Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mrs B

"Mrs B...... Oh sorry, its Mrs Byres right?  You aren't a teacher are you? Because then we could call you Mrs B but because you are just Mr. B's wife we'll call you Mrs. Byres. Ok?"

Just one of the random comments from the 14 year old boys I spent a great deal of time with this weekend.

They made me laugh.  They drove me batty.  They spoke without drawing breath. For hours.

Hard at times to believe these monkeys will grow up to be smart men.

 Because they are smart.  Young and cocky and naive but the smarts are there.

Allan had the older and more serious boys in his car.  I had the 3 grade 9's and David.

Drive. Ferry, Drive . Dinner. Competition. Drive. Ferry. Drive.

My 3 did not have a working robot they proudly proclaimed on the way there.

Having been to many of these events I knew this would be highly anxiety producing and could see we'd be up late as they hurried to get it done.

Turns out I know nothing.

These 3 were cool as cucumbers.

They kept smiling and shrugging their shoulders and adding elastic bands to every moving part of the robot to keep it together.  David, Mr. B and some other team mates pitched in to try and help in the one hour they had on Friday night to get it ready.

At most of the other team tables heads were bowed and a very serious air prevailed.

At our team table there was more hilarity than I have ever seen at a robotics competition.  The robot arm fell off - they died laughing.  The robot moved two inches they cheered as if they had won the top prize.  All around them amazing machines were moving and picking things up and playing the game.

While my lot kept adding rubber bands.  And killing themselves laughing,

They cheerfully left the robot behind when we went back to the hotel for dinner.

No angst. No begging Mr. B for more time.

These three has come last at their last competition so in their mind they were definitely going to do better.  I bet them a dime they would do better than last time....quite frankly feeling my dime was pretty safe.

Their self chosen team name......they thought was HILARIOUS

I felt even more sure when I arrived at the competition mid morning on Saturday and saw they had abandoned the arm....they just a square with 4 wheels.... they essentially could not play the game.

And boy where they ecstatic.

They rushed over to tell me they were doing super well.  They had lucked out and every game they had been paired with an excellent partner who had "carried" them and they were in the top 10.

And as the day wore on they ended in 7th.  With a robot that did very little.

To the dismay of the other McMath teams who worked so hard and had bad luck and finished further down.

Allan had to explain how playoffs worked to these bouncing boys whose grins were literally ear to ear.

They went out in the quarter finals but they may as well have won the world championships.

They whooped and hollered and jumped all over that gym.

I handed over my dime.

It was a fluke but it couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch.....sometimes good things happen for those who just chill and go with the flow.

And they had a much better time than the stressed out guys and gals who never cracked a smile all day.

They taught me something.  They made me laugh. And they reminded me why a classroom full of them would drive me around the bend.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It's coming

These last few rainless days I have noticed a most exciting thing.

I have noticed that at my usual departure-to-work time of 7am, which for the last several months has been in the dark, pitch dark.... something is different.

I have been attentively trying to find this thing to notice.


As I leave the front door each morning my eyes look to the east.


And folks, I can tell you, I can confirm with no shadow of doubt that....

At 7am on the eastern horizon.......

There is LIGHT.

At first is was barely perceptible....a faint line of lighter sky.... but I knew

I knew that faint line of light meant the days are waking up earlier..... Staying up longer.

They are waking from their long sleeps and stretching themselves...a little longer each day.

And soon....soon at 7am dawn will be breaking.

And so will begin my 2-3 weeks of being late for work as I embrace the dawn down by the river....

It's coming...... Spring is coming....


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Process vs product

 Just when you might be thinking "Those Byres must be done with that reno"..... Well.... This

And this

And this 

What the heck! 

Carpet cleaning tomorrow ... Oh the irony ... We rip out miles of carpet, put in delicious hardwood and.... Thanks to the days of raining dust and having to sequester the hound in the carpeted areas.... We need the carpets cleaned.

We deserve an A for making our own lives complicated.

