Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Not Wordless Wednesday.....TO THIS DAY....

Today is Anti-Bullying Day...... we have much work still to do to stop bullying......I encourage you to watch this video that is painful and poignant and powerful....Let it move you to ACTION

Monday, February 25, 2013

Another Weekend Whizzes by

It's a bit of a "thing" in my life that the busier I am the busier I get......  Work is insanity at the moment, home is busy is busy.

But instead of relaxing on weekends like a normal person might,  the last few weekends have been busy too, by my/our own making in some cases.

This weekend was no exception.

Weeks ago we decided to have an Oscar Party.  We love to throw parties - especially on themes. We started well, lots of gold card for invitations, gold plates and napkins and all manner of ideas for red carpets, photo booths etc.  But we neglected to make and send the invites. 

So on Thursday or Friday I sent out a tacky but effective Facebook and Email invite and we quickly assembled 15 guests. Of course this left NO time for all my grandiose ideas for decorations which ended up being a gold tablecloth and the aforementioned gold plates and napkins.  I also printed out Oscar Ballots and an "adlib" acceptance speech which my friend SG rocked and received her Golden Bunny (thank you Lindt chocolate).  I don't think anyone but me really missed all the decorations.....
but I assure you this was just a momentary lapse.

And so for the food......we are notorious over caterers and this party was no exception. Although I was pretty sure my assualt on Superstore had taken care of the food Allan felt the need to try 3 different recipes all with 3 different types of dough (one for the first time) on Sunday with mere hours to the Oscars starting.  So we had way too much food but it was all delicious (especially Allan's mushroom turnovers and curried beef empanadas) and amazing and we have enough leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner today and likely tomorrow!

It was a fun evening, a little chaotic as usual but I was glad we did it....we have such great friends.

The rest of the weekend was a blur of soccer, coffee, driving teen girls around the town, coffee, chatting with friends, coffee, shopping for food, coffee, cleaning the house, coffee, laundry..... I managed both my weekend runs and a Jazzercise class and we had a lovely dinner at Steveston Vietnamese on Friday night and went to a good concert put on by the Richmond Ochestra and Choir on Saturday night.

We fell into bed last night tired but happy.

Not exactly rested for the week ahead.

But when has they ever stopped us.

And there is

Friday, February 22, 2013

Beach # 13

Around this time of the year practically every cell in our family's collective beings are screaming for a BREAK.  Family Day was a nice addition to the Christmas-Spring Break sprint but it was insufficient to stem the desire to GET OUTTA HERE.....preferably to the sun.

I am not going to lie......I wish we were heading to Disney (and our affable OC friends of course)'s my Disneyosis kicking in. (funny how I wrote that post on Feb 25 2011 and here it is Feb 22!)

BUT of course we are madly saving for a BIG overseas trip at the end of the year and while we have paid for tickets already we need a fair chunk of change for a month of vacation (while Allan is on unpaid leave) as well as covering expenses at home and kenneling the hound etc...) so we are all resolved to sucking it up and enjoying a quiet year with maybe a few trips to the Cabin or just enjoying a couple of staycations.


I just couldn't do it.

I booked a 3 night 4 day mini vacation during Spring Break.

I didn't even consult....I just did it.....and by the whooping and hollering everyone was PRETTY happy about it.  

Even Spanner.

Who is also coming.

Which just goes to show how far I have come as a dog owner that I would want to take the silly monkey puppy with us especially as it requires a lot more work to find perfect accommodation with him along.

What made it even sweeter was that as I was torturing myself looking at the TripAdvisor list of the Top 25 Beaches in the World (SIGH - take it from me, it won't make you feel better on these cold grey rainy days in PNW unless you have an unlimited Beach travel fund and many vacation days)  I found our destination is Beach #13 on the list of Best World Beaches!!!  Well I never! 

We are headed to Chesterman Beach in Tofino.......Photos of Chesterman Beach, Tofino
This photo of Chesterman Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor

......At the end of March and we can't wait.  The surfers may surf, the dog will run, the sun may shine which would be a bonus, the fog may hang low and the rain may fall but I love the beach in the rain (I know I am a walking contradiction....).....and there is always the hot tub to warm up in.....

Roll on March Break.....roll on.....

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - In Praise of Pastry

Allan and Lindsay took a pastry class from local Chef Ian Lai on Sunday that was organised by the incomparable Emily Vera.

