a sign

When I left the coffee shop this morning I turned to lock the door behind me. A sign that I'm spending too much time there? As much as the blog has languished, my paper journal is filling more rapidly than usual. I try to spare public readers my narcissistic rambling. Or I might post some soon, just for the thrill of making a post.


the season

I'm staying up late sewing Christmas gifts for the girls. Can't reveal them here (yet)since they can both read. They wanted to give each other something this year so we've been scheming and picking fabrics for various projects - nothing too ambitious.

I'm pleased to report that I have been fully enjoying the festive season without a shopping frenzy. I picked up the few gifts we had planned to buy and not much else. I fight the cultural mania every year, but it's the first time I feel like I'm succeeding at tuning it out. It's getting easier and I'm enjoying my time more.

We had our very first Hiebert jam session a week or two ago. Jeremy on violin, Ella on keyboard, Ivy singing, I played guitar and Ezra raised hell in his own way. I daresay we mostly sounded brutal but it was so pleasing to hang out together, making noise and laughing. I've had a complex about playing the guitar since I was a kid. I didn't (and still don't) really understand the flow of music. I can read notes but refuse to stray from them and actually try anything on my own. Something I'm working on. This is a fantastic winter pastime that I hope we repeat.

At random:
Some of my favorite seasonal treats: caramel popcorn, mandarin oranges and peppermint ice cream.




It's a good day. I got up early to play hockey, the snow is drifting down, friends coming over for wine & cheese tonite and then Light Up. Mmm, looking forward to the "horse blankets", also knows as "beaver tails" in other parts of Canada.


home learning ideas

It's no secret that I haven't been thrilled with the curriculum we've been provided by the school district. I had a chance to look at the Home Learners lending library a few weeks ago though and there was some great stuff. I've been looking for inspiration for integrated lessons/learning rather than segregated subjects. I stumbled across two books, First Nations in BC: Comparing Interior and Coastal Cultures, and First Nations Art Projects and Activities. From what I can tell they've been put together for the Greater Victoria School District and have easy to follow lesson plans. It integrates language arts, science, history, music, art and obviously socials. Most of it is aimed at a higher grade level but the concepts themselves are giving me ideas. I'm certainly not well versed in First Nations history, traditions or anything really, but I value the holistic approach and respect for the earth. I want to learn and understand.

The books don't specifically focus on the Okanagon/Okanagan region so I've done just a small amount of digging and already found some great stuff. An Okanagan First Peoples site has a calendar of the Sylix seasons that resonated with me. Why yes, it is "the time of the cold weather", or possibly moving on to "the time of the snow to fall". What a lovely way to engage the yearly cycles and watch for changes around us rather than having an arbitrary date inform us what is supposed to be happening. We look forward to nature walks that highlight the various native plants noted.

The same site has a section that summarizes the role of children in their society and how they learned about their world. Ivy's eyes lit up at the thought of reading about it. Some portion of this will be the jumping off point for discussion tomorrow.

Children are the heart of the Syilx and have always been taught the necessary skills and Syilx laws they needed to learn in order to survive, as soon as they began to understand. They are taught skills such as; fishing, hunting, tanning hides and making baskets to songs, stories, dances and prayers. They are taught that every living thing has a right to be a part of our lives and our community-even if it's role isn't easily understood. They are taught to respect life and all of creation and that disrespect would lead to certain consequences.

Children are not forcibly taught or punished for not understanding, they are taught with patience and only what the teacher thought they needed to learn or were ready for. Harshness was not a method used in teaching children. Learning has always been made to be very easy at first and gradually becoming harder and only as much the child could understand .Therefore, when the children became ready to do the harder things they did so without fear.

Teens and young adults were accompanied by the older family members to become trained by them in a special area. While, the foundation of their training remained the same, only the intensity changed. An example; as children they learned which plants were edible, which ones were not, which ones contained healing properties and when they were in season. As teens and young adults training in medicines, they went back to the same plants and learned when to pick, how to prepare, when to use the plants, why to use them and most importantly when not to use them. They were taught the hundreds of uses for every portion of every plant.

Each youth and young adult was not only trained in a special area but they were also taught the lifestyles and laws of the community at large. They understood that everyone had a role and a responsibility to ensure the survival of themselves as individuals, to their families, their community and even their people as a whole. They were taught to love, honor and respect each other's roles and their own roles and taught the role of children, youth, adults, elders and as a man or a woman. Each Syilx person understood what it meant, to be in the role of a warrior, a teacher, a hunter, a healer, a chief and a singer. Each Syilx person understood what it meant, to be a child, a sibling, a parent, a grandparent, an aunt/ uncle, and a husband or wife.


vulgar spanish

I can't believe the cojones of the man that my riding elected to parliament (no thanks to me). I saw this headline in the local news today:

Obama can learn from us: Day



up a pear tree

I miss blogging occasionally and have lots to catch up on someday. In the meantime this is what I've been up to instead.

Four sick Hieberts
Three paying contracts (after 6 months of almost nothing)
Two fantastic trips (Canmore & Tofino)
First-term reporting (girl's homeschooling)
...and a partridge in a pear tree (seemed to go with the counting theme and all the brackets)


the bounty

Since late July we've been trying to fill the pantry. Here's what we have so far.

crab apple jelly - 15 jars and still going
plum jam - 15 jars
peach chutney - 10 jars
canned cherries - 14 pints, 6 quarts
canned peaches - 20 quarts
frozen cherries, peaches, blueberries
frozen zucchini, peppers, swiss chard, basil
garlic stored
drying hot, hot peppers to make into flakes
drying apples & tomatoes
salsa - 10 jars canned and about the same amount frozen
applesauce - 8 jars with more to come
pears - to be announced


hawking cookies

Jeremy's last comment reminded me of the three cases of Girl Guide cookies Ivy brought home today. She's in her first year as a Brownie and couldn't be more thrilled, especially about the selling. Whose kid is this anyway?

So...if anyone local is itching to buy the fall chocolate/mint cookies please leave a comment here. Ivy would be so thrilled, and so would I to be honest. They're $4 a box and here are some recipes of things you can do with the cookies in case you don't like them straight up and end up with a few extra cases.

the unexpected (...or Life As A Mom)

Here's a list of unexpected things I can remember that happened today.