In other reno related news we did accomplish several jobs on the "please-dear-Lord-finish-this-job" list.... Like sanding and painting and repainting baseboards and bannister trim, door trim...and staining a certain handrail. Also one last finicky floor board was finally installed in a doorway with above average swearing.

The upper bannister is close and then it's just the family room back wall left to attend to. 

We are getting there! 

I spent maximum effort in the kitchen this weekend. We are trying to get a handle on groceries and meal planning on the weekends so we can have unstressful meal prep on busy week nights. 

I guess, for me, the jury is out on whether      cooking and shopping all weekend (ok not ALL weekend) pays off? Maybe because for me the kitchen just isn't my happy place or my de-stress activity... it seems like work..... Anyhoo....we have three meals cooked and a dozen muffins and I put a very mediocre roast dinner on the table for dinner.


This is the stuff of life I guess.... Trying to find a way to work it out. 

I hope you all have happy and productive weeks ... I leave you with this carpet cleaning/curtain life hack (gasp)


Wednesday, January 14, 2015


5 years ago I drove past a sign I had driven by many many times.

This time I stopped and wrote down the telephone number.

My impending 40th birthday had everything to do with it.

The ever-welcoming Janice called me back and I laced up my runners and went.

To Jazzercise.

I had never found any gym or class or regime I liked enough or found effective enough to keep wanting to go back. 

And here I am 5 years later. 3 sizes smaller, much fitter and still loving the workouts.  

I have watched many people come and start and then leave. 

I have "suffered" behind many a new comer going in wrong directions.

I have made many friends.

Been inspired by some remarkable women.

It's so easy to let my personal fitness slide when life gets jam packed with other things but I am over beating myself up when I miss a class.... I just get back as soon as I can... And carry on.

I feel lucky to have found a thing I love to do that helps me stay in shape.... It's a lovely gift in my life.

So I am toasting me, my jazzer instructor friend Janice and all the lovely ladies who work it out on the dance floor day after day. 

We rock!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Life Smack

You must have seen those Buzzfeed lists of life hacks that people post to Facebook...... Yes?

If no - see links below with apologies for wasting your time.

They annoy me.

Half of the "hacks", the suggested ways to make your life smoother and somehow better and more beautiful.....are nothing more that common sense things people have been doing forever.

Ok we may not have made a teepee out a sheet and two broom sticks but we made an awesome fort throwing a sheet over the dining room table.  Same difference.

Most of us use the plastic tags on the bread to actually keep the bread fresh and not to colour code the cords in the media cabinet.  We feel its a win to remember to recycle the tag when the bread runs out let alone reuse it in 18 different  projects.

And really people if you cut a pool noodle and put it on the door so the children don't slam their fingers you are starting a lifetime of dependency......are you going to put a pool noodle on the car door?  Put one in their backpack for the classroom door?  One slammed finger in a door and 3 hours in Emergency is a childhood rite of passage..... or is that just our family?

And then there are the so called "life hacks' which are nothing more than architect millionaires showing off some nifty project they charged their clients an arm and a leg for.

Really.... I am almost 45 and I have seen exactly one door disguised as a bookcase in my life and that was so the property inspectors didn't know their house was twice the size basically tax evasion.... and there was the Ann Frank situation but really most of just need somewhere to put our books.

And I suppose if you have an extra few thousand it makes total sense to paint your bathroom floor to look like your in mid you a legitimate reason to use the loo I guess?

These elaborate built ins and other projects should be left to the Pinterest people and not put on a list of life hacks that makes the regular folk out here feel like somehow they missed the life hack class at college and are out of the life hack club forever......unless we start saving our bread clips PDQ.

So don't feel bad my are already hacking life very well in your own clever ways.... Buzzfeed just hasn't found you keep going....and if you invent something you think I need to know to make my life easier and better I trust you'll let me know.


