Friday, September 30, 2011

Hazy

It is not hard to remember my sweet sister-in-law Hazel. 

She scared me from the moment I met her and all of the years of our relationship I was in awe of her in so many ways.

But always just a little bit scared.


For one she was older than me and never let me forget it. 

For two I was dating and/or married to her big brother. HER big brother. I had to prove myself worthy!

Fulton School
Hazel was special in many ways but the most obvious one was that from 18 months old Hazel was profoundly deaf.  While this development was no doubt very hard for her family at the time, they did an amazing job in raising her and giving her a strong sense of who she was and what she was capable of.  At a young age she went to boarding school at Fulton School for the Deaf which shaped her in many ways.  She was a leader and an athlete and today there is a garden there in her memory.

 Hazel graduated high school and became a Laboratory Technician.  She went away to live in residence and Allan built her an alarm clock rigged up to her lamp so when the alarm went off the lamp flashed to wake her up.  No wonder she loved her big brother!

She was confident, even feisty.  She would say to people who couldn't understand her guttural speech or who treated her as if she was mentally delayed " I am deaf not stoooopid".  And then she would give them the stink eye. 

I got the stink eye more than once.

I remember an exchange with her.  I was driving up College Road in PMB in my pale blue 1965 VW beetle and she was in the passenger seat.  I was trying to say something to her and she put her hand on my arm and said "Look at me when you are talking to me!"  I responded I was driving and needed to keep an eye on the road so that I didn't crash the car... and she "Then shut up!"... O.K.!

Her lip reading ability was legend - in a busy restuarant she would lean over and ask if we wanted to know what the couple across the way were saying to each other! It was hilarious what she could "hear" by watching!   She didn't miss a thing.  Many TV programs in South Africa at the time were dubbed into Afrikaans but she could "hear" the english by lip reading!

She got married and had a little boy, Shane, and was so in love with him.  When the marriage ended sadly she carried on working and being a single mom and raising her son.

6 weeks after being diagnosed with Leukemia (while we were all still being tested for bone marrow matches and making plans to go to see her) she died at the age of 38. 

4 years ago today.

The grief from her loss caught Allan up in its vortex and although he made it back to South Africa for her funeral which gave him some closure, he came home and brought with him a world of brokeness and hurt.

It is beyond hard to imagine she has been gone 4 years, beyond hard the journey we have walked these last 4 years.

Today we remember her.... her feisty, funny self.  Her drive and determination. Her fierce love for her family.  I pay tribute to her parents for all they did for her and to her amazing sister Wendy who went above and beyond so many times as a sister and a friend.  You loved her so well and she knew that!

Hazy, we miss you.  We love you.  We will see you in Heaven!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Represent

I went to a meeting today I had little interest in and from which I gained very little.

I knew that would be the case.

I went to represent.

Represent the child care sector in Richmond.

It was a brown bag lunch session for Early Childhood Development Professionals to discuss the Richmond Early Childhood Development Framework.  The central statement of this framework is "Richmond, a child friendly community where young children thrive".  A very worthy endeavour and aspiration.

And yet - more often than not those of us providing child care services are not included in the conversation.

We work with 150 families in 3 locations in this city every week.  Some of those families have complex and challenging needs.  Some of the children in those families need help, some need alot of help.  Some of those families speak english, more speak cantonese, mandarin, russian, polish, hebrew, hindi, japanese etc. Some can afford their fees.  Others cannot.  Some Mom's are fine, others are isolated and depressed.  Many grandparents bring the children as the parents are working shifts, long shifts, many shifts.  Sometimes the nanny brings the kids. Some kids are dirty, don't have enough clothes...or food.  Many have all they need and more. 

I have worked hard to be connected to the programs and services in Richmond that can help these families and their children.  We are SO often the first point of contact for a new Canadian family....we help them figure out the system, we help them get the help they need. For all families we accomodate the help being offered at the daycare so parents dont have one more places to take their child.  We educate, we advocate, we negotiate.  We provide a child friendly community where young children and their families can thrive - all day, every day.

We should be at every discussion on Early Childhood Development.

And yet we are often sidelined in the community as being "just child care".......

