Monday, October 5, 2015


A couple of times each summer I get up at an ungodly hour and take my kids to a boat on which they sail away to summer camp.  They have the best time. Good friends, good food, lots of activities, good discussion and conversation.  They come back tired yet refreshed, sun kissed and exuberant and content.

In many ways this past weekend was an upscale adult version of camp.

We got up way too early on Saturday and sailed on a ferry on a crisp but sparkling October morning to Nanaimo BC with our dear friends.  Over a delicious and nutritious BC ferry breakfast (wink wink) we chatted, caught up on our weeks, discussed the coming federal election and much more.

After arriving we made a short detour before the lake to visit the hunting, fishing, camping mega store Cabelas where the boys were lost in fly fishing world for a bit while I helped nature educator extraordinaire EV chose a knife and merino socks for future forest adventures. I think my forbearance in a store holding practically zero interest to me earned me some friend/spouse brownie points!

Soon we arrived at the beautiful lakefront home of friends newly relocated to this part of the world. 

What a spot they have! And what a great time we had.

Good delicious wholesome food with unrivaled views, sun on our faces, content chattering.  

Some napped, some watched soccer on TV, some sat on the dock... Everyone relaxed.  

When energy returned we went out in the boat to tour the lake, the boys took to the water in search of fish , the girls kayaked....and as afternoon slid into evening a fire was made, more food prepped and decent bottle or two of red wine were cracked.  The incessant rising of fish lured the fishermen back to the dock, Guiness in hand, as the sun set and the fire crackled.

A glorious meal was enjoyed and the Whitecaps cheered as we nodded off on the couches.

A truly lovely day was declared done at fairly early hour and we headed to bed.

Early to bed meant early to rise and soon the smell of coffee lured even the reluctant out of bed on another crisp sunny day. 

Boys headed out in kayaks with fishing rods ever optimistic in their quest. The girls headed to the ocean to walk along the harbour while our host cooked up a pile of waffles, and bacon.

A leisurely brunch of delicious fruit and yogurt and a spirited discussion on the merits of maple vs Aunt Jemima syrup (just to reassert our Canadianess) and then decisions on how to spend our remaining few hours...the boys roamed the neighbourhood and the girls retired to the dock. When the boys returned everyone was on the dock and for a very brief few minutes everyone just sat and enjoyed the sun and water.  But soon the boys were back at the fishing and finally a pan-fry-able trout was hauled in and camp was sadly over.

We left our dear friends at their gorgeous spot, grateful for their warm and unfussy welcome and hospitality...and headed to a very full ferry ride home.. Still with much to chat about over burgers and fries and a sit in the sun.

I felt like I escaped to camp for a while.  It was delightful and relaxed and just what I needed.

I'm so grateful for friends to share life with, to explore with, to cook and kayak and chat with... Thank you Vera's and Jacques ... I heart you.

Let's do camp again... Soon! 

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Boom. September shows up and in two blinks it seems it is over.

Every year.

No matter how prepared I am September is exhilarating and exhausting. 

This one seemed more so with all the changes in our home and in my work.

Our girl not being around is hard and different.  I miss her.  But I am so very proud of how she is tackling being away at University.  So confident and poised and smart about it all.  Predictably not loving the food and struggling to sleep in a noisy environment but enjoying new friendships, her classes (especially Computer Science and Sociology) and getting involved in campus life including yoga and kick boxing fitness classes and a win in the Res Soccer game yesterday!  Also having the odd daytime nap I hear.  :)

She made one very quick trip home with a new friend and it was so lovely to hear all her stories and be able to love on her a bit.  And send her home with a big bag of good food! 

Here at home we are settling into the new rhythm of a family of 3, of soccer season, of the school year.  It is giving us more David time and that is good too.  Never short of a topic to chat about he is good company and he is spending some time int he kitchen with us too.

His new school schedule has been off to a good start.  The Online component seems to be going well with a small co-hort and two great mentor teachers.  They are off to Strathcona Outdoor Education Centre this week to build their relationships.  And do some Whitewater canoeing. Yikes.  David loves that place so much and is so excited to be going back for the 4th time.  

So our house will be truly quiet this week.

