Holiday (think Madonna)

Well,

The end of summer is upon us and the beginning of fall is marked. I love fall days; cool sweater weather with crisp air. We ended our summer with an unanticipated holiday. Our family that loves to camp (every one of my kids have slept in tents before 12 months of their lives have passed) upped our campers lifestyle with the rental of a tent trailer. Without question the person this affects the most is myself. I have breastfed V and R in our tent and let me tell you this is not easy to do. The tent trailer on the other hand proves itself quite accommodating in that regard. Dr. J. proved himself worthy of my hand as he successfully hauled something behind his vehicle. This was his first attempt at this and he was amazing.

First time hauler, Dr. J. parks this baby on a dime…

Not captured in this photo are the trees on the other side that are just as close, the stumps found directly behind one rear tire, and the knowledge this was done at 9:30 p.m. on a night of a 30 degree day, after a 450 km road trip that took 8 hours, with a bitchy wife nursing a baby in the rear of a minivan with broken air conditioning. If conception was a certain impossibility Dr. J would have gotten lucky that night.

The holiday was nice. We were able to see much of my family which is always amazing. We are lucky enough to have some of the greatest hosts on the planet as family and take as much advantage as possible. W and V spent a lot of time rock hunting, and E flew through the trees on the Cypress Hills zipline.

When I was a kid we had The Zipper, not the Zipline…

E and Dr. J also managed to immortalize themselves on the Google Earth camera which was in town filming eco-adventure sites. Look for them sometime soon!

We spent some time in Alberta visiting family in Okotoks and ancestors in the Calgary Zoo

V’s close encounter with the gorilla who interestingly carried that burlap sack up a slope, laid it out perfectly on the ground, and plunked down on it. It was very cool.

Over all we learned a few things about what to do and what not to do on a summer holiday. We learned to have a single destination point when your trip is 7 days or less. We learned to cram as much family into it as humanly possible, while still maintaining nuclear family time. (HAHAHA we are truly a nuclear family now as Dr. J works in the uranium industry…) We learned that fixing the air conditioning prior to a road trip during summer’s last blast might be appropriate. We learned it is difficult to brush out hair knots created by 6 hours of 120 km hour window winds. We learned that 7 days is not nearly enough. We learned that tent trailers are the cat’s ass. We learned to feed your family at mall food courts to increase variety. We learned it is OK to pee barefoot in the woods as long as we are standing on a stump.

Free demo’s by big brother.

We learned that aunties are able to turn cereal boxes into toys and R into ‘robot baby’, the nickname given to R by W.

And we learned that we are madly in love with each other.

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How to Build a Pickle

“How to Build a Pickle”  Guest Blog by: Billi-Jean Miller     Step 1: Find a Hutterite…… excuse the shot of his behind (no disrespect intended) but, the culture frowns upon photographs, so I was trying to take this shot both without … Continue reading

Hello, is there anybody out there? Just nod if you can hear me….

Good God.

It is to overwhelming to even consider all that has happened in the last month (or two). I told a friend this blog has become my fifth neglected child. I have not fed or watered my little seedling and the threat of shrivel has become reality, it looks somewhat like my garden; overgrown, time forgotten, and disheveled. So much for garden learning in my 180 in 365. Well that’s not true, I learned to not try to plant a garden when  you are 8.5 months pregnant, instead get your friend to do it and then let the weeds choke everything out while you breastfeed.  AH HA! Lesson learned.

I had my fourth child on June 13th, 2012. SHE is a beauty and the quintessential fourth child in that she makes very few demands and seems to raise herself. I am sure when the time comes she will spontaneously play the piano and swim without every having a single lesson. Seven weeks into her life and I still panic pulling out of the driveway that I have forgotten her somewhere. Her name in the blogosphere is R.

Life has been interesting. Dr. J. got a new job and is now an industry man rather than a leisurely academic. At first blush I believed naively that he would have more time as his office hours are set and he can leave his work at that office rather than schlepping it home with him all the time (mental if not physical schlepping). I was wrong. I failed miserably in my underestimation of how he had used his work time. His morning time with W and V has been obliterated. I am amazed at how much freedom he had with his old job, although he seemed to be at work all the time. I am confused by how this has turned out and can only hope the family time benefits will be seen in the long run.

As a result of Dr. J’s new job, which was offered at around week 37 of pregnancy, is the hiring of a nanny to help over the summer. Her name is Mindy, she has been with us for a month, and I am already anxious about losing her. I have her until the end of August and then the support staff is gone…I highly recommend that all stay at home mom’s have support staff. My stress level is so low and I feel like I can actually see my kids rather than move them around with one foot as they constantly tug at my skirt.

