Monday, October 29, 2012

Shampoo

It occurred to me in the middle of the night, as these things do, that I had left my shampoo at my parents pool change room after my swim yesterday.

When I got up this morning I reminded myself that I would need shampoo before the end of the day.

I got to work and was enveloped in the aftermath of the Art Auction. And a myriad of other tasks and conversations.

Allan called me at 1pm on his lunch break and we discussed what we needed from the store for dinner and a few other things.

I didn't make a list. GASP!

I ordered some Japanese takeout and dashed to the store for a quick blitz of the essentials.

As I entered the store I remembered I needed shampoo.

But I was in the vegetable section.

I remembered again 3 minutes later but I was then debating the merits of various noodles.

2 more minutes later I was distracted by a great deal on pasta sauce.

As I rounded out the end of the dairy aisle 3 minutes after that with margarine we didn't need .....I saw the shampoo sign and walked over to get the shampoo congratulating  myself on this obvious sign of my mental acuity and efficiency.

When I came home and the bags were unpacked the shampoo was left on the kitchen counter because, God forbid, the unpackers would put the stuff where it belonged.

I smiled inwardly a while later as I swooped the shampoo off the kitchen counter as I bounded up the stairs to change for Jazzercise.

I had a great workout, a light dinner and stepped into a hot shower with a big sigh. 

Its been a long day/week.  I have lots on my mind and my body is tired.

I reached for my shampoo.  Nothing!

As bad words were forming in my mind I peeked out of the shower and there , within my arms reach, was my shampoo. Where I had put it a couple hours earlier.

Sheer Genius!  A miracle!

As I shampooed my hair, running through many things in my mind....and wondering why I wasn't being instantly transformed into a thinner, taller, younger, more beautiful woman with long, glossy brown hair as my shampoo "promises"....I was disproportionately glad that, for once, I wasn't standing there cursing what I had forgotten to get or do but rather rejoicing in the fact that even on little sleep and lots of stress my brain did function.

And my hair is clean.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

500

 
I have long anticipated this post and when it finally arrived I struggled to find a way to approach it.  In the end I decided to just let it be what it is - my 500th blog post!

It's a milestone I would never have dreamed possible when I wrote this back in December 2010
  
What have I done?????
I just created a blog...... I didn't mean to...... I am not sure I have time to........ YIKES!!!   I have been a blog-stalker for ages and I love the way people chronicle their lives, ordinary lives, and muse about things big and small.  My life is so full already with family and friends and work and 2 jobs other than my "real" job and stuff.... lots of stuff.  Could this be a way to find something for me in the middle of this? - could I let the frustrated writer within me out?..... will it become a monster?  OK so within the first paragraph you already know I over think just about everything.  So I'm diving in.... let's just see where this goes!!

I can honestly say I have enjoyed just about everything about blogging.  Coming up with ideas to write about has mostly come easily.  I have seldom found it to be a burden although I do think about it alot and filter my world a little bit according to what is "blogable".  I have managed to be consistent with 2-3 posts a week.

In the end it has been about me finding time to do something for me. 

Time to think and write.  To try different writing styles, to share my passion on subjects close to my heart, to laugh at myself, to vent at the world, to call out to my community...... to make the ordinary moments of my life visible for my family and friends.

To make meaning in my life and to chronicle it for my family.

Thank you for reading it...... and to those who comment......I am appreciative.

Here's to the next 500 ........ I predict 1000 by Fall 2015!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

In praise of Asian Buns


This post should have been Embracing my Inner Asian Part 3 after Part 1 and Part 2 but I couldn't resist my alternate title......just don't Google it ok!

This latest foray into a heretofore unexplored part of Asian culture was from a tip from a non-Asian.  The 365 food blogger in Richmond. A white girl.  Like myself.

Having now eaten, and become clinically dependent on, the Asian Bun in its many splendoured glory I have now come up with a theory.

A conspiracy theory

I am naming it the "Chinese Carbohydrate Concealment from Caucasians Conspiracy".

It makes total sense - its a secret worth keeping.  

My dear Asian friends have consistently concealed from me the gastronomic pleasures of their carbs - rice, noodles and buns.

Their faces were a study in shock when I arrived at my desk with 3 coconut buns in a delightful little package from Maxims for the princely sum of $1.50.

They were aghast that this was my very first bite of Asian baking.....not horrified at their gross negligence in my education in all things Asian as they should have been.

And immediately declared I had bought the wrong buns!