Allan has had a good start to his school year and to his Masters Program.  His first assignments are underway and he is lucky to have a colleague from his school also doing the program so they can collaborate at times.  I think he's feeling energized and a little stretched to be back at the studies but not overwhelmed by the work..yet.  Full day Saturday classes are intense though and also dent fishing time at a time of dwindling fishing days as the Fall moves in.

And me.  I have finally, after 2-3 years of planning and waiting, been able to hire an HR/Admin Director to work with me.  It is truly a much anticipated step in our organisation and for me personally.  I know it came about a year too late in terms of coping well with my workload and as we reorganize workloads and tasks I feel great relief but I am going to have to reckon with my own fatigue at some point.  I am excited to be able to have the time and space to pursue some long held dreams and plans I have for my leadership at work and I'm grateful for that.

The long hot summer seemed to cool rapidly into an early Fall.  The trees are turning, the air is crisp and as many many people embrace this season, my heart misses the long summer days and evenings.  The early dark seems a bit oppressive this year and certainly challenges my ability to get my fitbit steps in everyday (not to mention the rain!).  

So after many chores in the kitchen this crisp, sunny Sunday (tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes, oven roasted beets, ginger cookies) I am headed out to walk and think and count those steps in brightness.  And tonight the lunar eclipse and super moon should be visible in the cloudless sky.

September....... thanks for kicking my butt for another year.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

You talkin' to me?

Have you ever had that experience at a talk or lecture or sermon when you suddenly feel like the speaker is speaking directly to you? That the words coming across the air to you were meant for your ears only?

It is at once unsettling and exciting.  

You lean in to hear this message meant just for you and yet I always wonder what the words may require of me...

To be quite honest I have such a busy internal conversation it's pretty miraculous anything gets through the internal chatter.

I'm acutely aware of this at the moment as I have taken a couple of gentle yoga classes the last couple of weeks.  It is a gentle and quiet practice with lots of time for thinking and lots of encouragement to relax and still the mind.  

It's restorative.

Stilling the mind is a thing I am completely useless at and lets not forget the last time I tried yoga was disastrous.  But I am one very tired person at the moment.  Some might say exhausted.  Some might say borderline burnout.  And some might be concerned at creeping depression.  

So I was ready to grasp at any straw to help me relax, help my body be less achy, my mind less restless and my heart less melancholy. 

The meditation and total relaxation at the end of this class after an hour of stretching and breathing deeply calmed me in a way seldom else ever has.  I breathed out my concerns and fears and meditated on things I am grateful for.  I was never tempted to fall asleep like the lady next to me whose gentle snores punctuated the quiet music and the teachers lilting voice.  

I just let myself be. 

It was beautiful.

A beautiful friend who has stayed close through the transitions of the last few weeks gifted me a gratitude journal that I have been staring at for a few days, not feeling like I was up for starting it but nevertheless it has made me mindful of things to be grateful for.

And so today when, sitting in church after many weeks away, the reading included Matthew 11:28..."Come to me all who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest."...... the modern translation The Message puts it like this.... 
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Well that hit me right between the eyes, or right in the heart, to be precise.  I'm sure those words were meant for me today.  I was ready to hear them. I need to slow down.  I need to rest.  I need to re-calibrate both my heart and my mind.  

I need to learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Team Building

My colleague Jennifer and I have been a team of two for about two years now.  

On Monday we add a long awaited 3rd person to our team - a dream come true.

At the year-end on Aug 31 each team was gifted  "Fun Money" to do a team event that was fun.  Jennifer had a brilliant idea and did some research while I was away and I booked us on a walking tour which we did yesterday.

Ok a walking AND eating tour... a company called "Off the Eaten Track" offers a 2 hour walking tour of Vancouvers Food Trucks / Food Carts.  This was a tour perfect for Jennifer and I who have often done our best thinking and talking over food.  We both love food trucks.  

We met our guide and fellow tour takers in Gastown on a sunny Friday afternoon.

The tour started with the Juice Truck...hang on a sec...this is a food tour! But in all honesty the vegan, almost chocolate smoothie was thankfully only a half order because it was delicious and very filling.  

We quickly moved from this food truck to the delightful food cart named "Chouchou" for a crepe from Natalie.  A truly delightful and passionate person who shared her personal story while serving up a delicious crepe. I think that thanks to the time we had to chat to her and the insight into her world, this was my favourite stop.

