Monday, December 30, 2013


As I sit here thinking about what I want to do in January, I am watching a few snow flakes fall, listening to Len shovel the drive (again) and waiting for Jessica to wake up. It is Monday morning, December 30th, we just had another good dump of snow and the new year is on the horizon. 

Many people develop New Year's Resolutions - often they are things we can't follow for long or aren't motivated to continue - but maybe we don't make the right resolutions, maybe that is why they don't seem achievable. I saw this picture on a Facebook page and it seems doable, realistic and makes sense. It also focus' on what is truly important for each of us, 12 Steps to Self Care. My wish for 2014 is that I can learn this mantra and the my girls can too - we tend to take things too personally or too seriously... Just let go of what we can't control and be kind to ourselves, seems like a good idea to me!

I am entering the new year of 2014 feeling very grateful for what I have, the people I love and for who I have become. Nine Christmas' ago I never believed I would feel at peace again. I had just buried my first husband, I had a 3 year old recovering in a full body cast from a car accident and a 10 year old who was so traumatized and lost that she would not let me out of her sight. It was strange Christmas but one that I will never forget. My parents were crucial to my survival and my mom moved in for 6 weeks to care for us all, day and night. My Dad gave me that gift of my Mom with his complete love and support and Christmas day, Dad took over the role of putting toys together, playing games with the girls and telling me how much he loved me. My best gift that day was a 2 hour soak in the tub with time alone, as my folks distracted my girls and  gave me some space from being needed every second. Those moments in the bathroom, door locked, classical music on (so I couldn't hear anyone banging on the door or calling for me) were cathartic.

My little monkey!
Today, 9 years later, I am surrounded with love from my adoring husband, my great kids and a few really good friends, near and far. I never believed I would own a home again, but I do. I have learned that Christmas is not about the stuff, it is about the love and being together. This year I made a pact to keep things simple, affordable, local and sustainable and we pretty much achieved that.
Len, all tuckered out!
Nothing was over the top or going to put us in the poor house and we were all happy with how it went. We sure did miss Rachel though! Of course she was busy in Vancouver cooking her turkey dinner and talking to me every 45 minutes to walk her through it, so with that and some Skype time, I didn't feel all that far away from her.

A care package for Rachel
A must for a care package,
Authentic Nanaimo Bars!
 Of course we remembered Rachel and sent her a care package that, as we speak is somewhere in a car driving through Northern Ontario - making its way to her new home. Yes, practical, sent her baking goods, recipes and already baked goods! A little taste of home... Maybe she will make herself and her room mate some good old fashioned multigrain bread, just like mom used to make...
My Kitchen My Favourite Place!
We now move forward into 2014 and as I look at the year ahead I am feeling a little lost. Why? Well, things slow down drastically for me and I  need to set tasks for myself to remain
focused and not to get too lazy. My days will have some routine, getting Jessica off to school, morning coffee by the fire with my handsome, puttering away, lunch with my lover and then write or sew or prep for market, welcome Jessica home in the afternoons, followed by a family supper, homework and then off to bed again. It is a comfortable routine and I should add some winter walks with Len and Duncan into that schedule.

I hope that in 2014 I become more sustainable in my routines, do more to treat my earth and planet better, make even more of my gifts for next Christmas, have a successful year doing what we do out here in our little bit of the country and maybe get to see my parents again. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

...And a Partridge In a Pear Tree!!!!

The 12 days of Christmas is a time honoured classic. Of course I no longer need a partridge in a pear tree, but 10 maids a milking or 5 golden rings would be fine and I would be REALLY happy if I had 6 geese a laying! Yes, my lazy chickens are STILL on strike... down to about 65 birds and still 5-10 eggs a day.. not much to sell these days and nothing this week since I need the few I have to do my Christmas baking.

Speaking of Christmas baking, I never really enjoyed it all that much. I have mentioned in the past I never was much of a baker but one thing I enjoyed every year, from about the time Rachel was 3 years old was going to my dear friends house and baking Christmas cookies. It is a tradition that started one year shortly after we returned to live in Nanaimo. We thought it would be fun to bake together so I went with Rachel, out to her house one Saturday afternoon in December of 1997 and we created a tradition that lasted all the years we lived in that city. 

