chip wall........no no no.

"Sure" I say.

Of course, I had completely forgotten there were 50 billion "browns".  You think I am over-stating things. I Am Not. There are 50 billion "browns" with greeny-blue undertones and another 50 billion with reddy-orange undertones.

I grabbed one - looked good - handed it to the lady.

She sensed I was grasping (certainly not giving my choice the attention it was due) and suggested she had paint chip books we could look at but I clutched my paint chip and declared I was very happy with my choice (trying to look down at it with one eye to make sure I wasn't completely screwing this up)

"What type of finish would you like and what grade of paint?"

For the love of Pete - REALLY?  She thrusts a book at me with various options.

I confidently point at the one in the middle.  I believe it is a flat finish with a mid to high end grade.  Like.I.Care.

Great!  They get to the mixing and the shaking and I go to pay trying to salvage the last shreds of my confidence.

While they are looking up my account and commenting that it's been a while since I shopped at their store - OK lady I know, I know - I valiantly try to salvage some self-respect by commenting that the wall behind the till looks like the "Timothy Straw" I have in my living room.  Without even looking up she says "No, it's Jalapeno Pepper".  Of course it is. smile.

When the mixing is complete she opens the paint to show me the brown. I smile "Looks brown".  She says "It looks like melted chocolate". Of course it does. smile

She puts the 2 gallons in a box and asks if I need help. 

I know I haven't exactly shone in this paint store exchange but to suggest I can't carry the box to my car is a downright insult.  I want to take the wooden stir sticks she has put in the box and beat her with them.

"No thanks. I am good". smile.

I pick up the box and walk out of the store and........promptly drop my keys.

Bad word.

Now I have to bend down, pray my purse doesn't swing around and either give me a black eye or knock the box of paint out of my hands.  I try and make the key grab as graceful as possible and avert a disaster and do not look back but I feel "them" looking. 

Keys back in hand - purse still on shoulder and paint still in box - score!! 

Then I hit the unlock button on my key fob.

Except it isn't.  Its the alarm.  Of course it is. no smile.

If "they" weren't looking before "they" are now.

Now I can't even shut off the bloody thing all the while balancing 2 gallons of paint.  Now I want to use the wooden stir stick to poke my own eye out because I am sure that would be less painful and less humiliating than this.

I manage to shut off the alarm, open the car, get the paint and myself in the car, turn the ignition on and swiftly depart the parking lot without hitting anything.

Of course I did. smile.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Peanut Butter

I read the blog excerpted below a week or so ago and I  have been very moved and a little unsettled by it.  I think it ties in nicely with the posts I did on poverty and illuminates starkly what harm misguided giving can do.  While this post is focused on American giving I don't think we Canadian fare much better and I know I am now more motivated than ever to ensure my giving is appropriate, sensitive to local conditions and getting to the people it is intended for........  Now over to Corrigan Clay who graciously agreed to let me re-post some of his thoughts (all bold emphasis is mine)...... the link to his full post and The Apparent Project in Haiti is at the end.

This blog is inspired by my wife Shelley's plea with a Wisconsin church to not send peanut butter to Haiti.  I thought a more in depth explanation might be helpful, interesting, and possibly motivational, so here goes...

Now that Haiti has dropped from fad-disaster-charity-icon status, it is good to see a few churches still caring, and more importantly, ACTING on behalf of the poor here.  After all,Jesus says he doesn't have much to do with people who neglect those without food and income. Yet, while I'm infinitely appreciative of churches that take seriously the Biblical mandate to prioritize the plight of the poor and suffering, I'm concerned that so many of us have neglected that mandate for so long that when we recognize our grave oversight, we rush into service without thinking through the impact of our actions or getting to know those we intend to serve.  My friend, once gave me some great advice about service:  "Don't just do something, stand there!  ...then do something."  We need to venture out into the deep, vital waters of serving the poor, but we can't do a cannon ball into a situation that deserves a swan dive. 

Landmark Christian Church in Lake Hallie, Wisconsin is passionately offering its time and resources in response to Haiti's malnutrition and hunger problems.  

The pastor of LCC says "What we are hoping to do is send about 28,000 jars of peanut butter to Haiti. The children there just don't have a good source of protein.  Peanut butter is a wonderful source. Ounce for ounce, about the same protein as pork."

