Sunday, April 27, 2014

Classified (S)ad

We have a little cabin in the woods beyond Hope.

Hope BC.

"We" being my parents with occasional sweat equity from "us" by which I mean Allan. (Read Here and Here and Especially here  for evidence)

I have mostly contributed with ideas and project management with some minor roles in fire maintenance, food prep, cleaning and couch warming.

Also napping and drinking wine.

We have a journal at the cabin in which 20 years of visits and visitors have recorded story upon story of adventures both good and ..... less good.

We headed up there this weekend to offer our home stay student from France a quintessential Canadian experience.  Added to the log cabin in the forest we found an old fashioned diner with huge burgers and bigger milkshakes, a lake with backdrop of snow capped mountains, a mighty river..... We even found him a moose - a blue moose cookie...... best we could do.

He wrote in the journal as did our previous home stay from the same school two years ago.  They wrote in french but I am assured they were charmed by the cabin.

Most people are.

Us most of all.  Our children have had the blessing of having a place to escape to, to snuggle into, to connect with one another and nature...... oh the stories.....the many, many stories.......

So when I opened the journal today and read the last entry I couldn't stop the tears.

My parents , with Lindsay in tow, headed up last weekend.... to meet a Realtor.

Our little log cabin is officially for sale.

It is the right time.  For my parents. For all of us.

We use it too little.  It's time to realise the investment.

It's time to enjoy the time we have, hold on to the memories and hand over our little log cabin to another family to love and enjoy and make their own memories.......

We called it "Jabulani"  - Place of Joy.

And so it has been.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Old Yeller

There are some parents who stand on the sidelines of their child's chosen sport and watch.


Clap politely.

Sigh and shake heads on dubious calls.

I truly admire these people.

For I am not like them.

I am a yeller.

I yell at everything, good, bad, slow, fast, sometimes for nothing at all....... I get pretty caught up in the emotion. 

For David and soccer I have mostly solved the problem by not going.  Allan is the coach after all - no need to have the screaming banshee mother along too.

For Lindsay and rugby I often am at work when the games are played and only catch a few minutes - not long enough for more than a yelp or two.

But today I was in for the long haul........ several games........on my own ..... no one to muzzle me......

I gave it some thought.

I took the big camera.

And voila....that 4 inches of lens gave me just enough distance and focus to keep my mouth shut.

Totally shut.......ok ok I cheered a couple of times and I may have huffed once or twice but by my usual standards I was mute!

And here are the fruits of my silence......

Saturday, April 19, 2014


When one thinks of a mandatory Pro D day the word nourishing doesn't usually come to mind.

The principle of "Offering Early Childhood Educators similar experiences to those we hope/expect they will offer young children" was offered to me at a Leadership Institute almost 2 years ago.

It noodled around in my brain for about a year as I contemplated what it might mean, what it might practically look like and if it was something I felt my organisation was ready for.

At the same time I was intrigued by the notion of "Communities of Practice" which is a concept gaining momentum in many sectors and fields......bringing a diverse group of people together to work on a common topic or area of interest.....building both "community" and "practice".

The first thing I had to do was secure time.  My Board of Directors readily agreed to two annual Pro D closures and all but a couple of parents were easily convinced that this investment of time and training in the people taking care of their children was imminently worthwhile.

So my thinking planning began.

Goal 1 - Give Educators stretching, nourishing, filling experiences.

We ask children to stretch themselves almost everyday, to try new things, be brave, find courage, notice things, be curious, think deeply, work with others, negotiate, laugh, rest........  I wanted Educators to have at least one of those experiences themselves so their connection with both themselves and the children would be deeper.

I offered rock climbing, bike riding, yoga, art, crafts, nature walks alone or in a group, a photo walk and a pile of magazines and some cozy blankets for those who needed that.

I was so delighted to see the Educators take up these offerings in exactly the way I had hoped.  11 signed up to rock climb.  Some were truly afraid.  Some were not young.  4 signed up to ride bikes and the squeals for the first 200 m signaled a new or rediscovered skill and delight.  Some set out (in pouring rain) to walk or take a photo walk with me, others stayed at the beautiful UBC Boat House on the Fraser River and drew pictures.  A large group did yoga later in the morning, including me!

At the end of the day Educators reflected just how much the morning had meant to them - to be able to try things they had never done, to rediscover a part of themselves long said though she puts out art materials for children daily she hadn't made art herself in many years and she was moved to tears in describing the feeling.  Some found a new inner confidence from having touched the top of the climbing wall, a feat greater than they thought possible of themselves, another felt some disappointment at not having pushed herself harder..... almost every person took something deep and personal from the morning.  They described how nourishing and invigorating their morning had been.

One at least took great delight at looking over during the yoga class and seeing "the boss" lying on the floor along with everyone trying not to look like a demented pretzel!

And so the morning ended.