We would head out to her house after lunch. We each brought the basic supplies and baked sugar cookies and shortbread and drank wine and ate appetizers and laughed, giggled, cried, shared and bonded for life. When we began this tradition my little girl just played,watched TV and helped somewhat as she could or wanted to. We, the big girls, connected, emotionally, physically and spiritually. These were beautiful treasured days.

Her daughter became a teenager, mine a elementary schooler and my new baby arrived to begin to be a part of it. As the years went by, my friend and I did less of the work and watched our girls take over the task, although we always participated. Eventually, her daughter had babies and they too became a part of this day. There were years of sadness, joy and trauma, but we carried on. So many years and so much fun. I do miss that. 

This year, I miss my daughter, she won't be with us this Christmas and I miss her desperately but I am so grateful to know, that this past weekend she was once again able to participate in this special tradition. This year, the baking was at my friends daughters house, with her children and my daughter was the one drinking wine and giggling, laughing and telling stories with my dear friend. 

Was I jealous? YES! Was I happy? YES! I am so blessed that they are my "family". That they love us, take my girls in as their own and are the god parents who are there to offer support when I am not. My daughter moved away on June 20th - that is 5 months and 26 days ago (yes I am counting!) She has journeyed across this great country of ours. She has lived in 4 different cities. She has had good times; bad times; grief; joy and now unconditional love.

I am so grateful to all of the people who have reached out and helped her along the way. It hasn't always been what we all expected in the interaction but it has all been a learning experience for everyone. To all those people, thank you, truly. She has had a time to grow, learn and move forward. I know that many kids start school in September right after high school but this 6 months out of school, working menial jobs, not working, being alone, being surrounded by loved ones and finding her roots - has helped my baby girl grow into the beautiful woman that she has become. 

There have been times in the past - almost 6 months - that I have wondered: Did I do my job right as a parent? Of course I made mistakes, tons of them. Did I give her skills she will need? Did I advocate or as some people have said "enable" her too much? I don't know. I did my best. I loved her with all of my heart and got really ticked off and frustrated at times too. I do know this - I parented her the best way I could and today, I see a strong woman developing. During the past 6 months I have had "constructive" feedback from young moms and people without children and while I consider their opinion - as the old saying goes "Until you have walked a mile in my shoes..." I know that at times I wonder about other parents and how they care or parent for their child - but I know we all do the best we can with what we know. I was also guilty as a young mom of saying "I will NEVER do that..." but , well, good luck , it is a tough job and the rules keep changing... I do see a young woman who is creating her future, learning from her past, taking the good with the bad and making her own memories and that is all I can hope for.

I miss you baby girl - but I am proud that you are standing strong - bouncing back from adversity and holding your head high. The years have dealt you many blows - but we all have things that either kill us or make us stronger.  

Meanwhile, we are home in Fosterville, NB where Len is still shoveling us out after a huge dump of snow fall - a good foot and a half and I know he would be happy if the Ten Lords a Leaping would show up and give him a hand! Me? I have learned to enjoy baking and now that is my livelihood, so back to my Christmas baking, just got another order, so back to work for me! 


The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me 
Twelve drummers drumming, 
Eleven pipers piping, 
Ten lords a-leaping, 
Nine ladies dancing, 
Eight maids a-milking, 
Seven swans a-swimming, 
Six geese a-laying, 
Five golden rings, 
Four calling birds, 
Three French hens, 
Two turtle doves, 
And a partridge in a pear tree!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The death of the farmer...

We have a little place, we call it Golden Unicorn Farm - we don't really farm but we have chickens and we participate in the local farm market and we try to earn what we can from working with our hands.

I sometimes wonder why? I work so hard, I try so much and there are moments where it all seems for naught. OH we had grandiose ideas and planned to do more than we do, but due to age (my husband is 72 and I am 47), lack of money to build good barns and solid fencing, we had to scale back. Now we have to decide whether to continue what we do or just relax and do nothing? (I don't think nothing is possible for either of us.)

Who is at fault when it comes to the fact that we are unable to earn a living wage? Maybe other growers, farmers, cultivators, market vendors and to some extent the public. Why? Because so many people devalue what they do. They sell good quality home grown or home made product for less than the grocery store.

