Saturday, May 21, 2016


Recipe for Nicky's perfect Saturday


1. Sun (can substitute for cloudy if no precipitation)

2. Peeps (as many Byres as possible - today only 3 because 1 is in Kelowna getting a sneak peek at his summer digs)

3. Destination (anywhere will do but prefer new ground to cover - today downtown Van-City - east-ish)

4. Good coffee (prefer hipster vibe with excellent, local, organic, hand-roasted beans made into superb, smooth, creamy long Americano)

5.  Baked goods. Duh.

6. Cool shops (prefer realistic prices for cool goods but hello. Vancouver.) 

7. Book stores (old, cluttered, musty - mmm)

8. Architecture (prefer red brick but geometric buildings can be substituted)

9.  Alley ways

10. A non-descript restaurant with unbelievable ramen, pork belly in pork broth (no substitute acceptable - if you can get a window seat and watch downtown east side life unfold outside, even better)

11. Transit (no parking issues and more people watching)

12. Happy puppy

13.  Tea in the backyard - in a t-shirt - in May

14. Gardening (growing good green stuff and processing piles of local strawberries)

15.  More peeps for dinner - lamb BBQ.

16. Dessert donuts from Downtown (with a hunky hubby)

17. Music 

18. Booking a small getaway

19. Honey Jack Daniels

20. My jammies and a good book.

Mix together, smile and count your blessings.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mothers Day Eve - A reflection on a gift

I am not the biggest fan of Mother's Day.  I don't like the pressure around gifts and decisions about what to do and what to eat (ok maybe the what to eat part isn't so bad).

If I am honest - this role - the mother role - is one I have lacked confidence in in myself.  

It is impossible to know if you are doing it right.

It is impossible to know how many ways you might be screwing it up.

I took on the role more pragmatically than emotionally.  

It was time.  We had been married 7 years. 

And as the cliche goes ... as soon as I saw that squiggly little alien on the ultrasound machine I was undone.  

And when she, and then later, her brother were finally placed in my arms I was in a blind panic.  

And totally in love. 

But mostly terrified. 

And so the tension of mothering continues to this Mother's Day eve.  

But this year I approach with a little more confidence. 

Not just because 19 years later they are both still alive... but because they gave me the gift of confidence. 

Last year on Mothers Day they gave me a jar with "52 Reasons we Love You".  Little brown packages tied up with string, one for every week of the last year.  

I mostly forgot to to open one every week so every few weeks I would walk by the dresser and unroll a few.

It is beyond a gift to read your children's thoughts about you as their mother, as a person.  

I have been humbled, I have cried, I have laughed out loud, I have felt my heart squeeze and I have stared in disbelief ... each and every little package of words went straight to my heart.

To be fair this was a year ago 

But with each one, each word carefully penned, I have felt the the invisible, internal  "mom-confidence-barometer" rise a notch. 

In a beautiful and authentic way my children have made me a better Mother this year and that is gift I will treasure and live into the worthiness of.  

I couldn't have walked this journey nearly as ably without an incredible co-parent who has supported and challenged and listened and guided me.  He has allowed me to find my rhythm and called me back when I lost my way at times. Allan - thank you. 

Lindsay, David...being your Mom is a joy beyond any you could imagine.  My heart nearly bursts out of my chest with pride for who each of you is as a person.  The depth of my gratitude for your gift 52 weeks ago is deeper than I can really express in words. 

I love you both to the moon and back to infinity and forever. 

In the end all I knew was that I loved them, and that I always would, and it turns out, that was enough.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Beautiful Days

I love that some of you miss me when my blog is quiet... I appreciate the love.

This spring has arrived in such a lovely way...warm days, long evenings, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the greening of the leaves and grass, the crazy growth of plants...and just in time the Masters had a 3 week break. 

I have been allowing the beautiful days to restore my soul.  

I'm not sure I realized just how much I needed these days to walk and garden and chat and cook and be with my peeps

I know the masters is only for a season (and that I am actually not doing the hard work )but it's a tough season and we'll learn to relish these little breaks. 

Having both the kids home and spending some time doing things around the house and in the yard together, ordinary stuff, fills my heart right up.

Add to that some fun events, great times with friends, good food, projects completed, long walks, celebrations... and all is quite well in my world tonight.

So that's it.  

Blessed with beautiful days.



Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mr D

On Tuesday I head to pick Lindsay up... and bring her home !

That's right!  

First year is over!  She rocked it and I survived!

Of course I'm delighted that the 4 Byres will be home for exactly 8 weeks.

That is until David heads to Kelowna for the whole Summer.  

Yes, the whole summer.

Waaaa - this is the lot of the mother of older teens...One in one out!