My thighs are indebted to them all.

Brioche dough made into Challah

Tourtiere in Pate Brise (aka Quebec Meat Pie)

 Apple Strudel


Monday, February 18, 2013

Purple sparkly boots - A love letter

Dear PPH

I have known you since before you were a twinkle in your parents eyes....I watched you grow in your Mamas tummy and I held you the day you were born.

It wasn't that day you stole my heart.....that happened without me realising it.

That first couple weeks was rough and I was so worried about your Mama and so proud of your Dad.  I am so grateful everything turned out well.

I was sitting looking through old photo's the other day and I saw so many of you as a baby.  Your many faces, your pointing finger, your smile that crinkles your eyes shut, your determined nature, they way you found every speck of dirt on my carpet......somewhere in there I fell in love with you.

I think you remind me a lot of another little girl I knew 15 years ago.  You are both beautiful and spunky and hilarious and curious....and yes, at times defiant.

Those are all great qualities that will help you as you grow up even if they drive Mom and Dad a bit crazy at times.

We have had so much fun together on walks and adventures, I have rocked you to sleep, snuggled, run races, jumped off logs, read stories.  I made you walk into daycare with one shoe on because you took the other one off when I told you "No", we have shared many meals and many stories and I have hundreds of photos of you.

I saw these sparkly purple boots on Saturday and I bought them for you.  Because I love you and because your parents are moving and taking you to Outer Mongolia  Edmonton and I want your feet to be warm.

And I want you to remember that I love you like crazy.

 I am going to miss you like crazy.

So dance in those boots, stomp if you have to, run like the wind, twirl and jump and walk.....but always know those aren't just boots, they are a love letter from me.

Love you sweet girl and I hope you always remember the right answer to "Who loves you?"

Lots of love


PS:  I love your Mom and Dad and your sweet brother to the moon and back too.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend Words

Trader Joes 
New Shoes
Quiet moments
Puppy Walks
Glass of wine
Ice cream


Friday, February 15, 2013

A new valentine

Like many others I am not big on made-up holidays that promote hallmark card sales rather than something real but I have had a soft spot for Valentines Day.

I have a soft spot for Love.

But this Valentines day I could tell was going to be different.  

I could tell no one else in my family seemed that into it.

I merrily did my Mom thing and got some thoughtful gifts a couple weeks ago.....planned who was getting what.  I didn't want to overdo it but I wasn't going to ignore it.

On Wednesday night I made up the little packages for Allan and the kids, used kiss stickers rather than tape and pretty pink ribbon.  Lindsay was making cupcakes to take to school and piping them with hot pink icing.

There was no eager anticipation on Thursday morning.

Allan brought me a lovely bouquet of daisies with my morning cup of tea which warmed my heart.

I had to call the kids in to our room so I could give them their gifts (journals for our trip and other small goodies) and cards which I bought this year instead of making them but such is life.

And that was it....... I commented to Allan "How to tell you don't have any kids in elementary school anymore? No sweet, tacky homemade cards/gifts!". 

It was feeling a bit let down as I left for work.

But I was to get a little surprise from Lindsay.  Every hour on the hour she sent me a text with a ridiculous/hilarious/inappropriate Valentines card....... I laughed at some, groaned at some and all the while reflected that I am in a new era of parenting.

Gone are the little people bearing cards with their hand prints, or doily hearts, incorrect and scraggly written love messages..... being the sucky Mama I am I saved them all.

And now I save the text messages that say "Love you Momma" or " Have a good day 143" and all the xoxoxoxoxo's I get on my iPhone screen. 

New love messages.

Time marches on and most of the time I am fully embracing of the new, the joy of seeing my kids grow up and grow into such lovely young adults....but yesterday I was just a little nostalgic....not for the roses and hearts and chocolates and cards but for those pudgy, warm, slightly sticky little people that used to curl up in my lap and whisper sweet breathy messages in my ear and press "treasures" into my hand in handmade envelopes covered with too much tape and kiss me with chocolate covered lips and laugh and laugh at how silly I looked.....

I am ok now with the new Valentine reality until the day someone else captures their hearts and I am not their number one valentine..... that.....that seems unimaginable but I am sure it is closer than I imagine.

For now I will take the text messages and hugs I still get and never take even one for granted.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Family Day Weekend Wrap Up

Ironically I sit here alone on Family Day.

Lindsay is out babysitting and the boys are at Puppy training class in Vancouver.