The kids are all right. W and V love Mindy and view her as their own personal entertainment device. E has left for the lake with her dad’s side of the family and will be spending the next three weeks wake-boarding, water-skiing, and eating ice cream in her new two piece bathing suit that nearly gave me a heart attack as it foreshadowed a 16-year-old girl who is going to be a knock out. I tried not to let the panic show!

This is all I am going to write.

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I must be ready to have this baby because there’s a fight brewing…

All right, that’s it. I have reached the stage where I don’t want to answer the phone anymore so I don’t have to tell someone “No baby.” I am only four days overdue, but it feels like 2 weeks as … Continue reading

Fear

i must be very quiet.

i am pretty sure this baby is going to come soon.

i am scared.

I have never been scared before.

only ever excited and anticipatory

i think of women that have died in childbirth

i think of how much my family needs me

i can’t imagine

Last Night I tucked in my three-year old daughter who at my parting look said, “Why does your face look like that?” I told her that I was just looking at her and loving her.

Then I sat on the edge of my bathtub and wept until I began to cough. I kept saying, “I am connected to the wrong line, I am connected to the wrong line” Every preceding childbirth I have felt this incredibly empowering connection to a birthing line of women who have come before me. I have felt tapped into this incredibly spiritual vortex of the original girl power. With this pregnancy I have failed to make that connection. I am standing on the platform across the tracks and have tapped into this sorrowful energy of the women who didn’t make it. This awareness comes only in moments and is not consistent, but when it hits I am completely overwhelmed. The loss felt by both child and mother.

Those final moments when a mother would recognize that she would not be there for her children, that she would miss all their moments, and that she would never be able to impart, nourish, protect, and love them.The emptiness in a child’s life; the void that only a mothers arms could fill.

These are horrible empathetic feelings to have just prior to giving birth and I question them. First out of fear, then out of curiosity. Are we as women more open and susceptible to that cosmic energy when we are with child?

I am one day overdue and was able to type this without breaking into a sobbing mass, so I am not tapped in to the energy right now. I am anxious for my child to come so that I can let go of this anxiety, and that tiny voice that speaks in my ear warning me of the dangers can disappear.

The “Boomerang Generation” can boomerang somewhere else

This morning I read a newspaper article called Boomers With Their Boomerangs and my mouth filled with the taste of my own salty blood.

Children are taking longer to leave home, they are staying in school longer if they don’t have immediate employment prospects or opportunities, taking longer to find stable jobs, longer to get married, longer to have kids,” said Daryl Diamond, financial planner and author of Your Retirement Income Blueprint 2011.

Mr. Diamond said a gritty job market and costly rental housing sends those who have recently finished post-secondary school back to their childhood bedrooms.

On top of the added grocery and utility costs of having another person in the dwelling, parents are chipping in with the children’s cellphone bills, car expenses and debt, according to Barbara Mitchell, a professor of sociology and gerontology at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University.

I am sorry folks, but there is no friggin way. They might be cute and cuddly now but they lose that when they are 20 and there is not a chance in hell that I am kicking in to pay a 20 year old’s cell phone bill. Not a Chance In Hell.

It is amazing to me how much of a curmudgeon I have become as my hair turns grey and these wrinkles appear. I read this article and spent the morning thinking about what I want to see from my children by the time they reach that state of semi-adulthood. I have done much thinking on the benefits of a University degree and I find myself hoping that my kids go to trade school. I look at my adult life and see mortgage payments, RRSP’s, RESP’s, savings, investments, monthly bills, food costs, and think to myself, “Hey kids, life isn’t a carnival so forget about finding yourself and find a job instead”.

There are serious responsibilities in life that I was not introduced to until I married this man who knew all about them. We have four kids and a single income. It is imperative to us that we have a sound retirement plan. I would drop their RESP’s in a second if I had to choose between the two, and not because of the burdening aspect, but because I do not subscribe to a Kids First philosophy. I will try to help our kids as much as I can but when it starts to interfere with my life with Dr. J you can bet they are on their own. The bank of mom and dad will not exist. The bank of mom and dad gives money to mom and dad and kids can start their own bank and make deposits and withdrawals.

I know that everything I am saying here is based on perception versus experience. My kids are young. I don’t know what actually exists out there. I am not sure of the financial realities faced by young adults these days. We are saving for our kids future, which comes at a major cost (namely our future), but I am not prepared to provide them with everything.