I agree that many Haitians' have a diet with less than sufficient protein and I'm glad that this Church cares enough to do something about it, but, in unfortunate irony, the well-meaning pastor named two of Haiti's staple protein sources: peanuts and pork.  Mamba (peanut butter) and Grillo (salted fried pork) are beloved Haitian foods, both coming from native sources and farmed here on Hispaniola since before Columbus made his first landing.  What do you imagine 28,000 jars of peanut butter coming to this island and being given away might do to the local businesses of peanut farmers, mamba manufacturers, and retailers?  Good intentions to save Haiti have already all but ended the long legacy of the Creole Pig's positive nutritional and economic impact, and now the kindhearted, peanut butter-wielding, generous faithful of Wisconsin are posing a benevolent threat to Haiti's "pistache". 

Those of us who live in Haiti and frequent one of the hundreds of local markets or the scores of grocery stores here know that food scarcity in Haiti is simply not the issue.  There is plenty of food in Haiti... if you have money.  The food is not cheap and the produce is not always as cosmetically enhanced as what you may see in your American super market, but it's here.  All around.  And it's for sale.   If you have an income.  Oh... and 70-90% of the food is American.  That's a big part of why there are no jobs in Haiti.  The unemployment rate hovers hauntingly around the same percentage as the imported food rate.  As American imported goods, largely sent as food aid, have swept into the Haitian market, Haitian farmers could not compete with the low prices offered by U.S. farmed grains.  The prices of American grains have been lowered dramatically by excessive production and government subsidies.  Our cheap food is not only making us fat, but it's making the world poor and dependent.

Bill Clinton, in what has to be one of the most redemptive moments in international politics I've ever seen, publicly renounced American international food aid policies and apologized for the way in which his own tarrifs and relief strategies in Haiti effectively increased poverty and sapped the dignity of the poor.  He says, "
“It was a mistake. . . I have to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti."  Why?  Because of the rice we gave away to Haitians.  Clinton says our generosity helped Arkansas farmers while hurting the Haitian people. 
If just the shipping cost were invested into developing sustainable agriculture, developing compost programs, and purchasing seeds and irrigation technology, the aid rice would not be needed.  I'm not saying to cut off all aid, but that anybody involved in food aid ought, as a matter of conscience, be investing at least as much into development of sustainable food sources as they are into the expensive and unsustainable practice of shipping in foreign food.  They also ought to purchase as much as possible of the food they are contributing from the nations that they are trying to help.

After the earthquake we saw a charicature of Haiti: Merchants sitting trying to sell their produce while banks did not yet function.  Everybody was hungry, there was plenty of food, and nobody had any money.  That's not so different from the macroeconomic picture in Haiti today. 
Definitely contact your favorite orphanage or charity in Haiti and tell them that you want to help them find ways to spend your money to purchase local goods so that your giving doesn't further break the Haitian economy.  Make a big no-strings attached financial donation to show your unconditional support. (People don't make positive decisions for change when they feel controlled by somebody's funds, they make changes because you care and are committed to them, no matter what they do).  

If you want to help address the broad malnourishment and emergency food needs in Haiti, the best option, in my opinion, is to buy Medika Mamba for local distribution from Meds and Food for Kids, or to make a donation to their overall mission.  Medika Mamba ("Peanut Butter Medicine") is amazing stuff.  I have distributed this peanut butter after the earthquake and have seen my friends at Real Hope For Haiti save hundreds of lives using this completely Haitian-made miracle food.  It tastes like a cross between a Power Bar and a Reese's peanut butter cup, and it makes skinny kids chunky.  Best of all,  Medika Mamba undercuts the root causes of malnutrition by providing jobs and sustainable agriculture to Haiti.
 

Don't treat the poor like a problem.  When we hear "malnourishment" let's not think of skinny kids with gaping baby bird mouths grasping and gasping for food.  The only answer to this image is food.  But if we treat starving people as people before we treat them as an issue, we will get at their secret.  Let's ask, why are they starving?  More importantly, let's ask THEM.  Let's love people enough to speak their language and serve them according their needs and their requests.  Haitians are asking for education and jobs far more than they are looking for handouts.  Let's listen to them.  Poverty is almost always avoidable.  Our earth is too rich and ready to burst forth life for poverty and starvation to be natural.  God didn't abandon anybody to poverty... other forces have separated the poor from the bounty that is readily under their feet.  We must love the poor to get at their secret and team up with them so that they can liberate themselves from the internal and external forces that make them hungry. 

by Corrigan Clay
Apparent Project

Want to do something NOW.... I bought a great shopping bag from  Haitian Creations ........ if all the people reading this blog did the same......? 

