Thursday, August 27, 2015


It seems like just moments ago we Byres 4 were bobbing in an aqua ocean miles away...together.

And suddenly tonight is the last dinner of just our 4 before things change. 

It literally takes my breath away how quickly this moment is upon us.  

Mostly upon me.  

For I am the emotional flag bearer in this parade.

I am the one marking the moment.  

I think we are all feeling it but when I asked how this dinner might be spent, what we may want to eat, or do on this night of just us 4.... there was a quietness that is unlike us.

It's that fear to not over do a moment.  To eschew the dramatic moment.

To be cool and ok.

But this is a big moment.  For me but also for us.  

What has passed for normal everyday life in this family, in this home, is about to change.  

We don't have to be sad 

But I do need to stop and feel this moment. 

I do feel it as my throat is tight, my eyes watery and my heart a bit achy.

I also feel so grateful for the years we have had, for the way this family has figured out life together.

We haven't always done it right, it hasn't always been easy, we have blown it with each other more than once, we have lied, yelled, been unkind, used words to hurt, slammed the odd door, been more absent than present, had silent family dinners....but we have always found a way to touch the foundation of love we have and find our way back to ourselves and to each other.

So as I sit tonight at the aptly named Peaceful Restaurant, while calling my dear ones attention to the moment, while batting down the tears, I will feel tremendous pride at what each of us have brought to this family:

Courage, joy, sass, wisdom, patience, passion, intelligence, wit, curiosity, persistence, perseverance but mostly for the love. And gratitude that in the end there was much more laughter than tears.

We have so much to be grateful for and it's these things that will sustain us through the changes ahead.  

In Maui the kids kept quipping "Ohana means family and
family means no one gets left behind"... which besides proving they watched too much Lilo and Stitch, serves as a great catch phrase for us..for now..

Family is forever.  New journeys are starting, new things to be discovered and enjoyed and celebrated.  Likely a few heartaches and trials to come too.  Things will be different.  A new normal will be found.

The foundation is strong and deep and enough for us all as we venture on.

My darlings Allan, Lindsay and David, I love you all.  Forever.  

Saturday, August 22, 2015


I have such high expectations of vacations.  I constantly have to tell myself to reign them in. To just "be in the moment".  But I always arrive at a vacation with research and lists. Lindsay is becoming a great co-researcher but the boys are a bit clueless which can be endearing or annoying depending on my mood.

Last night she and I offered 2 possible options and after weighing the pros and cons of each, we settled on Twin Falls, Makawao, Haleakala and a beach, maybe in Kihei.

Solid plan.

The alarm was set for 7am as we wanted to beat the heat of the day for the walk to the falls.

We set out on the highway to Hana (with no intention of reaching Hana) and soon drove into hippy Paia....well known for its collection of quirky characters.  It did not disappoint as we saw Hawaiian Jesus with his cross on his back at the very first  intersection!! I didn't even have my camera ready!!

We carried on through Paia and stopped at the first beach lookout to see the famed surf of the North shore.  To our delight a local lady pointed out two large "rocks" on the beach... Two large turtles having a nap. ( the kids saw a turtle in the water while snorkeling yesterday - so lucky!).

On we went to the Twin Falls and its iconic farm stall.  Sadly the falls were in full flash flood and the upper valley was closed so we didn't stay long.

We took some back roads to the "cowboy" town of Makawao on the slopes of Haleakala volcano. It was so very quaint.. Rural yet sophisticated.  We stood in line at the famed Kimodo Bakery for fresh made donuts on a stick and masalades..... Also like donut but some with fillings....very delish when paired with a coffee from Casanova and enjoyed on their veranda as the chickens walked under the table! 

After a wander and some retail we head up the road.

Way, way up.

Up to 10,000 feet.

Higher than Blackcomb by over 500m and three times the height of Table Mountain in Cape Town.

The fabled switchback drive through clouds layers has the amazing reward of emerging above the clouds and a view of a vast composite volcanic crater that looks like how I imagine Mars would look and nothing like a tropical Hawaiian island.

The highest I have ever been! LOL.

We picnicked in the cool mountain top air as clouds raced overhead on the trade winds and marveled at the views.

We came back down, Allan doing a masterful job of keeping the Chevy on the road through corner after corner after corner... While the children turned a little green and decided to nap instead of vomit... For which we are grateful! 

Once down we headed for Kihei but we didn't really find a beach that called out name so we came "home" and went in to the ocean on our doorstep and bobbed happily until dinner called our name.

