24 May 2011

views from my neighbourhood

The boys and I decided to take an after dinner walk around our neighbourhood.

I love this rural neighbourhood...

I love the views...

I love the quirky animals in the neighbourhood...

and at this time of year, I love looking at the blossoms...

and the new babies.

I love that the lilacs are now in bloom.

The neighbourhood is filled with lilacs and as we walked we absorbed their fragrance with every breath.

Our walk also provided us with an impromptu science lesson...

Walking with my boys and seeing the world through their eyes is one of my favourite things to do. I love that they help me by pointing out the beautiful flowers in the neighbourhood...

Their appreciation of the simple things helps me to pay more attention and to try and enjoy things for what they are and not for what I perceive them to be.

I love being outdoors, breathing in the fragrant air, enjoying the simple beauty all around me...

spending time with my four favourite boys watching the sun set...

what could be better than that?

20 May 2011

Apple Blossoms

The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the apple trees are in full bloom...

I love this time of year...the weather is perfect (not too hot)...and being in a fruit growing area, there are blossoms everywhere...

I love standing under the apple trees and enjoying the colours: the green, white and pink contrasted against the blue sky...

But, my favourite thing about standing under the apple trees is listening to the humming of the bees...

the trees are full of them...

I love getting up close and seeing the pollen collecting on their little legs...

and knowing that there have been great losses of bees in many areas...I am grateful to see them here, busy at work...

My mother's ornamental cherry is also in bloom and the blossoms are spectacular...

So, for the past few days I have been soaking in the sunshine and blossoms...

and enjoying a lovely visit with my aunt and uncle from the west coast and cousins from England.

Life is good.

18 May 2011


I know that ignoring my blog after writing about the lack of beauty in my new home will look like I have fallen into a pinkish/beige - can't change a thing -funk...but this is not the case. This past week I have been indulging in a (what seems to be yearly) hobby of mine. I have spent countless hours reading through pages and pages of information on the different schools that are available to my children.

My stress levels seem to peak every May/June.  I first experienced educational stress while contemplating and making pro and con lists between french immersion and the regular local school for my first two children. We chose french...and then on our most recent move we could not get them into french immersion...so I spent hours deciding between english school or sending them each to separate schools accomodating one in french or homeschooling. We chose to keep them together in English school...and then a few weeks later changed our minds and chose homeschool and then had to decide if we would homeschool all or just the younger ones. We decided to stick together as a family and pulled all of our kids out of the local school.

We have really enjoyed homeschool for so many reasons and I thought my decision making days were over...but...we are moving again and I have discovered that I do not have to register with the local distributed learning school - we can choose any distributed learning school in the province. In BC  distributed learning schools are homeschool based but the kids have a teacher they see (or contact) once a week, we "follow" the provincial learning outcomes (which are actually pretty vague), our learning is funded by the province and the kids get report cards and will graduate with a diploma. In my research I discovered that each school is different, which has led to a lot of research. The school they have been going to this year has provided us with textbooks and weekly schedules, which has been great. I have had very little planning to do and we have enjoyed a flexible schedule doing "school at home". But, even though we have loved it, I think it can be better. I find that we get bored and that we don't have time for a lot of things that we want to study or do.

And so...I have spent the week reading and reading and pondering and wondering...which school is best for us?

I think I may have found one. This school focuses on student directed learning (which will hopefully give us more time to explore our interests). I am hoping that it is a good fit. And I am really happy to have a major decision made.

We have a lot of changes and excitement (and work) ahead of us. We are finishing up our year of school at home, I am prepping for my university classes that start June 1st and we are starting to pack and are making another trip to Vancouver at the end of May where I will stare at those pinkish/beige walls trying desperately to figure out how to change them without covering them up...and I am open to ANY ideas...  for photos click here

Keeping me sane and very happy is the daily dose of fresh local asparagus I have been consuming and my first rhubarb harvest in three years. Stress melts off with my daily plate of roasted asparagus...quite possibly my favourite vegetable dish...and tomorrow I am making rhubarb muffins and/or scones...another decision...maybe I'll just make both.

09 May 2011

the week-end

Back from our little road trip to Vancouver...

It was really nice to get away for a few days and spend some quantity time together as a family! I always love a few uninterrupted days with all of us together.