So I went to the meeting so I could represent the important work my staff do everyday that is SO much more than "just child care".

Way to "represent" ladies and way to go above and beyond everyday and doing so much more than "just child care".

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It Takes a Village Part 3

I wrote a couple of posts about our battle with a negative school situation that David was in and our very difficult decision to pull him out of Grade 6 early.  We went through a process of applying, being  denied, appealing and finally getting him into a new school in our neighbourhood. 

David was very anxious about this change.  It is hard to change in Grade 7. 

Over the Summer he started to process all that had happened to him in Grade 6 (and it was heart breaking to hear him tell his therapist just how awful it was) and to face the coming changes.

Not only a new school but also getting to and from school by bike or on foot and being alone at home for short spans of time......

Over the Summer Allan biked the route with him and then he practised the route almost daily for a few weeks. We talked alot about strategies for getting ready and managing his stuff.....as well as about his concerns and anxieties.

As I recounted on my blog here the first day was definitely harder on me than on him and I was proud of the way he handled himself.

Yesterday we met with his new teacher at his new school.  She said some very lovely things about him, in fact everything she said was pretty much the opposite of what were being told before....and although in our hearts we knew the truth about David, it was hard not to feel beaten down by all the negativity last year.  So while my heart sang to hear how lovely, kind, smart, mature and responsible he is it made me mad and sad again about the damage done to his self-esteem and our sense of him by adults who should have nurtured and protected him..... UGH!

Today I was in the school doing Early Warning and I saw him with his class in the adjacent community garden - they are doing a photo project - and he seemed so at ease and so happy and engaged - I got a cheery hello from him and his lovely teacher - I left with a very happy heart....this is the right place for my David.  Today my tears were happy ones!

I want to take a moment to thank each of you who played a role in David's transition to this safe, happy place..... it took a village, you did your part....and we, his parents, are forever grateful.

  • To my parents who rage when we do and cry when we do and cherish David for who he is.

  • To my sister and brother-in-law and Amy, Joshua, Jonathan, Erin, Michael and Zebby who welcomed him into their Alaskan tribe for 3 weeks and loved him - that adventure took so much of the sting out of the brutal end to the school year and he loved being part of the Gates Gang!

  • To all our church family who love David and make him feel loved week after week.

  • To Kelly who is such an empathetic and wise therapist - your help is invaluable and so timely.

  • To our Steveston friends who looked out for him when he was riding and when he started at school - knowing there are many adults watching out for him soothes my heart.
  • To everyone who prayed, sent good thoughts, had strategic conversations, made suggestions, made introductions, kept an eye on him, listened to me, gave me advice - honestly you all make me a better parent!
While some parts of the Village failed David badly, the majority, by far, have proved that Village cares about its kids.

We are so grateful our smart, funny, curious, kind boy is happy in school...... so very grateful indeed!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Slammed

The transfer of schedules from Summer to Fall is always challenging but we usually get into the flow pretty quickly.

Not this year.

I just cannot put my finger on what is or isn't working.........somehow the schedules are more challenging and I am more grateful than ever that I decided not teach this Fall.   I wanted to be around in the evenings to help David with the transition to a new school and Lindsay to a new dance studio in Vancouver.  Allan is also away one evening at TWU for his studies so I hoped being more available would help things settle quickly.  But we aren't there quite yet.......

One of the things we have always managed to do, and what really gave us strength, was eating dinner together.  We talked about the day and about the next day and things coming up.  This current schedule only allows for that on Mondays after I workout.  We do manage a quick meal together between things on Thursdays but it's hurried. 

Planning meals for these nights and the other ones where we are flying in and out is challenging too especially without resorting to pre-cooked or processed meals which we are determined not to do....

So this weekend when a fairly free day presented itself I presented myself to the kitchen and made like a real "cook" and cooked and cooked and cooked to get us ahead for at least a week or two.

I made a huge pot of ground beef sauce that could be used in a variety of meals.  I love chopping the mirepoix and the smell of the aromoatics cooking (a little bacon added never hurts either).

