Thursday, July 30, 2015

Whistle Stop Tour

My blog has been quiet - thanks to those who notice and messaged me..... I heart that you care at all!

Life is just a LOT at the moment which somehow seems unfair in the Summer when we're led to believe the living should be easy and fun and isn't always.

But I took a break from all that yesterday to have an adventure with three beautiful friends who had never been to Whistler.  What a privileged to drive someone on that highway for the first time.

One thing to do it with visitors who "ooh" and "ahhh" as expected but these are not visitors.

These are new Canadians.  This is their new home.  It was almost a sacred moment.

I thought a lot about where to to stop and what to show them.  To try not to let my own deep love for those mountains, that water,  that waterfall, view, trees, rivers overwhelm the experience for them.  To share enough but leave space for them to take it in.  To contemplate this time and place they find themselves in.

 And to know that while being there, seeing all that majestic beauty, helps ground us but it doesnt take away the pain and grief of the immigrant experience.  We talked about that and a good many other things.  This is a hard journey for anyone and to do it with two younger children even more complex.  Their resilience and quick adaptation is impressive thanks in large part to the careful planning and steadfast love and security of their parents.

We marveled together at Whistler - hot and bustling and tried to imagine it in Winter.  Some of us wanted to see a bear but some of us did not. We played and walked and ate and took it all in.

We had a beautiful day of connection and conversation and as much as they saw and enjoyed another small piece of their new homeland, I too was immensely blessed to raise my head and look beyond my desk and my personal circumstances and see.

See how very grateful we can be for where we live.  For the community and friends we have.  For the means to explore.

Thanks Ladies.  Where to next?

PS:  I may have introduced them to the Byres Jump Shot......

Saturday, July 18, 2015

U Victorious

Our girl is off to university in a few weeks.

She has never been to the university and you can imagine that could create some stress!

So we decided to settle both our hearts and go to university for a day and night.

We took the ferry from Tsawassen just 25 Minutes from our house to Schwartz Bay on Vancouver Island (90 minute ride) and then drove 30 minutes to the University of Victoria. (This is to say she isn't going to the ends of the earth even if I make it sound like that occasionally)

Lindsay got her housing assignment this week but when I called the university they said that that building was closed for the summer. Never one to be deterred by bureaucracy we headed over to the building anyway.  We took a few photos and tried the doors. Locked. Just as my faith was fading a Janitor showed up for the adjacent building and asked if we needed anything. I told him our story and he not only opened  the building but took us up to the fourth floor (no elevator we noted) and opened Lindsay's room.  How lucky!!

Pretty sure axe murderers get more space
And how very important to get that reality check!  That is a verrry small space to live in especially for a messy girl!! It really helped us focus on how to set her up with what she needs . 

Then we walked campus, a beautiful treed campus, and visited every building she will be in and even most of her classrooms .  We checked out the library and various cafes and acquired some "Vikers" swag and good info on books in the bookstore! And another reality check on the cost of said books! 

It is a very accessible, well laid out campus with deer wandering about with their fawns... She is immensely privileged to be going there to study! 

We explored the neighborhoods closest to campus including this beautiful bay and beach just a few blocks away. 

We did a little dorm room shopping while it was all fresh in our minds. It was lots of fun! 

We checked in to our dorm for the night both feeling very relieved we can afford for her to have a single room!! Yikes those are close quarters for strangers to share!!

We headed into Victoria for dinner on a very busy night in this tourist destination! By happy accident we landed at "10 Acres"... An organic, local, farm to table restaurant I had heard about. There was one table for two left! 

We had a truly sublime meal with great service and a lovely sunset stroll with one million tourists. 

Our Provincial Legislature

A decent sleep and a barely decent cafeteria breakfast and we are headed home on a very full ferry!

It was the exactly the right thing to go and see and walk and talk. I think we both feel more confident and more settled although I continue to bat down the tears frequently when it all seems like such a big change! 

Bye UVic... See you in 40 days!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Exceeding expectations

I know those of you with young ones don't want to hear this but parenting teens is not easy work.  Your nights are shorter (if you wait up) or interrupted (if they come in late), their questions are big and sometimes hard, their bedrooms are messy and you can't just scoop stuff up and throw it in a basket (personal space MOM), they are busy people and if they don't drive yet you drive a lot, and if they don't work they cost a lot (even if they do), and you cannot scoop them up when they are having a "moment" and strap them in a car seat and hope they fall asleep on the drive home.