They undercut each other on basics like eggs... We sell our eggs for $3.00 a carton - that is for a local, pasture/free range truly outside roaming bird which is supplemented with grains. We also have to continue to feed and care for chickens that moult and quit laying as well as the decrease of eggs in the winter - less income, same costs. Now, the store charges 3.79 for factory farmed eggs and 4.50 to 5.00 for eggs that say they are free range (which has a completely different meaning). Some people think we charge too much - and in my opinion, they can go to the store. Other people line up for our eggs because they are so fresh and taste so great. Why would someone else come and sell their eggs of equivalent size and value for 2.00 or 2.50? I don't understand it. I suppose I could understand it if there was a glut on the market but frankly there is a waiting list of people to buy the eggs... So why devalue what you do?

Grain has increased about $2.00 per bag since we started raising hens about 3 years ago and fuel has certainly gone up , A LOT - so the drive to town costs more, why does this not have value? Not to mention going out several times a day to check the hens, feed them, water them, collect eggs - several times a day in winter due to freezing eggs, in winter make sure they have water that is not frozen, clean the chicken coop about once a week and.... Well, you get the idea.

Baking. I bake. I started to bake to keep warm in the winter and because I was a little bored and lonely out here in the woods. I now have a small winter customer base and a healthy summer customer base. My costs increase, the price it costs me to bake a loaf of bread has increased, dramatically since I started. Every time there is a rush on the stock market for grains or due to the potential lack of grains in the future - costs increase. My prices have not increased in almost 3 years. I still have to buy the flours, grains, staples, etc.  that I need to make my product. I buy the best quality I can, use real butter and use many organic GMO free products in my baking. For the most part there is little to no question from the customer about the price of my product - for this, I thank you dear customer. 

Where do I see a problem? At Christmas time I spend about two months marketing to the public and my customers to increase my Christmas orders. I know that historically it can be a busy time and that after Christmas the market customer base drops drastically. Therefore, I have a small window of opportunity to sell my product, stock up on supplies and make sure my bills are paid before I have very little business again. This is now my only job and I take it quite seriously as well as try to have fun with it. It can be crazy and stressful at times and incredibly lean during others. I do it because I like it and it makes me feel good to see people enjoying what I do and even drooling over baking at times - feels good!

The farm market I belong to goes year round and is indoors. We pay for a monthly booth and this allows me the opportunity to leave product, eggs, preserves and Len's art at our table for the weekly customer to come at their leisure. On Fridays many vendors attend the market from 8 AM until about 1 PM and bring in fresh product. We are one of those vendors. We generally arrive at the market about 9 or 9:30 AM after my daughter gets on the bus to school, we load the car and Len makes sure the animals are set for the day. We leave our house about 8 AM. This is our one trip to town per week. 

Back to Christmas. One thing I do at Christmas is specialty baking. I supply my customer with a list of ideas and options and I am also very open to baking their own requests and personal traditional foods if at all possible. About 2 years ago I started doing dessert trays for Christmas. The tray is large, ready to serve, decorated in cellophane and makes a great hostess gift. The tray comes with about 6-8 varieties of cookies and bars and anywhere from 40-50 pieces for $20 a tray. I think that is a pretty good deal. I see what people buy in ready to serve trays like mine from a grocery store about $30-$40 or a plastic tray with pre-made (who knows where cookies) in Walmart and other places for $15 - $20. I have had very good feedback on what I do and I think it is good value. 

So how do I feel when I see other people selling a similar product for $2 less than me? Why would they do that? I don't mind the competition, I don't mind them getting customers too, I just wonder WHY would they devalue their and my product? Neither of us mass produce it, we all have growing families, I just don't understand it. They have a great product, I think I have a great product. Why sell for less, make even less than we already do? I know people will pay $20, so why down sell?

I have spoken to farmers in the East as well as the West who tell me that it is   difficult to grow crops,  they have to endure the elements, a poor year, good year, no customers coming on "bad weather days" - fresh produce left to wilt if no one decides to shop that day. I am like minded with many of these people - I will not give away my product. If it doesn't sell then I will take it home and if we can still eat it, we will, if we can't, my chickens will or the farmers pigs... I have also learned that many farmers are closing up shop - getting out of farming because they can't make a sustainable living - when all they need to do is charge their customers a fair market price - stop selling at prices that were fair 10 or 20 years ago. 

