The two days leading up to Adam leaving on Saturday afternoon were full of last minute runs to the drugstore and Target, getting some yen, getting skates sharpened, going over the itinerary and packing.
Saturday snuck up on us and maybe that was for the best...not much time for me to get all weepy and mom-like.
The airport was busy with the team and families...
and then he was gone through security.
I was a little anxious about the long, 10.5 hour flight and was glad when he texted that he had landed in Tokyo. JCIH (Japan-Canada International Hockey 2014) has a facebook page and it has been great to see photos already of Adam in Tokyo. Even just seeing his back in a photo of him eating ramen with the team at lunch made me feel a little better!
So one Wednesday evening in the middle of June, we got a call from a friend wondering if Adam might be available to travel to Japan for 10 days in July to play hockey. What? Gulp.
A team of 16-18 year olds from BC travels to Japan every two years to play a series of games and participate in cultural actvities. The players all have some degree of Japanese heritage. Adam has known of this team but didn't ever consider trying out as he didn't think his calibre of play was at the necessary level. Three boys had to drop out and so they were now looking for players at the last minute. We had a day or so to decide and we were all a little overwhelmed. What an opportunity for Adam but we defiinitely had not planned for this. Most of the boys' parents were going on the trip as well but we had to tell Adam we just couldn't manage it this year so if he wanted to go, he would need to go on his own. In the end, he decided he wanted to go. Granted, he was nervous, but I am so proud of him for making the decision to go.
It has been a bit of a whirlwind. Practices, meetings, fundraising to be done. Adam pushed himself and visited some businesses in Steveston on his own to get some silent auction donations and made family contacts to get program sponsorship. He sold raffle tickets to family and his friends and helped out with his team's banquet.
The major fundraising banquet was last Saturday evening our at the Nikkei Centre in Burnaby and we had a lovely time. It was great to meet all the boys and their parents. We had a Japanese dinner and enjoyed dancing and taiko drumming. Thanks to Uncle Glenn for his support!
This Sunday evening was the Nikkei alumnae game, where the team from 2 years ago played this year's team. Adam felt good about how he played which will help ease some of the jitters for him about going on this trip.
This week has more meetings and preparation and packing and then he is off on Saturday. Oh my gosh. Adam is going to Japan!
I bought some pickling cucumbers at the Steveston Farmers Market on Sunday and that started things rolling this week. I figured once I had out all my canning stuff, I might as well get on a roll!
So the week began with fresh packed garlic dill pickles...
and then a big batch of tayberry jam...
then blueberry apple-mint jam...
and finally raspberry jam and jelly.
The berries were all from local farms, the apple-mint was from my garden, the garlic from our local sharing farm and I used natural cane sugar for the jams and jellies. I also have recently learned about Pomona's Universal Pectin, an all natural citrus pectin additive and I used this to add to some pomegranate juice to make pomegranate jelly.
I had already made strawberry jam and strawberry-vanilla jam so when I added those to this week's jars, this was the total result of my canning so far this summer!
A productive week!
I have put my canning things away for now...until the blackberries are ready for foraging!
So this year's Canada Day was a little different for us...
For the first time in 18 years, Neil and I went to the Salmon Festival together sans our kids.
Adam walked into Steveston with friends to watch the parade and have lunch.
Neil and I dropped Colin off at the Ships to Shore Festival on Imperial Landing where he volunteered as a first aid attendant for the day.
Neil and I saw a bit of the parade, had some chow mein (of course), walked around a bit and then headed home. And that was basically our day...kind of non-eventful!
I am finding as the boys get older that I am more focused on "lasts" now. Who knew last year will have likely been our last Canada Day together in Steveston? A reminder to me to cherish all the moments we have with the boys.
All seven cousins were together again for this year's trip to Kelowna. Lots of sun, water, fun, games, stories and adventures to share!
On Saturday morning, the boys were willing to get up early to go out on the lake to go wakeboarding - always one of their favourite things about the trip!