Thanks for reading and considering!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Interviews

I have a series of interviews for new staff this week.  In the young female demographic that makes up the majority of Early Childhood Educators maternity leaves are an ever present reality.  I joke that when someone comes to my office and asks me "Do you have a minute" while closing the office
door behind them.....I yell "No, No I do not......while yanking the door open and ushering them out before they say....."I am having a baby!".... Honestly just joking - what most of them don't know is that I have usually guessed before they tell me and I am always genuinely happy for them.

Boy do I have some stories to tell about some of the people we have interviewed in the past..... seriously crazy people......one incident involved the candidate breaking into the seniors centre next door and getting stuck in their yard in the pouring rain.....security guards etc. etc... needless to say she was not the successful candidate. 

Or the one who when asked "Please describe your philosophical beliefs about child care".....said nothing .... for like minutes... and then asked "Is that like my philosophy?" to which I answered "Yes" while trying not to catch the eye of any of my staff in the room knowing there was some eye rolling going on.  More silence ..... then she said "Wow that is a tough question" to which I said "Would you like to come back to it at the end" to which she said "Sure, that would be great I am sure I will remember it by then".... also not a successful candidate.

Or the one who said in answer to the final interview question "If you were the successful candidate can you anticipate any barriers for yourself in successfully performing your job duties in this position?" said "Yes"......um ok.... "what might they be?" I asked...... "I don't actually have my ECE certificate anymore - it lapsed 5 years ago".  I do wonder what she is doing now?

So many more stories - it almost makes interviewing fun, never knowing what doozy is coming next.....When I start skipping questions on the interview form the staff in the room know the candidate in the hot seat is toast - sometimes you just know it isn't going to happen - so why waste everyones time?  Sometimes we can hardly contain the fits of laughter until the candidate is a safe distance away. 

I actually find interviewing stressful - there are alot of people counting on me (and my fellow committee) to make the best and right decision. This is no small job and the team work is busy and intense so not only do they need to know their stuff with the children they need to fit well with the team. And be able to communicate effectively with a broad range of parents.  Some can look SO good on paper and be just hopeless in the classroom and the reverse can be true which is why we put our top candidates into the classroom for a few hours before we offer the job.  It's an expense that has saved a pile of money and heartache in the long run.

So today we are looking for 3 staff - we have 8 candidates..... we are hopeful that by this time tomorrow we have someone (or 2) who have that "It" factor, that common sense and all round super woman powers that will make them the perfect new employee..... nothing lesss than the best will do! 

Sigh......


Sunday, August 21, 2011

One Hour

It's amazing what an hour can do.......

I have had a rough couple of days feeling sick and a bit down.....a bit overwhelmed at work with alot going on..... and I have that sinking feeling that summer is almost over.  I hate that I anticipate things before they happen - it's like a self-sabotaging thing I do..... rather than just enjoy each day for what it is /offers I am always looking ahead, often worrying about or feeling sad about things before they even happen - SO silly.

Anyway this morning I finally felt like the bug and the migraine had moved on.  Each member of my family had something to do or some place to be so I decided to take the gap and wander into the village to the Farmers and Artisans market that happens every other Sunday.  I went down early so it wasn't very busy and the day seemed fresh although it was warm early.

My first stop is top secret as someone reading my blog is soon having a birthday........but I was very happy to find these items!! Very happy indeed.  I had a lovely chat to the vendor and went on my way to the Gourmet Samosa guy.  He is a regular stop on our market loop - we usually have half the bag for lunch and put the rest in the freezer.  I had a coffee from the next stall - Westcoast organic Coffee while the two vendors bantered back and forth..... I joined in and we had a good laugh.