Lindsay made a batch of cinnamon apple muffins - a new recipe to us and a very delicious addition to lunches this week.
It is always a challenge to keep school lunches interesting and healthy so I grilled up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts, bought some wraps and Lindsay made some hummus which together will make for yummy lunches.
It felt good to have some good, wholesome food cooked and ready to eat for those, all to frequent, days, when we rush in late and someone needs to be out in under an hour..........

It soothes my fretful mothers heart to make good food for the family I love so much!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Taking Stock Sunday

The perfect thing to do with those less-than-lovely veggies in your fridge drawer...........your house will smell wonderful for hours and you will have amazing veggie stock!

STEP 1:  Roughly cut up as many aromatic veggies as you like (use up the wimpy ones in your fridge and veggie drawer first).  I used carrots, celery, potatoes, leeks, parsnips, onions and shallots and whole cloves of garlic.
STEP 2: Roast in oven at 400 degrees until caramalized. Turn over once or twice during cooking.
 
 STEP 3: Tie a bundle of rosemary and thyme together and put in pot.





STEP 4: Move veggies to pot - scrape up all the bits on the bottom of the baking sheet. Cover with water and simmer until all the veggies are soft - 1-2 hours on low with lid on.

STEP 5: Strain the liquid through a sieve (the finer the better). Really mash the veggies to get as much of the liquid as possible out.

STEP 6: Decant into container, label, let cool and freeze for amazing vegetable soup! I got 2.5 litres today!




It was good for my soul on this stormy Sunday to use simple vegetables and a simple process to make something wholesome and good. 
Easy is good right!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Island Envy

Lindsay and I headed out "on assignment" this morning.

Allan has a big presentation for university due on Tuesday.   The topic is generally about the rise of the "Eat local" "100 mile diet" "organic" food movement and the possible reasons and the impact on culture etc..... and I offered to take some photos for his presentation today.

Lindsay and I headed out with an idea of some of the signs we wanted.  The "White Spot Farms" sign just south of the tunnel, the "Urban Edibles" sign on Steveston Highway etc.  To do this we had to head into Ladner and Lindsay suggested we stop at West Coast Seeds which was an excellent idea.  While she was shooting photos it occurred to me that Westham Island might be a good place for signs of the eat local / organic farming movement.

I have not been out that way in over 10 years........ honestly.......seems crazy but it's true.   Since a disturbing incident at the Bird Sanctuary out there when a very large crane-like bird tried to eat my baby........ I have not been back.

So nothing looked familiar as we crossed the charming single lane wooden bridge onto the Island. 

But the signs we were looking for where evident immediately and very soon we turned off the "main" road and came upon Westham Island Herb Farm!  What a delight......so much to see, so much incredible local, organic produce, such interesting stuff.....we had a very happy wander and came away with so many veggies, some funky mini pumpkins for decorating the house for Fall, a lovely bunch of red zinnia's and some strawberry jam that deserves some fresh, homemade scones which Lindsay is making as we speak and which the boys will be so happy to see when they get home from soccer!






We drove around on small country lanes and I was amazed by the incredible views of the North Shore mountains and Mount Baker .  Beautiful fields with mountain backdrops!  It was peaceful and pastoral.



 


I fell in love.

Increasingly Allan and I crave some land to grow things on and to find this incredible, obviously fertile, peaceful place so close to the City seemed like the jackpot!  I am also pretty sure I would have to win the lottery to afford even a small corner of this island.......sigh!

I can't believe I haven't been there more often........ I plan to change that.......and look forward to many happy visits to Westham Island BC.

Oh - and we completed the photo assignment for Allan! Bonus! Most of the photo's here are credited to Lindsay who I had so much hanging out with!

Maybe one day.....

Friday, September 23, 2011

FB Fury

A new 'user friendly' design for the social networking website Facebook has provoked howls of protest from hundreds of thousands of users. Facebookers from around the world have said they found the new layout confusing and harder to navigate.

Complaints are likely to multiply after the company revealed the changes will be made permanent. Over the last seven weeks users have had the option to switch back to the traditional design.
 In an open letter from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, 24, said there was an option to switch back to the older  version 'for a little while.'  But within the next fortnight all 100million users will be forced to use the new-look site.

The amazing thing is that this paragraph was not written this week - it was written in September 2008.......