We returned to Kihei to the renowned Coconut Fish Cafe where we feasted on coconut shrimp, fish tacos, ahi and Ono fresh fish... So delicious with friendly service and no wait! Actually we have seen no crowds or waits anywhere.

Our perfect 10/10 day ended with Ono Hawaii Gelato... I had the Hawaiian Hottie.  Of course!

Now back for some Pogka to finish the day (as well as quite the thunderstorm and lightening show from the condo) and plan tomorrow because after today ... Well... Expectations are high. Again!


Thursday, August 20, 2015


Maui Day 1 is done and dusted and we acted like tourists at every turn.

1. We drove the white Chevy rental beast to Costco.
2. We oohed and aahed over the alcohol in Costco. And the cheese. And the cost of pineapples.
3. We bought Mai Tai mix for $10

4. After unloading Costco we headed for the quintessential Maui beach... Apparently voted Americas best beach... Kaanapali.  Americans obviously haven't been too many places... It's a nice beach for sure but not the best we've ever been on... Even in America. Just saying. 

5. We found 10 inches of shade in some bushes and sat for 5 minutes before dying of heat and rushing in to the oh so delightfully cool but not too cool ocean.  

6. We used pool noodles but not water shoes. We have some dignity. Also scraped up our feet on the rocky bottom. Tomorrow water shoes for all. Dignity is overrated.

7. We had a sunscreen failure. We are way too pink. Turns out the spray stuff is hard to apply in the wind .  Some of us have very odd "tan lines".  I am going to have to use a UV 2 million on my whole face except for where my sunglasses did an excellent job of blocking out the sun.

8. We actually went in to those stores that say 6 tshirts for $20 (that's $25 CDN) No purchases. Yet.

9. We ate cheeseburgers for lunch. In Paradise. They were great. The view was unbeatable.  We loved old Lahaina and the one acre Banyon tree was a site to see. 

Lunch and a view

10. We came home, swam at the condo pool for a while, BBQ'd with fellow BC'ers and mined them for information.

11. We received a weather alert text warning of flash floods .. not one drop of rain fell anywhere we could see? We took no precautions after the warning of a flood... Instead..,

12. We drank Mai Tais on the Lanai (we have almost flattened 4l of POG too)

13. Relaxed, sunburned, jet lagged and Mai taied... We will be in bed early tonight under the cooling ceiling fans and to the hum of the AC.

Great day. Mahalo.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Check Check Check

You know how it goes - 3 days until a family of 4 leave for vacay.......


Places to go, Places to eat, What to pack, meal plans......

We are on a budget thanks to 1 BA, 1 MA and the CDN dollar miserable to the USD.

SO we are taking food.  Everyone has been instructed to leave 1/3 of their suitcase free for granola, granola bars, coffee, tea, salt, pepper, spices etc.

I am also taking the dry ingredients for pancakes and muffins already mixed.  However I am not counting on two large bags of white powder actually making it to Maui  (I'm not going to argue with Security but I am writing out the recipes for our favourite Jamie Oliver pancakes in case they need them )!

For the rest we will COSTCO.

There are some local foods we are going to eat, fish tacos, coconut shrimp, shave ice, POG, papaya...

But for today... the suitcases are pulled out...the tags from the last trips taken off (NYC, Edmonton, Paris and Frankfurt respectively - #unbelievablylucky)

Clothes are washed, sorted and in piles.

Books were bought in the Village for the other 3 Byres.

We just met the house/dog sitter and she was schooled in all things Spanner.  The CSA box has been gifted.  Now to clean the fridge and make one bedroom habitable for the house sitter.

And over dinner after a lovely stroll to the village and back, freezing bags of peaches for summer taste sensations in December when this is all a distant, waterlogged memory, we chatted about things we were looking forward to in the next 10 days.

I am looking forward to getting a 14 hour Monday work day over and when 4:30pm rolls around on Tuesday that'll be me you will here WHOOPING for joy!

Allan and David have assorted chores and task around the house to accomplish and Lindsay works until 15 minutes before we leave for the airport on Wednesday.

Tired as I am, long as the lists are... this is a part of vacation I love...the anticipation, the googling places and reading about hikes and beaches and shrimp stands.

I'm off to bed now. I started my beach reading already.... Roll on vacation!

Friday, August 14, 2015


There is no way around it but to say I am flirting with a burnout.  I am stressed and tired. Not sleeping and yet struggling to wake to the alarm (as my best sleep starts at 5am). I don't  currently have the energy to get through 5 days straight at my desk. 