We also learned this year about the price of beef and pasture raised chickens and the value. If it costs $1.50 to buy the chick, take the loss on the early deaths of 5-10% of your birds, feed them, pasture them and protect them from predators, take them to the abattoir and pay $4.00+ per bird to be processed for selling and then sell them for $3.00 lb - less than the going rate of organic birds in the store which is $7-$10 lb - why bother? Or selling beef at $2.50 and $3.00 lb for a whole side - when in the store ground beef factory farmed starts at $5.00 lb, why sell grass fed for this price? Just to cover your costs? What is wrong with allowing yourself to make a little money? I do not see this as gouging. 

People who try to live off the land, sustain-ably, working with their hands - MUST value what they do. It is hard enough to get the consumer to understand but if we farm market sellers don't work together we are not helping ourselves or anyone else. As it is, our consumers earn anywhere from minimum wage of $10 per hour to ... well, it really depends on where you live and what you do on how that caps your income. A farmer - full time farmer - earns about $1 per hour. Maybe a little more at times or less at others but on average the farmers I talk to make very little. Remember this is based on the work hours in a week all year long.

When going to a farm market, please remember - the person you are buying from is there to help you - help you understand what you are buying, how it was raised or grown or baked or created, help you eat better, healthier and in many instances for less or at least equivalent to what you buy in a store. They will produce product you want if you ask. They are excited to tell you about themselves and why they do what they do and how they do it. There are not secrets - well maybe some recipes held close to the chest but in general - questions are welcomed and answered. 

Openness is not the response from a grocery store - in part because they don't know, didn't raise or grow or bake for you - or the producer is under a strict confidentiality agreement and can only tell you so much - they don't want their secrets out or to let you know why they can sell cheaply - but you may want to research and question those methods. Big stores and corporations are subsidized by big business and government tax breaks = lower prices. My theory is : if you can afford to cross the border, stay two nights in a hotel to go Black Friday shopping just so you don't have to pay taxes at the border - you can afford to eat at KFC or McDonald's - you can probably afford my eggs for $3.00 or my bread for $4.50 - and if you can't or wont, that is OK - I will not devalue myself, my time, my expenses and my values - I will either quit doing what I do - or come home and feed it to my chickens - they like it too.

Is this a rant? Probably. Is this a blog on questioning our values? Yes. Will I lose some customers or fans? Maybe. Is this my belief and should I stand behind what I believe? Yes. Do I support the farmers and vendors in my market and buy their product at their price without question? No. To qualify that answer - yes, I buy and support them and as a buyer think the prices are amazing - but no, I do tell them in many circumstances they should increase their price to bring up the value - people WILL pay it. We just need to stand together.

Now, I look forward to any response.... Have a great day, eh?!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

It's all relative... (my apologies...)

Recently I had the opportunity to enroll into a local Community Food Mentoring Program. I will be honest, the reason I took this program was to get my Food Safety Certification (for free a $142 value) and then to have some time out, taking some training and connecting with people. I never thought too much about what it all meant - at least not past what I could get out of it.

The first day was lots of fun, although overwhelming. I attended with the larger group who are taking the full 5 week mentoring program as well as a group of 8 women from my community who were just attending the food safety section - we all wanted to get certified for safety reasons since we do so much locally with food. There are SO many rules in food safety! Some are great, some are common sense and some do seem like overkill, having said that we made it through, took the test and now await the results.

Christmas 2012 - Thankful
The next few weeks were/are on topics such as Food Security, Learning How to Eat Well for Less, Getting comfortable with the Canada Food Guide, learning more about sustainable food in our community,  learning how to teach adults  and my favourite part, cooking with a chef each week to create our wholesome lunches using a wide variety of foods. 