However Facebook Friends across the globe are just as MAD (maybe madder??) about the FB changes made this week - dozens of articles have been written, several clever jokes, some satire and almost viral misinformation and angst is afoot......

What makes me so curious is why? 

Why are we so mad about FB changing?

Is it about a global aversion to change....... a desire to keep things the same in an uncertain world?

Is it about control?  Do we just hate it so much that someone didn't ask us if we wanted the change?  (we forget this is something we subscribe to for free and could unsubscribe from at the click of a button )

Are we that worried about "privacy"?

Are we so  irritated that something that worked fine for us was changed and now we have to spend some time in our busy lives to figure it out?

Or is the whole FB Fury really just a symptom of the world being so connected, so able to give mass voice to their feelings?

I think there are several answers and many reasons - I am sure someone somewhere is writing a thesis or paper on the psychological undercurrents of the whole thing.

What I do know is this....... worse things happened in the world this week that deserve our mass voice, our mass angst, our mass attention, our mass anger and our mass action.

Let's move on.......

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Dr's are in the house

I am no big TV fan as you know (although I will say here that the PVR has indeed changed how I watch TV - I have no idea how to make it work but "we" just record all our favourite shows and watch them when we want........ so there is alot of the Food Network on our PVR!) but Thursday nights have always been Greys Anatomy night.


It is also Pub Night for Allan so the kids were in bed and I had the couch and the remote to myself and I settled into Seattle Grace for an hour of escapism.

How things change........ somehow during last season Lindsay started staying up and watching with me..... and she got sucked in and she has been so excited for this season to start.  Even my argument that the 2 hour premier would keep her up too late was squashed as tomorrow is a Pro D day!

And she has made the PVR record every episode in case we miss it for some reason.

So there are two girls on the couch now..... one with snacks and one with a glass of wine......tonight I am also wearing my scrubs to celebrate the season kick-off....

It used to be "my" time but I am just as happy that it is "our" time........ 



sadly she is a Dr Jackson Avery fan (or McCreamy as we call him).....











no problem....... leaves Dr. McDreamy for me!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grumble Grumble

It is quite likely that when one is irritable one should not write a blog post. But when do I ever shy away from controversy....???

As many of you know I have been battling an eye infection for 2 weeks. A nasty, unknown-to-medical-professionals-bacterial infection with no tested medication yadda yadda yadda. I just filled my 4th prescription for eye drops after seeing an Ophthalmologist this morning who says my cornea is now inflamed from the infection..... from the highly contagious unknown-to-medical-professionals bacteria! I am SO done with the swollen red eye and the pain and the drops ( BTW in what I think must be a design flaw - you put the drops in your eye but they end going through some deep dark passages and emerging in the back of your throat - and they do not make eye drops to taste good - if you know what I mean!). Yuck!

Anyway hopefully I am on the mend and the stare-inducing monster eye will soon be back to normal.

Through this whole process I commented on my FB that I was grateful that I could walk into a clinic 2 blocks from my office, see a Dr in 10 minutes and afford the medication. A pretty uniquely Canadian experience. This was further hammered home when I ran out of the drops while in the USA this weekend and tried to get some there and the drops I paid $25 for here (of which 80% will be returned to me by my medical plan) would cost me $109 there.

Furthermore in my return to the clinic at 4pm YESTERDAY the Dr decided I needed to see a specialist - an Ophthalmologist who could examine deep within my eye - and I saw her at 10am TODAY! No cost.

OK OK I know we pay for this through our taxes and we pay a premium to our medical plans but when you need the care, it has been my experience that, it has been there and I never have to decide whether or not to seek medical help based on how much money I have in the bank.

So I was particularly irked when lying like a hobbit with my light averse eye in a darkened room listening to the CBC radio that I heard Dr. Brian Goldman on his segment "White Coat Black Art" ask listeners to send in their stories about high hospital parking fees at Canadian hospitals

We Want Your Stories About Hospital Parking
Over the past six weeks, my father was hospitalized twice and admitted to a geriatric facility for rehabilitation. I had to pay for a lot of things during that period of time, but the one that makes me the most ticked off are the parking charges. Just for fun, I decided to add up the charges. All told, they came to a jaw-dropping $478.00. That's getting pretty close to "baby doesn't get a new pair of shoes" expensive.