This past 8 months with just Mr D at home has been great.

I have loved the time I have had to spend with him, drive him to soccer and youth etc.  He is such a great companion.  Never short of a topic to discuss or debate.  A ready accomplice for any adventure especially if food or photography were involved. Loving and smart and funny. He gives the best hugs.

We didn't exactly up his culinary repertoire or reform his lack of homework focus but we have coached and listened and loved this growing boy and are proud of the young man he is.

I am ever grateful my kids have made parenting the teen years easy for me and that they are growing in to adults I so enjoy being around is one of the things in my life I feel the most blessed about.

Thanks David for being my sidekick these past months - I have loved it and I love you to infinity and beyond! 

Here's to more adventures!  

PS - David has a new photo website  - you should check it out!  David's Photography

Sunday, April 10, 2016

French Fried

As you may have deduced from my last post, our home stay experience got off to a bit of a trying start.

It did not improve as the week went on - the child was unable to get himself up and out on time, spent most of his time in his room, seemed disinterested in us or anything we did.  Never one to be satisfied with the status quo I continued to flog the dead horse of conversation and probing questioning and was less than surprised at the repeated answer and shoulder shrug "I don't know" to pretty much everything.   I did manage to teach him to clear the table after meals before he disappeared! Yay me!

We have had a longstanding family event planned for Friday night and David diligently made a plan for another home stay family to chaperon our boy from after school until we picked him up on Friday night.  This plan was relayed more than once during the week to much nodding. 

I think, in hindsight, he is going to wish he had paid a little more attention to what he was told.

When a teenager actually makes a phone call as opposed to texting it is always a sure sign of trouble. And so it was when David called me Friday afternoon (he was at his other school that day and received a frantic text from his buddies) to say our boy had ditched the plan and was seen heading towards our house, with a girl.   David instructed the group to head to our house to insist our boy fall in with the plan.

If this was a movie - it would be time to cue the foreboding music.

Allan needed to get in a couple of hours of reading for his Saturday Masters class before our evening engagement and headed home.  With Spanner.

As he opened the front door he was assailed (as we have been all week) by the overwhelming scent of cologne.  Funny, he thought, that this is so strong when he has been out all day.  Waitaminute .... Allan's spidey senses were alerted at the precise moment that Spanner went beserk.  The kind of beserk he goes only under very specific circumstances.   At the same moment Allan saw some darting figures in the back yard and smelled a very specific smell.   He opened the back door and let Spanner go. 

At this moment, in a movie, one would get a tight shot of the faces of the delinquents who were not only realizing a serious kink in their plans but were also sure they were about to be eaten by a brown lab.  

And soon they would be wishing they had been.

Allan stopped them both as they ran down the side of the house and gave vent to his ... displeasure... at their pot-smoking-at-our-house ways.  All this as the group of other kids arrived on our front lawn and Spanner rolled around licking everyone.  The next text messages sent to David marveled that the French kids were still alive and were faint with relief they were not the object of Mr. B's wrath.

Allan sent the group on its way and detained the half-stoned home stay to face the consequences of his actions.  They ended back at the school in the principals office with the teacher from France and the sponsor teacher from here.  

David and I waited at home, getting ready for my Dad's retirement dinner in Vancouver hoping Allan was going to make it home in time.

In the end he made it with just enough time to shower and leave (masters readings deferred until later) and we left the home stay with the two teachers for the evening.  Word has it the French teacher spoke to him sternly for 2 hours.  When we collected him at 10:15pm he was disheveled and seemingly contrite and handed us a letter of apology in perfect english...and our house keys. 

We had the option to not have him back but knowing he will likely face some pretty serious consequences on arrival home we decided to put the incident behind us and try and eke out some fun for the rest of the weekend.  

The funny thing is... his attitude and manner are unchanged.  

There is no gratitude, no participation, no effort.  I took him downtown (as he missed that due to his escapade), helped him get souvenirs for his family and friends... absolutely no indication of anything.  He even had the audacity to ask to go alone to Starbucks on Saturday night (the place of pot procurement, if he is to be believed).  Poor David, who has borne the brunt of this kid, schlepped down to the village one more time to ensure there were no shenanigans.  French boy and his assembled friends proceeded to sit outside Starbucks and sing french ballads loudly to the horror of the Canadian kids.  When it was time to leave our kid predictably wouldn't. Until David said "We go now or my Dad will come".  Out of his seat like a bullet!  He told David he and his friends are all so sad they he might get "fired" when he gets home so they needed to sing. Whatever Dude.

So 7:30pm tonight cannot arrive soon enough. For us and for David. 