- The girls got up a full hour earlier than usual.
- Ezra slept two hours less than on a good day.
- We ran out of milk. Yes, I should have anticipated this one.
- I broke one of Ivy's rented violin's strings and the first class isn't until tomorrow.
- Ezra got his toe fully bloodied and bruised minutes before I had to head out to work.
- Ezra was very surprised to get a whole cookie before supper while I tried to clean him up.
- I was late to work due to interminable construction on the local highway and the fact that Jeremy had to pick up a new violin string on his way home from work.
- Supper was late due to aforementioned bloody toe incident. Hmm, I didn't actually eat any supper now that I think about it.

- The sun shone brightly and with some warmth. We spontaneously raked up a big pile of leaves and jumped out of the (low) tree onto them.
- We threw in the towel on school books when Ezra wasn't napping and had a fun time building doll beds from scraps of wood. Shop class.
- There were a handful of ripe raspberries on the bushes.
- The caterpillar the girls caught a few weeks ago had made a chrysalis almost immediately after capture - it emerged as a butterfly today!
- I listened to part of "The Hobbit" on CD today while doing routine chores (this was unexpected because I borrowed it for car listening and it was a bit of a brainwave for me to try it inside).
- Work went well despite the crazy rush to get out the door.
- I stayed relatively calm all day.


Notes on weeks 1 & 2

Wow, have two weeks gone by already? We're starting to sort out this home school scene a bit. The first week I made up whatever I wanted for the girls, that was a nice way to ease in. This past week we were given all kinds of work books. At first flip through, the math and science look good, some of the English stuff is okay but the socials...we will probably be charting our own course on that one. While the books lend much needed structure (for this random soul), I've found that they distract us from doing the things we really want to do fairly often.

Some "extra" learning we've done:

Ivy decided it would be cool to build a Barbie house - full scale, two floors plus loft. Where is Papa Larry when we need him? I asked her to draw up a design for me of what she had in mind. We went over all kinds of factors and got out a doll and some wood to see what proportions would be appropriate. That's as far as we got that day but I want to follow this up. Problem solving, design, math, learning to use tools...all good stuff.

Worm relocation mission. Our compost bin is packed with happy worms. The mission for the girls was to redistribute some worms into the various garden boxes. We followed up on the internet and figured out the basics of how worms actually break down food.

Paper boat building. I'd always wanted to make an origami style paper boat so on one of our first days (it was sunny), we printed off instructions, packed some paper and headed down to a local beach with a stream. We made a few boats and watched them run the "rapids". We learned that they are useless once they've capsized but if they do well, they could manage up to three runs before they were soaked. It was fun to speculate about why they stopped in certain places or went backwards at times. We also learned that I cannot hold a baby, video, and save boats from being washed out to sea all at the same time. The video suffered by the way, the baby and boat were fine, although a tad soggy.

A (lame) scavenger hunt in the bird sanctuary. I thought this would be a clever way to get the girls excited about going out. What happened was some weird frenzy of rushing around the trails, moaning about not finding the items and wanting to get it over with and go home. Normally they love to run the trails and they discover lots of cool things. Interesting.

Planet Earth videos. The timing worked out so that this series we've had on hold for months showed up this week at the library. That's been our afternoon down time the past few days. I ask the girls to draw a picture and make a few notes on what they find most amazing on each one.

The girls had a fabulous day with Dianne (Jeremy's mom). She worked on some introductory Spanish with them, helped with workbooks, made lunch together, letter writing and sticker making. There was probably more but I can't keep track of it all! Ah yes, she took Ivy shopping for her Brownies uniform, which she's over the moon with excitement about. The uniform! The friends! The campout!!!

Making pancakes, baking soda volcanoes, the list goes on. As I document this it's becoming clear why I'm so blessed tired every night.

I hope the reader isn't lost in some rosy haze about all of this. Did I mention the raspberry-crazed and somewhat intolerant toddler lurking around most of the time?

These are cool things (to me) but don't get the idea that the girls are always on board. They think my ideas are lame or they don't want to go out. Often they run out of steam before the project has reached the conclusion I'd like to see it get to. I suspect my expectations of attention span and depth of analysis are too high for their ages. I have to be careful not to take the fun out of everything by making them document it. They love to learn and explore. It's painful to sit down after every adventure and make notes.

The classroom portion of this deal starts for Ivy tomorrow morning, at 10:30am, sharp. Heh heh. I'm very curious to see what it's going to look like.


home schooling lite

Jeremy spilled the beans on this one today - it wasn't a secret but it's been an intense few weeks leading up to the decision and I wanted to feel sure before I posted about it. It comes down to the fact that my bright, intense, creative, curious daughter has a wicked time adjusting to school in fall. What is even worse is to see her a month or two later, coming home either gray and monotone or feverishly bright eyed and manic, wildly assuring us that it's all good. Which it's not. I'd like to avoid starting Ella in the system altogether although I suspect she'd have an easier time of it (does that make it better or worse?).

For Ivy school is academically dull and socially isolating. I wonder if that applies to most kids, judging from what we've heard from other parents. Why is this something we should be adjusting to? Because it's "good for us" to "get used to the way the world works"? Ivy will have no trouble learning at home and will not become a social freak, as so many people seem convinced will happen with home schooling. She has some good friendships outside of school but the free for all that is called recess hasn't been "good socializing" for anyone we know. Can you feel the cynicism through the quotation marks?

We are enrolling both girls in the home learning program through the district this year (hence home schooling lite). They will go in to a class one day a week with other home learners from k-grade 7. The kids go on field trips together and are provided with other learning opportunities like music lessons. The other bonus of staying registered within the district is that Ivy can still go to her gifted class one afternoon a week - she didn't want to give that up. The thought of being given curriculum that I'm supposed to "teach" gets my back up but I'm willing to acknowledge that it's a reasonable starting point - I really have no idea what I'm getting into.