Within half an hour the lovely Lisa returned with the better bun - a pineapple coconut bun - which has no pineapple in it just a different topping that resembles a pineapple (NF you are all clear).

Of course I had to try it.....so I broke off a piece and all the topping flaked off (which had the Asians in fits of giggles because they saw that coming and again concealed the information!)  - very messy but very delicious....oh so light and sweet and coconutty - MMMmm

Of course many suggestions have now been willingly forthcoming and there is a concerted effort to bust my conspiracy theory.  It's going to take some doing to convince me.

It has been quite the revelation - how to negotiate a Chinese bakery, how fresh and tasty everything is, how cheap - shockingly so!  I have had the charming and tasty BBQ pork bun..... and made the mistake of having the butter bun which is a regular bun with a great slab of butter in the middle - once I removed the slab o'butter I enjoyed the bun!

Now that I am converted to Chinese carbs I have been trying to get my non-coconutty-loving family family on board.  Today I loaded up at Kam Do on buns, chicken pies, cookies, muffins, croissants and other assorted buns in concerted effort to convert my family to this local phenomenon.  I have high hopes after their embracing of the XLB's and their desire to get some Pho soon that they will love it all and trips to the Chinese Bakery will become routine!
I hope you are impressed with how many times I used words starting in "C" in this post and also that this is my 499th post..... What shall I do to celebrate my next post?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Celebrating Moments

Every Fall I think my life will be calm.

Every Fall I am shocked at how overwhelmingly busy I am / we are.

Next Fall I am going to see it coming....for sure....I will not be caught unawares.

I could list the list of things causing the busy-ness (and we all know how I love a good list) but suffice to say I knew we needed to find a way to decompress as a family this weekend. 

To catch up with one another
To rest
To talk
To laugh
To figure some things out
To cook
To do grocery shopping
To walk the dog
To bake
To connect

And we were blessed to have lots of those moments and more...... Allan rested after his epic week, the kids went to a Camp reunion, I got to an exhibit I needed and wanted to see, Allan and I got in an impromptu photo shoot on the way to do groceries, Lindsay went to a Party, David got soccer MVP, the dog walked and got some training on staying on his bed and playing alone outside, the sun shone...... A very blessed family time.






 
 
Happy Fall my Friends!



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Yoga - ish


I went to my first yoga class today - a trial class at a fitness fundraiser........45 minutes


Lying on your mat take deep breaths and become aware of your body

Wow there are more people here than I thought
I wonder if I am too close to the lady next to me
I can't believe I am wearing odd socks

Take deep breaths that fill all the spaces in your body.
Lengthen your body with your breath.

Why is someone hammering in this building?
Man, it's cold today, I wonder if there is snow on the mountains
Breathe in and out
There I filled up the spaces

Relax your feet
Be aware of your legs, your calves, your

I hate my calves
I must try and find boots this winter for my XL calves

Put your left hand on

Crap left, which is left
Ok got it - I can't believe I still need to think about which is left/right
I visiualise which hand makes the L everytime
Stoopid
Oops breathe in and out

Quiet your mind and focus on your breath, on your heart centre

I hope Lindsay finds that dress in the right size today
I wonder what it will be like to do Jazzercise after this yoga
Must return that conference email this weekend

Come up into sitting and cross your legs

Ok up now - that should help me focus
Must remember to put dishwasher soap on the shopping list
So pleased David got MVP at soccer today

Now move back to child's pose

YES I know this one, I can do this
I must remember to replace the chocolate bar in my purse
In case we get stuck on the Highway in the snow and need it to survive
Breathe

Now come up onto your hand and walk your feet forward and let your arms hang heavy

What?
I am going to have to peek at someone
Oh ok got it
I hope Spanner isn't barking with noone at home

Keep breathing in and out - like the ocean

I wish we were going to Hawaii for Christmas
Breath in and out

Come up into standing and centre yourself
stand square to the mat
We are going to do tree pose

Oh no
Please don't let me be the first one to topple over
Ha ha she totally stumbled first
whoa, steady, steady...come on let's switch feet already

Lie back down and feel your body feel heavy and sink into the earth

Great Fall we are having
So much sun
Need to defrost the freezer soon

Namaste

Phew....lets turn up the music and get moving

Me plus yoga = fail
ADD?
Pre-yoga americano bad idea?
Try again?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chocolate

I both love and hate the phrase....You cannot undo awareness....... well its not the phrase I love/hate its the truth of it....and it is so deeply true.   


I read a recent post on Chocolate by Heather Hendrick who is currently doing a blog series on Ethical Buying you might want to check out.  

