Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - All Arlo

Happy 4th Birthday to our beloved Godson Arlo Augustine Fruhling...... We love you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vow of Silence

If you were hoping this was some sort of announcement that I would no longer be voicing my opinion out loud or here in blog land.....sorry to disappoint.

The truth is actually more momentous than that........especially if you know my son David.

David is our second (and last) child and our only son.  He is 12.  He has one older sister who we jokingly say was born speaking.  She was speaking in full sentence at her first in "Thank you for my birthday present" sentences. 

So David decided that between me and his Dad and his sister he just would not compete in the talking department.

When he was 18 months old I had him referred to speech therapy because he did not speak.  They did all the tests - said nothing was wrong - he understood everything and told us the speech would come.  They suggested we use sign language to help the speech development along.

So all through that summer we signed, and signed and signed - we read books, learned new signs and did all we could to get him talking. A course of action we look back on with a mixture of incredulity at our stupidity and amazement at what we unleashed.

On or about his 2nd birthday on September 1, David started speaking in somewhat intelligible sentences.  He had a funny way of speaking but he spoke and within months he had a vast vocabulary.

And to this day he has never stopped speaking unless he is fast asleep.  Literally ...... never........

Long after he is sent to bed and I am in my own bed next door I can often hear him talking softly....and early in the morning (I swear before his eyes are open) he is back to the quiet babble.  We hear him talking in the shower, when on his bike in the alley......he talks all the sometimes drives us crazy!!  He processes his world out loud....we are so used to his babble that we often tune him out and then we miss the insightful commentary he often has and the deep questions and wide-ranging curiosity.

I have offered him cash for a few minutes of silence.  Be careful what you wish for........

So when he told us he was taking the Free the children Vow of Silence we were taken aback.  Ok truthfully Allan and I locked eyes in wide amazement and I know we were both wondering if this was even possible! He told us at WE day he learned about this and that he wanted to stand in solidarity with exploited children.

We won’t stand by while children are subjected to exploitation, poverty and the denial of their basic rights. Every day, millions of children are silenced by these abuses. But we can take a stand for children everywhere.
The Vow of Silence is Free The Children’s annual fundraising and awareness-raising campaign that engages tens of thousands of participants to stand up for children whose rights are not being upheld.
From Toronto to Mexico City, London to San Francisco, Beijing to Jakarta, Vancouver to Sydney and back, on November 30, 2011, young people will go silent for 24 hours in solidarity with children who are being silenced by poverty and exploitation. For Vow participants, being silent can mean refraining from speaking. It can also mean not using email, Facebook, Twitter or text messaging. It can even mean not using hand gestures, note writing or any communication at all.

We so love the heart David has for people especially those smaller and weaker and poorer than himself and we love his desire to be such a helper.......but 24 hours of silence is a very tall order for this kid.......a very great sacrifice to make.  He is actually missing a party he very much wants to attend because he knows he will slip up if he goes.  He even negotiated with me how to let me know he is at school safely without texting me.

We are proud of you David for standing up for something you believe in and for making a sacrifice to raise awareness and money for children with so much less.

We will contribute to your cause....gladly....and not just because it will be quiet in our house.... and we can't wait to hear your voice again....honestly..... xxxx

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Just a few of my favourite things....

Seeing as we will be away for a week in December - the week before Christmas....we are not getting a Christmas tree.  So we are not doing all the usual Christmas traditions and decorating.

You will know that parting with traditions is hard for me.  I will miss the smell of the tree and the decorations that I pull out each year and remember who gave them to us or which kid made them.....and we always have pizza on the night we decorate the tree.

So last night David pulled out the Christmas rubbermaid boxes and I picked just a few of my favourite things to decorate with.  I had a lovely quiet hour doing my thing, listening to Christmas music and decorating.