Nothing seems to irk patients and their worried families more than the cost of hospital parking. A recent poll by UK money-saving web site DiscountVouchers put hospital parking charges at the toppermost of sneaky extra charges - ahead of having to pay for toilets at train stations and low-cost airline add-ons. As we mentioned at the end of this week's show, we want your most outrageous stories of expensive hospital parking and anything else that peeves you about that particular place you put your car when you visit hospitalized loved ones and friends.
 REALLY?  "baby doesn't get a new pair of SHOES" ?????  But "baby" gets a new heart and I have to pay for parking!!  I was so mad!  Call it a hidden fee if you like but be thankful that when you walk through the doors of the hospital you have coverage.   If there is a little gouging in the parking lot it doesn't come close to covering your medical costs..... as the good Dr himself says it might cost close to a new pair of shoes. Maybe?  More likely the cost of a latte or two!

I remember when my kids were born we went into the hospital - had the delivery - stayed a couple nights, - had excellent care and walked out with no bill to pay.  At our pre-natal class reunion everyone was complaining about the $17/day they had had to pay for parking!!   It irked me then as it does now.

When you grow up here, and know nothing different, I guess it's hard to comprehend just how incredibly lucky we are to have the medical system we do, as imperfect as it may be.  Many many people would love to be in our shoes, pay our taxes, to have our medical system........

Ok - rant over - back to the couch to administer more drops to the back of my throat. Via my eyes.

PS - do not do a google image search for "eyes" - it is very disturbing - hence this image free post!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Girls Just wanna Have Fun........

So the girls and I headed out on a rainy Saturday morning to the soundtrack Juli burned for us and with HOT coffee on board and great tunes we sang our way through the Border and into our weekend getaway!

I took relatively few photos this weekend and those I did take are...... well........um....... NOT going on FB or this blog.......although some are hysterically funny but in a "you had to be there" kind of way.

We did all the things we planned to - we shopped , we ate good food, drank coffee and wine, sang, walked, slept (sort of), found EVERY bathroom between here and Seattle and came home to families we missed and who missed us.

But most of all we talked and laughed - ALOT!  I cried more tears of laughter in 24 hours than I have in 24 months - more than once, in the middle of hysterical laughter someone yelled "Don't crash the car Nicky, don't crash the car" !  I managed to keep the heavy laden M5 on the road but is was close a few times.....one of the quotable quotes we recorded this weekend was after taking the spooning photos on the king size bed in the hotel room I said "My tears are in my ears" and they were rolling out of my eyes and into my ears......

And just as quickly the conversation can become very serious and vulnerable and things of the heart are shared and everyone tells their story on the topic and bonds grow deeper between us.

And then the laughter returns with hoots and hollers......

I am so grateful for the opportunity to talk with other women about the things that make us tick...... I am grateful for the stories the girls shared and told and and grateful to have been heard.....

I think we all felt we'd had alot of fun - sometimes silly jumping on beds, spooning, soap art on mirrors, underwear flinging fun, also fun shopping for our families, our homes, ourselves..... and fun from the deep sisterhood of shared stories...........

We are all looking forward to doing it again!

This is for you girls - with my thanks for an EPIC weekend.....

Friday, September 16, 2011

L,L,J,J and I

My fabulous friends Leslie, Laura, Jenny, Juli and I are off on a Girls Weekend Getaway that has been months in the planning.

These young Mom's are amongst my favourite people on the planet.  They are beautiful, smart, sassy and super fun to be around.  The banter on our event page for this weekend has been stinkin' hilarious.

Last night I started a thread in which we each wrote what we were hoping for from the weekend. For two of these Mom's it is the first time they are leaving their little ones overnight so the lists had some common themes..........

some fun times in the car, coffee, no children to wake us up on Sunday morning, and a few good chats with my favorite ladies.

I'm stoked about shopping without a stroller to maneuver around, sleeping in, laughing till my belly hurts, being with some of my fave girls and not doing dishes!

having my hands free for once in forever and spending some good, quality, cozy, loving, lovely time with my dear and beautiful friends!