We picked up our keys to our "new" townhouse and tried to navigate our way around the city. While I do love visiting the city...I am not a city girl. I think it is going to take me awhile to figure out where everything is and how to get there as well as how to park our yukon in little tiny parking spaces. We did a lot of missing exits and backtracking but we did manage to find what we needed. I found the local natural foods market not far from where we live as well as a grocery store right on campus that also carries a lot of organics which was really nice. We found the local IKEA to pick up a few inexpensive necessities and also visited the Vancouver Aquarium...which was the highlight for our boys.

they loved the jellies...

and listening to the sea lions talking to each other...

and everyone loved watching the belugas.

We were all happy to find that our new home will be larger than our current home and my 11 year old is really excited to not only have a bedroom to herself but her own bathroom as well...and she is on a seperate floor from the boys. The layout is great...there is one little problem. It is really ugly.

these photos do not do the colours justice...the walls are (throughout the entire house) a lovely peachy/pinky/beige colour and we have dusty rose counter tops. But...at least I have a dishwasher...

All the trim is purplish/beige.

Now, normally, ugly wouldn't be a problem. My husband is a painter/interior designer/finishing carpenter/artist/soon to be architecture student. I love reading magazines and am very good at picking out what I do and do not like. We can renovate (even on a tight budget) when required.

The problem is...we are not allowed to paint. In fact, we can not change anything (light fixtures, trim, appliances...). what is worse, we can not put a single hole on any surface to hang paintings (a little bit of torture for an artist) or shelves or anything that would cover up the walls.

HELP!!! How am I ever going to make this place pretty? I am hoping that once all of our furniture (etc) gets put into place it will improve. But...I do not know how I am going to improve the colours or the lovely living room light fixtures!

I am trying to think of some kind of paper lattern/lamp shade or something that will be able to sit over and cover the fake brass...oh and note the lovely turquoise trim on all the windows. AH...venting.

ANYWAY...I really am grateful to have a place on campus and I just have to keep in mind that we ARE students and this is what student accommodations are...and be grateful that I have not had to look at this kind of decorating for my husband's first two degrees! I also now have a really big challenge to work on...which is good, keeps my brain functioning and Alzheimers does run in my family so it is important to keep that brain functioning...I knew there was a bright side in there somewhere!

We had a great week-end and are all excited to move, which is still a few months away while my husband finishes up working.

 I think spring is finally here to stay...my classes are starting up again in three weeks, I am finishing up the school year with the kids, making sure everything gets done...and I am really looking forward to another Okanagan summer with lots of fresh local fruits and berries...and canning!

I have a LOT to do!

Here's to a busy spring!

06 May 2011


Just a quick note to say how excited I am about taking a little road trip tomorrow (I am sooo do for a road trip)...

We are heading down to Vancouver to pick up the keys to our "new" townhouse. We are so excited and a little nervous. While we have been to Vancouver numerous times, aside from a nine month stay in Calgary we have never lived in a city. We have always lived in small towns and will be sure to have a period of adjustment.

(**warning**...going off on a tangent here...)
Especially me...I am one of the few small town people who always locks and deadbolts her doors at all times...I take after my granny who used to lock the door to mow the lawn. I am a little nervous about the freedoms my kids have enjoyed running around my parent's farm and playing up and down our little street in small town Nova Scotia...I've been trying to tell them things are a little different in the city...without scaring them. My granny always drilled into me how many people were out there waiting to snatch me and I grew up not far from Vancouver in a time when getting "snatched" was a very real possibility (terrible serial killer on the loose). I really want them to have fun...but be safe at the same time. It is hard to find the right balance.


aside from that minor detail, I am really excited about the move to the city. I have a lot of fun memories of Vancouver and there will be so many things to do. My boys are really excited about being able to take the city bus...(I think I would rather take the bus than try to find parking for my Yukon Denali in downtown Vancouver) and I am excited about the restaurants, shopping, sightseeing, beaches (my kids are also really excited about exploring the Pacific coast and making sandcastles "that are really the colour of castles instead of red"). Living so close to the beach should help my kids get over missing the Atlantic beaches (although Lobster season is here and I don't think anything will make up for us missing that!) I am also really looking forward to experiencing university life and going to some lectures that are open to the public.

But...I am getting a little ahead of myself. We are only going for the week-end to pick up keys, measure the townhouse to see what we can fit in it and explore the neighbourhood a little...and take a promised visit to the Vancouver Aquarium and Stanley park. I'm sure I will be posting more about Vancouver and all we do there much more later.

Have a great week-end!

04 May 2011

poetry and moving forward

While I enjoy reading Keats, Shelley, Byron and Tennyson among others, I must admit that my favourite poet is not so celebrated or sophisticated. Ever since I was a little girl I have loved reading the poetry of Shel Silverstein and now that I am a mother I have really enjoyed sharing that love with my children. I love sitting with my kids reading poem after poem as they ask for more. Yesterday I was really happy while we were waiting in the car and my oldest son sat and read from "A Light in the Attic" to his brothers. Listening to the laughter from the back seat was one of my happier moments as a mother.