I took a half day today and worked from home. The change of physical space makes me much much more productive. I also move around more (making coffee, doing laundry etc.), there is natural light.  And a dog. :)

Today I decided to beat the called for rain and walk in to the village (ever hopeful if I keep up the thousands of steps on my Fitbit daily I will keep depression at bay).

That walk and my time in the Village was easily the best part of my week. Maybe in my fatigue fog I am just so easily pleased or maybe the chance to do some things for and by myself was just what I needed. 

Or maybe kindness, it turns out, is the antidote to stress?

I walked in sunshine and a cool breeze to my pharmacy to pick up some meds.  The pharmacist asked me why I was taking those meds and I told him and found myself very unexpectedly tearful. He was so gentle and kind and discussed the use of some natural remedies to help me sleep.  He gave me time and empathy and just straight up kindness.

I then walked in to a local gift shop needing two birthday gifts for two special young people. I felt uninspired but the shop keeper and the other locals were so friendly and chatty and soon I was getting lots of help.  In the end I found just exactly what I was looking for on my own, but It felt lovely to be there. More kindness.

I wandered on down the street to the Village second hand book store / coffee house which makes a fantastic Americano (and possibly a delicious blueberry muffin:)).  I ran several book titles by the lady and we wandered around the store chatting and looking for good beach books.  I came away with 3 books and as she handed me the bag she looked me in the eye and said "It was lovely to meet you today".  How kind. 

Maybe the village is always like this or maybe those random strangers could see my heart could use a little kindness today.

I don't know what caused it but was balm to my tired soul today and I am so grateful. 

The rest of the day was a zoo with lots of complications and busyness but the kindness shown to me in my one hour in the village carried me through and now having fed my family (I even tried a new recipe for roasted cauliflower dip which was delish) I am putting up my tired feet and doing no more.  Other chores can wait until tomorrow (when thankfully my boy will be home from camp... I have missed him so much). 

It's tempting to start my beach reading...

It's only two more work days and then my vacation battery recharge will begin.   
I can't wait! 

PS:  Just as I was about to post this my parents popped by and gave us a card with some generous kindness in it for a dinner out in Maui..... a beautiful end to the day.  Thanks Mom and Dad xoxoxo


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Late nights

In another way Teens are like Toddlers......both involve night time awakenings...

I have 2 rules.

1) be home by curfew agreed on before you leave


2) wake me when you get in

(it goes without saying that you answer any texts from me while out)

Funnily enough this hasn't been much of an issue in our house.

Until this summer.

Boy have my kids found a social life and a love of late late nights /early mornings.

And mostly it is going well.

I'm increasingly an insomniac any way so for the pre-midnight arrivals I am often awake.

Thereafter it is ....possible but unlikely.

But you can be sure I have some built in curfew detecting gene.  Never fails that I wake within
15 minutes of it.

And let me assure you there is little as Adrenalin producing as a mother awaking AFTER curfew and
seeing the hallway light is still on indicating the absence of a teenager.

No matter how soon thereafter their footfall is detected on the front walk way (yes I can hear that) it is TOO late!

And general crankiness ensues.  To say the least,

If I should be asleep, rare as that is, they gently shake my shoulder and without fail I grab their arm or hand.

And hold on.

I hold them there for a few seconds to make sure I will remember they woke me when I wake up 15 minutes later!

And then I exhale.


And knowing all my chickens are in the house I can let go of the 10,000 scenarios of doom I have contemplated while they were out and say a thankful prayer and sleep.

I love they are out and busy and I love how responsible they are but I don't think this Mama's heart will ever be truly restful until the last teen home locks the front door and turns out the light.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


There are some things parents expect to navigate with their kids.

There are other things they don't really think much about, these things being unlikely so no need to worry about

There are other things parents dread happening.

I am sure each family has different items for each of these categories.

We drew the line at face piercings with the dire warning that if they defaced their faces (most especially their beautiful and expensive smiles) then they owed us back the $6000 for the orthodontics.

They seemed cool with that.

So when Lindsay announced at 16 that we wanted a tattoo I responded carefully.

I wanted to keep the conversation going.  To understand her reasons and her ideas.

I didn't want to over react nor did I want to under react.

The truth was I didn't really know how I felt.

So we have talked for 2 years.  Looked at many many designs. Talked it over with tattooed friends.  Sought some good advice.

When she turned 18 she no longer needed our consent (although she still needs our driving skills) but she kept us in the loop.

She made a final choice on what she wanted and last night, having had a prior consult with a skilled tattoo artist, she got her tattoo.
Signing consent

Testing spacing

Mock up - Approved!
She was determined and brave and excited and calm and I was proud of her.