I was hardly ever more grateful for an extra day off after the gong show that last week was.

I worked 60 hours........and many of them very intense hours.

I have two huge building projects on the go - one in the last 25% of the project so getting pretty intense with finishing and the other in the first 25% which is heavy with design decisions. 

And then our first ever work Pro-D day on Friday saw me driving a van of staff to Seattle for a great but intense day.

Of course this was also the week that I had to teach a double class of 40 students on Thursday night.

And the whole South African trip flights came together thanks to our wonderful travel agent - but we had to make some quick decisions and make some big payments but we are booked for SA.  Now the on the ground planning can begin....which is exciting and nerve-wracking. So many places to go and so many people to see!  We leave Dec 6 for a month.

By Friday night I was FRIED!

So on Saturday I got up and went to do a cardio kickboxing style Jazzercise class at 8am (GH - shut it).  It was an intense but awesome workout.  I am loving Jazzercise this year and getting there 3-4 times a week.  I have learned to make it a priority and I even walked out of a meeting that ran over time 2 weeks ago so I could get to class! Work-life balance yadda yadda yadda.....

David and Allan went off to soccer and came home League champions!!!  Woot woot - What a great little team they have been this year!  Well done coaches and kids!

After that I got to hang out with Penelope and Parker who where as charming as always - I took them for a long walk to P2 could sleep and Allan and Spanner joined us for most of it.  And it was lovely to hang out with the Hofs when they came to pick up.  Don't move to Edmonton....ok??

On Saturday night we headed next door to catch up with our neighbours over appetizers and wine....they did a wonderful job on the food and we had great conversations right up until they told us that they are listing their house this week...... Nooooo (insert very sad face).  They have been such awesome neighbours who have become our friends.  They are staying local which is great.  Of course I spent way to much time in the night imagining gangsters and hooligans in hummers moving in next door with thumping music and drive by shootings...... so now I am pretty sure I will be fine with whomever moves in but if you know any really nice people looking for a fabulous home (with big in-law suite) and awesome neighbours give them my number!!  We will miss you Watsons.

On Sunday the dog beat the alarm but being old we were up before the dog or the alarm - or at least awake.  Church was great and Allan and I went for brunch while the kids were at youth and caught up with each other.

It was a gorgeous day so I donned my running gear and set out for a gentle 3km.  I ended up running 4.5km and it was my best run ever......had a great time.  If only my t-shirt would stay down, my bra straps on my shoulders and my jacket over my bobbing butt then all would be perfect.  Oh and it would also be nice if my feet didn't go numb at the 3.2km mark.  I used a playlist on my iPhone for the first time and it was AWESOME.....I almost broke into a jazzercise routine on the sidewalk once or twice but saved myself (and the public at large) from the horror!

We had a great dinner and Allan and I walked into Steveston to have a drink with new friends.  We had such a great, relaxed and interesting evening.  You never really know how these things will go (the wives were friends but the husbands had never met) but it was really lovely and we look forward to more evenings of conversation and beer.

Monday was a slower start and after a brunch of pancakes and bacon (David ate 7 pancakes) I took Lindsay and a friend shopping and did groceries while Allan channeled his inner plumber and David worked on his Zulu for his oral presentation on South Africa.

Lindsay then channeled her inner Asian and made steamed BBQ pork buns and green onion pancake for dinner while I went to Jazzercise with my friend SG.  All the songs tonight were Grammy winners from last night - such fun!

So here I sit, another busy 4 day week ahead full of meetings, feeling grateful for the extra day off, for my family, for wonderful neighbours and friends, for the hum of the dishwasher, clean sheets on the bed, a quiet moment to write and gather myself, thinking of my ECD colleagues who lost a friend and the ECD field who lost a leading light, making a long TO DO list in my head and wishing my hair would blow dry itself.

Thanks for reading my rambling thoughts - I do appreciate YOU!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A line of David's

I am one of those people who had to give their children names that meant something......that had a connection to something or someone.

It drove Allan crazy when we were choosing names.

When we found out we were having a boy it didn't take us long to land on naming him after his Dad and his Grandpa's

David Allan Wray Byres.

It meant we had two David's in our immediate family and while that has sometimes lead to one of them opening the wrong Christmas present under the tree, it has mostly not been as issue as Papa is Papa or Dad and David is......David :)

I love that they have that connection.  I love how my Dad is a man we would love our son to be like.  In some funny ways they are alike already in ways other than their name.