One of the things I love the most is putting out our manger scene.  Allan built a stable years ago and I have a pretty hokey dollar store set of figurines.  The animals and the people are disproportionate. But I love them.  I also love the old crinkly tissue paper I wrap them in every year.  As I unwrap them each year I smooth out the paper and use it over and over again - I love how it feels.

So the house is as "Christmassy" as it's going to get this year and that's ok. 

I am sure the Mai Tai's will be a great substitute for eggnog!

I love my bannister

The stable

We only put baby Jesus in on Christmas morning - its the first thing we do

Allan carved and painted this guy.

David made this mitten hanger which I use for stockings

The reason for the season!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Soggy Day

The brief respite of sun yesterday which lifted spirits and gave hope was over all too soon as the "Heavy Rainfall Warning" arrived this morning. 

Not just rain.

Sideways, soaking-to-the-skin, gortex-defying rain. And cold.

Lindsay and I worked out indoors while Allan and David braved the outdoor soccer fields.  After a morning of chores and many petitions for the rain to take a break for the afternoon.......we headed into Steveston to volunteer for the community Movember "Whisker Weekend"

Two very fine young men have worked their butts off to get businesses to participate in giving Mo-deals this weekend for the good cause of raising money and awareness about mens health.  It was great to see the list of participating businesses grow and grow and today we hit the soggy streets with maps and details of the mo-deals.

Sadly few people want to stop and hear about deals as they dash through the raindrops, heads down, hoods up, umbrella's braced...... but our great little team of volunteers did a fine job and were rewarded with hot chocolates to warm up as they dried out.  I got some shopping done at the stores offering deals.

And the rain continues.

I don't mind it so much now that I am home, my hair and my jeans have dried and the fire is cheerfully burning in the fireplace.  And I ate a couple of great mini donuts from Outpost Mini Donut Company - the Manly Man Bacon Maple ones may have ruined my life actually.......they are too yummy for words!

So as we each do our "thing" - Allan writing a paper for University, Lindsay doing her hair and David supposedly cleaning his room (although it seems a tad too quiet up there) and me about to put on some Christmas music and do some Christmas decorating .......I am grateful for a cosy, warm house on this dark and rainy night.

Friday, November 25, 2011

5 minute photo shoot

Yay yay it's Friday
The sun came out after a week of stormy, rainy, windy weather.
I took a 5 minute detour when driving David to school and this is what I got........ I am  pretty happy ...... and seeing as I missed Wordless Wednesday ( as Rosie pointed out) you go!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I was chatting with my friend Joyce today about how we don't seem to have enough rituals with children these days....... those little celebrations or rites of passage that cause us to stop and celebrate a moment, an achievement, a person.

I am all about traditions.....I LOVE traditions.......I will go out of my way (like waaaaay out of my way) to make sure these traditions are honoured in our family.   And I see from reading other blogs and chatting with friends that many families have those things that make them uniquely them.

Two rituals came to mind.......

In my work in Early Childhood Education we now often engage with children over project work that might go on for weeks.  We follow the children's interest in something and keep offering them ways  to look at the topic in new ways and with different tools and art mediums.  One centre that I look to as a role model (and which I am so excited to travel to the States to visit in March 2012) always holds a tea party when their project is finished.  They have special tea party cups they use only for these special celebrations when they share their work with the other children and teachers and their families.  I have seen video of the honour given to that ritual and the way the children feel so validated.  I will bet that those children will remember that ritual for many years to come and the feelings of pride and contentment it brought.

The second ritual is one I remember as clear as day and yet is happened in 1975 in my first year of schooling.  I attended a convent (though I was not catholic my parents wanted this school for its small class sizes and good academics).  Sister Hildegarde was my teacher - a tiny pixie of a Nun with a wrinkly face that was always either smiling or worried. 

Sister Hildegarde had a birthday ritual. 

My birthday must have been one of the first in the year but I can still recall the whole thing. 