It feels good. Terrifying and exhilarating. I need to stay focussed long enough to quell the occasional panic and get the paperwork done, then I'll level off. Before long it will settle into the new normal and that will be the real test. I'm hoping I'll be motivated to provide honest updates once in a while. At this time it really feels like the right choice but who knows until you've done it? This has all lead to a lot of reflection on my own school experiences, or is it the other way around? I'll save that therapeutic spewing for a late night when I'm alone with a bottle of wine. Which isn't likely to happen anytime soon.


computer time

I've spent more time on the computer this week than usual, maybe because it hasn't been hot enough for the beach. I fancied up my template, updated some links and am working on tagging old posts. My poor "Local Bounty" blog has been languishing. Not sure if I'll revive it. I love the idea but time and energy are not forthcoming. Maybe another year.

Oh yes, and I finally joined Facebook, a few years behind the curve. Part of me still wants to run screaming from the whole mess but the other part wants to check in with friends and family I haven't seen in years.

But really, who has the time for all of this if they don't "work" online?


Ezra's one year list


He's one today and I've had a lot of "a year ago today..." moments. A year ago at this time I was feeling Ezra's head coming down while knowing the midwife was still a few minutes away. Now that's excitement.

There have been so many rapid developments in the last weeks so I'll throw a list out there for posterity.

-He took his first steps last week. Five at a time, twice in a row without falling. He just stopped mid-room and sat down. Hasn't done it since although he stands alone and yells when he's thinking about it.

- Communication. This is bliss. He understands some common phrases and actually responds to them. He's known things like "don't touch" for a while but now he's getting things like "where's your ball?". He's figured out shaking his head for "no" (along with furious screams, that works too) and can point to what he really wants. His talking sounds are developing great inflection and more interesting range. It's more babble instead of screeches and grunts and that's a most welcome development.

- He has started waving although it's a bit random. His first real wave in response to somebody else's was to a stranger in a truck that wasn't even waving at him unfortunately.

- The kid has a wicked throwing arm. He damaged my knee this week with a large rock. I am shocked by his strength and coordination on this front.

- Up and down stairs like a pro and happily climbing ladders. This has been an issue with both the playhouse and the girls' bunk bed. The bed ladder is removed during the day and we've taken the bottom rungs out of the outdoor ladders (thanks to dad for thinking ahead on that one last year when he built it!).

- He's been exercising his right to refuse food/drink. Even when he wants it. It's like he's bound by some internal compulsion to loudly reject it the first two times it's offered and then he voraciously accepts. And then sometimes spews it dramatically in our faces. Kids.

- He's snuggly. He's been this way most of the time but he's getting better at giving snuggles. When he wakes up in the early morning he'll often crawl onto my chest or rest his head on it to fall back asleep. He's used to sleeping with someone and likes to have some contact, even if it's just a toe touching me. He's a great hugger and gives very excited, soggy cheek kisses. With the occasional bite.

- 7 teeth. They all showed up in pairs except for one of the lower ones, it's still waiting for it's mate...rather odd since it's been about 3 months.

- Balls are his absolute favorite toy (see "throwing" above). He is best at entertaining himself when he has a ball he can throw or roll around and then chase.

- He has recently caught on to books. We despaired for a while because he showed no interest at all but now he's really into being read to for short periods of time. Maybe it has to do with his sisters having their noses in books a lot.

- He's nearly weaned. I waffle on this one but for better or worse he's down to one early morning nurse every day. It's very cozy and sweet but it's almost over. I've celebrated our smooth nursing relationship and am trying not to get overly emotional about moving on. I know there's no rush but on the other hand I really crave the transition to having my body and hormones to myself. Not that I share my hormones exactly but they will be more predictable if aren't constantly readjusting to new demands.

I'm sure there's more but if you made it this far you probably know him well enough that you already knew this all about him anyway!

As I sign off a year ago at this moment I was pushing and less that 10 minutes from meeting my babe.

Update: Jeremy put together a 1-year tribute video of Ezra

bed building

I've wanted a frame to replace the old metal bed frame & box spring that we had for years so when my dad was out in July he built one for me. I'd like to say he helped me build it but I didn't do much aside from consulting and holding the occasional piece of wood. It was fun to work through the process and see it come together. I love the finished bed and can't believe how long I put up with the old one. The tools we used were a drill, skill saw, small square, measuring tape and a basic mitre saw (not required but made some cuts much easier). I love the simplicity of it.

The main frame (that became the inside rails) was built of 2x4 studs.

We added 2x4 legs and a mid-beam with two legs for extra stability.

For appearance we nailed pine 1x8 boards around the outside of the 2x4's.

The slats are on the beefy side - 1x6's tacked together with thin plywood to keep them from sliding and to make assembly/disassembly easier.

After this photo my dad added pieces of 1x6 pine around the outer edges of the legs so they look thicker and more finished. I have yet to sand down the edges to soften the look and make it a little more baby (and toe) friendly. I'm not sure yet if I'll put any finish on it.

I'll have to do this justice with a "finished" photo someday. I'm certainly not about to take a flash photo late in the evening with a messy room so you're out of luck.

fitness update

Hmm, yeah. I guess "4's" was aiming too high. The good news is I've had 2 or 3 good workouts a week since the last post and it feels great, even if it falls short of the goal. It leaves room for improvement, right?


the rule of 4's

I dreamed up a crackpot plan yesterday as I was finally getting some exercise. The rule of 4's. I am going to get 44 minutes of exercise, 4 times a week, for 4 weeks. Just for kicks. I'm not going to set criteria on what it is I need to do, all I know is that I have to sweat for it to count. I'm feeling unmotivated because my clothes fit but I feel weak and lame.

I threw in a few bonus 4 minute sessions today, why not? Rather than just dunking in the lake I swam around for a while before drying off. I'll try to keep that up and develop some good habits to replace my lazy ways.

Why 4's? I needed it to be simple and 3/3/33 seemed like too low of a goal and 5/5/55 too overwhelming. There you see some of my high end problem solving skills at work.



I never write about my work but my profile will tell you I'm a social worker for a non-profit. It's a pretty big part of my identity although I don't put in very many hours right now. The problem is that it's hard to talk about my job when everything I do is confidential. I certainly can't just hop online and vent when I'm stressed. Here's the basic job description though for anyone that might find it interesting.