I need a break and couldn't be happier about escaping with an amazing group of women.

I am driving and with 5 of us in the M5 plus our luggage not to mention our shopping..... it's going to be cozy indeed!  I have devised a weekend road trip game that should be loads of fun with prizes and forfeits........I wonder what constitutes public mischief in the USA? 

Of course we are hitting the Outlet Mall and Alderwood Mall on the way to Seattle and we all have lists of things to get....... I know if I don't get a pair of pants that fit Allan will have a fit! And I buy my Godson a red jacket every Fall and I need to find it!


Then we head into Seattle to a 2 bedroom suite at the Homewood Suites - bed allocation has been a topic of MUCH discussion and I would not be surprised if a pillow or two were thrown at some point!  


We plan to have dinner like grown-ups , wander downtown Seattle, talk, sleep late and then do whatever we want on Sunday before hitting Trader Joes in Bellingham on the way home....... we are literally guaranteed to be given a grilling at the Border coming home...... there will be shopping bags everywhere!


I feel so incredibly blessed (and a tad bit ancient) to be hanging with these young women..... I love them all to bits and look forward to tripping the light fantastic with them and making some memories together....... Hopefully this will be the first of many Girls Getaways.


And on behalf of us all, I thank our spouses, for loving us enough to let us go!  Hats off to Sean, Sean, Spencer, Graham and Allan!

Ok girls.......let's do this thang.......!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Angry Birds

Every day I utter the phrase "That's impossible".

And every day - usually within a few minutes of saying it (ok maybe within an hour or two) you hear me say "YES! Take that your arrogant, grinning, black-eyed pigs".

And seconds later you once again would hear "That's impossible"

And so it goes and goes and goes........

Hello, my name is Nicky and I am addicted to Angry Birds!  (If you do not know angry birds this post is not going to make much sense).

It struck me yesterday that Angry Birds is a metaphor for life.

No really it is........

This is what Angry Birds teaches:

1. Perseverance - there is now a known injury to fingers and wrists from the repeated firing of angry birds...... people do NOT give up on killing those pigs....... they try and try and try and then when you do clear a level you go back and back and back until you have three stars..... am I right?   If we wanted to teach this generation about perseverance then this is a great way to do it....... IF we tell them that's what they are doing.... persevering......

2. Physics - everything I know about angles and force and structures falling (not to mention the effective use of explosives) I have learned from Angry Birds........ ok ...... so I don't know much about physics clearly...... and my husband is likely banging is head on the table in frustration that I am even referring to this as physics at all - Sorry Honey!

3. Building materials - I can tell you this - building with sticks is useless, ice is a little better but man when you build with stone that's the ticket!  You want to be safe - you encase yourself in stone.  Some of those pigs are clever enough to hide inside wood, ice AND stone.... little buggers.

4. Pigs are indeed green and very hard to kill. They also smile menacingly and irritatingly.  Ok so they messed with the "facts" a bit here but that encourages both critical thinking and creativity....... bonus!



5.  Practice makes perfect........ Ask a kid to practice doing something, the same thing,  over and over again and...... well.... it doesn't usually go well but with Angry Birds they will do one level over and over again and again until they GET it.  Life skills!

6. The value of time.  Nothing, ever, in my life has helped time pass as quickly as playing angry birds does.  Whole chunks of time pass swiftly away.....so  I have learned to budget my time more efficiently....... so as to have maximum time to play Angry Birds have quality time with my family.

7. Good sportsmanship - you can share your scores and track your friends on Game Centres - this builds community and camaraderie around a common goal...... of beating the pants of your younger, more tech savvy friends.........but be nice about it - don't go posting screen shots of the one day you are in the lead.......;)

So you get it right?   Angry Birds is good for you, good for the community, good for the world.......

Now please excuse me I have somewhere to be....... really I do........ gotta go!

Genius Halloween Costumes!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Working from home

I am working from home today.

I have pink eye and seeing as we don't let kids with pink eye come to daycare I didn't think it was best practice that I sit in the office at the front door with my red, goopy eye!

Here are some great things about working from home!

