We brought in April celebrating my dad's 81st birthday on April 2.
For my 50th birthday, my father-in-law and brother-in-law got me an amazing new suitcase. Loved "breaking it in" on my trip to San Francisco for a ginormous math education conference. We had one afternoon to explore the city a bit...Fisherman's wharf, cable car, a boat ride under the Golden Gate Bridge, sourdough from Boudin, a hot fudge sundae at Ghiradelli - all the touristy things.
Adam has been writing finals this month, and wrote his last one on the 28th. He's getting excited about a short camping trip with new UBC friends early in May. On April 2, he did his final driver's test and now does not need an "N" - another milestone.
Colin has been working at two different Japanese restaurants, got a straight-A report card and has been doing lots of cooking at home and working on his knife skills. He also finally got his official EMR card in the mail.
The weather for much of April here was almost summer-like. Lots of beautiful walks.
April in the garden always means the quince tree in bloom and the lovely bleeding hearts making a short appearance. The potatoes that I neglected to do a final harvest of last year seem to be growing as well - we'll see what happens with those!
On April 27th, I was honoured to attend our school district's 25 year recognition dinner, for those that have served our district for 25 years. It was lovely to see my very first principal and to celebrate with teachers I went to UBC with and who I started my career with, along with current friends and colleagues! It was a very special evening.
And my one second everyday video for April...
And May is off to an amazing start. A deadline met. Sunshine. Flowers in bloom. Yeah May!
March began for me with a quick trip to Victoria for some work with the Ministry of Education. I love flying over on a seaplane and seeing where I live from a different perspective.
The garden has shown all sorts of signs of spring this month with the first always being our Japanese plum bloom tree in full bloom followed by the flowering currant, daffodils and our golden plum tree.
March 11 marked a milestone birthday for me - my fiftieth. Apparently fifty is a big deal! Half a century and all that. An although there is wisdom that comes with age and experience, I think the more you know, the more you realize that there is so much to learn! So there will be lots of learning still. I am thankful and appreciative to those who have helped me get to this point in my life and I am also determined that it will be a year of light, joy and fun.
And a pie for pi day...
So spring break was a little different for us this year. I worked and looked wistfully at all the photos of friends and family away at tropical destinations or playing in the snow. Neil found things to do...Adam was in full end of term mode at UBC with papers to write, exams to take etc and he worked weekend shifts at London Drugs. He donated blood for the first time too!
Colin dedicated his spring break to learning some new things. He got offered three new jobs and took two of them, one of them is training as a sushi chef at the restaurant he has been working at. He bought a ukulele and has been teaching himself to play and he also built a boat with a friend. He's put his EMR training to good use and volunteered at hockey tournaments over the break.
We had some beautiful sunny spring days...#nothawaii but still great to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.
It was a low key Easter this year but the boys still appreciated finding chocolate eggs in unexpected places. There are some still yet to be found.
And wishing I had started this on January 1...I downloaded the 1 Second Everyday app to my phone for March 1.
Here is the resulting video for the month of March:
And on this last day of March...
...definitely out like a lamb, a very warm spring lamb . Blue skies forever.
Oh February...here on the west coast, it can be dark and gloomy or it can be mild, bright and spring-like. This year we have been on the mild, bright side with flowers blooming earlier than usual. I love getting out and seeing the signs of spring in early February!
And the tulips are plentiful at the markets and add those signs of spring inside.
Three day weekends - yippee for Family Day sleep-ins and brunches and boys who load dishwashers.
And because my mom did this for us well into adulthood, treats set out for the boys at their "spots" every morning that is a special holiday and on many that are just regular days as well.
I have a rough time on Mondays...I live in my true sleep cycle on the weekends and then Monday mornings are always a bit tough to deal with. I am trying to embrace Mondays this year...overnight cinnamon rolls for the win.
And how can it be that my baby is going to be in grade 12 next year? Lots of discussion around course planning for next year.
And on this leap year day in February, it was nice to eventually get home this evening and have both boys at home to have dinner with and to make a Monday special.
And because my mom always made it "a thing" when we were growing up, I will be paying attention to whether March comes in like a lamb or a lion tomorrow!
Last week I had to zip down to Blaine to pick up some books and supplies for my work. As I parked, I couldn't help but notice the train on the tracks near me. Seeing the train triggered a flood of memories for me and I took a few moments to be with those memories.
Memories of hours spent lying on the playroom floor with the boys as they played with their Thomas the Tank trains and tracks. Oh, the stories and adventures those trains had.
Memories of making a train cake for Adam's second birthday because you know, that's what moms do. And his beaming smile was worth it.
Memories of rushing to jump on a train in Whistler with Adam when he was 2 and I was quite pregnant with Colin so that he could have the experience of being on a train. Neil drove to Pemberton to pick us up and drive us back. I can remember how Adam smiled the whole time.
Memories of the Hallowe'en that the boys dressed up as train engineers. Cuteness.
Memories of driving the boys to the bunny park by the river so we could pull up beside train tracks and wave at the engineer as the train passed.
The Kamide train era lasted a few years and I relived those memories thanks to seeing this train.