I work in the adoptions field as a contracted social worker for a private agency. Sounds fancy but basically the government of BC oversees all adoptions related to child protection issues, older children, and/or children who have or are expected to have special needs. They contract out what they call "low risk newborn" adoptions and any out of country applications to non-profit agencies. That's where I come in.

The three main areas I might get called for are the home study, birth parent counselling or post-placement visits. The home study is the biggest piece and I generally spend an evening a week for 8 weeks with a couple/family that wants to adopt a child. We dig into all kinds of personal issues like their family history, motivation for adoption and how they deal with stress, anger and conflict. It's all over the map and requires a high level of engagement. At the end of that I write a long report and essentially either approve them for a placement or not. I feel that stress sometimes but for the most part I deal with fabulous people who are looking to provide a stable home for a child who needs it.

Birth parent counselling is the least predictable work. I meet with the birth mom and occasionally the dad prior to the adoption, often through the final months of pregnancy. We go through the emotional, financial and social pressures they are under and try to figure out if it's the most appropriate choice. If they want to continue we go through the procedure of selecting adoptive parents and then often meeting them. I support them through the time of placement and meet with them a few times afterwards, depending on their needs.

Post placement reports are the icing on the cake. I meet with families that have had children placed with them. I've been doing this long enough in this area that I've often done the home study for the families that are getting placements. In those cases I know them quite well and it's cool to visit them in their home and ask them to brag about their children. It's obviously not always all good but the majority of placements I see (at about 6 months to a year in) are positive. I would love to see how the families are doing years later but don't usually get those updates.

So that's what I'm up to when I'm "at work".


Rossland Devine

I had the most glorious weekend at the Devine Ride mountain bike camp. I took off for Rossland on Friday afternoon with 4 other women - I haven't done anything like that in years. The first night we had dinner at the Colander in Trail. The food was wonderful but the service truly bizarre. I was so punch drunk from hunger and driving I got delirious giggles. Having sobered up with the fantastic lasagna we headed for the Gerick's wine & cheese event. It was an odd combination of bike fitting/maintenance, schmoozing, shopping and wine. We capped off the evening with a soak in the teeny but wonderful hot tub at Greene's Family Guest House.

I woke up ridiculously early on Saturday and couldn't get back to sleep. I grabbed my mp3 player and went for a gorgeous walk down main street. One of the cafes was just opening so I had a quiet, sunny breakfast on my own. We spent the morning at the local elementary school working on skills like riding skinnies, lunges (small drop offs), wheel lifts, braking, switchbacks and oh yes, stairs!

It was warm & sunny and I loved the instruction and practice time. Lunch was provided by the Flying Steamshovel, which was our central meeting point and looked like this when we were in!

After lunch we went on our first group ride on on terrain similar to this and included an insane assortment of trails ( map). Here they are in no particular order (and possibly completely inaccurate) water tower to upper and lower pale ale, milky way, cemetery, back of KC, green room, Roger's and back. It wasn't nearly as long as it sounds. I attempted something I'd never done before that I had to work up to.

I cleaned it and then made myself go back up and do it again for good measure. I was so beat at the end of the ride that it reminded me of the university days when we'd come up for a week of snowboarding at Big White and could hardly walk after the first day.

The post-ride event was similar to the night before, only at the local Revolution Cycles bike shop. We wrapped up the day with a visit to the local Mexican restaurant. It had a great authentic vibe and it was fun to hear the Spanish rolling off the tongues of the employees. Technically all one family I think. The mole sauce was a little more than I had bargained for though and we were all breathing fire. Thank goodness for those super pricey margaritas. Maybe that's their marketing plan?

Sunday we woke up to pouring rain that didn't really let up so I didn't have my camera along. I had a very, very happy morning at the bike park. We worked on more little stunts and I had a chance to try some dirt jumps. My face was sore from grinning, I kid you not. The afternoon ride was on Crown Point. The rain certainly added some challenges but did not dampen the spirits. This trail also had a section I was hesitant to ride but with a few spotters standing by I rode it and, you guessed it, did it again to prove to myself that it wasn't an accident.

The weekend ended with a short wrap-up at the Steamshovel and then we packed our weary bodies into the car for the drive home. I could keep gushing about the weekend but you probably get the idea. I might possibly have irritated the people I was with by constantly exclaiming about how happy/lucky/delighted I was with my life. There were covert shuttles, exquisite Mr. Freezies, hot tub sessions and plenty of laughs. I'm sending out a huge thank you to the "girls" for inviting me along and putting up with me mooching all of their food.

It was my first time away from Ezra for night and only the third time I've been away on my own since having kids. That's nuts. There were the usual emotions when I left but it didn't take me long to get over them. It was great for me to go and good to come back. The biggest thanks goes to Jeremy for the encouragement to go and for his brilliant competence on the home front. I came home to a mellow husband, sleeping kids and a clean house!



Metaefficient - The Optimal Green Guide

This site has great organization (see topics on left sidebar), ideas, reviews & links. Plus I love both the words "efficient" and "optimal".


the big day

I think I may be the last mom in the blogosphere to post about my Mother's Day. The highlight was the scheme of Jeremy and my parents to have my mom here for the big day. It's been fantastic to share the time with her and she's lightened my daily responsibilities considerably. She'll need a vacation to recover from this one - thanks mom for the love & support you give us every day (all day). Having mom here has made us miss my dad a lot, he's back in Manitoba seeding fields in the cold. I love you too dad and wish you were here, summer seems a long time to wait for a hug.

This is what the girls were up to first thing in the morning.

Yes, I'm a lucky mom. Later on in the morning Jeremy kept Ez at home so mom, the girls & I could take a leisurely trip to Penticton. We ended up doing a bit more shopping than I had hoped and I got a *bit* grouchy. Incidentally, every mom I talked to had a grouchy stretch at some point on Mother's Day. Odd. Anyhoo, I talked some sense into myself and found somewhere to stop for lunch. French fries, a deep fried veggie burger and a milkshake. The excessive calories did the trick.