We wandered up the street to Arturos Mexican cart serving authentic Mexican food and we sampled a spicy but delicious chicken taco.

As we carried on up into the City centre we listened to our guide talk about the food industry, travel as well as offering the tourists some historical information.  We stopped outside the Marine Building which is fairly iconic but she took us inside which was my first time appreciating the art deco marvel that it is.  I love discovering new things about our city.

Our next stop with our new Aussie friends was Soho Road cart with fresh warm naan and butter chicken.  This is a cart I have passed by many times but I will be hard-pressed to ever walk by it again.

We walked over to the Art Gallery/Robson Square area and found out that our last stop was the Mom's Grilled Cheese food truck.  Jenn and I were please as this is a truck we have never wanted to waste a food truck experience at given its comfort vs exotic offerings.  We had the sourdough and Canadian cheddar sandwich with pickles (which Jennifer passed up) and some locally made hardbite chips. Make no mistake, it was a decent, cheesy, crunchy sandwich but I won't be rushing back... I can make a sandwich like that at home.  The long lines that are consistently at this truck are a bit of a head-scratcher for me but we were glad to be able to check it off our list.

Our tour ended and after I had found the closest coffee, solved an HR issue and answered 2 emails, we headed back to Richmond on the Canada line.

It was a great way to celebrate that we have survived the last two very challenging years together and managed to keep our sanity and our sense of humour.  We are both delighted to soon have a colleague to help us lead our organisation into a new chapter of growth.

I am sure there are still some memorable eats in our future but this one was a sweet one at a memorable moment.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

All the feelings


I did it.

I left my baby girl at her university dorm far far away across the ocean...

And I kept the tears dammed behind the sunglasses until we drove away.

Score one for Mom.

I'm not going to lie - it was very hard.

So many hours have gone in to getting her stuff, visiting UVic in the summer, figuring out what she needed, cashing out the RESP, finding textbooks, bedding, lamps... all the things.  Lindsay did lots of this with only the help of my credit card and she sorted out her room and packed her clothes.

So when we finally drove on to campus this morning it was the culmination of many many months on planning.

As Lindsay kept saying "This is not UVic's first move in day Mom" and they certainly had the system streamlined.  After the keys were picked up we made a few trips from the loaded truck and soon, amazingly soon, she was sorted enough for all the boxes to be recycled out of there. I am sure she will spend a few hours puttering and moving things around but we left her in a cozy functional room. She met some of her neighbours, bumped in to friends from Richmond and Whistler and got her schedule for the next two days of orientation activities and we left her to settle in to campus life.

Left her.


But as is SO often the case, these big moments serve to remind us that we have a village, we have people...people who care and who love us.

I am overwhelmed by the love of those peeps for me/us and for Lindsay.  The gifts left at the door, the cards, the $20 for espresso, the wine for me and the texts from my dearest friends that kept coming and although they made me cry harder they let me know I am loved, my girl is loved.

They reminded me that the whole point of giving them roots AND wings is to let them fly.

So we have let our sweet, smart, funny girl stretch her wings a wee bit and that is stretching my heart a wee bit  a lot and that is sometimes the painful/joyful way we learn and grow.

So excuse the temporary shortage in the local kleenex supply, I am sure it will return to normal levels next week.

Thank you dear ones for standing with me...I'm not sure where I'd be without y'all.

Lindsay Lou.... fly my sweetie, fly.

And call me once in a while.



Thursday, August 27, 2015


It seems like just moments ago we Byres 4 were bobbing in an aqua ocean miles away...together.

And suddenly tonight is the last dinner of just our 4 before things change. 

It literally takes my breath away how quickly this moment is upon us.  

Mostly upon me.  

For I am the emotional flag bearer in this parade.

I am the one marking the moment.  

I think we are all feeling it but when I asked how this dinner might be spent, what we may want to eat, or do on this night of just us 4.... there was a quietness that is unlike us.

It's that fear to not over do a moment.  To eschew the dramatic moment.

To be cool and ok.

But this is a big moment.  For me but also for us.  

What has passed for normal everyday life in this family, in this home, is about to change.  

We don't have to be sad 

But I do need to stop and feel this moment. 