I find the parenting of these creatures intellectually stimulating but often both emotionally and physically exhausting.

It's different from the exhaustion of the early years of parenting but not as much as you may imagine.

When they are little you remember the moments they smiled, walked, said "I love You" for the first time.  Those heart swelling moments.

You get them in the teen years too.

Sometimes they catch you by surprise.

This week I have had two delightful surprises.

I had a big event last weekend for work.  I decided not to ask the family for help.  It was an early Saturday start and it had been a busy week.  My alarm went off and shortly after it did, the morning-averse girl child wandered in to our room declaring she had set her alarm so she could make me a proper breakfast before my busy day.

And she made our favourite pancakes which lured the boy child downstairs and we had a family breakfast.  Totally unexpected.  Totally sweet.

And then  as I started to load the car and sort myself out they both appeared dressed with their runners on and declared they were coming with Allan and I to help.

Wow.  I was blown away.  And help they did for a solid 4 hours.  Doing all manner of chores, meeting tons of our families and staff and being totally lovely.

I was so proud of them and so grateful.

Then yesterday, Allan's birthday, they both worked and then we all got home around 4:30pm and we sat Allan down in the backyard with a favourite beer and the 3 of us worked side by side in the kitchen preparing a lovely birthday meal for the Dad.

We chatted and laughed and discussed world politics, the size of allowable dorm room fridges, courses for next year for David and easier ways to peel boiled eggs.... and so much more.

They made me proud again with their competence and their intelligence.

They are not perfect.....they bicker until I want to clobber them both, their rooms are an abomination, they have more excuses about why they didn't do their chores than you can imagine...but just when I start to think the sleeplessness is in vain they go and exceed my expectations in the most charming of ways.

I guess that's how they keep us from losing our minds and/or selling them to the circus.

I have truly loved almost every stage of parenting (though I have seldom wished to repeat any of these said stages - lol) but I am particularly enjoying seeing their character emerge, seeing them grapple with big questions, make important decisions on their own and become the young adults I had hoped and prayed for.

One lucky Mama!

“I think being a teenager is such a compelling time period in your life--it gives you some of your worst scars and some of your most exhilarating moments. It's a fascinating place; old enough to feel truly adult, old enough to make decisions that affect the rest of your life, old enough to fall in love, yet, at the same time too young (in most cases) to be free to make a lot of those decisions without someone else's approval.”  Stephanie Meyer

“For though, as we have said, all children are heartless, this is not precisely true of teenagers. Teenage hearts are raw and new, fast and fierce, and they do not know their own strength. Neither do they know reason or restraint, and if you want to know the truth, a goodly number of grown-up hearts never learn it.” Catherynne Valente

Friday, July 10, 2015

Oh boy

It's been a hectic week or so around these parts. 

Mostly good hectic but I will be relieved when the first ever SRCC Family Fun Day is over tomorrow! In our annual parent survey the parents told us they wanted more social events, especially across the whole Society, so tomorrow the PAC and I have a fun few hours planned for our 230 families. 

As much as we need the rain most desperately I have to say I am petitioning for a dry spell for a few hours in the morning!

But no matter how busy I am, how many issues arose in this week, how my head hurts from trying to figure out RESP's and all things University ... The veggies keep on growing!

It was my pleasure to head over to the farm for this weeks harvest yesterday! I'll admit I was feeling pretty confident that we are on a good roll with using the vegetables... Obscure ones included!  

But whoa yesterday was quite the haul! And I was picking up for a friend so I was laden by the end! 

And on the obscurity scale this was only a 3. I only had to ask one question and I sort of knew it was mustard greens but the young farming intern called it Mizuna which is a much more lovely name... But it is still mustard greens!

We did get sweet young turnips but those are a pretty easily figured out veg once you stop searching sweet turnips and reading recipes that involve turnips and marshmallows.., EW!

As you can see the beets are back... You remember me and the beets LAST year right? I was feeling benevolent towards all the veggies last night so they came home with me. I hope I don't regret that.

We added the farm red lettuce to our home grown green lettuce, Mizuna, yellow zucchini, raw kohlrabi, fresh farm peas and ate a salad that was all growing this morning!! How wonderful!

