Sunday, August 13, 2017

Pre-Staycation Accomplishments and Enjoyments #staycation2017

Clear skies and clouds #endofsmokepocalypse

 Waffles and bacon #noneedtohashtagperfection
 Sunflowers and dinner party table #happyflowershappyplacehappypeeps
 A new take on appetizers #yummystuffonbaguette
 Peach Crisp and ice cream #truesummersweets
 Raindrops on roses #nowhiskersonkittenstho
 Maritime Festival #hometowntourists
 Boats and breezes and long walks #timetowander
 Bookshop smells and iced coffees #theseareafewofmyfavouritethings
 Sunset ice cream #goodstarttostaycation

Sunday, August 6, 2017

No Tears

I did not cry when we drove out of West Kelowna today.

I likely won't the next time either on Aug 23 when we pick up that lovely boy of ours from camp to be home for a few days.

But when we leave Kelowna on Sept 3 all bets are off. 

We had such a wonderful 24 hours together.  

We laughed, we ate good food, and drank good beer (I know I know - it's wine country), we one-upped with zingers and witty comebacks (kids clear winners over parents) and we talked and caught up with each other.

I did so well staying in the moment and enjoying it all and not getting too caught up on what is to come.

We walked about the UBCO campus and looked at the residences and today we checked a few items off David's dorm needs list.
This store saw us coming....
Gulp - the reality of it all made my heart twinge a tad.

It's just one more step  - one more way we all get ready for this next transition. 

I'm trying to be gentle with my heart and just take it one step at a time but as we drove away today I was hard pressed to keep the tears at bay - truly the only reason I kept them in was I didn't want them to spill onto my chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone and melt it too quickly.

Ahhhh laugher and tears are such a fine line apart sometimes eh? 

We had a good trip home with our new favourite stop en route at Chez Hofs.  

The smoke is crazy out there folks - our province is taking a beating from forest fires - spare a thought for those fighting them and those displaced and worried and those picking up the pieces of shattering situations. 

Lovely to be home and soothe myself with homey tasks like watering the garden, making a salad, laundry.  

So happy tomorrow is a stat to be enjoyed catching up on tasks and chores before a short work week - they are tricky - those short weeks..... be careful out there.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Things I learned from IKEA

Or more specifically.... things I have learned from the last 2 days of assembling IKEA products in my office (which comes under "Other duties as required" in the non-profit Executive Directors job description):

1) IKEA is always right - you are not.  Accept it.

2) there are no missing pieces and there are no extra pieces - "disposing of" any extra pieces you may end up with is a viable option - going back to step 33 is not.

3) there is a right hole for everything

4) do not try and put the wrong thing in the wrong hole

5) an allen key looks like an easy to use tool - until your head is wedged inside 
a small cupboard trying to tighten some darn thing

6) do not read all the instructions at the beginning

7) go page by page, number by number

8) no need to know there are 7843 steps when you are only on step 3 of the office chair assembly - you will realise this soon enough

9) swearing may help you but it doesn't get things built any quicker

10) also if you should not be swearing in your workplace - like if there may be small children within earshot - just string a bunch of IKEA product names together - "HemnesMillbergetKalax" in my case.

11) when in doubt  - rather than snapping pieces of the product in two over your knee in frustration (#HemnesMillbergetKalax) - facetime your husband for advice / instruction / buddy breathing

12) if you just follow the instructions - accept some help along the way - it will all be fine (mostly) actually it's pretty genius how it is all packaged and planned. Dammit - is there anything those Swedes are not superior at?  

Lessons for life in there somewhere I am sure.

We now have 4 desks for 4 Directors in one small office - we are auditioning for "Tiny Offices - How to run a Non-profit from a shoebox".

Even JOY is in a tight squeeze ;)
My messy corner bottom right
We need a new spot for the lamp ;)
Surprisingly it works - the others are often on the road and with the bose speaker playing some odd Apple music mix and the diffuser diffusing "calming" oils, the sun filtering through the blinds and the geothermal cooling doing it's thang... we'll be fine.

Come by, with  for coffee, anytime - just don't expect to sit down. 

Adjö to you ;)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

New Career...maybe?

I have a beautiful friend.  

I love her dearly. 

She has been living too far away from  me for 4 years. 

I have been to visit her twice but now she has moved just an hours drive away from me.

Woo hoooo

So for her birthday - that I missed because she was still far away, I promised to help her decorate her new bedroom when she moved. 