We ended off the day in a most amusing and unexpected way. It was 10pm by the time the kids were all asleep (Ez for the second time). I wandered into the living room to say goodnight and somehow got caught up in Star Wars on tv. Jeremy reminded me that we hadn't cracked my Mother's Day wine yet so the three of us made a cheese & cracker tray, worked our way through the bottle and giggled at the movie. We finished up the night with a game of dominoes which I apparently won - Ez woke up again and they had to play out my tiles.

I got lots of love & well wishes and the celebrating goes on with mom here for another week!


new wheels

Remember this dreaming post? We made it come true and this is my shiny new precious. Well, it's not super shiny and not brand new but it is awesome. I was sick the first day I had it but managed to wring a 20 minute test ride out of my tired body. I was pretty nervous that it wouldn't feel different enough from the old ride to justify the expense. Sometimes I love being wrong. I can't believe I waited so long to try a new bike (10 years to be exact). The old one served me well but it was never quite right. It took me a whole season to get used to and was always too stiff and sketchy on the downs for my liking. It did climb like a dream though.

I don't know how to explain it but this one just tracks right. The weight is in the right places and it behaves when I point it somewhere. Not that I've pushed it much yet, I may rescind all of the above statements eventually. Here's a fun thing - despite the extra bit of weight I cleaned a short climb today that I never managed on the old Kona, must be a traction thing. Or a stoke thing.

I got one of the best calls ever today. I wrote about the women's mountain bike camp I'd like to attend but didn't do anything about it. I answered the phone and it was a pre-Ezra riding buddy asking if I'd like to join her and a few other Summerland women at that exact camp. Um...let me think...YES, I'd love to. I might have to wean the little guy by then or figure out some alternate arrangement but I am very, very ready to have a weekend away. I always get jitters when I say my goodbyes to the little ones but it passes quickly and I know I need the break. Just thinking I'll probably go to this will do wonders for my fitness and motivation to ride. It's a good kind of pain.

The back story:
My bike was getting very weary. Forks pooped out and drivetrain in rough shape. We tossed around the idea of fixing it up - the frame and many parts are fine and it would be fiscally more responsible of course. Jeremy was kind enough to keep an eye out online for me though, just in case. Bikes like this in my size aren't that common so when one came up on pinkbike we paid close attention. I sat on the fence for over a week until he scored a very sweet new bike on ebay. I have to keep up with the Joneses you know. Suddenly I was committed and planning a trip to Nakusp.


me too

I'm going to keep a link to this reasonable request and use it on my boss someday.



Or a lack thereof.

Jeremy's done a great job of capturing Ezra's cuteness and insane demands so I won't elaborate too much. Suffice it to say he (Ez, not Jeremy) saps almost all of my time and energy. Otherwise known as my mojo. He makes the girls look like angels but I'm frustrated by how little I have left to give them.

For the record I don't think I'll ever bother posting about the eczema issue again. Partly because although it's important to me it must be unbelievably dull to read about but also because at some point between the time I hit "publish post" and the time it shows up on a feed it takes a dramatic turn for the worse. I spent the day in doctors offices again yesterday and it sucked.

Given the above two paragraphs, here is some light reading on stupid things I've done as a result of this state of mind. I had an evening "off" to hang out with a dear friend and was anxious to get an early start to meet her. I knew the car on "empty" though so I started the outing at the gas station. It had a lineup of vehicles desperate to pump that liquid gold into the tanks. So I backed out and headed to the next one down the road. It didn't have pay at the pumps which always irritates me because I have to guess how much I'm going to use and pre-pay inside. I walked back out and started filling but it kept clicking off unless I slowed it to a trickle. I used to work as a gas jockey and tanks like that drove me nuts. It didn't occur to me that I've never had that problem before until gas splashed out all over my hand, car and feet. It cost me $4 to TOP up the tank and bathe in gasoline. On a normal day I would have noticed that Jeremy had driven the vehicle and filled it up a few hours earlier. I had to go back in, red-faced and stinky to ask for a refund because I didn't actually need gas.

Yesterday I hustled Ivy out the door before she was finished chewing her lunch because we were late for her class. I had to pack up Ez and take Ella because Jeremy was in a phone meeting. Everyone was feeling grouchy and rushed and there were sharp words all around. We showed up at the class and something was wrong...all the other students were still outside and her teacher wasn't waiting at the door. I STILL didn't figure it out. I walked Ivy up to class after getting the other kids out of the car and finding a parking spot. The classroom was empty except for the teacher calmly planning her lesson that wasn't going to start for another 15 minutes.

I'm used to feeling at least baseline competent but these two incidents have shaken my confidence. I've been late to appointments and meetings more often that I would like since having #3 but I usually have a pretty good grip on the actual time. I know sanity will return. I only hope it's sooner rather than later and that I don't do something really damaging before then!


4 in 1

A normal person might blog more often and craft this into at least 4 separate posts. You're not so lucky and get in all in one big spew.

- All that good stuff I wrote in the update to the Eczema post ended up being a pipe dream. Ezra got better for about 3 days and then it got bad again. That cycle continued - a few days up and a few days down but the lows were getting lower. Last weekend I was nearly in tears, at night I had been awake for an hour pinning his arms to his sides so he wouldn't rub his face raw. By morning he was bleeding anyway. I took him to the walk-in hoping for fresh insight from a different doctor and was rewarded. The reason nothing was working was that he had a bacterial infection on his cheeks for almost TWO MONTHS. Not sure why my doctor didn't pick up on it. I'm not a fan of the overuse of antibiotics but I was so relieved to find a way out of the mess. In the afternoon I went to a health food store and got some supplements to support our immune systems in general. We only needed the antibiotics for a few days and his cheeks are looking lovely a week later (apparently it's not the kind where you have to take the whole course to make sure it's effective). He still has underlying eczema but it's not nearly as bad as we thought. That's something to be thankful for.


- During spring break I took the kids up to Apex for a sleepover at a friend's cabin. It was a short vacation but it was really fun. The girls got to play with buddies and I got to stay up late chatting with a friend too. I'm pretty sure we stayed up longer than the kids but I can't guarantee it.

- Starting to clean out garden beds, rake, pick up sticks and distribute compost/manure. I also went to the local Seedy Saturday today and picked up some garden seeds.