And last weeks mint fated great in its little paper towel bed and added to our Mojitos tonight!

And after a couple hours of processing some very fine sockeye we procured locally we have the freshest, localist meal we've had in a while!

Happy weekend folks.. Here's to smoke free blue skies and a needed rain shower or two after noon tomorrow.


Thursday, July 2, 2015


We signed up for 14 weeks of random veggies - its a cool program you can read about it HERE.

It is delightful to go to the farm and meet the farmer and pick up the allotted vegetables that were ready to harvest that week.

One does feel a little foolish when one has to ask "And what IS that?"

A little more so when one has to ask it more than once.

But, brave souls that we are, home we go with a full bag of semi-known veggies.

it's all very well to wander away from the farm stall feeling all earthy and organic and wholesome.

It is less lovely if by next Wednesday all there is is science experiments in the veggie drawer.

From past experience we know it is important to wash, bag, store the veggies appropriately immediately - these veggies are fresh from the ground with no "benefit" of a bath in preservatives so they are best eaten quickly or stored properly.  In the current heat wave this is no small feat.  

Already tonight we have put the fresh mint leaves to bed between moistened paper towel in an open plastic bag - the whole house smells minty!  Most veggies are easily used or dispatched safely for future use.

But every now and then one comes against a veggie that seems daunting.

And tonight I was faced with this.

10 points to you if you knew what it was. I did not.  

It is a kohlrabi.

Thanks to google I found a few ways to prepare it.

I chose to fry it in butter. Duh.

It is not small thing to peel this sucker but once it was smooth I grated it, added an egg and 2 tablespoons of flour and added spoonfuls of it to some butter in a hot frying pan.  

In a word..... DELISH!  A mild broccoli-ish flavour, subtle but crispy and chewy at the same time.

We ate 10.  Between us. (you know the boys are away right?)

Kohlrabi konquered!

We are so awash in swiss chard here in our home veggie garden that we skipped it at the farm stall today but Allan did make this fantastic swiss chard and ricotta and feta tart last week that lasted 5 minutes in our house.

And Lindsay is planning a turnip/bacon bake with the baby turnips we got today! 

It would appear people we use vegetables as a conduit for fat and least we aren't eating the bacon and cheese and butter on their own right?  Do you know how many amazing things are in a kholrabi anyway?  I am sure a little butter didn't diminish the Vitamin B at all.

Hang in there folks - we are off on a 14 week veggie adventure.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Oops I did it again

Happy Canada Day.  

Our home and native land is 148 years old today.

Each year our little corner of the county throws a massive party called the Salmon Festival.  

A large part of the festival, bigger than the Salmon part, is the parade.

I have hardly missed one in 16 years.

And by this time on every one of those Canada Days I am vowing and declaring that that IS IT. 

I am not going ever again.

Then as the months pass, the annoyances and sunburns fade and the nostalgia returns.

I forget that:

  • I get up at dawn on a rare day off and head into the village to secure prime real estate from which to view the parade.
  • the traffic is nuts - like off the chart crazy -  and people forget how to drive and be civil and park.
  • despite having little children seated trying to watch the parade and despite the parade security and police asking people to get back ...idiots like this one persist.  

  • that, for me, once I have seen these two groups go by I pretty much could live without the rest of the parade, especially the politicians and Shafik

  • that despite the howling gale the sun is still beating down
  • that one accumulates more pieces of paper with information and activities on groups one will never hear of again... until the next parade... on the upside one gets lots of crappy candy.
  • I shouldn't have had that early cup of coffee..because 50,000 people+ 2 bathrooms = like I said...shouldn't have had the coffee.
  • there are no sidewalks left by the time we walk home (thanks to the aforementioned parking idiocy) in a rock concert size crowd except everyone is carrying chairs over their shoulders that become weapons of mass destruction ...and its midday sun (the only thing worse would be trying to drive through that...which thousands do but we live only 5 blocks from the parade)

And so it's easy to make "never again" declarations...until you have new friends who are experiencing their first ever Canada Day like these two beauties

And you think "Aww the kids bike parade is so sweet, such a community event...the music, the diversity, the veterans and seniors and hockey kids and, and fire engines...and Sammy the Salmon...

And you make plans to go again. And again. And again.

Happy Canada Day and Goodnight!