Colin went to a skateboard park in the afternoon and then after dinner, we all went over to H2O, a great indoor water park and pool...a tradition.
On Sunday we drove out to WildPlay, an outdoor adventure park with highropes, ziplines and crazy climbing challenges. The boys LOVED it and I often heard screams of "yah!" as they completed something or tore down a zipline amongst the trees. Our time started out sunny and then it absolutetly starting pouring rain about half way through the course which made things slippery and hands cold...an added challenge!
The WildPlay adventure was something new for us this year but I have a feeling we will be back. Hopefully next year, I will be to try it out too!
An Animoto video of our adventure:
And then when we thought we were done, Colin and my nephew decided they wanted to try something called the Primal Swing. Oh. my. word. That is Colin on the right...
Now on the left!
In the video my sister took, you can hear Colin screaming with joy. He loved it.
My dad drove up to visit my aunt and uncle and then joined us for dinner and ice cream in downtown Kelowna...and another tradition, the visit to the Ogopogo!
Monday morning brought more wakeboarding and then tubing with the cousins...all sorts of combinations.
One of the highlights of our trip is always the wakeboarding and tubing. The boys only do this once a year and it is great to see how they improve each year. My sisters and I were remembering when they first start and we would all just cheer if they "got up" and now they are wakeboarding in and out of the wake and the boys did a few jumps this year too.
An Animoto video of our two times out on the boat:
Before we hit the road to drive back in time for July 1st in Steveston, we drove over the bridge to Westbank to try and recreate a dock jump we did years ago but alas the dock had been taken down and a new platform and zipline had been created. Some of the cousins still tried it out and then we took our last group shot before hitting the road.
With Adam gradutating next year, who knows how many more years we will be able to make this annual trip happen, but plans are already underway for next year!
So its been a difficult month to say the least. The BC education labour dispute has turned our world upside down and we have all been affected in different ways. Things change on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, creating a need to be flexible and having to problem solve through many different things.
So here we are today on what should have been the day that Adam and Colin picked up their report cards and yearbooks at their high school...usually a great day for them. Fortunately, we are well aware of how the boys have done in their courses and they both had a great year.
The other part of high school, that part that gets forgotten in labour disputes and essential service orders is the community the boys have been missing - their teachers, their friends, the school itself. The sense of belonging they feel as part of their school community. Both boys have strong connections to their schools, in different ways. Adam has a core group of friends and peers that he was in the Spectrum program with and they continue to spend much time together. Colin has many different groups of friends, connected in many ways.
At the begining of June, Colin spent all day Saturday and Sunday at emergency first aid and CPR training. He wants to be a First Responder at his school and we are very proud of his sense of commitment to this.
Two weekends ago, Colin participated in the Relay for Life at the Richmond Oval with a group of his friends from his high school. They did considerable fundraising before the event, going door to door and doing freezie sales at school. He had a fun but emotional night. He made a lovely luminary in honour of his Grandma Kamide who passed away from cancer in 2006.
During third term, Colin was also very connected to the group of boys on his volleyball team. They had a much more successful year than last year. Colin played the defensive position of libero again this year.
Colin actually won the most dedicated player award at the school's athletic banquet.
Colin went to a birthday party for one of his teammates at SixPack which is an indoor beach volleyball place.
I am so glad he had the opportunity to play on a school team this year and I really believe participating in school clubs and teams enhances and deepens the high school experience.
Adam has been more focused on his academics this semester as he begins to think about university and college applications. So hard to think he will be in grade 12 next year! Although he worked hard in Physics, Japanese and Social Studies, Adam has a creative spirit and has particularly enjoyed his metal design class this semester. He worked very hard during lunch hours and after school to design and make various projects including his own pen and a beautiful ring for me.
So even though the labour dispute goes on and the end of the school year just doesn't seem as celebratory as it usually does, we are grateful. We are very thankful for not just the excellent academic experience our boys have at their high school but also the other opportunities they have. Big thanks to their teachers and their school community!