I had that sinking feeling as I read it that it was going to bring awareness I would prefer to ignore even if I can't un-know it.  And although I had an inkling of the "issues" with chocolate (and coffee etc) she put it out there in an accessible and difficult to ignore way.

As I have been thinking about it and doing some of my own reading and as Halloween fever approaches I think bringing awareness to this issue has merit. 


Heather writes:
"UNICEF estimates that nearly a half-million children work on farms across the Ivory Coast, which produces nearly 40% of the world’s supply of cocoa. The agency says hundreds of thousands of children, many of them trafficked across borders, are engaged in the worst forms of child labor."

In January, 2012 CNN released an article, "Child Slavery and Chocolate: All too easy to Find."  In this piece a boy named Abdul is mentioned. He's 10 years old.  He's been working in the cocoa fields since he was 7.  He's never tasted chocolate. After his mother died, he was brought to one of the cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast.  All he's given is a little food, the tattered clothes on his back, and an occasional tip from a farmer.  Abdul is a modern child slave."

The truth is, most of the chocolate Canadian and American families will buy and consume this Halloween will be harvested by child slaves.  


If you want to really educate yourself  this BBC documentary  exposes this issue.  These children and their stories are real. 


Heather asks?
What if we opted out of chocolate this year or decided to only pass out Fair Trade or organic chocolate? Almost all organic chocolate companies guarantee their supply chains are free of child slaves. Opting out of slave-harvested chocolate doesn't mean we can't participate in Halloween. There are other alternatives.  There are fair trade chocolate companies who value their farmers.  Saying "No" to chocolate harvested by enslaved children doesn't mean we can't love and serve our communities this fall.  Thankfully there are many other options and products to hand out during Halloween that do not contain chocolate and are not made by the same chocolate companies who are utilizing modern-day slaves in their supply chains.


Like Heather,  I'm really grateful companies that value their farmers and refuse to oppress the poor exist.  

The first time I ever ate a fairly-traded chocolate bar (and an organic chocolate bar) I realized they are infinitely better than any of the other varieties of chocolate.  This shouldn't be surprising.  Companies who refuse to enslave children (or anyone) in order to make their chocolate are naturally going to care more about people and their product.  Their chocolate is incredible.  It's rich.  It's creamy.  It's nothing like the other stuff.

Our kids are "over" Halloween so we plan to join friends at the pool and eat pizza and stay out of the fray. 

What do you think?  What will you do?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - A+ Photo Essay

In the Summer Allan did a photography course as part of his degree.  It was on a ranch and I went with him.  His final assignment was to use 5 photos to tell a story...a photo essay.  This is Allan's A+ Photo Essay.


  ARTIST STATEMENT

Food Family Fun
The photographs I have chosen in this series represent a small part of the journey our family has taken over the past three years. This journey started with reading books like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year Of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. This has been a journey of trying to be conscious of what we eat and where our food comes from. Our family gathers around the table each evening to eat a home cooked meal and we try as far as possible to make environmentally intelligent food choices. We love to eat, to cook and to enjoy good food together.
The photographs in this series represent the journey of gathering food locally to enjoy together as a family.
Composition:
In order to tell my story I composed a series of still life photographs trying to capture the elements of local food sellers, picking vegetables at a local farm and the enjoyment of the meal with friends and family.
 




Monday, October 15, 2012

Rage to action

I had a great weekend.

So many things that happened were awesome.

Even the dog walked well on leash..... I KNOW!

But not everyone had a good weekend......especially not the Todd family who's daughter Amanda took her own life in despair last week. 

The rage over that is bubbling just beneath my skin...All weekend it was on  my mind.......I cannot give it full vent (for which you may be grateful)....because I don't know where it ends.

Both my children were bullied.  Both were failed by those around them.  I wrote David's sanitized story here and here.

But that's just it....it doesn't tell how we had to repeatedly fight to have our kids protected from skilled, manipulative bullies.  In one "meeting" with an elementary school principal he told us the tone of our letter in which we demanded the bullying end immediately and the bully be dealt with was unacceptable.  Just that week a young teen in Nanaimo had taken his life over bullying and in tears I pleaded "I do not want to be that mother burying my child".

"They" were unmoved. Did nothing. No follow through.

And they let it happen over and over.

Eventually they broke us and we moved our kids.

The scars are deep and they hurt for the kids and for us.

And yes......  the rage is still there.

We have a huge support system that loved us through the pain and disappointment.  We can afford therapy for our kids.  And we caught it before they utterly despaired.

