Thursday, December 10, 2009

compassion kits

A few weeks ago my mama's group got together to make compassion kits as our Thanksgiving activity/playdate. Our kids helped fill large ziploc bags with granola bars, hats, mitts, toothbrushes, toothpaste and various other such items. We each got three to stow in our trunks and give away to someone in need. And today, on our way to meet Lonny for lunch at work, I decided not to speed up for the orange light and I found myself waiting at the intersection, grumbling about being stuck a few extra minutes in the car with two extremely cranky kids. That's when I noticed a man standing at the corner. His sign red "Homeless vet, please help". I remembered the kits in my trunk, and turned into the gas station in order to park and give him one. I was a bit aprehensive, wondering if he would object to the fact that I wasn't giving him cash, but his face broke into a huge grin and he said " Bless you, that is so very kind of you. Have a good Christmas."

I thought it would feel good to give, and it did to some extent, but mostly it made me feel really inadequate and embarassed that I waited until my 30th year of life to finally do something like this. And what a small thing it was. And so I'm going to make sure that I always have these kits in my car, not just during the holidays. I'm also looking forward to volunteering at a soup kitchen to celebrate Thanksgiving when the kids are a little older and won't sit under the table screaming (which is what happened at lunch today at Microsoft. I think everyone left the cafeteria ready to schedule their vasectomies).

Anyway, I learned a bit about compassion today: it's easy to do and I hope my kids grow up with a big dose of it so that it comes naturally to them!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fall Update

My chicken is in the oven and the green beans are now missing their tails, and I have a moment to sit and write a few words before I need to check on dinner. I have neglected my blog recently but I'm not going to apologize because I don't think mothers should have to. Mothers are very good at the whole mother-guilt thing, myself included, and I'm attempting to be, well, more forgiving of myself.

What have we been up to?? Raking leaves and eating heaps of chard from the garden, making soup (yes, with chard in it!) and reading lots of books in the warmth of our little house. We also had Halloween, during which Maia turned into a fairy princess for a change, and Kieran was a very convincing little Bam-Bam with his head of blonde hair and his habit of bashing everything in sight. We still have two large bags of candy sitting atop the fridge. Maia has decided that these are yucky and too sweet and that the dill pickles she made with her friend are much tastier. Definitely her mother's daughter.

And last weekend we escaped to San Francisco for four days to visit my dear friend Amie who is a bit of a brain and is doing her fellowship at Stanford in radiology. She had warned me that it would be cold, and so we arrived with touques and wool sweaters. These were left, untouched, at the bottom of our suitcases and we all came home sunkissed and feeling like we had REALLY been on holiday. Amie fed us lovely meals and took us around Palo Alto, Stanford, and the wharfs of San Fran. I fell in love with the Mediterranean light there.

I just checked on the chicken and it is starting to smell divine. Michael and Lorenne are here for a visit and there is nothing better than a house full of family and the anticipation of something good for dinner. I can't wait for Christmas when the house will be bursting with people and smelling of turkey and stuffing and mulled wine. I must be hungry.

Fish & Chips with Amie on the piers in San Fran.

Ice cream in November.

My little pot of glue.

Stinky, noisy sealions. Kids loved them. Thank you Amie for photo :)

Kieran and some Rodin bottoms.

Sun. Lovely, WARM sun. Sigh.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Summer's end

Maia opening her birthday gift with Papa.

My little girl turned 4 on Monday. Such a big number already, I really don't know how I'll cope with ever increasing numbers. Can you imagine 13? Yee God.

Her birthday is always close to the fall equinox, and this year it was on the last day of summer. I always look forward to the fall and I think it's lovely that Maia's birth coincided with this change in season. We gave her a camera in celebration, her own pink, water-proof, bump-proof, Kieran-proof camera and here are our favourites so far:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


View of the river from Joel and Janelle's home.

I went to write a check the other day and you know what I began to write in the date? May. Yup, May. How the hell did it become September? We've had an extremely busy summer, so busy in fact that apparently I haven't quite digested the fact that we've had one! And I wish I could say that life is going to slow down but according to my day planner that ain't so. We have lots of Birthdays this month, including Lonny's, Grandpa Steve's, and of course, Maia's. My little girl is turning four! She starts her first day of school tomorrow at our local Montessori preschool, and is very excited to see her teachers and friends again. It's lovely to see that she has absolutely no apprehension. And I will be attending a parent-participation preschool with Kieran once a week. I know he will enjoy being around others his size. He gets so uber exited whenever we encounter someone his size, it's quite embarassing.