Local Pork, carrots & home made noodles
I have to admit, that day one I did not really "get" the purpose of the course. I also felt bad for the facilitators since they have a course almost full of people who are "the converted", people who are into local, sustainable, responsibly raised food, avoiding GMO's and who definitely reach for organic. As one fellow put it, "We are a room full of food radicals." Now, initially, I thought, great! It is awesome to be in a group of people who "get it" but, after the end of the first day, that we were NOT getting it.

What do I mean? Well, yes, we all know what we should eat, health wise, organically, etc, but what we were forgetting or avoiding was that NOT everyone can do this, not everyone has that choice. I am happy for myself that I have learned to use more of what is around me, I have learned to use more whole foods, less processed foods and I now understand that when I hear organic or no GMO's it simply means that I am making choices for better overall nutrition in my life.

I wasn't always this person though. I was a single mom. I had very little money. I had to make choices on putting gas in my car to get my daughter to school or buying milk and cereal to stretch my budget for the rest of the week. Yes, education is important, yes, healthy food is important but not being hungry? That was the goal for my girls. There were times where I didn't eat with them, I told them I had eaten earlier, or I wasn't hungry - this is what parents in poverty do. I faced decisions of food to fill my cupboards and my children's bellies, rather than to nutritionally fill them in a healthy way. AND yes at times, I was just lazy, or tired, or trying to cope. 

I realized on day 3 of my course, that we weren't all getting this. I had to step back, try to get across to my group that not everyone has the opportunity to grow their own food, shop across the border for better deals, bring food in from other cities or even have a car to drive around town to shop for sales. When a person has little to no food options they just do what they have to do. I had to stop myself from being hypocritical. 

So, I once again had to place myself in the situation of many Canadians around me. Parents who are not stupid, who understand that they aren't always making the best choice for their child, but families who are just struggling to get by. Yes, in many circumstances it is cheaper to eat whole food than processed food, but as this video link tells you, there are people who don't have the time to grow, preserve, prepare and they are working hard just to keep a roof over their kids heads. People who feel they have accomplished something by ensuring their kids have food on the table each day.

I am an advocate of good, healthy, GMO free, organic, local, sustainable foods - but, I also remember , now, that someone just trying to get through their week, will not appreciate what I tell them if I am lecturing them, or making them feel bad/worse about their lives. I remember now, I need to lead by example, kindness, sharing, thoughtfulness and hope that some of those tricks and lessons I have learned, may help someone else. If it doesn't that is ok, I will still be their friend, support them and understand they are doing the best that they can.

Sarah & Len - East Grand Lake - Sunset
We all do our best. We make improvements and slowly change. I still have some foods with preservatives in my cupboard, not really proud of it, but I do. Sometimes it is laziness on my part. Overall we eat well, healthy, locally but we are still able to go to someones home or a restaurant and enjoy a meal - knowing that it may not be local, etc. This course has reminded me I need more fruits and veggies in my diet. I am grateful for the opportunities I have and I know we do NEED change in our Canadian food system and will continue to advocate for that, but I will try not to be too obnoxious or annoying, ok? 

If you can - watch this video, inner city schools in the USA but Canada has the same issues. Take care and HAPPY THANKSGIVING to my American friends!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Typing away... and a little reward!

Len and I are both working hard this winter to spend more time writing. I am trying to write short stories   not over thinking them. Just bashing out some work to get the creative juices flowing. Then back to my masterpiece!

We both entered CANADA WRITES CBC creative non fiction last year (no neither of us even hit the long list!) Last week we both submitted stories to the fiction contest and this weekend CANADA WRITES posted a new contest, a quickie! Bloodlines - a true story with a photo, no entry fee, so what the hell! We may as well!

We have discussed how they must select winners, judge, etc. Yesterday I noticed that stories are being instantly published! Well I was having trouble coming up with a story that hit the criteria, but managed to pound one off last night. I found it very tough to write a detailed interesting story in only 500 words. My blogs are longer than that!

Anyway, I did it and so did Len. Imagine our surprise this afternoon as we both sat down at our computers after lunch to discover an email telling us our stories had been published! So, with that said, I invite you to have a read at both my story and Len's story.

My story is the story of "The Long Walk" a day that my friend and I went to the store, only to be brought home after a massive police hunt searching for us. (Just click the link below the picture.)
Len has shared a story about his mom "The Transformation" and his memories of her... Quite a read! (Just click the link below the picture.)
That's it for now! Have a great day!