And it keeps.on.happening.to.far.too.many.children.

Pink t-shirt days are not cutting it.

The stereotypical bully we "teach" kids to stand up to is a caricature of a 50's throw back of the tough schoolyard brat.  The bully of the 2000's is altogether a different cat. Skilled beyond the adults around them, devious behind smiling faces, smart..... not a thug who throws a punch but an underground operative who knows how to go undetected if necessary to get to the victim. Subtle, not obvious ....  and deadly.

As parents we barely stand a chance.... we can have every rule in place.... no electronics in their bedrooms, no online presence after 9pm....whatever...but we are not there all the time, not in every space our teen is.  And as Amanda found out - one small reckless moment online can kill you.

We can point fingers all we want....and it feels good for 15 seconds....until you realise even that will not protect your child. 

It's on me, on us, as parents and on us as a community.

We have to tell our kids from very young what is acceptable.  Pushing a kid off the swing, or budging in line at a playground is not to be laughed off. It is not cute.

Advertising and TV that demeans people is to be spoken about and called out.

Jokes, memes, texts that hurt through humour are to be discussed for their hidden message.

We have to teach them how to speak, that words are powerful and can hurt.  That words can also break down barriers and build people up.

This weekend we talked to our kids about sitting down next to the kid alone at lunch.  To say hello, to look people in the eye.  To speak up when they see a friend in trouble.  To move out of the preconceived comfort zone that actually straight jackets our teens from acting with their hearts.  To step away from the crowd and do the right thing without counting the personal cost.  Because maybe what feels hard or uncomfortable for us may save a life or at least make a needed connection.  We cannot underestimate the strength of character it takes for a teen to sit down next to "that" kid, or help out "that" kid....we have to build that character in our children, expect it of them and credit them when they do it.

Their school has a motto - "Silence is acceptance" and we have talked about how that looks and feels.

It's such a vicious world out there.  I wish I could protect them.  But I will arm them with words and strategies.

We will talk and debate and dialogue. Alot.  Eyes will roll which is fine as long as ears are listening

I will model for them when I see anyone, child, teen, adult bullying or being bullied I will intervene.

And I will love them.

And I will pray it will be enough.

RIP Amanda.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Joy in Details

I am a busy person....always on the go.....always with a project in the planning, executing or evaluating stage (or one or more in each stage.....).

You know what I love about these "projects".... in fact about stuff I do in general?

The details....

I love the details.

I do the planning, the mapping out of the big picture.....the big thinking, strategic planning...

Then I do the work....the teaching, the leading, the baking, the shopping, whatever it is....

But.... for me.....the joy is in the little details.  The little thing I think of to add to the table, to the class, to the training session.  

Sometimes the ideas just come to me.  
 
Sometimes I troll through the internet and find the perfect "thing" (without having yet joined Pinterest as I fear the time suck it may be but imagine the inspiration and am paralyzed in inaction).

Sometimes I see the perfect accoutrement when out shopping....and say Ah ha!

Sometimes work is work....nothing special....nothing dramatic.....nothing bad.....

That is when a little detail project can just make my day.....even if unnoticed by many.

 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Class is OUT!!


 I wrote this post in April 2011......at the start of a journey that is almost done.....we celebrated Allan's last class at Trinity Western University on Tuesday.......when he got home.....at 9:45pm....on the front lawn....with a crowd of friends and family.....and cake and champagne.

It was a surprise and a great one at that.....and so well deserved.  Allan still has to complete his practicum and submit a paper or two but no more driving out to Langley every Tuesday, very few more weekends chained to his desk, very few more whoops and hollers over every A or A+ posted!

It has been hard.....and Allan has been the model of persistence and dedication and intelligence.  He embraced the hurdle put before him and didn't just jump over it....... he backed up and ran full tilt and cleared it by a mile.....and appreciated the opportunity and the learning and the people and the thinking.....

He would be mad if I said "Congratulations" now....he rightly wants to wait for Graduation for that.....so I will say "Well Done Honey - you rocked this degree and Lindsay, David and I and all our friends and family are SO SO proud of you!"

We made a sign for the front fence

Our Soupers helped set up lights in the yard
David hung banners
Wearing his Dad's crocs  - with socks - on a ladder!
More balloons!
Then we waited
Waiting is more fun with glow in the dark swords
Then HE arrived!!
Much cheering and hollering! From Penelope mostly!
Champagne was popped!
The party moved indoors




HA HA HA poor David was set-up for this one......