Sunday, June 29, 2014


Our work.

Our paid work.

Being paid for our work.

These things have been on my mind for obvious reasons - like Allan not getting paid recently due to the ongoing (please let them reach a deal by tomorrows deadline!!) labour dispute.

Like me working a gazillion hours with no over time pay.

But that's life. We'll be fine.  "Normal" life will resume soon hopefully.

However our children have long been wanting to work.

I pondered in THIS post about my feelings on teenagers working through their precious summers and even through busy school terms.

It really is quite normal here and this year Lindsay was determined to get a job.  A real job.  Because sadly taking care of young children responsibly and creatively doesn't "count" as job experience.  She dutifully drafted a resume and I edited it.

She took it around Steveston and dropped it off in various places.
"No thank you. You don't have any experience".  
"No thank you. We want someone who can work days in the Fall"

At about the same time I was on a local FB chat page and saw a local business person who owns a franchise was looking specifically for student help.

I sent in Lindsay's resume.
Then I remembered to tell her.

She was called for an interview.  Her references were called.  She completed a 2 hour in store orientation on Saturday and VOILA Miss Lindsay Byres is employed.

12-18 hours a week.  Ongoing after the summer adjusted to after school and weekend hours.

I am so proud of her!

She is very happy to have a part time flexible job that will give her retail and customer service experience.  I am grateful to a business that gives students a chance.

At about the same time all this was happening I posted in the FB Chat group that I had two reliable babysitters who could also mow lawns (David) and walk dogs.

I was quickly overwhelmed with interested folks in the community clamoring for all their services.  It was a crazy few days following up with so many people and setting up lawn mowing and meeting families for babysitting and pricing out dog walking....... Both kids have been hired - David has a few lawns to mow this summer every couple of weeks as well as some babysitting which he loves and has offers of more in the Fall..  Lindsay has met some families looking for a babysitter and I am sure will be busier than ever very soon.

They are getting out and about in the community, we have met some families who live close to us and the children both enjoy helping others while earning some money.

David is still saving for his trip to France and will shortly be having a garage sale to boost his fund.  And Lindsay is saving for a Grad trip to New York next Spring......and University, of course!

I am grateful we live in a community that allows them these opportunities to grow up and become responsible young adults...... though it pulls a little at the Mama heart strings to see them become more and more independent.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Filled up

There is so much that is a drag right now.

Much I could rage on (and on) about.

I didn't buy a ticket for the Mad/Sad ride but somehow I am on it.

And it doesn't show any signs of slowing or stopping.

But in the midst of all this....this crazy ride.... I have choices.

I can dwell on it.  I can allow it to be the horizon.


I can dwell on things that fill me up and lift my head and my vision to a different horizon.

While I am, by nature, more Eeyore than Pollyanna...... I am here to celebrate some things that have filled me up, lifted me up this week (or so)

1. Rampant honking.   I have honked (hooted for those of you in the colonies) at every picket line I could find.  I drive very odd routes just to honk my support.  Solidarity is a powerful thing.

2. Time with my Honey.  He needs his spirits lifted a lot right now and I have tried to make time to connect and walk and talk with him...... we needed that... we need to know we can get through this potentially challenging summer together. We've got each others backs.  Plus he's handsome.

3. My kids..... yup those sometimes challenging teenagers also make me laugh until I cry with their smart mouths and quick wits and those endless meme's and junk they find online that are both hilarious and horrifying (sometimes at the same time).  The hugs and back scratches (top 10 reason to have a child in the first place is a getting a good back scratch) the valiant attempts to clean their rooms..... lots to love.

4. Friends.  I have had so many wonderful chats with new and old friends, so much concern shown. Friends near and far.... friends who call or email or Whats ap or text .... friends are such a blessing.  I am rich in friends.

5. My house has been full.  I love to entertain and even in these times of austerity we managed to have a couple of gatherings this week.  A tender and heartfelt reunion of several women who once worked with me, years ago - we caught up and shared where life has taken us.... proud to know them and blessed they wanted to reconnect.

The other a much bigger and more raucous gathering of 30 youth and their parents from St. Johns Richmond.  A summery BBQ in a decked out backyard..... I loved having the kitchen humming and the yard full.  Such a great bunch.

6. Work - I have had a new perspective on my much lamented workload  - at least I have it.  As so many around me struggle for work, are out of work not by their choosing etc.... I am grateful for work.  Still more grateful for meaningful work.