Monday, November 4, 2013

And the torch is passed on....

 Growing up Baby!

From sweet little infant, to employed student in Vancouver - you've come a long way baby! (OK, yes SHE has come along way, but what about me? I was there for the whole journey too!)

I graduated from high school in 1984, almost 30 years ago! At that time I was somewhat like my daughter is now, wondering what to do with my life, was I good enough, did I have the strength or courage? Unlike her I didn't really have any great interest in anything and I was not accepted to the church college I thought I wanted to attend in the USA - so I went to the local college in a neighbouring city. 

All of my friends were entering college or university in September 1984 and I had no clue what I wanted to do but I knew one thing, I was MOVING out! So late August of that year, I decided to enroll in basic university prep courses that would apply to something, somewhere down the road. Student loans aren't like they are now but I did apply. My parents were having a rough time financially so they were unable to help me much. (I get that now, since I am not paying my daughters way at all.) 

I had to be VERY economical and while my friends were getting apartments, in secure buildings, in "safer" areas of town, with monthly allowances... I found a little bachelor suite in the basement of a house renting from an older couple. They were nice people and my place was VERY tiny for $220 a month it was what I could afford. Of course there wasn't much left over for groceries, since my parents helped me as much as they could and gave me $1200 for 4 months rent, food, laundry, etc. Money was tight and I ate a lot Ramen Chinese noodles with cheap hot dogs and learned to use peanut butter in a multitude of ways! I was excited though! I was on my own (very lonely!) and was enrolled in college. 

Speeding ahead in the story, this is a blog, not a book! I was not ready for school. I was broke but managed to find money to buy drinks, skip class, go to parties and basically squander this opportunity completely! I had NO idea what a mistake I was making! By the end of December I had failed my classes, been evicted from my little suite and felt pretty crappy about myself. Three days before Christmas, I made some hasty decisions and packed up what little I had, left some boxes at a relatives with things I couldn't take with me and hopped on a bus to Banff, Alberta to clean hotel rooms for minimum wage. It took me about 2 years to focus and get back to school then by May of 1988 I was living full time in the big city of Vancouver. Living there and loving it! 

Now my daughter has followed my journey, somewhat in reverse... She moved across the country, drove in her little car 5600 KM, worked in a hotel cleaning rooms - lasted longer than I did! Then decided that yes school was sounding good! She is in now in Vancouver, working and about to move into her first apartment! I can't do much to help her from here, but it is reassuring to know that some of the things that her dad and I collected and loved will now be in her new home and that she can reclaim some of his art work for her walls.

Her new home is much nicer than mine was and she shouldn't be as lonely since she will have room mates and someone to go to school with since her friend is enrolled in the same course at the same time. We never know what life will throw us, or how we will deal with it. We never realize what we have until its gone, but I am happy to see that she has found a path, following it and even though its not easy, she is out there living her life.

It is now almost 30 years later and the world has changed. I had no phone, internet or cable - Yes! Cable and phones DID exist! I hope that she will be eating more than cheap Chinese noodles and I am grateful that I have some amazing friends that have helped her, supported her, put her up while she settled in and now others who are finding items for her new home. I am grateful for the tough times and learning experiences that I had and YES I loved living in Vancouver!

Now I am settled in little old Fosterville, NB on  Golden Unicorn Farm and I am grateful that my daughter has access to Facebook and phone so we can stay in frequent contact. I am grateful that unlike me, who spent half my pay cheque calling home, crying to my mom, she, can call and cry to me for almost no money! I wish I could be there, help her settle in, experience some of what she is going through, but I can't.

Next Sunday, my baby turns 19 years old and will be her first birthday that we are apart. Wow! I am getting old! I wouldn't change it though. A life lived, lessons learned and I am now blessed with beautiful children, a loving husband and great friends. I pray that the example I have set will resonate with her. That she will not make the poor choices I did, that she will honour the positive ones and that she will live, love and laugh...

Yes, the torch has been passed on... 
Go rock Vancouver little girl! 
(Unlike your mother, don't stay drunk, 
skip classes and love your awesome new home!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The land of vacations....