Mid-week I was skimming through Pinterest and saw a photo that reminded of a recipe that I must have made hundreds of times when my parents owned a few Muffin Breaks - peanut butter squares. The ingredients were the same as I read through the recipe list but the specific measurements I have long forgotten. So I gave this recipe a go and as I took my first bite, it reminded me of breaks in the back of those Muffin Breaks with my Stash licorice spice tea (my favourite at the time) and either a cheese biscuit or peanut butter square. Note that I very rarely ate the muffins - as a baker, when you are making hundreds of muffins a day, they just aren't so appealing.
I took a couple over to my dad this afternoon which created another floodgate of memories to open wide.
Last night when Neil got back from a basketball game, he asked if I had any photos of Adam in RYBL (basketball league) from when he was little. There was a year when he played alongside a girl who is now one of the top ranked basketball players in BC - Neil thought it would be fun to pull out a couple of pictures from that time. We found some and then we just kept turning page after page of photo albums, taking us back 10 or more years.
Memories of summers in my parents' pool - the boys had lots of stories to tell. And this happens to be one of my all-time favourite photos of our boys. Pure joy.
Memories of a different era - look at the size of that computer!
Oh my goodness, the cuteness of berry picking. Every summer for years - strawberries, blueberries, etc. The boys were always so good about no eating til we paid for them, because you know, otherwise that would be stealing! Things could be so black and white for them when they were younger. Now, we live amidst a lot of blurry grey.
Adam asked, "What's up with the baseball caps?" He noticed a lot of photos with the boys wearing them when they were younger. Well, it was summer but it was also a "thing" for them. We had quite a collection for a while. The boys now still like their hats but Colin's are menswear influenced and Adam dons a toque most evenings when he plays video games.
And on today, my niece Ainsley's 18th birthday, I couldn't help but include a couple of photos of her and Adam - the first grandchildren, now 19 and 18! They were such buddies when they were little - they wrote books together, did science experiments, helped herd up all the younger grandchildren. There were pages of photos of the boys with their cousins - reminds me of how important it is to find ways to continue to nurture those relationships.
As we paged through a few more albums, and I kept calling out, "oh my gosh, look at this one!" Adam was smiling at me. He said, "I am glad you took all those photos mom. I didn't get it at the time, but I do now." Oh, the wisdom of a 19 year old.
This. This is why I ignored the teasing for always having a camera with me (back before smartphone days) and that the photo lab clerks at London Drugs knew me by name ;)
So I have decided this is all I might be able to do this year for the blog...a monthly recap to capture the main highlights and everyday moments of our lives together.
January began with a bang with Adam celebrating his 19th birthday!! We went to see the Star Wars movie and out to dinner at the Boathouse to celebrate. Oh my word, this kind of changes things for him. He's enjoyed some nights out with friends and even decided to commemorate the milestone with going to the liquor store for the first time. Adam has also begun a new term at UBC and is captaining a dodgeball rec team!
And as always, I had some fun in the kitchen this month, the juxtaposition of my family's tastes and interests are reflected in these desserts!
Colin has had a busy month of events at school, studying for his EMR course and his course finals at the end of the semester. We are so very proud of Colin for passing his EMR (Emergency Medical Responder) course - one of only three who did, and definitely the youngest!
The weather at the beginning of the month was cold, crisp and sunny - love winter days like this.
And that's it for this month - January went by in a blur for Neil and I, full with work and other commitments. Looking forward to a long weekend in February and cherishing the times when we are all home together.
2016 marks my ninth year of being a one little worder. We abandoned "new years resolutions" years ago and moved to short term and long term goals. I synthesized these goals to find a meaningful word that encompassed my goals as well as created openings for new possibilities of thinking. If you click on the olw tag in the right side bar of the blog, you will find some of my past posts about my one little word adventure. Some years have been particularly successful - appreciate, be, strength and others have started strong and then crumbled - joy, finish. I almost reclaimed joy this year to give it another go but am not quite ready to fully embrace that word again yet.
I have traced back my series of one little words and they tell quite a story to me...
2008 - APPRECIATE
2009 - FOCUS
2010 - BE
2011 - PEACE
2012 - BALANCE
2013 - JOY
2014 - STRENGTH
2015 - FINISH
and for 2016 - LIGHT
The word light came to me in early December as I led some after school science sessions looking at light and shadows. My mind started to play around with ideas about light that really resonated with me - the tension between light and darkness, the metaphors, similes and idioms that involve light, the use of light as a noun, verb, adjective and adverb. December afternoons can be so dark, that I found ways to bring more light into my life and thought about the power of light and the calming effect of a glow whether it is from a campfire or candles lit around the house.
So as I begin to live with the word light for 2016, I am thinking about...
-ways to bring light into my life, both metaphorically and literally
-ways to lighten my life, through self-care and purging of "things"
-ways to lighten some burdens I have been carrying
-ways to shine on others
The collection of quotes about light and visual reminders of my one little word has begun!
My blog is coming up to its sixth birthday and this post marks my one thousandth post! I remember deliberating whether to start a blog or not...