When David was 18 months old we joined our church Emmanuel Christian Community.  A place we hoped would be a loving community for our kids to grow up in.

We were delighted to meet two wonderful David's there.  They were both close in age to my Dad which led David to declaring, at about 3 years old, that "There are 3 Papa Davids at church".

Both those church David's acknowledged and connected with our David.

The first David F was a long-time barber in Steveston village and gave David his first proper hair cut - sitting on a plank of wood across the barbers chair so he was high enough.  Our David loved Dave the Barber.....never once fussing about a haircut.  Dave the Barber was always so warm and loving with David and always had a post haircut treat as well as a hug.  It was hard when Dave the Barber got ill and closed his shop and harder still when he went to Heaven a couple of years ago.  David wept and we comforted him that He and Dave the Barber will meet again one day.

David D was the other church David.  He sometimes appeared a little tough, with a deep gravelly voice until he smiled and his whole face and his twinkling eyes let you know there was a big, soft heart under a gruff exterior.  This David always said "Hello Young David" to our boy and mussed his hair or gave him a shoulder squeeze.  A straight-talking, no-nonsense man who said what he felt with meaning and tenderness.  This David went to heaven two weeks ago after a courageous battle.

Today I am feeling grateful for all these David's in my life,  for what they have taught and still teach me, for the strand of integrity and faith and perseverance and love they all share. 

I am grateful for men who are great role models for my son.

I miss David F and David D who I like to imagine just had a great reunion in Heaven and are  swapping stories of the many great adventures they each had on earth.

I love my Dad David and my son David with whom I am counting on having many more adventures in the months and years ahead.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Asian Education - On the road again

I have been chronicling my forays into new-for-me Asian cuisine and venturing for the first time into some local restaurants as noted here.

It has been a great adventure.

For my birthday my colleague Jennifer agreed we should go on another Asian Food Adventure (which I wish had a better acronym ;)

So we went off to Dinesty.

Nope that is not a typo.  Or rather, it's not MY typo.  It is the actual name.

In a totally unprepossessing strip mall off No.3Rd I was expecting another dull, uninspired interior.

I was delighted to find a beautiful space with an amazing collection of teapots displayed at the entrance, a glassed in kitchen that is mesmerizing to watch and a modern interior.  As always the tables were jammed in close together and as the lunch crowd grew so did the volume.  It was a lively and lovely space.

The menu was huge and with colour photos of every dish and an English description of the dish.  Very non-Asian user friendly.  The service was efficient but not overly friendly as is the norm I am discovering.

And the food.......the food.

 Devoted as I am to the XLB's at Shanghai River I try them at each place I go now.  These little bundles of soupy, porky, doughy delight have to be done right (aficionado that I am now).  The ones at Dinesty were smaller and I was immediately suspicious but it did make them a lot easier to eat and that is a huge point in their favour (nothing worse than piercing the XLB while trying to get it to your mouth and losing the soup all over your blouse).  They were, in fact, delicious and just might have edged into first place.  Only a few more tasting will be required to verify this.

 The shanghai green beans were salty and crisp and porky.

The shanghai noodles were the best I have had anywhere.  SO good they were eaten before I took a photo!

The beef roll - my newest Asian food friend was fantastic - a crispy pancakey roll with well seasoned beef and some green onion... SO good.
 A totally fantastic meal......

And as Jen was eager to stall me from returning to my office (so as to give my staff time to organise the birthday prank - which was, in fact, an epic, if hilarious FAIL)  we wandered into the nearby Asian Grocery Store called City Fresh.  I found a fabulous bamboo steamer for the Steamed BBQ pork buns Lindsay churns out of our kitchen these days and some Milo (a drink from my childhood which my kids love too).

It was fun to wander around and see all the different items on offer.  Also getting close to Chinese New Year the decorations are up.

A great lunch....Thanks Jen Chen!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Clickin Mom

I participate in a daily Instagram challenge with Clicking Mom's - Here are some insta hits

Prompt: Black and White

Prompt: Sidewalk

 Prompt: Apple

Prompt: Favourite movie

Prompt: Lamplight

Prompt: Dream vacation

Prompt: Transportation

 Prompt: Yellow

 Prompt: Water

 Prompt: Rule of Thirds

Prompt: Faceless Portrait

Prompt: I Spy (do you see the smiley face in the tree)
And all those photos would be why my staff gave me this cake for my birthday!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The weekend of aging

On Friday night at dinner I said "I did nothing today" and my family cheered and high fived me.