One more week until it is time to "Fall Back" and reset the clocks. Halloween is only days away and for one of the first years ever, I don't feel very interested in it. Maybe because Jessica is the only child for 5 miles around and I don't really expect anyone to come by. I did get a few things just in case but it is not like it used to be. I used to go all out, decorate, dress up, mood lighting... oh well, allows for a quiet evening for me since Jess will probably go to Canterbury and trick or treat with a friend.

Travelling with my handsome
Niagara Falls
We recently took our first vacation in years. It really was a vacation, no work involved - volunteer or paid and no other obligations than to see Len's family and have some fun - which we did! We ended up with a free rental car for a week which made for very relaxed driving and went to all the sites that I wanted to see... Niagara Falls and the CN Tower. Yes, it was VERY touristy and definitely hit the old pocket book but it was worth it and is probably the only time it will happen.

Me, CN Tower - Glass Floor
It was strange travelling with only one child... She had no one to fight with over the back seat, over who got the bed or floor in the hotel, fight with over the laptop, etc... It was very pleasant and with the exception of one melt down on the way home, I would say a success! Even the people we visited said she was pleasant to be around, so, my theory is, one child DOES work! Of course my oldest laughed at me and told me I was a bad parent for even expressing this thought ... Then she remembered how she had me alone for the first 7 years and how much easier some things were... (and NO I wouldn't change it, love them both, but starting to think that 7 year difference is ok again.)
Now on parenting, apparently I am a mean old fashioned mom. No, it is true! I was at the school the other day, waiting with Jess and a few of the kids from her class for about an hour in the hall way  waiting for appointments. School was in session and we chatted quietly, we hoped, while we waited. I learned the following things:

  1. I am old. Yes, its true, I am 47 (and a half, but we won't talk about that) and I had Jess, my last baby at age 35 (and a half). The other girls are in Jess' grade but almost a year older than her since their birthdays are January and February and they will be 13 and Jess is turning 12 at the end of November.
  2. One kid WAS OK, for a while
    1. Child one: Turning 13 and mom is 31, Child Two: Turning 13 and mom is 34, Child Three: (Mine) Turning 12 and mom is 47 - This means I was already older than there moms are now when I had my daughter. IKES! Yes, OLD rush hit me! To know that their moms were not even as old now as I was when I had her, felt really weird! This was clarified when child one pointed out at least I was almost the same age as her grandma?!
  3. Child one, informed me that her mom was pretty clear on her NOT getting pregnant young, waiting until she was at least 25 years old before having children. Sounds reasonable to me. I was 28 the first time, so I could definitely relate to this more. Particularly since at 18 I didn't know where to live, work, partied too much for a job or school and was a bit of a flake. I would have taken care of a baby if I had one but so glad I didn't. Seems like good advice to me. Child two, told me her mom would want her to wait but would also be happy to let her live there and raise the baby with her. Very supportive. (NOTE: I am not judging their choices, just pointing out my perspective. Thank you and please throw eggs at my car in your rant as it is easier to wash than my house.)
    1.  Child three, mine, to quote her "My mom would kill me and kick me out if I was pregnant." Oops! But yes, I have not encouraged my kids to have babies before they are old enough, mature enough, financially stable and have lived a little to have kids. Yes, the girls mouths dropped, eyes wide open and horrified they thought I was the devil incarnate. My kid, just went, it's ok, I just won't get pregnant. (YAY! So glad SHE got the point!) Am I too old for this? Maybe! (I am pretty certain this did not help my local reputation, however, if my kids get that having a baby is more than about how NOT to get pregnant and that babies are more than cute little crying, peeing, eating creatures and a life time of work and responsibility - I accept being the evil mom and knowing that they get the point.
  4. The final part of the conversation revolved around not getting pregnant. One girl told me how she had been kissing boys since last winter - I told her this would get her pregnant. (No she didn't buy it, but did tell me that her mom was going to be careful and put her on the pill for her 14th birthday... I mentioned there is one sure fire way not to get pregnant - don't have sex!) She told me that was true, but better safe than sorry. (OK I shall concede to this point - but no my girl is not getting birth control as a birthday present - I will just lock her up in the Fosterville tower, think that will work?) AND yes I will love my kids no matter what but if they make life time choices they do know they have to face them.