7 - 200.  toes in the sand, sunsets, puffy clouds, a brown lab named Spanner, spicy wontons, a starbucks card that still has $ on it, frozen yogurt bought by Dad, family walks, peonies, a new mortgage (soon),  my car getting fixed, casual dinners, iPhoneography,  the fun of moving into a new child care centre, church, helping a stranger, wine (especially as it was given as a gift!), my blog passing the 100,000 views mark, holding a tiny babe for a while, my pillow, homemade

Feeling filled up and choosing to keep my head up.  Will only succumb to brief rants directed at politicians who disrespect teachers........ oh boy.....head up Nicky......Head up....... focus on the good.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Battle Fronts

I remember my history classes in second year university.....waaay back then.

It was a relatively small class with an oddball professor who was engaging and a walking encyclopedia.

He was particularly knowledgeable about the World Wars and taught in a narrative way, telling the story rather than dictating facts.

I still have the text book from that class.  Besides highlighting some hoarder tendencies I may have it shows just what a good text it was.  Highly readable.

As these days have been passing and despite my clinging to the Grace I believe exists even in the hard places..... I found myself remembering my History Professors examples of the foolishness of war generals who had too many fronts.

These "too many fronts" made them weak and exposed them to attack, defeat and ultimately failure.

They had to fall back or reinforce or close on some fronts to advance in others.

While I am no army general I have certainly been a foot soldier these past weeks and most definitely fighting battles on too many fronts.

And yes.... weakened, defeated, sad, times... understanding well that too many fronts doesn't work.

So I have battled on.  Some days more of a battle than others.
Seeking Grace.
Trying to hold it all together.

And lo and behold a few "fronts" have started to close/resolve.

Some not in the way I wanted.  But maybe in ways I needed.

Like losing my teaching job due to amalgamation.  That sucks but it sure does close down one front on which I was "battling"/working.

Like letting go a big contract in my event planning business that has become unfruitful and only marginally profitable.  Another front closed.

Some "fronts" closed exactly as I hoped.

A big deal was resolved at work.  In an incredible way.  I saw that battle front close through a veil of tears. Tears of relief.


Some fronts remain.

We continue to be worn down by the BC Governments treatment of teachers.  And worn down with worries over lost income.  There is true solace in the solidarity of family and friends and we have had our spirits lifted by some truly kind acts and messages and offers this week.  Moments of light and victory in the battle on the picket line.

I continue to be overstretched at work.  Balance is elusive.  Fatigue constant.  Guilt high.

While my beloved family is a constant source of love and support parenting teens is hard work. They are facing the world, the complex world, and trying to figure it all out.  And we are trying to let them do that without smothering them but with just enough support and much love.....its a fine balance we don't always get right.

And no matter what - the kindness of people and the support of community and the deepness of faith shore me up.

So onward .....with trust and optimism that a brighter day, with no more fewer battles lies ahead.  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Teen Siblings

Every mother has this charming little vignette that plays through her mind about how her various children will love and care for one another.

The older protecting the younger.

The younger seeking comfort and advice from the older.

From the minute a sibling is born we pose them together.

We "Awww" at their adorable moments.

Our hearts sigh at their tender gestures to one another.

DING DING DING....... Wake up Mama!!!!!

These siblings grow up.

They fight over stuff and attention.  They love one minute and hate the next.

They catch you up in their vortex of push/pull love......

And then they become teens.  Doors slam.  Voices yell.  Barbs are traded and increasingly advance to "The Line" and once breaching "The Line" of  societal propriety, once again intervention is required.

Contact is verboten and disgusting.

Contact in public grounds for beheading.

Beheading carried out with undue cheerfulness and merriment..... if Mama didn't intervene.

With great apology to the parents of toddlers who look forward to days coming when "Mine" and "Don't look at me" and "Get away" are soon over....... NOT.

I tried to take a nap on Saturday.  My head was on the pillow 30 seconds.  Yelling.  Stomping. Mama wrath unleashed.

Just like when they were three.

Only now they can outrun you, out smart you and you cannot throw put them in their cribs to cool of (and so you can cool off).


Every now and again.  There is a glimpse. A fleeting moment

That maybe most of the jibes are bluster.

That the barks are worse than the bite.