As you know June and July have been a bit loopy around these parts but when I get a new idea or a new project I get pretty excited. 

Despite the other things I probably should have been doing I got very jazzed up about this decorating project. 

Suddenly I was bidding on desks and decorative elements on the FB bidding sites and driving hither and yon to pick up furniture and decals and frames and pretty paper and paint..... 

My friend, it turns out, had some pretty firm ideas about her room too.

This would not be in the least bit surprising if you knew her.

She is strong minded and very creative. 

So I followed the list she made of what elements were needed and while I did the bigger projects myself I kept some of the smaller ones to do with her.

So Monday arrived (after they moved in on Sunday) and I hit the highway, my mazda loaded to the hilt and soon I arrived to much excitement and hugs and instructions...

Because that is what 7 year olds do so well.

I spent the loveliest day doing arts and crafts with Miss Penelope and her totally adorable sibling Mr Parker.  And with huge help from the much beloved parents of this duo the room took shape just as I had hoped it would. 

Miss P was so very excited - except when she was mad about something we did.  Fatigue and transitions and excitement make for a somewhat emotional messiness. Mr P was annoyed all day at the lack of attention his room was getting but his birthday is still to come - a fact that did nothing to alleviate his annoyance.

The P's were helpful most of the time 

I so loved their constant chatter and their delight on a hot day, in a chaotic house.  I particularly loved the multiple times Mr P exclaimed his genuine joy that he had found an item that was "exactly like the one he had at his old house".  His ever patient Mother tried to explain it was the actual item lovingly packed and driven across the land but he had trouble with the concept and so we just enjoyed his delight at all these "new" found items. 

When I left, after so many hugs my hug tank was overflowing, I drove away with a very happy heart.  To have such a lovely friend relationship with this 7 year old is a testament to her parents and their generosity with her and with me.  It is no small thing to allow a person outside your family to love your kids dearly and I take it as a precious privilege.  

It was a fantastic break from regular work and so wonderful to just spend time puttering away with dear ones.  The week since has blown in so many spectacular ways at work that I have, more than once, wondered if there was a market in decorating little girls rooms in pink and gold. 

Alas - I think I only really enjoyed it because it was this particular little girl and truth be told I am not sure putting gold dots on the wall wouldn't wear thin after a while (although Mr P was extremely miffed I wouldn't put them on his wall too...."they are just dots Nicky - eyeroll- how can they just be for girls?  Good question but not one I was ready to do 5 rounds with a 4 year old on:)

Thank you G and L for all YOUR work painting and putting furniture together and installing the draw pulls and most of all for letting me be part of your family.

I love you all. 


Room before and after

Desk before and after

Friday, July 21, 2017

Dear June - I apologise

I know, I know - I had a spat with the craziness that June delivered.  

To be fair - it was A LOT.

But the first two weeks of July...

So June - you crazy old bat - sorry I judged you.  Please allow July 1-15th to join you on the podium of .... whirlwind wackiness.

At this very moment I am home with Spanner.  A rare moment of quiet save for the hum of the dryer.  It's overcast - a rare thing too lately.  I am slowly sipping on my tall, long Americano, much needed after I was at my desk at 6:30am this morning following the early rise of my fisherman. (fishing pun!)

The house is a bit of a mess. 

A week ago today it was spotless and tidy.  

Because I was in full party prep mode. 

For the above mentioned Fisherman's big backyard BBQ bash for his 50th birthday. 

I do love planning a big bash and this one was long in the planning.  

And a magical night it turned out to be.  

My tribe of helpers were incredible.  David bussed home (5 hours each way) to surprise his Dad.  Lindsay introduced us all to her boyfriend Joel who stayed with us over the BIG crazy weekend.  Smart guy to meet all the friends and relatives in one fell swoop - wondering if we will ever see him again though :)

Our friends Fil and Emily did a masterful job of a) distracting Allan with a fishing trip and b) feeding me lunch and helping decorate.

And so the evening started and so many dear friends came in.  

Soon the kitchen was full and folks spilled into the backyard on a perfect summer evening.

I have long wanted to host a long table dinner and this was my chance.  I love how it turned out and the happy chatter, the munching on catered bbq, the clink of glasses and soon the glow of candles as the evening crept in.  

As we fell into bed around 1am Allan and I agreed, again, that we are so blessed to have such a great community around us and to have them gathered was such a joy. 