Being a mom and a grandma
Yes, I am old. I found that being 47 it was more fun to grandparent for a few days than to have another baby and yes, as much as I love my kids, I do enjoy them leaving the nest, living their own lives, fulfilling their destiny and having some time alone with those who are left in the house. Perhaps in 6 years when Jess leaves Len and I will get a few years to ourselves. Time where if we want to leave for a weekend, go for a drive and stay away for the night, make love all afternoon (well we probably won't take that long to finish) on a Saturday afternoon instead of late at night when everyone falls asleep.
For now, we shall save our afternoon delight for weekdays,
 before the bus gets home.
Yes, we are old,
 but we are still vibrant and in love!
Me and My Soul Mate

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Where did the summer go?

As every summer ends I look forward to the quiet and peace of winter. Winter seems interminable and I greatly anticipate summer. Summer comes life zooms by, we are busy and the kids grow and we get older. Summer ends and I wonder, "Where did summer go?" I don't even feel I had time to smell the flowers. Autumn has hit and winter once again approaches...

This past spring and summer had the added trip urgency of one trip to Montreal and three trips to Halifax for Jessica and medical treatment and surgery. As a result she was housebound and had to remain inactive for much of the summer which added to my worry and concern but thankfully she healed well from an old injury and the fabulous doctor's in Halifax who repaired her. I was incredibly impressed with the treatment and care at the children's hospital and can't tell them enough how much that helped in how we dealt with everything. THANK YOU so much for the work you do - kudos to the doctors and nurses at the IWK!

Of course it wouldn't be enough to be able to focus exclusively on one child, no, Rachel was completing high school and preparing for graduation and prom. Now this is not like when I graduated almost 30 years ago and had one event to attend plus pictures done at the school by the same photographer everyone else used. 
 No, we had to hire a photographer (very pleased with her work) take additional grad poses and "environmental" photos for the yearbook. We had to make two trips to Moncton 3.5 hours away to choose and pick up the prom dress. We had to attend the grade 12 banquet/play, baccalaureate at the church, prom and graduation. Oh and I ALMOST forgot a graduation party was required!
Now, don't get me wrong it was lovely but in some ways seemed very overboard. I kept things as simple as I could and it was very expensive, I have no idea how some people did it. In addition to this my "farm" clothes were just not going to cut it so I had to dress out Len, Jess and I so we wouldn't look like hillbillies at these events either. (Apparently my man was over dressed but I think he looked adorable!) 
No, I wouldn't have passed on any of this. My daughter went through a lot to get through high school and I always promised her "when you graduate - you get it all" whatever it all was at the time. (I am now saving loonies in a jar for Jess' graduation in 6 years!) Yes it was worth it and I was incredibly proud of my baby girl and wish her the best as she got in her little car the day after graduation to drive west and begin her adult life.

Amid all of this we were happy to host Len's brother and family for a few days. They were great guests, jovial, enjoyed the farm, food and family but I got sick so have to say a heartfelt thank you to Lylia for keeping things going since I became a poor host. They did get the teepee put up though so that was awesome! That was a huge help to Len!

So summer arrived and the shop did amazingly well. I was very happy with the feedback and support from the locals and the lake people/tourists. I had many wonderful compliments on my food which makes me so happy since I never used to be able to bake very well. It seems that solitude and time on my hands has helped me work toward perfecting this craft. However due the great response I was too busy to do much else all summer. Oh well, can't complain there, just be grateful and know that before long I will have lots of time to sit, write, think, nap, watch the snow fall and perhaps paint some flowers and take the time to smell them? 

It is harvest and preservation time so I am working on that. Len's oldest daughter comes to visit next weekend and I plan to sit and enjoy a few glasses of wine with her and maybe get a little touristy. Jess and I have one final trip to Halifax. Len raised a cow with a neighbour so we will have good healthy meat for the year and we are even going on a little vacation soon to visit Len's daughter and family in Toronto, what more could I ask for? Life is good, I am very fortunate and blessed. I have a wonderful home, great family, husband I adore, children I love and who are growing well. And of course you, who are still here, actually reading... so thanks and have a great day!