1. I did actually get dressed but not dressed up...... no shoes on, yoga pants, no make-up........ you get the picture.  This is a particular delight for me as I have no pants that fit me at the moment. I kid you not...... people are actually commenting on how ill-fitting my clothes are.... If I see Stacy and Clinton from "What not to wear" I am running away!

2. It is soooooooooo quiet.  Almost eerie quiet.  It's the "crying season" at daycare.  All the new kids are settling in, some better than others, some with more noise than others....... I actually become deaf to the crying after a while but some days I have to close the door to the infant room and my office just to hear myself think....... but here, at home, I don't even know how to use any of the electronic gadgets that may play music so I sit in the quiet kitchen and hear only myself typing and the tick tock of the kitchen clock. (and the washing machine :)

3. No line-up for the bathroom.

4. Endless coffee..... just making my second pot..... no need to leave the kitchen....... it's not Starbucks but it's just fine!

5. Endless snacks - this is a problem seeing as I am no longer snacking...... I have to avert my eyes from the cupboards that are calling my name and taunting me with their snacky contents........ (maybe the quiet IS getting to me??).

6. I can do laundry.  Fresh sheets for all today!

7.  No phone ringing.... and when it does I have call display!!  Seriously at work I have no call display which is crazy but keeps me honest.  But the lack of a ringing phone allows for uninterrupted writing.  I am in the process of finishing up a huge document that needs to be submitted this week so it is perfect to have this day to finish it!

8. Did I mention no bathroom line-up?

9. Focused work - I only brought home the work I need to get done TODAY and so I am not distracted with other, more interesting or "fun", work on my desk....... my TO DO list will actually get done....all of it.... for today anyway..... those other tasks can wait their turn.

10.  Sitting next to the open french doors listening to the birds sing and the neighbours chat.........

I do miss my colleagues and watching little people skip up to the front door ready for the day...... but I'll take this day of quiet at home.... with my pink eye!

Bwaahahah....... "home office"
PS - I just realised it's supposed to be a Wordless Wednesday........ oh well........ ;)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eat your veggies

As previously mentioned I spent some time clearing out the veggie garden on the weekend. 

It was bittersweet.
Squash

Lots of bunching onions - nice mild flavour

I seemed to have fallen so far short of my kingsolver-esque dreams of bounty and canning and vegetable self-sufficiency.  You can't even make one bottle of tomato sauce from my harvest..... and while our lettuces defied expectations (as did the kale) nothing else really did.  We actually grew 5 lbs of potatoes which is an accomplishment in itself.....but hardly self-sufficient in a family with as many Irish genes as ours!

But on we go..... determined that we can grow more stuff in the Fall.

With that in mind I headed over to a new little farm stall / farm that has emerged on the side of Steveston Hwy just a few blocks from our house.  I  love that we live in a village close to loads of farmland and yet only 20 minutes from a big City, 5 minutes from a beach and 45 minutes from a ski hill!

Urban Edibles is a great story and a great resource (if you are a local). Check them out here!  I can't wait to grow the broccoli, bok choy and lettuce I got from them.  And the local organic peaches I bought there were amazing! ( Tip: Take cash or cheque if you are shopping there!)

At work this week I read a documentation that my staff had done about the blackberry bushes in our yard.  The Educators and the children had several conversations about why the berries on the bush were different colours - green, red and black - there were some interesting theories but the Educators summarized them like this:
Educator’s Reflection and Interpretation

When I think about the children’s responses and ideas about how blackberries grow, I wonder how much they know about where the food we eat comes from. I can see from the conversations that some of them probably have done some gardening before, but it was amazing to see them actually analyzing the process. I was so glad we had the opportunity to observe something wild transforming in our own backyard. I also wonder if this will inspire conversations at home about the origins of the food the children eat, or inspire the children to grow their own food. It really is an everyday kind of magic.