- Jeremy and I got out on a date today (thanks Dianne!) and I attended my first Fest of Ale after running taxi duty last year. I was pregnant anyway so I wasn't too hard done by. I've confirmed that my favorites are all brown ales. Mt. Begbie's Tall Timber Ale and Fernie Brewing' s First Trax Brown Ale were my picks. Crannog Ales is the most fantastic brewery. It's organic, most of their beers are awesome and they are working towards a "zero-waste" system. While we were there we happened to catch a performance by Get Bent Belly Dancing. It made me miss those drop in classes but I can't do everything!

- Not enough exercise. Hockey ended on Easter weekend and I've only been out for a few walk/runs since then. On the upside I did fix my bike tire and took the kids into town in the trailer this week. The goal for tomorrow is to ride Giant's Head.


- "Ecoholic" on a tip off on A Life In Progress. I agree with her assessment that it is overwhelming - there is no realistic way for me to make all the changes I'd like to right now. It is great to keep in mind that there are alternatives to the way we shop though. When we do need to make a big purchase (mattresses come to mind), I'll use the book as a buyers guide to do my research.

- I've got a few books out on permaculture again, the most interesting read is "Food Not Lawns" published by Chelsea Green .

Courses/Camps I'd like to sign up for:

- Devine Ride's Women's Mountain Bike Camp

- Kootenay Permaculture Institute
- Intro to Permaculture

- hockey camp



Jeremy posted about the Myers-Briggs personality test - a very simplified version that lets you choose what you feel best describes you. I've done a lot of these but take away different things depending on what's going on in my life. Here's a summary of my type.

INFPs, more than other iNtuitive Feeling types, are focused on making the world a better place for people. Their primary goal is to find out their meaning in life. What is their purpose? How can they best serve humanity in their lives? They are idealists and perfectionists, who drive themselves hard in their quest for achieving the goals they have identified for themselves.

INFPs do not like conflict, and go to great lengths to avoid it. If they must face it, they will always approach it from the perspective of their feelings. In conflict situations, INFPs place little importance on who is right and who is wrong. They focus on the way that the conflict makes them feel, and indeed don't really care whether or not they're right. They don't want to feel badly. This trait sometimes makes them appear irrational and illogical in conflict situations. On the other hand, INFPs make very good mediators, and are typically good at solving other people's conflicts, because they intuitively understand people's perspectives and feelings, and genuinely want to help them.

INFPs are flexible and laid-back, until one of their values is violated. In the face of their value system being threatened, INFPs can become aggressive defenders, fighting passionately for their cause. When an INFP has adopted a project or job which they're interested in, it usually becomes a "cause" for them. Although they are not detail-oriented individuals, they will cover every possible detail with determination and vigor when working for their "cause".

When it comes to the mundane details of life maintenance, INFPs are typically completely unaware of such things. They might go for long periods without noticing a stain on the carpet, but carefully and meticulously brush a speck of dust off of their project booklet.

INFPs have very high standards and are perfectionists. Consequently, they are usually hard on themselves, and don't give themselves enough credit. INFPs may have problems working on a project in a group, because their standards are likely to be higher than other members' of the group. In group situations, they may have a "control" problem. The INFP needs to work on balancing their high ideals with the requirements of every day living. Without resolving this conflict, they will never be happy with themselves, and they may become confused and paralyzed about what to do with their lives.

INFPs are usually talented writers. They may be awkard and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally, but have a wonderful ability to define and express what they're feeling on paper. INFPs also appear frequently in social service professions, such as counselling or teaching. They are at their best in situations where they're working towards the public good, and in which they don't need to use hard logic.

INFPs who function in their well-developed sides can accomplish great and wonderful things, which they will rarely give themselves credit for. Some of the great, humanistic catalysts in the world have been INFPs.

I find this the most accurate assessment of my personality I've come across to date. Of course I don't agree with all of it. I CARE if I'm right or not but will rarely care enough to provoke a confrontation. I'd rather let it go and be content knowing I was right than to wade into the mess and stress of trying to prove that to someone else - touche. It means I get along well with others to an extreme. It's pretty dysfunctional at times when I should really step up and deal with issues. I am relatively easy to walk all over (please don't consider that an open invitation). I always want to believe the best in people and they learn pretty quickly that I'm not too likely to call them out unless my ass is really on the line.


spoof listing

Detached bachelor suite available for sale/rent.

- sleeping loft with access to lakeview deck
- emergency slide exit
- skylight
- opening windows on all sides for great ventilation
- built in bench & table with small kitchen counter
- living area converts to guest bed if required
- large yard, borders on vegetable garden
- lovingly built by craftsman with decades of experience and pride in work

$400,000 in Vancouver, no?

Unlisted features:
- no running water/electricity
- 64 square feet (ext.), excluding loft & deck
- uninsulated

All this to say that I've been having fun finishing the inside and am approaching "done". And no, it's definitely NOT for sale, that was the spoof part and I was just poking fun at how much time has been put into it. The kids are delighted to have the tools out of there and get the place back from their meddling mom.


oh boy, another meme!

I rarely do meme's, especially unsolicited, but Nicole's was so fun I had to try it myself. Note that I do not have a name brand "ipod" (too rich for my blood) but it worked fine anyway and I had some great laughs.

The rules are simple: Hit shuffle on your iPod then answer each question by hitting next.

1. What does next year have in store for you? Fell on Black Days, Soundgarden
- this is off to a really bad start

2. What does your love life look like next year? Speedy Marie, Frank Black
- that's better. I think.

3. What do you say when life gets hard? Brother Down, Sam Roberts
- I get nasty and then I give up apparently

4. Song that reminds you of good times? Silent All These Years, Tori Amos
-I sure know how to party.

5. What do you think when you get up in the morning? Dreams, Cranberries
- please let me sleep longer so I get to have some dreams

6. What song will you dance to at your wedding? Whatsername, Greenday
- that would be after several bottles of wine? Good thing this one is behind me.

7. Song that reminds you of your first kiss? Shh, Frou Frou
- not a bad match

8. Your favorite saying? Pretend You're Alive, Lovedrug
- I should consider adopting this one

9. Favorite place? Don't Lose Yourself, Laura Veirs
- Good idea. And drink less.

10. Most Missed Memory? Where the Streets Have No Name, U2
- See above.

11. What song describes your best friend? God, Tori Amos
- this one cracked me up more than any of the others. Priceless.