I've included some photos of our recent trip to Winnipeg, where we visited Great-Grandma. We met lots of relatives and ate an impressive amount of food. The license plates there read 'Friendly Manitoba' and that couldn't be more appropriate. We came home with an extra suitcase of toys for the kids, and with the realization that I don't think I want to fly alone with the two kids to Europe next year. I think water torture would be a more pleasant option.

And last but certainly not least, I have decided to put my artwork on hold for the time being. Being a mama is a full-time job, and I was getting rather frazzled (as Lonny can attest to) and very sleep-deprived trying to do my own thing as well. As an attachment parent, I am simply not ready to spend enough time away from my wee ones to run a business. I am sure that I will still find some time to be creative every once in a while for my own sanity, but the idea is to keep it enjoyable rather than the pull-my-hair-out insanity of trying to mat artwork while the kids have the stomach ful and the dog needs an emergency trip to the vet. I think you get the jist.

On the airplane!

Gloria, Grandma, and Great-Grandma in the front.

Maia in her new boots.

Maia and Melina.

Driving a Beetle at the Children's Museum. The boy was reluctant to wait his turn.

Kieran was into changing gears.

Waiting for mom to emerge from an antique shop.

Outside the Children's Museum with Aunty Patsy who took us there.

In the hallway of Great-Grandma's house. These were enforced.

Three generations!

Breakfast with Grandma.

Hanging out with Papa on the back porch.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The artist in her booth, trying not to melt.

Phew, what an insane last couple of weeks!! Preparing for a craft fair as a mother of two must be harder than climbing Everest. But I did it, and somehow it is over and we have all survived.

The craft fair itself was, unfortunately, a complete flop in terms of sales, largely to blame on the fact that it was quite simply the wrong audience and I was very much out of place as an artsy gal trying to sell prints to people looking to buy kettle corn and hot dogs. Vendors who had previously attended the fair did remark that sales were down at least 50%, a sign I suppose of the current state of the economy. Ah well, I did learn how to set up and take down my display, I met some wonderful vendors, did too much shopping and came home with lots of goodies. I also learned that outdoor fairs in July are not a good idea for me: I wilt in the heat, and my dear husband had to come to my rescue. I am honestly married to the most wonderful man in the universe. He sat in the heat, behind sweet peas and lavender, promoting my work with a smile and much charm, and he did not complain once. When I went back to the fair for my cooler, evening 'shift', the other vendors couldn't say enough about what a wonderful guy he is. Sigh. I know. What a lucky woman I am. He even put up with me dragging him to the Bellevue Arts Fair (which I am going to apply to for next year) on Sunday afternoon.

And now the kids need a bath and the house, well, I just won't go into details. But before I leave you, here are some of the goodies I came home with, as well as some painters I fell in love with at the Bellevue Arts Fair. Enjoy!

A Mason bee house from Able Wood Design.

An air plant!! Yup, no roots, no planter. Official name:Tillandsia, bought from Owens Garden.

Fiona, who came to visit and owns this print as a giclee on canvas in her nursery. Apparently she likes to wake up each morning and point out the bird, sunflower, and cloud! Clever girl. Good taste too :)

Reusable, dishwasher/washing machine safe snack and sandwhich bags from
So excited to find these! Business in owned by two local moms.

And what girl can resist beautiful jewelry? One pair for me (long, dangly ones) and one pair for one of my lucky girlfriends...Su of SuStudioJewelry is as elegant as her creations.

My fauvist soul fell in love with paintings by Diane Culhane at the Bellevue Arts Fair. Lonny, my 30th Birthday is coming up...

And apparently I have some minimalist in me because I also love Brian Blackham's bottles (also at the Bellevue Arts Fair). They remind me of a family portrait. The windowsills in my parents' home in France are decorated with several of these 'families'.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Yurt and Dirt

We went camping last weekend with my parenting group. Well okay, I admit it doesn't count as real camping because we chickened out of tenting and stayed in a yurt instead. We still got devoured by mosquitoes, got to hear our neighbours practicing their audition for the next Viagra ad, and ate burnt hot dogs. And we found kid heaven: Maia and her friends (and yes, Papa too) got to play on the largest pile of sand EVER. It was a fun couple days but I must say I was delighted to come home to my very soft, gigantic bed. My kind of heaven!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ça gronde

I love thunderstorms, and we just had a good one. I knew it was brewing as soon as the house got very quiet, the daylight became weak and blue and when I looked out I was not surprised to see menacing clouds. Then the house shook and the sky rumbled before emptying it's swollen belly of hail stones. And as I stood at the window watching my poor tomato plants getting assaulted, I was a little girl again in the heart of France, thinking: " ça gronde!". It growls. We often had thunderstorms in the Auvergne. Violent ones that would build for days, circling our small valley and causing the villagers to talk of nothing else, speculating as to when the sky would unleash it's fury onto our terracotta roofs.