I have never been a Mama who can watch her kids get needles so after we saw the mock up on her arm I went for a walk with my friend Emily who has done all this before and is part of Lindsay's village.  We walked and talked, mainly about our daughters and about mothering through these years.

And it was done.  In 40 minutes or so.

She chose a quote from Peter Pan that resonated deeply with her "Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?"

It speaks to both her love of adventure and her love of curling up with a cup of tea to chat or read a book.  It's a reminder to herself that both are a gift and both are an opportunity to be enjoyed when she is ready for each.

And it looks beautiful.

She is very happy.

And so am I .

Not just because she is happy (although what parents heart isn't happy when their kids are happy?) but also that we navigated a sticky issue with communication and graciousness from all.

It wasn't a parenting issue I had particularly considered but not one I dreaded either.  Isn't a relief that one manages to navigate these things when there is love and openess and flexible thinking.

Yay us!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Alarm free

This long weekend could not have come at a more needed moment for me.  Two mornings with no alarm clock gave me a chance to increase my weekly average sleep!

Saturday we had no agenda other than clean the house and do some shopping for the sausage making and dinner party on Sunday.

Of course when shopping we found a steal of a deal on corn fresh from the local fields so we had to cook and freeze 30 ears of corn! It will be so worth it to have that taste of summer in the dead of winter!

We had to go in to the City to collect the 12 pounds of ground pork we had ordered for the sausages so Emily, Lindsay and I headed over there and had a delightful "lunch" at Trafiq and then shopped for a swimsuit for Lindsay from the Nettles Tale pop-up store on Main St.  She has been looking at these locally made, body honouring suits for ages and was pleased to finally have one for Maui!

We got the large bag o' meat and headed home happy to find the power back on after a long outage.

Emily had decreed several weeks ago that she wanted Allan to teach her to carve wood.  By "teach her" she meant "teach us".....somehow I was also signed up to learn. Our first lesson commenced on Saturday afternoon in our backyard.   Allan was, as usual,  organised and methodical and we began with our practice boards.  I knew this was coming but it wasn't until Allan was talking and demonstrating that I realised there could be implications for our marriage in this escapade.  Of course Allan has taught me many things over the years but this seemed more serious.  I sat up and paid attention. I am not the most "handy" or "arty" both of which could be Emily's middle names.

In actual fact it was a great hour or so and I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to do all the tasks pretty well although I was the only one who ended up bloody from a nick from a sharp blade! Phew.

We had a beer to celebrate.

We had a mellow evening, caught up with my parents Great Alaska Adventure and another alarm free sleep (clearly I need a few more of these!).

Sunday was all about sausages and staging the house for dinner for 12.

I love getting the house ready for a party and being able to be outdoors on the patio and backyard was great.

With everything ready for the party the sausage making began.  Two batches.  One based roughly on the Toulouse sausage recipe and one an Ancho Chilli and Paprika mix.  Once seasoned one throws the meat around slamming it into the bowl to emulsify the fat.  Then into the stuffer and ages of pushing it through into the casings.....which occasionally split or run out..and one has to thread more and keep going.  Once the long snake of sausage is done they get twisted into links and then popped in the freezer in desired amounts.  It took a couple of hours.

We made small links for the BBQ so all our friends could have a taste of each.  We froze the rest.  It is really awesome to have our own sausages with no fillers etc.  The ancho/paprika ones were the winner in my book.

We had time to shower and change and then our guests arrived.  We had a mojito station and enjoyed lovely appys and then a great dinner of sausages, Allan's smoked ribs which were sublime and delicious fresh salads, skillet corn bread and two summer fruity deserts - the peach pie was incredible and made by our guest whose baking skills are renowned.

We lasted outside until after 10pm and then port, whiskey and peppermint tea depending on preferences until later.

I am always in my "happy place" when my house is full of family and friends and I went to bed a happy camper.

Monday holidays are so great.  We had a slow start and then a great family chat over coffee and blueberry coffee cake Lindsay whipped up.  Lindsay and Allan are off to watch Pacific Nations Rugby while David and I mooch about the house and head of for a walk with my Mom later.

Its another beautiful warm day in the Pacific North West as the hot and dry summer continues.

It's going to be harsh to wake up to that alarm again tomorrow especially as the boys are done their summer school obligations (almost)  and so only Lindsay and I are bringing home the bacon this week.  We are all counting down the days to Aug 19th and that flight to Maui.

A whole week with no alarms!