We moved venue and on to a nourishing lunch.

I felt very deeply that a catered lunch was the wrong way to go..... honestly who can stare down one more wrap or piece of pizza?  So I decided to make soup.  Lots of warm nourishing soup and bread, that I served and that we all ate together.  I was immensely gratified that that gesture was not lost on most staff, that they saw the soup as an act of love and service.

Goal 2. Build community and advance practice.

We moved into an afternoon in 5 groups each focused on an area of Early Childhood Practice.  Groups made up from across the organisation (people who work in different buildings spread across the City and very seldom interact with one another). Each group was offered time to get to know one another and then to look through a range of provided research materials on their topic in order for the group to decide on a research question they could dig into over the next 3 months and then present to their colleagues in the Fall with a goal of advancing or illuminating our practice in that area.

Each group took its own path......evolved more quickly or slowly, got bogged down or inspired, side tracked or focused...... it was fascinating to watch as I moved through the groups offering assistance and a listening ear or word of encouragement.

At the end of the day 5 exciting projects are underway, staff are connected to one another and to their work as never before (in 13 years of trying!), the sense of community and team work, even "family" were echoed over and over as folks reflected on the day.  Some came with many concerns and misgivings but almost every one left invigorated, inspired and motivated to do their work in more exciting and connected ways.

It was a career mountaintop experience for heart swelled as every person spoke out what thing they were leaving behind that will not help them on their onward journey and what one thing they were taking away from the day.

We are a changed organisation. We are strong and united and we are ever more deeply committed and equipped to live into our vision of "Changing the World by Honouring Childhood".

I couldn't have done it without my work team of Senior staff especially Jennifer and my home team of family and friends, Yogi Janice Triffon.  To Ann Pelo and Anne Marie Coughlin who gifted the Principle to me in London Ontario.

Deep gratitude to them all.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Food

"Please pass the happy pig"

A phrase heard in my house these days.

Soon to be added to with "Please pass the happy veggies".

We have made a commitment to buy some locally farmed, organic, happy food.

And I don't use the word commitment lightly.

Both were decisions we wrestled with and thought about.

Of course we knew we wanted to eat happy, local, organic food while supporting local farmers and the local economy and keeping ourselves healthy...... not hard to want that.

It was the value for money that gave us pause and still gives me pause even after plonking down some serious cash.

What has been required is a mind shift for me and for our family budget.

We have had to come to the fact that we will have to eat less meat generally to eat happy meat.

We have come to accept that our portions will be smaller as the taste is richer.

We have come to find ways to use unfamiliar cuts of meat and unfamiliar and less desirable (to us) vegetables.

We have come to understand that funding the farm ahead of the season makes perfect sense, its an investment in our summer eating.

I am grateful that we can make these choices for our family.  I feel those who can do should so that this way of eating and "shopping" for food becomes more widespread and hopefully more affordable so more can make this choice for their families.

Last night we used part of our happy local quarter pig we had never heard of  before but that turns out to be a staple part of Italian cuisine (smoked jowl??).... Lindsay did the research and David made the recipe....and it was delicious!!

If you are interested in sourcing your food locally and sustainably check out local farms and farmers ... there is a global movement to this way of eating.

For Lower Mainland folks I offer the following links:
Meat and Veggies
CSA farms across the Lower Mainland

Saturday, April 12, 2014

That Day

There is "that day" each Spring..... it creeps sense it's coming..... you eagerly check the weather plan, hold your breath and happens.




The trifecta of awesomeness.

So long anticipated.

And take advantage of it we did.

Our valentines gift of a new piece of furniture (the first for a number of years in fact) arrived this week and after several tries, and as we were beginning to think maybe we had made a mistake, we think we found it a perfect home.  

I had so much fun starting to fill it up - taking wine glasses long stored in boxes in my laundry room and finally displaying them.  Cook books, cake stands, candle holders..... 

We rearranged the living room and we love how it looks and feels - it was a very democratic process with each of us giving opinions and muscle strength as we looked at various options.

With the inside work well underway, David mowed the lawn and Allan set to the annual power washing of the patio - all that green gunk sprayed awesome!

Lindsay and I set out to run a number of errands - I have parcels to send to family and gifts for friends to sort out.  We got a couple of new accessories for the house too......please tell me we aren't the only family that struggles to tame the volume of mail coming into the house?

We also bought a number of veggie plants for the garden but most of our favourite sources are still closed so we just got a few things.  When we got home I turned over the soil in the beds to aerate them and warm the soil for planting.  I brought some little plants to add the first bit of colour to the yard - so lovely!

Can anyone explain why we have 3 BBQ's? Please?  Someone?
So with the makeover inside pretty much done and the yard makeover well underway....... we had a lovely dinner with the french doors open and yes.....a glass (or two) of a crisp white wine!

Hello Spring!