I was a little nonplussed.

Of course I did things but only things I chose to do - I didn't run one errand, no groceries, no banking, no appointments scheduled....... I lounged in bed a little longer, chatted with my parents and in-laws, had a surprise delivered to the front door, responded to SO many Facebook messages, listened to CBC.....

Then I donned some of my new run swag and went for a really great 3.5km run. My first morning run.

Then I showered and took my tired tootsies (after 6 straight days of working out daily which may be a new record for me?) to have a much needed pedicure.  It was lovely - the place was quiet - they did a great job - I watched mindless TV and played scrabble on my phone, and read more lovely Facebook messages.

I then met my parents for a lovely lunch and catch up (causing me to put my shoes on before my polish was totally dry and wrecking my pedicure - so I returned to the salon and they did a quick touch up!).

I was home for a bit  and then off for a massage which although a bit torturous feels great afterwards.

Followed by a great family wander into the village for a dinner of BBQ.

Somehow these evening always end in shenanigans.  And why is the Christmas bow still on the house?

It was a truly great day.  Maybe the high fives I got were meant to encourage me to do nothing more often..... something tells me they wouldn't love that after a while.

On Saturday the boys headed to New West and won a soccer game that puts them within one win of ending the season at the top of the league!  Go Richmond FC!

Lindsay and I headed to Granville Island for Family dinner supplies.

But we went via Sweet Spot Bakery in Steveston for their fresh and incredible brioche.  We tried their cranberry and custard

We had a lovely morning buying cheeses and pates and vegetable and fruit and baguettes at the Market and wandered around the shops a bit too.  I love a car filled with bags of wonderful goods!

The afternoon was a whirlwind in the kitchen as my family prepared an amazing dinner that my parents joined us for.

Lindsay made a gourmet chocolate cake with whipped butter cream icing topped with fresh raspberries.

ALL so much love........

On Sunday after church I went for a 5km run in the fog - my worst run ever (out of 5 :) - I was hungry, not well hydrated and cold. 

We did a little party planning and a quick trip to Michaels for supplies before my body called a halt and I spent the evening in bed reading and listening to CBC and catching up on Facebook......

Full circle from Friday morning.......

A wonderful 3 days of feeling very loved and spoiled and grateful..... I think I will do it again next year!

PS: Not to forget this wonderful cake my staff got me on Thursday!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

My one little word 2013

This is my 3rd year of doing "My one little word" project. 

 In 2011 I chose "Content" 
I made this visual reminder

In 2012 I chose "Aloha"
Allan and Lindsay made me this reminder

For 2013 I have chosen "CONNECT"

I have been thinking about it for a while and I think what we all want and long for is connection to ourselves, to others, to our own passions, to faith, to our past, to our future.  

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

I find I rush through my busy life and so often I fail to connect with give myself time to think and be and consider my life, my emotions.  For much of my life I have not valued myself enough to do this . This year I am going to pay a bit of attention to me.

I also really want to invest in my connection with my family.  I feel ever more deeply that these moments as a family of 4 are fleeting.  My teens are growing so fast and the years passing by so quickly.  I don't want to hold on to them too tightly but I want the moments we have to count.  I want to hold them, listen to them, adventure with them, cheer them on....connect.  I want to continue to invest  in my marriage.  I don't ever take it for granted and as we head into the year ahead with much to be journeyed through, I want to do it hand in hand with my beloved Allan who is my rock, my patient sounding board and my gently critical confidante who loves me and pushes me and challenges me.

“Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone's hand is the beginning of a journey.
At other times, it is allowing another to take yours.”
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration 

I want to connect with friends...... more and more deeply..... It is SO easy in this life to see connecting with friends as optional extras or "treats" but I feel more and more they are the substance of a rich life.  A life that is joyful and interesting and diverse.  I want to pick up the phone more often, write more notes, connect on email or Facebook..... but to do it more.

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
Herman Melville 

I am determined to reach out in my community.  I want to reach out in my church community and not be held back by being the new people. Sometimes connection takes risk.  I am going to reach out to my neighbours and hold a block party in the summer in our back alley.  That will be scary and exciting but connecting with one another could build a new sense of community that enriches us all.  


 “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”
John Lennon