Seeking Other’s Interpretations

I found the conversations between the children very interesting. Some of the children knew that the berries went from green to red to black and other’s thought that the red berries were raspberries. I grew up with berries in my back yard and I always really enjoyed watching them grow and of course eating them. It is great for our children to have the same experience here at daycare.
Allan is also in the process of writing a big paper for school on this emerging trend of people growing veggies for themselves, of community gardens and local farmers markets and the 100 mile diet etc.   It's so interesting that we see this all as innovative and emergent when really it harkens back to when folks had more land and less readily available grocery stores and worldwide produce shipping was not available.  What is remarkable is how quickly we got removed from our food production.  To the point that children don't know what berries look like on a bush as they are growing? 

I don't think we are really going back to those times of homesteading and self-sufficiency (although Allan and I dream of having some land one day) but I do love that my kids will know what vegetables look like when you grow them yourself and what effort goes into growing food.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Carpe Diem

(I really have to get better at thinking of  titles for my posts...... I was on a roll for a while but now I often feel stumped - this is why I don't tweet - I don't do brief and witty ;)

Anyway.........

At family dinner on Thursday night I declared that Allan and I would be going on a date this weekend to see the movie "The Help".  He looked surprised but its been a while since we had a date and I wanted to have a date.  Immediately both kids chimed in that they were both "owed" dates with their Dad.  David and Allan tried to see the latest HP movie but it was sold out (weeks after opening) so they still have to do that and apparently there is something Allan has promised to do with Lindsay that is also still pending. 

I wanted to assert my seniority, "top-of-the-list-ness " but secretly I am so very grateful the kids and Allan have such good and strong relationships and that they have their own special Dad things they do.  I did not resort to yelling "pick me pick me"!!

I was still hoping we'd get that date.

As it turned out the weekend filled up with "stuff".  The job Allan is doing for one of my daycare centres has turned into a bit of a beast and took both days of the weekend (can I say, again, how lucky my employer is to have an ED with such a handy spouse!).  On top of that he had university papers to write and reading to do.  David had soccer and a soccer meeting that took ages.  The kids both had lists of school supplies they needed. I worked out and cleaned house and worked on the veggie garden and ran errands.

We took the gap on Saturday night to have a big family night at the beach.  My parents are just back from a few weeks away so it was lovely to catch up..... and to be on a sunny beach in September.....and what a sunset and moonrise it was....... I love squishing my toes in the sand.....and looking out at the boats going by....... we live in a beautiful City.

So the weekend was quickly running out......... and no date.

So I decided rather than just run up to Quizno's and grab Allan a sandwich for lunch, as I had promised I would, I would pack a lovely picnic in our wicker hamper that was a wedding gift and we would have a date on the playground at Terra Nova Children's  Centre .

real plates and glasses

This hamper can tell a few stories I tell ya!


I was feeling very pleased with my idea and got everything organized and was just ready to head out of the door.

No car keys........ anywhere.........until I remembered where they were........ in Allan's truck from the night before........ ARGHHHHHH.  I felt utterly deflated.

He popped home to deliver them and said he would just grab a bite at home.  I headed him off and said I would be up at Terra Nova in half an hour.  I dashed into Steveston and got some goodies (Thank you Sweet Spot) to fill up the hamper and voila...... we had a picnic lunch..... a date...... and it was lovely.


Smoked salmon ricotta quiche, demi baguette with goat cheese

crispy, sticky, melty macroon deliciousness
I love you Allan Byres......... pick me pick me!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Transition

The last week was all about the transition of life from holidays to school/work days and yesterday I spent the first of many crazy Saturdays to come rushing around from soccer to Staples for school supplies and any number of other errands.  The endless forms from school are all completed with help from Allan and I think we are pretty on top of things.

The house on the other hand is in need of attention....... I just cleaned the kitchen, multiple loads of laundry are going and I am planning the changes that need to be made to the veggie garden to clean out the end of the summer veg and plant for the fall/winter crop.

It was our goal this year to add variety to our summer crop...... which we did.  We also wanted to extend our growing season into the Fall as far as possible.  This warm September has made it perfect for the planting so I am off to buy some plants today.  I am only buying plants of things I know we will eat..... no more experiments with growing a vegetable we have no idea if we will like or not - made me a bit ill to toss the kale out today.

So last night we headed to the beach to squeeze out a last beach picnic ( I am away next weekend the and the one after that is booked solid already)...... it was lovely.......