I do feel it as my throat is tight, my eyes watery and my heart a bit achy.

I also feel so grateful for the years we have had, for the way this family has figured out life together.

We haven't always done it right, it hasn't always been easy, we have blown it with each other more than once, we have lied, yelled, been unkind, used words to hurt, slammed the odd door, been more absent than present, had silent family dinners....but we have always found a way to touch the foundation of love we have and find our way back to ourselves and to each other.

So as I sit tonight at the aptly named Peaceful Restaurant, while calling my dear ones attention to the moment, while batting down the tears, I will feel tremendous pride at what each of us have brought to this family:

Courage, joy, sass, wisdom, patience, passion, intelligence, wit, curiosity, persistence, perseverance but mostly for the love. And gratitude that in the end there was much more laughter than tears.

We have so much to be grateful for and it's these things that will sustain us through the changes ahead.  

In Maui the kids kept quipping "Ohana means family and
family means no one gets left behind"... which besides proving they watched too much Lilo and Stitch, serves as a great catch phrase for us..for now..

Family is forever.  New journeys are starting, new things to be discovered and enjoyed and celebrated.  Likely a few heartaches and trials to come too.  Things will be different.  A new normal will be found.

The foundation is strong and deep and enough for us all as we venture on.

My darlings Allan, Lindsay and David, I love you all.  Forever.  

Saturday, August 22, 2015


I have such high expectations of vacations.  I constantly have to tell myself to reign them in. To just "be in the moment".  But I always arrive at a vacation with research and lists. Lindsay is becoming a great co-researcher but the boys are a bit clueless which can be endearing or annoying depending on my mood.

Last night she and I offered 2 possible options and after weighing the pros and cons of each, we settled on Twin Falls, Makawao, Haleakala and a beach, maybe in Kihei.

Solid plan.

The alarm was set for 7am as we wanted to beat the heat of the day for the walk to the falls.

We set out on the highway to Hana (with no intention of reaching Hana) and soon drove into hippy Paia....well known for its collection of quirky characters.  It did not disappoint as we saw Hawaiian Jesus with his cross on his back at the very first  intersection!! I didn't even have my camera ready!!

We carried on through Paia and stopped at the first beach lookout to see the famed surf of the North shore.  To our delight a local lady pointed out two large "rocks" on the beach... Two large turtles having a nap. ( the kids saw a turtle in the water while snorkeling yesterday - so lucky!).

On we went to the Twin Falls and its iconic farm stall.  Sadly the falls were in full flash flood and the upper valley was closed so we didn't stay long.

We took some back roads to the "cowboy" town of Makawao on the slopes of Haleakala volcano. It was so very quaint.. Rural yet sophisticated.  We stood in line at the famed Kimodo Bakery for fresh made donuts on a stick and masalades..... Also like donut but some with fillings....very delish when paired with a coffee from Casanova and enjoyed on their veranda as the chickens walked under the table! 

After a wander and some retail we head up the road.

Way, way up.

Up to 10,000 feet.

Higher than Blackcomb by over 500m and three times the height of Table Mountain in Cape Town.

The fabled switchback drive through clouds layers has the amazing reward of emerging above the clouds and a view of a vast composite volcanic crater that looks like how I imagine Mars would look and nothing like a tropical Hawaiian island.

The highest I have ever been! LOL.

We picnicked in the cool mountain top air as clouds raced overhead on the trade winds and marveled at the views.

We came back down, Allan doing a masterful job of keeping the Chevy on the road through corner after corner after corner... While the children turned a little green and decided to nap instead of vomit... For which we are grateful! 

Once down we headed for Kihei but we didn't really find a beach that called out name so we came "home" and went in to the ocean on our doorstep and bobbed happily until dinner called our name.

We returned to Kihei to the renowned Coconut Fish Cafe where we feasted on coconut shrimp, fish tacos, ahi and Ono fresh fish... So delicious with friendly service and no wait! Actually we have seen no crowds or waits anywhere.

Our perfect 10/10 day ended with Ono Hawaii Gelato... I had the Hawaiian Hottie.  Of course!

Now back for some Pogka to finish the day (as well as quite the thunderstorm and lightening show from the condo) and plan tomorrow because after today ... Well... Expectations are high. Again!