That under all the "Eww" and "You're gross" a tiny seed of love grows in a weedy patch of their hearts.

I snapped this sequence of two of my favourite teens on the beach after a fairly trying 24 hours.....and I can see the tiny seed of love......please tell me you see it too......????

My heart continues to believe my version of the sibling love story..... Love will win!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fathers Day

While it was my delight to take my Dad out for lunch today and celebrate the amazing man he is , Dad and Papa....... my dear husband is absent.

He is, in fact, living the fathers day dream.

A weekend of fishing.

Without the kids.

With a bunch of other guys.  A few cases of beer and some stocked lakes.

Good times.

While I solo parent the kids.

So I feel its only fair - we review his parenting over the years.

In photos........   Happy Fathers Day Allan Byres...... you done good!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Space for Grace

Its been a tough day.

I have felt very much caught in that space between the proverbial rock and hard place.

Its a real place.

Its a tough space.

Its the space between a huge bureaucracy and small non-profit

Its the space between a union and a government

Its the space between a 17 year old and her parents rules

But I think ...... I believe....... there can be grace in that space.

Grace to listen.

Grace to respect.

Grace to speak.

Grace to act in kindness.

Grace to find a way through.

That's what I am holding onto tonight.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Post Conference Day 1

I think there should be a name for the first day after a conference.

A name for that feeling of the first day after a great time of learning and growth.


Scrambled egg head
What the heck now?

I don't know what to call it but it is a "thing".

A full day of conference, an emotional end, a sad farewell to new and reunited friends, two flights across a vast land....... and many, many long and deep conversations all day long left Jennifer and I trying not to nod off on the last hour of the flight, literally unable to speak coherently anymore or even think straight.

And today...... back in the warm embrace of our families, a sleep in our own beds under our belts,  lots to share and yet lots we can't share yet because we have yet to make sense of it.

We were at a Leadership Institute and Study Tour on Pedagogical Leadership.  It was my second such institute and the first one literally changed my life.

Its impact on our organisation over the last two years.... profound.

And history will show that this Institute, in 2014, was another milestone in the development of our work.

It changed us.

It challenged our thinking on so many fronts.

But...... thankfully...... it also validated us.

The overwhelming sense of relief and delight in realising how far we have come, how much we have accomplished is almost as profound as the overwhelming realisation of what we still need to learn and do.

It will take time to sort through our thinking.

To decide on the best next step.

To map out the way forward.

I am tired.  I am delighted. I am challenged.

I am changed.

I think that means it was an excellent conference.

An excellent time of connection and conversations with a colleague.

And now I am hoping for an excellent nights sleep before tomorrow comes and the work begins again.

I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship
Louisa May Alcott 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Vision



Sitting in a group.

My impending trip comes up.

Someone asks "Where is the conference?"

I say "London"

Eyebrows rise, eyes widen.


Now I have to say it.

"Not that England...... London in Ontario......Canada"

People visibly deflate and lose interest.  Some look sorry for me.

This has happened many times to my colleague Jennifer and I over the last 4 months.

So we have come to use the "Lame London" moniker for our destination.

Which is quite untrue and unfair.

It is quite a lovely little city in pastoral southern Ontario......home to beautiful Western University.

And its not like we are going to see much of it anyways.

This is a big ol' country so it will take us all day tomorrow (we'll be up at 4:30am ) to fly to Toronto and connect on to London.  By the time we catch a cab to the hotel it will be ...... late.....especially for us BC girls.

And the Leadership Institute is pretty jam packed.

But here's the thing.

We will have arrived ....... alone (ish)....... to the land of puffy white duvets, big beds to ourselves..... a large tub to soak in.... and..... room service. At the Hilton.

We are truly excited for the Leadership Institute.  I was here two years ago and it changed me as a person and me as a leader in my organisation.  I shed many a tear on those puffy white pillows.  I was alone and I had time to think deeply about our work and my role.  It was hard but it was transformational.

So I am bringing Jennifer this time.

So we can walk the streets of #lameLondon together and cry together and have deep conversations.

And order room service.

It's been a very tough few weeks (heck its been a year if we start counting) for us both and when the wheels lift off the ground tomorrow I think we will both feel relieved to be away for a bit.  Leaving our children in the capable hands of their fathers and our work in the capable hands of our colleagues.

Leaving our phones on airplane mode.

And searching for early childhood education conferences in the Bahamas.