12. What song describes your ex? 38 Years Old, Tragically Hip
- Would he have killed someone who raped his sister and then spent life behind bars? Hard to know.

13. Where would you go on a first date? Razzle Dazzle Rose, Camera Obscura
- back to that drug induced haze but this time it's psychedelic

14. Drug of choice? Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth, Radio Gods
- I'm lost, so so lost

15. What song describes you? Everytime, Sarah Harmer
- on a melancholy day perhaps

16. What is the thing you like doing most? Speed of Sound, Coldplay
- driving fast?

17. The song that best describes the president? Today, Smashing Pumpkins
- I listen to it differently with that in mind.

18. Where will you be in 10 years? Better Man, Pearl Jam
- don't much like this one...

19. Your love life right now? Run, Snow Patrol
it's not that bad! Even if I do have all those kidlets running amok.

20. What is your state of mind like at the moment? My Name is Jonas, Weezer
- It's my alternate personality. Nicole, is this creeping you out yet? What are the odds of us getting two of the same (old) songs showing up!

21. How will you die? Elevator Love Letters, Stars
- I've never liked elevators much anyway

spring is in the...

...hair, Ella's hair to be exact.

I love all things spring except woodticks. I thought I saw one in Ella's hair this afternoon so I pulled it off and then dropped it before getting a good look. I found a piece of similar sized leaf on the floor and assumed that was what it had actually been. I came back to where the kids were all playing a few minutes later and saw a tick on Ezra's head. *shiver* I hope it was the same one, multiple ticks coming inside at once is not a good sign. Those teeny creatures creep me out a lot more than they should, I'm not generally so squeamish. My head it itching all over just thinking about it. Is yours?



I drove all damn week to one blessed event or another and it made me mental. The stars (or my awful planning skills) aligned against us with a dentist visit, doctor, shots, kids playing with friends, the usual school and extra skating practices. I'm developing a serious case of Schleppititus. A grounded person would take this opportunity to practice meditation or take advantage of exercise to relieve the busy brain. It just kept buzzing this week. I have one child in one extra-curricular class. How and why do people pull off this stuff off day after day?

Jeremy pointed out to me this week that when I get too busy I react by complicating my life. In an effort to gain control over at least one area I go overboard on it. I happened to be reading that local foods book and got so into it that the next time I went to the grocery store I categorically refused to buy anything that had been processed or had travelled a bazillion miles. This, on a week when I was half starving from diet changes and desperately needed downtime. After 20 minutes of walking around the store cursing under my breath I buckled down and made the best choices I could from what was in front of me. It's the taking the step back and gaining perspective that I miss when I start to feel stress. I could just as easily fixate on the perfect shelf configuration to magically solve my clutter issues, rather than umm, sorting and chucking most of it. The less energy I have, the more likely I am to fall into flawed thinking and the "Paradox of Choice". The book is highly recommended by Jeremy, I've only heard and read excerpts.

On the fun side, because it's not nearly all bad, I had a fantastic time at hockey again this week. It's been a lifesaver this winter - I have scheduled exercise, a challenge, and a non-kid related social outing every weekend. I'm dreaming of replacing it with this or, dreaming big, this this spring. Another thing I'm up to that could fall into the category of complicating my life is that I'm back on the playhouse bandwagon. Now that it's nice out I'm fiddling with finishing the inside a little more and am really enjoying it. The goal is to use wood we have lying around or can beg, borrow or steal (thanks Hildebrands, once again!) to build little benches, shelves and a counter. Ezra loves playing up in the loft for short periods of time, especially with a sister or two around. That joy ride will end when he can crawl though and that's not so far off.




Ezra has a rampant case of eczema that is driving most of us crazy. It got a lot better over Christmas and then came back on his cheeks with a vengeance. We have no idea where to look for triggers anymore or how to isolate them if we have theories. I've been off dairy completely (well, not all baked goods with dairy in them) for 11 days and it's also making me crazy. It hasn't seemed to help a whole lot although apparently the dairy can stay in my system for up to two weeks. I'm going to try to stick it out for three to rule that out. I've already pretty much confirmed that Ezra reacts badly to nuts, chocolate, tomatoes and citrus *sigh*.

All these food changes have made me aware of how little meat I have been eating - a few times a month at most. I've started to think more about protein and where things like my calcium are going to come from, it's a good learning experience but frustrating at the same time. I don't know what I'd do without eggs right now. Or the salt and vinegar chips.

UPDATE: For anyone still following this, Ezra's skin has improved a LOT in the last few days after being the worst it's ever been on Wednesday. The great news is that I'm now quite sure that it's not diet related (my diet or his - yay!). I saw no improvement after 16 lean days so I went back on dairy and he's been getting better.

The intentional changes we've made have been:
- To get the down comforter off the bed he's in with me - yes, yes, I know, call child protection for it being there in the first place if you have to.
- With the help of a pharmacist I know (and NO help from my doctor), I found a cream I'm really happy with - Spectro Kids Eczema Care. It's apparently not drastically different from Glaxal but it's worked much better for him for some reason. I use it on his face and any other bad spots. I went basic and am putting Aveeno Baby fragrance free lotion on the rest of his body which seems to be working out fine.
- I think the winner is that we've switched back to his original bottles. We finally clued in to the bottle idea after reading Teri's soother tip, the fact that his cheeks were the worst spot and also that he improved when we took a one week vacation without that brand of bottle.
-Ezra's grandparents would all claim divine intervention - whatever the reason for the improvement I'm very thankful and hope it keeps going that direction. It's so nice to see him getting some relief from the constant itching.

Thanks for all the comments and ideas, I appreciate the support on such a frustrating topic.

"free" time

What have I been up to? I have this baby who will be 7 months old next week. He's pretty good natured but needs all kinds of food, diaper changes, loving and endless entertaining. Then there are two more kids, food to make & clean up, laundry...blah blah. Before the sun came out a week or two ago I was contemplating the phrase "stuck at home mom". I don't really mean it. I get more breaks than the average caregiver and I'd be a bitter woman if for some reason I didn't have the opportunity to be at home.