In school, the children could sense the storm's presence and we were distracted. We rarely had the lights on in our one room school. Our Maitresse preferred the ample natural light that flooded in through the large windows, and seemed rather suspicious of the overhead fluorescent lamps and the electricity they wasted. It was only when we were squinting to read our texts that she would sigh, look to the ceiling in resignation, and appoint a student the privilege of flicking the switch. You can understand that the computer our school was given sat at the back of the class, collecting dust. I don't think she could find the switch. I doubt she looked very hard.

During a storm our Maitresse knew there was no point in trying to teach us the subjonctif. We were as excited as the dogs throughout the village, and had we been allowed, I think we would have barked our heads off too. However, we were allowed to close our books, put the caps back on our fountain pens, and become spectators. Lights were left off, and we watched lightning dance across the hills. The younger children, who were afraid, were allowed to leave their desks and gather by her side, and we would all count together: "One, two, three,'s only four kilometres away! Hope none of the sheep get hit by this one!" And we would talk of the lightning rod at the top of the castle and on the church spire, comforted by the fact that they would protect us from the skies. And they did. Many years later, I learned that my teacher, by then retired, was visiting her daughter during one such storm. The house, not far from the school, was hit in a brilliant flash of light that came down the walls and blew the television and all electrical appliances, leaving them smoking. No one was hurt, but I think it did nothing to quell my Maitresse's distrust of modernity.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


First butter lettuce, chard and dill from the garden

We got a dog!!! I've been bugging Lonny for, oh, about 13 years now, and it finally happened! We got in touch with our local Greyhound shelter and went out last Sunday to meet a few dogs, not expecting to find one on our first visit. But we had barely parked the car when I was welcomed by a dog at the gate and it was love at first sight. Crazy but true. He looked at me with his big copper eyes and that was that. And he happened to be cat and kid-friendly. And available. And he was even the first dog they brought to us. We have named him Griffin, and despite two trips to the vet in five days for injured paws due to his extreme clutziness, he is settling in nicely. As you can see for yourself:

First nap in the grass (and obviously hating it)

Not the first time looking silly

Oh and it's HOT today. It is after 7pm and I am still melting as I type this. I don't do well with this heat thing. And it looks like we've skipped Spring altogether and jumped right into Summer. Grumble. But the good news is that we did enjoy the first cherries of the season at the Farmer's market today, as well as our first lettuce, chard, and dill from our very own garden! Delicious. And Maia had fun picking them, in fact she wanted to pick everything in the garden but I somehow managed to convince her not to.

First cherries of the season

And I was so busy being nostalgic in my last post that I didn't mention (well, not properly at least) Kieran's 1st birthday! My baby turned one (sniff sniff) last Tuesday. We celebrated with ice-cream cake (which he approved of), friends and family.

That's our news for the time being, and now I am going to stand in front of the fan and eat ice cubes.

Kieran's 1st birthday!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spinney Lane

I was picking up wrapping paper from the grass, trying to clean up a bit after Kieran's 1st birthday party, when my mom called. We still had a few guests and Kieran was trying to do a backflip off the rocking chair, and normally I would have asked if I could call back later, but I immediately knew that she needed to tell me something. I braced myself, expecting news of someone's poor health, or worse, the death of a friend or family member. It was neither, thank goodness, but it was still sad news; my dear aunt June and Uncle Des have finally sold their house, their beloved Sea Urchin on Spinney Lane, in Southern England. A house that was too large for an elderly couple battling MS, with stairs and the burden of a garden, and too great a distance from family and much needed help.

We should feel happy and relieved for them, their new home will be in the same village as their daughter, it is smaller, has a manageable garden. And mother and I will cry. Perhaps my father. June and Des certainly. For this is the garden my parents ate home-made bread crumb ice-cream in to celebrate their marriage. This is the house my grandmother Lalla bought shortly after the second world war. This is where her grandchildren grew up. It is the house down Spinney Lane, past the churchyard where Lalla and her beloved Philip rest, under the old oak tree, smelling of the sea. It is where the family gathered at Christmas to play cherades and grimace at Brussel Sprouts. It is the house I wanted to bring Maia to, and did, where she ran through the grass and picked daisies and then sat on my uncle's lap at breakfast to read the paper. It is just bricks and mortar and wood and a roof, but it has been the only constant in all of our busy, ever-changing lives. I wonder if the new owners realize just how many spirits will wander in that home and garden once we start passing on. I will miss it terribly.

Kieran shares his birthday with his great-aunt June. She was delighted when my father called to tell her the news of his birth. I will be thinking of her this coming Tuesday as I celebrate my son's 1st year with us. Oh how time flies, and how quickly we grow old. And may we take joy in what we have, and never take anything for granted.