You got to come to the front of the class and stand on a bench.......this was , of course, usually forbidden so this was already exciting.  Then you got to pick two friends to come and stand on the floor next to your elevated position.  Oh the power of being able to pick whomever you wanted , the power to bestow friendship....... I remember I chose Justin and Candice (we were bonded as we were the 3 protestants in the class and sat like three little peas on a bench outside when the catholic kids did confession three times a week).  Justin and Candice got to hold two huge (in my memory) candles - almost as tall as they were and with a gold decoration in the middle.  Sister lit the candles, the class sang and then Sister solemnly presented me with a diary. It was thick and heavy and had a maroon vinyl cover (it was also from 1972 but that was completely beside the point) and I felt so honoured.  

I felt like I was the most special girl in the universe for those moments and I can recall them as clear today 36 many years later.

How cool is that? 

I know my own kids will have similar memories from things we always do.....although as they grow older it's hard to hold onto to some of those.....I think it's also an opportunity to create new ones with them while we have them for a few more years yet!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I said "No" and the world didn`t end.

I have a hard time saying ``No`` to things. Actually mostly hard saying "No" to people...... 

Allan always asks is the N or the O you have trouble with? 

I get it's a small word but it can be really hard to say (except for the toddlers in the room next to my office - they have it down pat! - when do we lose that ability?)

In those personality profiles one can do (and which Allan has just been doing at University) I am the do-er, the problem-solver the action focused, end goal gal. I forget the initials but basically Type A over-functioner-ish.

My own personal philosophy is that if it is worth doing it`s worth doing well.  So not only do I say ``Yes`` to things (some things I shouldn`t) I do those things as well as I can........ otherwise what is the point.?

But there has come a point at which my plate is a bit too full (some might argue this point came a while ago) and I had to say ``No`` to something.  Funnily enough it`s something I didn`t want to do in the first place but once I started it I have really enjoyed it........alot.  So it was with a heavy heart I came the the conclusion that when I return to teaching in January (one night a week on top of my full-time job and part-time business) I just can`t continue leading my junior youth group......

Although it was hard to say no..... I nearly caved many times........ I do think this is the right call for me and for my family.  When resources are stretched they need to be most preserved for those closest to me and with all that is going on in my family and with my kids.....this was the right things to do.

This is the second time recently I have said ``No`` to something and the world didn`t end.  I wasn`t wracked with (much) guilt and angst either.

Am I finally growing up?

I will likely always be the personality type I am now, hopefully a little smoother around the edges, a little more self-regulated, a little slower to speak and quicker to listen and maybe less controlling.  I am trusting someone else will pick up the ball for junior youth and all will be well.......maybe better..

Do you have something you should say ``No`` to?

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Don't panic - I am not giving you homework........I am though going to gripe about homework for a minute.

I get it.....I know homework is necessary, I may even concede homework is good for reinforcing learning, for the discipline of taking responsibility for your own learning. 

I have always parented by the understanding that homework is a contract between the teacher and the child and I have tried, for the most part,  to stay out of the fray.  I check in everyday about what is due and when and only sign off on work I see is complete.  When my kids have dropped the ball I let them work it out with their teachers.

Just lately it feels to me like homework is ruling our home and our family life. 

I don't know if it's that David is in a new school or that Grade 7 is just a normal jump in homework but he is consistently doing 1-2 hours of homework everyday and yesterday he pretty much worked 4-5 hours on a project.  He is done so his Sunday is free.

Lindsay is in a big hole academically in what we are calling "the post-France slump".....she got behind, got overwhelmed and is now working hours and hours on backlogged assignments and tests and quizzes she missed as well as trying to keep up on her current workload.  She will have worked over 8-10 hours this weekend.

And then there is Allan's double whammy - not only does he have piles and piles of tests and homework to mark, total and enter,  he also has a lot of  homework for his University courses.  I expect he will have worked 10 hours this weekend and he just told me he has to do 2 assignments while we are on vacation in  Hawaii. What!? 

So I am feeling pretty bitter about homework today. 