I carried on and kept track of who was selling their blueberries and at what price (turns out they were all the same price).  I ended back at Guichon Farms where all the ladies wear bright green golf shirts which is very classy!   We discussed the various ways to cook beets (my beet goat cheese dish was excellent last night but I was lamenting the time it took to roast the beets - turns out the tip is to boil them for 15 minutes first!).  I got 4lbs of local blueberries, a bunch of gorgeous carrots and a bag of green beans.

Next stop - Fieldstone Artisan Breads for a french country loaf and a raspberry/white chocolate scone (the size of a dinner plate!).  There is always a long line up for this stall and today the young lady behind the counter was working very hard and when I thanked her and commended her for her grace under pressure she said "Well, it's a lovely day and the people at this market are so nice"! 

I stopped at Thai Princess (www.thai-princess.com) for "Jeng's" amazing Thai sauces.  We love these beautifully flavoured sauces which turn an ordinary weeknight dinner into a delicious feast.  I bought his cookbook today too as gift for Allan (it was a bargain at $10).  The Thai Princess herself was there with her Dad today and this lovely man is so worth chatting to.  He gives great tips on what to pair with the sauces.

On to some of the artisans and artists...... I was SO happy to find an artist doing drawings of  Steveston.....sharing a stall with another artist who does paintings of robots..... seriously this stall was made for me!!!  I did some shopping...again I can't reveal what as some blog readers will benefit but I had a lovely long chat to these ladies, both locals.....both so talented.

I overheard a conversation at the Steveston Artist Guild stall about a book I have been meaning to buy.  It's by a local politician about the history of the village so we had a little chat about the book and about the politician - we had a laugh and I wandered on.

I bumped into friends, had more chats, filled up my bags and my backpack......and wandered home with a full and happy heart!  I LOVE this little village we live in, love being part of a community.....I know how blessed we are to be part of this!

I thought about taking out my camera more than once but I just decided that I wanted to just be in the moment, just enjoy it for what it was, not feel any need to capture it on camera......it was my very own happy hour. A one hour restoration for my soul!

I came home and shared the scone with Lindsay while we chatted.  She left for the beach with friends and I made delicious sandwiches from the artisan bread for Allan, who came home from another daycare construction project he is doing, and David who was just home from helping out with Sunday School at church.  I had one of my own grown tomatoes on my sandwich - MMMMM so good!

A lovely lovely day........ now to make blueberry cobbler for dinner with friends tonight.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Backyard Bounty

Today was the first totally free Saturday we have had in ages and the veggie garden was woefully in need of our attention.

After a slow start with the wet and rainy spring we have managed a reasonable harvests so far.  Our 5 romaine plants yielded close to 20 ceasar salads before they went to seed and were yanked about a week ago.  Our butter and green leaf and curly leaf lettuces are still going strong.  The carrots, celery, onions and leeks as well as the squash are all still growing well.  The kale is out of control and we really are a bit clueless about what to do with it - I don't think any of us really like it!   The peppers look like they are a bust!  And the tomatoes are growing redder everyday although we have fewer than we hoped of those too.






Both our peas and our potatoes seemed to have some disease..... the peas got kind of dusty and something was eating the potato plants!  So we decided to take apart the tire tower today and see what was what.......





It didn't look good for a while but then we found one!




All in all we harvested about 5 lbs of potatoes  - some tiny and some pretty big...... but only the bottom tire yielded anything so we need to figure out what, if anything, we did wrong.  I read that in the commercial potato growing world there is "blight" so maybe we suffered the same fate?





I also harvested the 3 biggest beets and the very last of the peas........ so am now going to roast the beets for  a roast beet and goat cheese dish and roast the new potatoes too with some grilled chicken and TJ's corn bread...... a lovely summer meal that we grew some of!




And then to Garry Point to dig my toes in the sand and watch the sun set on this the hottest day of summer so far...... so lovely......

Friday, August 19, 2011

Smore's

There were some backyard high jinks and hilarity last night with 11 for dinner including 3 teenage girls!  We had fun with vising friends and, at the girls request, and even though we had woefully missed National Smores Day (on August 10th....... I kid you not!) Allan got a fire going in the fire pit and we celebrated friendship and fun with gooey delicious smores........

Key Ingredients

Ready for action

Waiting for the fire to burn down a bit
Lindsay perfecting the art of marshmallow toasting

gooey deliciousness

David eats while holding onion on a bee sting on his foot - DON'T ask!