I end up with a "free" hour every evening that isn't spoken for and into that I fit any and all fun pursuits that I happen to dream up:

- learning Chinese or Japanese brush painting/calligraphy
- reading! I finally got started on Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". It's a must-read in terms of setting the stage for eating local. It's got me going on my garden planning and looking at seed catalogues.
- personal grooming (does this qualify as fun?)
- talking. with an adult that I love, about cool and interesting things. Or maybe about eczema and sleep deprivation.
- tonite's choice was blogging and that's all I can fit in because my hour is up and I have to sleep.



I don't think I've ever done a music post and may never again but this artist caught our attention last week. I was driving with the girls and there was a major meltdown going on. This Ella Fitzgerald cover by Nikki Yanofsky came on and suddenly it was quiet. Within a minute both girls were smiling and exclaiming over it. That's my kind of music.


blog reads

Here's a little collection of more recent blogs I've been reading (and why). I got the idea from Michelle who recently did a post like this. I also like the idea of collecting some of these links in one place so that they eventually find their way into the sidebar with other favorites, or at least into a feed before they're gone from memory.

Our nest under the rock and Dutch Blitz are a couple of Summerlanders I "met" online. I have had the pleasure of spending some time with Kaili but that Angella is elusive. I hope I don't scare the tar out of her when I chase her down in a parking lot someday just to say hi.

A Life In Progress
Michelle's daughter Jen's blog. She writes about eco-cleaners, organic food, toxic personal care products...right up my alley. I connected to Michelle and Jen's blogs somehow through Kaili.

new pants
This was an odd connection. She found me through babyblogorama as our babies have the same birthdate. I had no idea my birth story was on that site, the internet is a strange beast. She pokes fun at herself for blogging about "the same 6 topics" that moms blog about every day but her take on things keeps it real and interesting. She somehow finds time to write poetry. I have so much admiration for anyone who can sustain creative energy in the baby/toddler vortex.

better make it a double
Linked off of new pants...her comments caught my attention and I made my way to her site. She's got some amazing stuff going on - like committing to The Compact and raising chickens in the city. This post had me snickering - she nailed the way my mind works when I find myself in big stores.

So that's a few of the favorites that come to mind at the moment...I'm sure there are many more so don't kick me if I left you out.


Last week I found the BC GardenWise site that has great local tips and info on farmer's markets. It got me all fired up about the coming growing season. I'm going to commit to improving my soil before I plant this year and then actually water my poor vegetables regularly to give them a fighting chance. Basics.


local bounty blog

It's always a little scary to go public but I finally got going on a project I've been wanting to do for years - I started a blog called "Local Bounty". It's my small effort to connect consumers with local food sources. Here's the catch, to make it work I need the help of dedicated Summerlanders to tell me about their favorite spots and the people that grow/make the food.

Some ideas for things I want to include:
- eggs, orchards, veggies, honey, meat, favorite fruit stand, winery, brewery, breads
- I'd especially like to highlight anything organic, spray free, foraged or free range.

Here's what I'm looking for on each entry:
- name of place
- names of people
- what they grow/sell
- why you love it
- contact info if appropriate

If you happen to be a grower/producer yourself I'd love to hear about you but want to be careful to not create a blatant marketing site. I'm thinking of an interview kind of format - I'd like to know the answers to these questions:
- who you are
- what you do
- why/how you got into it
- why Summerland?
- if your product is seasonal, when is it available?
- contact info

I have a first post up that highlights my favorite farmer's market organic farm. I'm going to add others as time and energy permit, which you know can be painfully slow. If you email me your contribution (check profile/email) I'll try to get it up in a timely manner and put your name on it.



I've been exploring educational ideas for our kids over the past few weeks and it has had the effect of making me analyze my past schooling and also rekindling my desire to learn. I am slow to follow up on so many opportunities I hear of but today I dug into one that made me feel like weeping (in a good way). MIT Open Courseware. There are at least a dozen courses that jump out at me that I'd love to follow up on and that is only one source.

One monkey I'd love to get off my back is to learn some good hard math. Or physics. Just to do it and make the brain grind it out. I gave up on math in grade 9 because I didn't like my teacher and I had never learned to study well anyway. In grade 8 I'd been in the "enriched math" stream. I grit my teeth in frustration even thinking about it now. I came away from high school thinking it was too hard for me and NOBODY disagreed, not out loud anyway. Certainly there were plenty of careers open to a bright girl without math. With just a bit of science I could reach as high as being a nurse, teacher or social worker! It's a whole world out there! Jobs like a physio, doctor or lawyer never even hit the radar although university in some capacity was an expectation.

There was one math teacher that got furious with me because he knew I could learn it and wasn't bothering. If only he'd taken that a step further and tried to encourage me rather than muttering negative comments under his breath. It has taken me almost until now to forgive myself for not seeing the bigger picture at the time - I took the same path that so many smart girls my age did because nothing more was expected or encouraged.

I think about going back to school once in a while because I love the process. I've examined inter-departmental degrees and other custom options. Seeing these courses online is exilerating though - I want to learn and if I don't have to go somewhere and pay someone to learn what they tell me to, why would I? I don't get the piece of paper that someone deems I should have...can I move beyond that now? I want to learn enough to apply things to the world around me. My challenge is that I learn theory quite easily and then stumble when it comes to the "doing" part.

I'm passionate about a lot of things, with the local economy as my focus for ideas that could eventually have a bigger impact. Eating, producing and preserving food here. Knowing where my food comes from. Building with materials that are non-toxic and relevant to this area. Smart house design to take advantage of the sun and local climate. Learning to retrofit the infastructure we already to be more functional isn't glamorous but is a great opportunity to make use of what exists, rather than tearing down and starting over. Most of us can't afford to build new on an acreage. Not that I can't dream. I want to figure out how to motivate other people to care as much as I do. I want to make better decisions more consistently.

That's a bit much to bite off at once, eh?


late night poem

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends-
It gives a lovely light!

-Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1920

This poem caught my fancy as I find myself staying up later and later to try to fit both work and personal time into my life somewhere.