I feel like homework stole the weekend. 

Being the only person not doing homework this weekend I should have the least to beef about but I missed my family.  No adventurers with me.....I went shopping on my own....which was nice but would have been nicer with a sidekick or two......

I am hoping we can pull off a "Family Movie Night" tonight.  This long ago established event means "feast food" as our kids have always called it.  I make a variety of dishes and we put them on the coffee table and munch our way through a movie.  I think tonight we'll put on the fire and our PJ's and munch while watching Cars 2.......

Take that homework........ see you tomorrow no doubt......but tonight is ours!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A song for your Saturday

 Lyrics to This Is The Stuff :

I lost my keys in the great unknown
And call me please 'Cuz I can't find my phone

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

45 in a 35
Sirens and fines while I'm running behind

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

So break me of impatience
Conquer my frustrations
I've got a new appreciation
It's not the end of the world
Oh Oh Oh

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff
Someone save me
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
And I've gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

Oh Oh Oh Oh
This is the stuff You use

Friday, November 18, 2011

Go Vote!

It's time to elect the people who decide how your neighbourhood will look, what transportation will be available, what public art will be created, what your property taxes will be, who will fight for better school buildings, better recreational facilities......these are people making decisions that impact you close to home....please don't be part of the 78% who blow this election off. 

I know we all have busy Saturdays but it won't take you long to go and vote. 

I know some people feel they don't know the candidates and the platforms - I know there are lots of people running and its hard to keep track of it all but 15 minutes on the Richmond Review or Richmond News websites will give you a good sense of who stands for what.

Regardless of their political stripe these are people who care enough about our City to spend mostly their own money and hours and hours campaigning to make it a better place to live.  They are our neighbours, friends, colleagues....they deserve, at the very least, the respect of us showing up and voting.

Hats of to all the candidates - elected or not - Richmond is lucky to have people who do this work.

If you really don't know how to vote by Saturday and you live in Richmond - call me.......  OK..... now no excuses!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blog Madness

This blog is quickly approaching it's first birthday and I have been reflecting on it.  I truly did not have any expectations of it other than to chronicle our lives as our own digital scrapbook and also to give me a chance to write.

Some things I have found/learned/pondered/been amazed by:

1. I have written far more posts than I expected - it will be over 300 by the end of the year.  I can honestly say that I never struggled to find the topic or the words....the most surprising things came to me just when I sat down to write.

2. Finding the time has been challenging but doable. I often write late at night and post the next day but I have never written several posts ahead.

3.I write many blog posts in my head in the middle of the night that are so much better than the ones that I end up posting.  I need a direct brain to blog device.

4. I am over the panic of not posting for a day or two......if I have nothing to say or no time.... well.... no big deal.

5. I don't think I will ever be over my surprise at how many people read this - from across the globe.  Just yesterday the USA surpassed the Canadians as top viewers.  The list of countries from which people come is astounding......hello Bulgaria!

6. I will also always be surprised at which blog posts go viral and which are ignored....I have tried to guess.....and I am always wrong! 

7. I allow anonymous commenting on my blog - many don't - I get way more conversation on my blog via Facebook than on my actual blog and I know those people. There have been some touching and interesting comments this year.

8. I love reading back over my posts - it truly is a diary of my life and I love it for that. 

9. I have become a blog reader - I follow several blogs and sometimes just troll through blog land reading.  I am irritated by abandoned blogs littering blog land - if you are done, archive it, print it, whatever and delete.  I am blown away by the number and diversity of blogs.....there are a lot of people with a lot to say!

10. I want and need to spend more time exploring the "blogger" platform - I have a sense my blog could look better and be more streamlined - I think that will be my goal for the second year of my blogging.

11. Blogging had made me a better photographer.....I love capturing the ordinary, everyday moments and I think it will be cool for my kids to look back on ordinary days as well as big days and vacations and special moments.