Unbelievably stupid life hacks

Maybe #24 ... Maybe

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A cut above

We were back to the reno after a very long first week back at school and work. It wasn't too hard to get back into the groove, the motivation is still there and the falling down the stairs nightmares continue. 

The Bannister.... A job with a gagillion angles and complexities ... And a job we have had no experience with.

So clearly it was a job for Allan.

My job was to nod and smile and make food and encouraging noises and occasionally hold things and check them with the level ( the greatest extent if me technical skillz).

Our reno lunch is always baguette and ham... With tea.

I cannot tell you how very grateful I am Allan is such a careful and meticulous handyman. 

He carefully thought through all the pieces that need to come together in a bannister.... 6 different cuts of wood in very specific placements, all varying sizes.  He did lots of math, did a full mock up before cutting the good wood (all those painted spindles!).

By early afternoon the bottom bannister was in! 
I could not be happier! 
What a change!

You may notice the second bannister is ... Incomplete..... Yes... Well... Into every huge reno project one should expect... No matter how much thinking and planning has been done .... 

One wrong angle cut. 

After almost 10 hours of work on the tricky handrail on the second floor ...

And with one.more.cut needed..... Yup... Wrong direction..... and the handrail doesn't work.

I was on a soccer field in North Van watching David when I got Allan's text which had several sad face emoticons.

He was so disappointed and frustrated but as soon as the new handrail gets here it will all come together fast.  

It felt like a setback but we shrugged it off... It's fixable.... And in the grand scheme of this reno.... Just one wrong cut.... No.Big.Deal.

In other reno news... We now have a new 50" TV.... which works with the new surround sound..... Loudly.   This room has quite a bit of work still to be done...and we need to find a new mantle!

We spent some time today cleaning up and sorting out and recycling. I think I am about to come into my own with this reno as we reach the "organize and decorate" phase. Today we started trying to figure out where to hang our art.... We have our eye on a carpet and a new piece of furniture for the front hall...and I think we have finally figured out the best way to clean the new floors! 

Robotics is now competing with the Reno for Allans time but we are hosting a dinner party January 31 so we have to be done! The carpet cleaners are booked! 

So there you have it.... A proper set of before and after photos to come later. 

We can see the end .... There is light... And we are loving how it's all looking.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Time to talk

Of course we had a big project to do over the break and we were all committed to working on it together,

And we did.

We worked hard but we were also given the gift of being together for almost 2 weeks - in a fairly confined space and lots of time to chat.

As a mom of two teens I feel the ever present tick tock of time as a family all living at home running out.......and so this time to be together and do something together was precious.

We are not a retiring bunch so there was plenty to talk about and we had some engaging discussions about:

1.  What to eat and when and who was cooking....... our favourite answer was Bacon, now and Lindsay.

2.  We discussed music a lot..... certain lyrics (Hozier etc) and the meaning of certain songs.  It was interesting to hear from the kids how social media has made artists intentions explicit (just check out their music videos, podcasts and instagram to know what their point is)..... no need to drag the needle backwards across the vinyl anymore it seems.

3.  We discussed school a lot - as we do in this house.  I am always fascinated about what the kids perceive about their teachers, their courses and their learning.  And boy they make us laugh imitating funny.

4.  We talked about Lindsay graduating and my lack of readiness for this which, it seems, is irrelevant to her.  As it should be I guess. Sniff.

5.  We dreamed about and discussed Lindsay and my trip to New York City at Spring Break and I marveled at the speed at which she and David can do research on their phones - all hail the Google!

6.  We talked about church and life and friends and family and world politics and movies......

7. We encouraged one another, we told jokes and delivered some great zingers - we are a family of sharp wit and tongues that sometimes have to be reminded to be gentle and kind.

8.  Of course we discussed the merits of DIY vs hiring experts.......more than once.....

We may be more weary than we should be after a "break" but we had precious time in fellowship with one another.......some families might do that on a beach in the tropics......we do while flooring and painting.....either way I am grateful for the time I had to talk with my family.