At the end of the day I am left reflecting that it was not so much a clash of cultures or language but more one of values.  I am again grateful for my own children and the choices they make as teens and for our home that is most often a place of joy and connection and fun and one we all 4 Byres contribute to. 

This will be a story that is added to the Byres legends.  

I'm sure we will get a good laugh out of it one day. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016


I have dedicated my weekend to boys.  

Of course with our one girl child gone this year I have become used to being the only female around this house but this week we added a boy to the household.

A few months ago in a moment of weakness big-heartedness we I volunteered to have a home stay from a school in France that is visiting our high school for 10 days.  This is the third time we have hosted but in each of the previous two occasions our children were home stays of the child coming to stay with us so I was highly motivated to be hospitable.  

Not that I am not this time, but in combination we also have a home stay with very very veeery little english comprehension or vocab.  Someone has taught him to say " I am not a fan" about anything he doesn't like (or when he has no idea what I am saying).  Thank goodness David's french that has been virtually unused since Grade 7 has quickly returned and he is being amazing about helping the communication between us all.

There have been some hilarious moments along the way.  "Who is you cathedral?" took us a while to unwind.  When Allan left the table briefly and said "I'll be back" the french kid immediately did a Schwarzenegger "I'll be back"...very funny. He really want to "Up my engleesh" ... and is trying pretty hard.

For the most part though there is a lot of silence and long halting attempts at communicating.  

Undeterred I was determined to show him lots of the places their official tour does not cover this week.  

On Saturday I walked him around Terra Nova Natural Park blathering on about risky play and the mountains being in the north, nature preschool, the sharing farm growing food for the food bank.  

He just kept saying "Yeeees" in his French accentand nodding.  A lot of nodding. 

Then we watched David play in a cup soccer game.  The very last game of his soccer career.  It was a great game,  a great battle against a team in a higher division and age group and a very respectable 1-0 loss at the end.  

Soccer has been such a big part of our lives for so long...a decade in fact...and this is it.  This last season has been a gong show and quite disrespectful to this team of boys and they ground down David until he had just had enough.  I'm grateful for all the years, for great coaches and team mates and learning and growing.  It was a bitter sweet moment when he came off just before the end of the game.  I am proud of the player he has become.  

And then we headed over to BCIT to see the other boy, Allan, coaching several teams at the wrap up VEX Robotics tournament of the season.  It's been a while since I was at a robotics event but it all came flooding back - all those boys! 

We went out for dinner last night and educated our french boy on how to use chopsticks...#fail.   Allan and I had a lovely walk home as a beautiful sunset unfolded before us.  I fell in to bed.

Only to wake at 5:30am today.  UGH.

Up to make waffles and bacon and chop strawberries for a breakfast of champions before we headed north again this time to Deep Cove with 10 000 others.  Parking was a zoo but we finally hit the trail to Quarry Rock. 

Oh My Word.  SO many people, so many stairs, so many dogs.   My latent fear of falling down stairs was not at all helped by flights and flights of stairs many with no handrails!  Eek. I was glad to get there and enjoy the view once the crowd parted until I thought about the return trip which thankfully turned out to be easier and faster than I expected.

We had lunch, loaded up honey donuts, took the scenic route home via Lions Gate, Stanley Park, Spanish Banks...while our guest read his book in the back seat.  I tried to keep up my tour guide patter but honestly I was pretty hot and tired.

Allan was holed up at home all day with Spanner and two final papers for two courses anxiously awaiting his Honey....Honey donut ;)

Dinner is done, the younger boys are at Starbucks which the French Kids are in awe of and Allan has finally left his desk finally and we are watching the Juno's on TV with a beer. 

A weekend of being a Mom, a mom of two boys, of juggling boys activities and appetites.

I'm pooped but it was fun.  Now for 7 more days of trying to find things Jeremie IS a fan of!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Things I will miss

It was only a few days but we used them well.  

Here are some of the things I will miss about Spring Break 2016

1. The absence of the alarm

2. Brunch. With bacon. Always.

3. Midday walks with Allan and Spanner

4. Sitting on my sofa in the afternoon sun

5. Reading good books too late at night

6. Back-to-back episodes of "Fixer Upper" on the couch with Spanner and others 

7. Having 4 Byres

8. Puttering around the house and garden and getting a few things sorted out

9. Doing groceries in the middle of the morning (I hate going after work!)

10. Sitting in the kitchen with the french doors open

11. Long conversations with Masters Man about his research and writing

12.  Unstressful meal prep

13. Music playing all day

14.  Tringles 

15. The constant comings and goings of teens

16. Cider.  At lunch.

17. Time to think, wander, dream...

Now to hold on to some of these through the sprint to the Summer... maybe not Cider at lunch?