The family philosophy has shifted over the decades and the view has become more child centric than parent centric. I am not an advocate of ‘kids should be seen and not heard’ but I am also not an advocate that children are the center of the family unit. I find this idea to be incredibly dangerous and lends itself specifically to the sense of entitlement that we see in kids today. Try and imagine what our great grandfathers would say about the work ethic we see in kid’s today. DID I JUST SAY KID’S TODAY? Curmudgeon. But it is true. Dr. J came home from a trip to Canadian Tire the other day and said that he loves it when he meets a helpful and hard-working teenager and then described a young employee that was helpful and courteous. We live in a society where we are now struck by this hard-working, willing teenager. This helpful young man who stands apart from the sea of distracted, bored, unknowledgeable, indifferent, sometimes rude teenagers out there working. This is what is becoming of our children, and I shudder to consider what type of adult emerges from these shitty cocoons.

We give medals for participation, we no longer fail them in school, we cater to the lowest common denominator and try to make everybody feel good about themselves. We don’t push too hard in fear of affecting self-esteem negatively. We reward for every little accomplishment. We will have a society of self-indulgent, self-important adults with little value for work or work ethic and an expectation of reward.

I want kids who know how to work, who lose respect for themselves when they fail, who recognize what failure is, and who push themselves. I can only assume that children such as these will not opt to have their parents pay for their cars, their phones, their food, and their rent.

Living in the Saskatchewan Immigration boom and loving a man of science (perhaps the most multi-cultural professional community) I have had some exposure to the immigrant work ethic and can see easily the difference in the parents and the children; put very simply there is a higher expectation and demand on the kids, which initially seemed harsh to me as a I am a product of the Canadian work ethic, but will ensure success in the end. No participation medals there…

I refuse to subscribe to this notion that adult children are so hard done by that they must stay at home until they are in their late 20’s. I don’t care if a name has been created for this social phenomenon, I don’t care how many Reuters articles or CBC docs there are out there describing and warning. It is not happening here. I met and married the love of my life late in life and never had the chance to know him before children. My honeymoon years will exist in the retirement years and I don’t think my adult children are going to want to be living down the hall from that….

“West Coast Trail” By Guest Blogger Karina Birch

Well…here it is. My experience on the West Coast Trail…AKA the “Wet” Coast Trail. Even when it hadn’t rained for 5 days, the trail was still soggy and mushy. Sort of like the dehydrated meal we called dinner. When a group of eight highly competitive and type “A” personalities get together and plan a retreat….I say run like your hair is on fire or be prepared to find out what you’re made of.

You may think I’m exaggerating since in all fairness it’s technically a walk. And truly anyone can attempt the infamous trail. But what we did was push ourselves to walk/crawl/limp 25 km each day for two days.

Tip #1: Do not do 25km in a day.

Tip #2: Bring lots of blister pads and prepare to pop Advil like candy.

If you are going to do the trail then I recommend taking your time, enjoying the views and absorbing the amazing array of flora and fauna. The beaches are rugged and the ocean heaves on this side of the world rather than gently rolling up onto the shore. The rain forest is teeming with birds, but forget seeing any of them as they are perched in the massive 200-year-old cedars and you will be looking down to make sure you don’t do a face plant into bog or step on an acrobatic slug. The forest is impressive as the sun filters through the canopy and you breathe in living, green, dewy air.

As if that isn’t enough nirvana, you’ll also be impressed by the eerie aura of shipwrecks and the giant resulting debris. Such as the humongous boiler that was smacked on the beach after a storm took a wooden steam schooner called the Michigan in 1893. It’s about four meters (twelve feet or so?) tall; an impressive piece of flotsam.

Tip #3: Prepare to be humbled.

Now to get more technical, you must plan for the right clothing. Even if forecasts are favorable, remember that once you get to camp it will be chilly. The wind coming off the water is not Hawaiian. It is Canadian. Bring a sweater. Bring rain gear. Also, there are lots of bogs and some stream crossings so…

Tip #4: Gators is a must and you want to put them on at the start of the trail.

One thing you can look forward to is going to town on the food. You will want to spoil yourself as if it was your last meal. That is how you will trick your brain into thinking its having fun. For instance, my food bag contained a Big Turk, candied salmon, peanut butter M&M’s, pear brandy…trust me this is a good idea because when you are waiting for the Advil to kick in the brandy is there to help ease the transition. You will be burning 6000 calories a day…plan on eating as you walk.

Tip #5: Pack high fat, high-energy foods.

Overall it is the one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done. The terrain is never dull. Ladders, cable car river crossings, moldy boardwalks…the West Coast Trail has it all. For all the pain and torment that adventures like this unfold, the rewards surpass all that.

Thank you so much Karina for sharing this story! Karina is one of my greatest inspirations. Last summer this photo hung in my bathroom as that extra incentive to get up at 6:30 a.m. to go running with my gals.

She is the owner of Rocky Mountain Soap Company

and one of my best friends.