12.  I don't think my writing has really improved or deepened in skill or creativity and maybe a blog isn't the right place for that.  I am pleased to be in the discipline of writing often.  Now I need to hone my skills.  There is still a book in me somewhere.  I just hope there is an Editor equal to the task!

13. I am humbled by the people who read what I write - I feel at once deeply grateful and somewhat embarrassed or shy.  It still takes me aback when I am telling someone a story and they interrupt me and say "Oh I know - I read it on your blog".

So thanks for being on this journey with me...I appreciate you and I'd love your feedback.....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The weekend of 11-11-11 in review

Weekend Top 11 review

1. A slow start to Friday.  Allan was a robotics "thing" at Science World all day.

2. I got the backyard cleaned up and the furniture stored for the winter. And everything secured before the coming wind storm.

3. Was driving around in the midst of a feirce windstorm - got some amazing photos (See Wordless Wednesday this week).  Actually had a pretty photo focused weekend (pun intended)

4. Dinner at my parents - a lovely meal - great conversation (and luckily electricity!)

5. An eerie drive home through many dark subdivisions where the power was out - no street lights or traffic lights.

6. Not having to go out in the pouring cold rain to soccer on Saturday (I am so thankful Allan took David)

7. Circle Craft Christmas Market- humbled by the talented people out there who create such amazing, beautiful and ingenious things.

8. A new restaurant - Nuba - Lebanese food - interesting but not as good as our beloved Habibi's in Portland.

9. My first time at the Steveston Winter Market followed by a wander through the village where I got craft supplies which alluded me all weekend, veggies, a few more Christmas gifts and a very good coffee.

10. One photobook completed, good progress on another one

11. A lovely roast dinner cooked by Allan followed by another episode of "Once Upon a Time" which continues to be interesting to watch and this week had lots of shots of our little piece of the world.

Now into a crazy busy week......

Saturday, November 12, 2011


After a stormy, windy day yesterday today is the kind of grey, cold, soaking wet day that Vancouver is so (in)famous for in November (and to be fair we have had relatively few this Fall so far). 

We snuggled in bed as long a possible before the chores of the day could not be ignored any longer. 

The boys had to go off to a soccer match in Burnaby and will be soaked and freezing when they get home.  Lindsay and I had an unsuccessful time trying to find some supplies for Christmas presents we are hoping to make ourselves.

As I have previously established in this blog I am craft-deficient - I have great ideas, great plans but am easily discouraged when things don't go as the You Tube tutorial video showed!!  Today we just could not find two crucial ingredients and I am frustrated.

My children may not, in their adult years, be able to recall much of my baking.  Here too I suffer from a deficit and am not overly adventuresome in the baking department.  Although in my own defence I have pulled off a couple of epic desserts in my time (with equally epic portions of stress and anxiety!).

But I am counting on the fact my children will remember Mom's Cheese Muffins......we fondly call them Mom's Best Ever Muffins.....ok........ I make them call them that!

Its a recipe out of a magazine that I cut out about 20 years ago and glued into my "Recipe File" when I was an idealistic young homemaker.  sigh.  I even wrote "excellent" next to the recipe......

I have made them so often now I know the recipe by heart.  Its a basic recipe that can be changed up in any number of ways.  Today I have 4 different kinds of cheese in them, most often I do cheddar and rosemary.....

So when the boys get home there will be warm Mom's Best Ever Muffins and a warm pot of tea to take the chill off and warm them up before we head downtown on the train to the Circle Craft Christmas Market which we love! want the recipe?  OK!

210 g flour
30 ml sugar
15 ml baking powder

Sift into bowl.

Beat together
190 ml milk
80 ml oil
1 egg

Make well in centre of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredient and mix until just combined.

Here you can add the cheese/s, rosemary, cranberries, chocolate chips........whatever you like.

Will make a dozen small muffins - I like to make 8 bigger ones - 2 for each of us and none left over - they don't keep very well anyway!
Enjoy your Best Ever Muffins