It is going to be a gorgeous weekend here... but wherever you are - have some smores!!  Improvise on the ingredients - be a little wild and crazy........ I dare you!

Enjoy!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Skillz



I took this photo of my boys today after I dropped them off their lunch.  They are working together on replacing a deck at one of the daycares.

I am so grateful Allan can do these jobs for the daycares.  Not only can I trust him, he has all the skills to do them and we work well together....although he sometimes finds the whole daycare regulations a bit overbearing.....but he doesn't argue!  He understands the constraints of keeping everyone safe while the work goes on and knows the golden rule..... If you wake the kids during nap time YOU have to put them back to sleep...... this scares off most trades but not Allan.  Phew!

This week he asked our son David to be his construction helper.

David is loving being useful and helpful - he has the heart of a helper....always willing to pitch in with whatever is needed.  My Mom was telling me he never lets her carry bags from her car to their apartment.... and he always helps out with the little peeps who are often at our house.   He rarely complains about his household chores although he is maybe not as attentive to them as I might prefer.....but I shouldn't complain!

More than being helpful this week and feeling proud to be hanging out with his Dad, he is also learning lots of things about wood, about building, about math and angles and safety.  He is such a curious guy and so observant and always with the million questions.  He is SO lucky that not only is his Dad a great carpenter but he is also a great (and patient) teacher.  Allan doesn't get fussed if it takes him a bit longer to get the job done if it means he gets to teach David something.  He never misses a moment to teach either.... gently. 

I watched them for a few minutes today and knew that not only is the daycare getting a great new deck but my son is making wonderful memories with his Dad and my husband is teaching and guiding our son so very well.

Made me teary....and grateful.

I love you guys!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gratitude

I am sure almost all of us have a teacher who made an impression on them in a positive way.  When my friend was here last week we talked about the teachers who influenced us and who we  remembered.  We even, at our great age, remembered some of the specific classes or lessons....that is pretty powerful to be so clearly recalled 24 plus years later.  We both feel very grateful for the teachers we had at school.

Now that I am a part-time teacher (I teach college students in Early Childhood Education) I find  myself challenged to be a positive influence on my students.  I am not going to pretend I don't rip open the evaluation envelope and read each evaluation at the end of the course.  I feel delighted and satisfied when they say good and positive things.  Especially if they are positive about what they learned and how they will use it in their life and work.  I always feel crushed by the negative ones (which I can usually guess ahead of time) because there is no way to dialogue about it at that point.... My husband, a veteran teacher says I need a tougher skin!

This last class I taught was tough - there was a vast range of ability and motivation and ages and cultures.....I have high expectations and intend to engage my students intellectually.  If they thought taking care of young children was easy before my class their minds will be changed by the end.  Early Childhood Education is not for the feeble.  It takes great intellectual engagement and high social/emotional intelligence among a host of other skills.  So this class and I struggled with big issues and debated many points of view.  I pushed them hard to think deeply and challenge their assumptions.....some students hated it....others rose wonderfully to the discussion and I saw the lights come on for several of them.

I failed 2 of them and only gave out 3 A's - it is well known my courses are tough and I mark hard.  I am also fair and will go above and beyond for a student who is struggling but motivated to try hard.  I have little time for slackers and the unengaged.  My husband the veteran teacher thinks I should be more empathetic.

So I wasn't expecting much from the evaluations.

To my utter surprise every single one was positive.  It is maybe a truism that when you expect alot  from someone you are showing you think they are worthy and capable?

Last night one of my former students took me and one of their other instructors out for dinner as a thank you.  It was very touching the way she kept on at us through email to find a date and time that worked and how she so badly wanted to show her gratitude.

I know I have often wanted to thank a teacher or instructor and then second guessed myself about how to do it appropriately.  In the end I often just sent a note or email.  I know most teachers / instructors love those notes and cards (as I do) but I must say to see how persistent this student was in extending her gratitude in the way she wanted to was touching.  I told her last night I thought it showed both courage and maturity.  We had a lovely dinner and great chats and enjoyed getting to know her better.  Dinner was lovely but the card she wrote and gave me at the end will be filed away in my treasure box and in my heart.  Such great motivation for my teaching days ahead.

And I will think back to it when I get a thrashing on an evaluation form and know that I had a positive influence on at least one student!