"Where the Sidewalk Ends" was always a favourite of mine and I checked it out from the library regularly as a kid. One of my favourite poems is in this book and as I reread it yesterday I thought that it really summed up how I have been feeling over the past few years. I fully believed it as a child but then for awhile I became a little too serious and lost that belief. Over the past few years I have been working on regaining some of the beliefs and attitudes I had as a child. Today I thought I would share this poem with you.

It is called "Listen to the Mustn'ts"

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

Isn't that great...I really hope that my children can keep this belief as they grow up. ANYTHING can be - I really believe that it can and I've noticed that the more I embrace this belief the more I am shown that it is true. I think as I became an adult I assumed that if anything could be it meant that it would be easy. When things didn't come easy I thought they wouldn't come at all and so I settled for a life that didn't excite me or make me really happy. Now I know that work is involved and creating a life that I love takes action and that doing things differently can be difficult. But-it is SO worth it.

I always keep in mind what I read in a grad write up once (I can't remember who said it) "Live the life you will have wished you had lived when you are dying". When my husband was considering going back to school someone said to him..."the years are going to go by anyway. In ten years time you can be where you are now or you could be an architect...where would you rather be?"
Which has led us to our current belief of always moving forward. Picture what you want and move towards it...you'll get there eventually and it will be so much better than where you are now.

02 May 2011

off my bookshelf April 2011

I am finally reconnected!

and just in case you were wondering what I have been reading...

here is what came off my bookshelf in April.

Quite possibly my favourite book of all time. I never tire of reading about Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. I have now completed all six Jane Austen novels this year. I think I may make reading all six a yearly tradition...

I will be taking a senior creative writing class (two actually) this semester and the professor advised reading more contemporary novels (most of the fiction I read are classics). So, I thought this would be a good time to read this. I wasn't too impressed and found myself wishing Jane Austen had written more and contemplating reading all of Dickens. I didn't really relate even though the book was about homemakers. I actually thought that the author didn't look too highly upon people who chose to stay at home. I didn't think it was really bad; I just didn't think it was very good and wouldn't read it again.

A book for beginner runners. I tried doing the "no program" program, but that did not really work for me. So I thought I would try this one. I have a strange relationship with running. I really enjoy running while I am doing it, I just have a difficult time trying to get myself out there to actually do it. I think I am always waiting for the "perfect" time which of course never comes. This is a pretty good program. Now to somehow get myself out there...

I splurged and bought a new cookbook...I really like it. There are a lot of usable recipes in here. Some of the easy recipes are things I already make myself and I was a little disappointed to learn that some of my great ideas are not so original. Apparently, Gwyneth Paltrow has some of the same ideas. My husband found it amusing as I read off a few of her recipes and tips that were nearly identical to mine. Aside from the lack of red meat (which my carnivorous family adores) this is how I eat (or would eat if I could afford tuna steaks and duck bacon).

I love the slow food movement. I really do. I read a quote once ( I have no idea who said it or where I found it). "If we are what we eat who wants to be fast, cheap and easy?" I keep it on my fridge along with a magnet of a snail (the slow food symbol). A great book with some really great looking recipes from chefs like Alice Waters, Rick Bayless and Daniel Boulud. I do understand that we don't always have time for really slow food but advanced planning helps and even cooking this way a few days a week helps. I am aiming for seven days a week...I am not there yet but I am working on it.

A lot of cookbooks were off the shelf this month (or actually being added to the shelf). I think it is the change in weather and the excitement I have over the farmer's markets opening and fresh, local, organic food being once again available. Also, there have been some great sales on and I have a very hard time passing up cookbooks on sale...especially when they cost less than the price of a magazine as these two french cookbooks did.

These two William's Sonoma cookbooks were deeply discounted as well and I am so glad I got them. The family meals cookbook is written to encourage those who don't spend a lot of time in the kitchen with family to get in there...which put me off a little (I'm already in there and thought the book wouldn't be for me) until I discovered the great "beginner" recipes like how to smoke your own salmon, cure your own bacon, make your own ricotta and create your own marshmallows. There are lots of really great family friendly recipes that are not only good for beginners but for those who already spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

And to finish off the month...

my favourite magazine...the British Edition of Country Living. I haven't seen an issue that I didn't love. This is my fantasy life.