It was a full weekend in terms of activity but also filled our hearts right up.  Most especially for me having my little family home even for 1 night!

Much of this summer was planned up to this point - July 15th - and now that it has come and gone it marks the end of a very, very busy phase in every sphere of my life, family, parenting, school graduations, work, gardening, university planning and the general busyness (often fun busyness) that the summer months often bring.

And a hectic self-imposed gym schedule of 3-4 times a week.  Loving it but frustrated with how long it is taking me to get back in shape ... but working through the disappointment and trusting results will come.

It has mostly been really wonderful but I find myself a tad weary.  I have some vacation days booked and Allan and I intend to do some of the things we have been meaning to do for ages, hikes, beach days, finding new coffee places, booking a restaurant we have long wanted to try, and catching up with each other and ourselves before the pace ramps up again in late August and our big kids have us running in opposite directions. 

I am ready.  

Sunday, June 25, 2017


There are 5 more days in June 2017.

5 more days. 

And in those days David has Prom and then flies to Kelowna for the summer.  

By the end of Friday, June and I will be done with each other and I will declare that June has won again.  

If by winning we mean taken me for a ride of multiple highs and lows at breakneck speed and in a permanent emotional spin cycle.  And tired. 

In a family of students and teachers June is always a crazy month.

But this June was especially so.

This past week we declared "Byres Boys Week" 

David had 2 graduation events - in one he gave a valedictory speech and in the other he won a scholarship.  For us, his parents, it was over 6 hours of watching this boy of ours and his peers stand in that tenuous space between school and whatever comes next, between childhood and young far from when we sent him off to Kindergarten and Grade 8 but still so young.  So much growing still to do.

It is in these moments one lives the reality of how ones heart can be so happy and proud and so sad at the very same time. A happy sadness. 

I am dreading him flying off on Friday.  I am going to miss my sweet, smart, sassy, kind boy SO SO much.  He will only be home for 4 days between working and heading back up to Kelowna for University.  And by then Lindsay will likely have moved back to Victoria.

So on Friday night after a busy day of party preparation after a busy week of events, we sat, the 4 of us, under a darkening sky and in the cooling air, in the backyard, drinks in hand, chatting, reminiscing, recalling vacations we took when they were little, talking about plans for the future, laughing.

For a moment I felt like I was standing looking at the 4 of us, the lights casting a warm glow over us and I wanted time to sloooow down.  I wanted to capture the moment in my heart knowing it will be a long time until a moment like this will happen again. 

I didn't take a photo of us - they all refused - but I will have that mental picture of us and that feeling of being together as a family in my heart for a long long time. One of those unexpected, beautiful moments that make life rich. And happy/sad.

And if that rollercoaster ride wasn't enough - Mr Allan Byres finished all his course work AND assignments on Saturday and is now a free man!  With an M.Ed.  It is truly amazing that these 2 years of study and papers and reading and collaborating are OVER.  A relief but also some sadness at the end of the journey with colleagues and friends.  I am so proud of not only his incredible academic record but also his perseverance and sacrifice to get it all done.  He loves to learn and he embraced this opportunity to the full and it has been a wonderful experience.  

We had a party to celebrate their journey and it was great - a house full of people, lots of chatter, lots of food, a hot sunny day - Team Byres in top form hosting. Entertaining like that is so much my happy place - I love it.  Happy to have a couple more big events and a BIG birthday party still to come this summer.

So while today was about quietly cleaning up, some needed time off my feet, it is a very temporary rest before the week of Prom and packing and all the other last week of school things. Lindsay starts her summer job at Terra Nova Nature School doing day camps with kids out on the land.  Allan wraps up another year in the classroom and prepares for a fishing trip with his bestie at a lake that is special to them - a greatly deserved few days of recreation. And I'll do some work, a lot of driving, more entertaining and doing my best to be present, to sort out the emotions, get to the gym and put June 2017 to rest. 

Maybe, in the end, I was the winner of the bout of June 2017 vs Nicky Byres - I got to live another month of memories and events and experiences with my nearest and dearest, summer arrived,  the garden is bursting with abundant harvest, the dog has recovered, we had much to celebrate.  

On July 1 Canada turns 150 and I am getting up very early and escaping for 2 days because no matter who won June I am tired and I need to take some deep breaths of sea air and slow down and rest my heart and body.

I can't wait.