And I jumped right in for 2010 and did a blog post a day. To mix it up a bit, I have tried different features - Ten on Tuesday, 12 on 12, Wordless Wednesday, The Simple Things on Sunday and the Weekend Wrap-Up. I have done a few series - Holiday Treat Week, One Little Word, Looking Closely, On My Bike.
The following have been my ten most popular (most "hits") blog posts over the years:
It's interesting to me how so many of my kitchen and crafty posts were so popular (and continue to get viewed even years later) - I guess it just reflects the era of "Pinterest" and other sharing sites.
Kauai, March 2015
My blog was intended as a way to capture our life as a family of four in this wonderful part of the world that we live in - particularly as a way for my mom to keep up to date with the boys' goings-on and our travels and adventures while my parents spent six months in Phoenix each year. Over the years, this blog has become different things and has been shared out into the world for different reasons. One of the most amazing opportunities arising from this blog was because I had won a Vancouver mommy blogger award, I was invited to be interviewed by a CBC radio journalist on being a mom to young teen boys. That interview helped me synthesize and put into words so many feelings and ideas about what being a mom meant to me and how it frames my thinking about all sorts of topics.
Christmas at home, 2015
So THANK YOU to those of you that have read my blog over the years. Whether you checked in for recipes, craft ideas, to have a look at some of our travel photographs or to keep up with the boys' sports and adventures, I've appreciated the comments both virtually and in person. I'm always surprised when I run into an acquaintance and she or he mentions something and I wonder how she or he knew and the response is "I read your blog!"
So happy birthday my dear blog, thank you to those who have ready many of these 1000 blog posts and a happy new year!
I look fondly on my Facebook page and instagram feed of all my friends' young children doing such wonderfully festive things this time of year. I remember and miss the mixture of excitement and exhaustion that comes with having younger children during the Christmas season. Now, December means final exams at UBC for Adam (he's just thrived this first term) and exams and projects for Colin in grade 11 and extra studying for an EMR course (so proud of him!). And of course, Colin went full out every day for seasonal spirit week at school!
Now that they are older, they are doing many of the things we would have done as a family with their friends - movies and dinners out, skating, etc. We are just in a different chapter and I am so proud of the young men the boys have become! I cherish when we are a family of four home together at some point in the evening - even having dinner together occasionally!
Colin helped me find a tree and get it set up, the boys have taken care of their own shopping and wrapping and have helped in the kitchen. The boys have simple requests for Christmas - a large umbrella (UBC is pretty miserable in the rain and cold), a rolled cake for dessert, a basket of hot chocolate and apple cider packets. Gone are the days of waiting in line at Toys R Us for the "it" toy! In so many ways, things are much calmer and blissful during this season.
In December, two days apart, we celebrate our anniversary (22 years) and Neil's birthday. This year, for the first time since the boys were in our lives, Neil and I went out and celebrated our anniversary. We had a lovely time at the Vancouver Christmas Market and a night downtown.
December is now also a time of grief for me. My mom passed away two years ago and I wish I could say it gets easier. I still burst into tears at the most inopportune times, triggered by a memory, sight or sound. It is because of my mom's eternally optimistic disposition that I keep myself from falling into depths and find inner strength I didn't know I had. The simple joys in my mom's life are constant reminders to me to seek joy and I sense my mom particularly at this time of year...at the church service with my father, as I stand at my counter baking, as we decorated the tree or as I've been writing grocery lists.
As I set out my serving dishes, planning ahead as mom always did, I thought about the simple habits and traditions that are part of who I am, many instilled from her. The Christmas crackers, cookie plate and traditional menu were all a tribute to my mom.
We had a lovely Christmas Eve with Grandpa Kamide and Glenn...
A late start to Christmas morning...had to wake the boys up around 11.
And then a lovely Christmas dinner with my dad and my sister and her family. Cousin time!
Colin was a huge help in the kitchen - beef roast, turkey, vegetables, my mom's Scottish pancakes and our Christmas night dessert made by him.
This time of year - with birthdays, anniversaries, remembrances and celebrations - makes my heart full and puts life into perspective for me. Always a good time to pause, look around at the richness in my life and feel very very blessed. Tis the season...
For holiday desserts this year, I am envisioning a snowy woodland scene so though some snowy cookies were in order. Inspired by a recipe in this month's Food Network magazine.
1 1/4 cup icing sugar
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups flour (can use rice flour)
1/2 cup finely grated unsweetened coconut
1 large egg
1 vanilla bean
Whisk flour and coconut together in a bowl. In a larger bowl, cream together butter and 1/2 cup of icing sugar and the seeds from the vanilla bean. Mix in the egg until incorporated and then mix in the flour mixture until well combined. Chill dough for one hour.
Using a small cookie dough/ice cream scoop, form balls of dough and place them on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Place in fridge for 15 minutes and preheat oven to 325 degree Fahrenheit.
Bake cookies until bottoms are golden, about 18-20 minutes. Cool on tray for 10 minutes and then toss in remaining icing sugar. Re-toss until coated and icing sugar is no longer melting into the cookies. Cool completely before storing in a sealed container.