Canada Day 2017

This year Canada celebrated 150 years of existing as Canada. We are obviously a young country and we would do well to remember that culture existed and people lived on this land for many, many years before European settlers arrived. In 150 years, we as a nation have made a great many mistakes and we are still working to fix and atone many of them. At the same time, I think we live in a nation worth celebrating. In all the upheaval of our world, there are a lot of things that Canada is doing right and I’m proud to be a Canadian and feel privileged to live in a land like ours.

Canada Day is a big deal in our little town and we love going to the parade each year. (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012) This was Pearl’s third Canada Day experience and her most enjoyable. She was really engaged with what was happening and has been talking about some of the sights she saw ever since.

The parade always starts with kids on bikes that they’ve decorated themselves. I kept telling Peter that next year he’d be there, running alongside Pearl!

Then come the classic cars. We have a lot of retired folk in our community and that seems to translate into a lot of classic cars. As soon as the weather gets good, they all come out for the summer.

Then the veterans, pipers, cadets, and others in uniform. (Mounties too, of course!)

Pearl waved her flags and cried, “Yay Canada!”

This “tiny horse” with a flag on it was a big hit.

As was this bear that wore pants and a hat but no shirt. (Pearl and I recently encountered a bear in our neighbourhood so we’ve had a lot of conversations recently about the two bears that she’s seen.)

Of course there were lumberjacks.

Happy Canada Day! (Or whatever other national holiday you may be celebrating this month!)

Life in June

June is coming to a hectic end and we are heading full force into July without a break in sight. But the sun is shining and Peter’s work schedule will (eventually) slow down so June is also getting really good. We spent a good portion of this past weekend at the beach, including a Saturday dinner picnic. Pearl loved playing in the sand and the creek and trying to find tiny crabs. Here are a few pictures from our life lately:

Our hikes (or “forest walks”, as Pearl calls them) often look like this when we have Bella around. Bella runs ahead and off the trail, Pearl runs after her, yelling, “Bewwa! Come!” Bella does not often listen.

The tricycle we found at a thrift store in Washington is a big hit. Pearl is now tall enough so that her feet can reach the pedals. Bike riding is limited to the carport/driveway currently but we have big plans to one day bike to the park.

“Pearl help!” is something I hear a lot. And while it would definitely be faster for me to empty the dishwasher myself (and the cutlery would get into the correct spots), I remind myself that we are (hopefully) instilling good habits. Plus, she’s such a cheerful and eager helper!

We are currently spending a lot of time in our backyard and in this little pool.

No one can say Pearl doesn’t know how to relax.

I decided to let go of keeping the play dough colours separate. It still makes me cringe when she mashes them all into one giant ball, but it also means I can let her play by herself and get something else done and that’s worth it to me in the long run.

We are currently making our lists of goals and dreams and projects for the summer. No big plans but lots of fun and friends and sunshine ahead, I hope.

Our Summer So Far

Our summer got off to a hectic start and things are just beginning to settle down again.

At the tail end of June, we headed to the Okanagan for a wedding. We left directly after Peter got off work on the Friday and drove straight, taking the Coquihalla Highway. (Well, one stop of burgers at Five Guys in Chilliwack, in the pouring rain. I’ll be honest, I don’t miss living there but I do like Five Guys.) We arrived in Okanagan Falls way past Pearl’s bedtime to discover that the hotel we were staying at was above a bar. Pro-parenting tip: Don’t stay in a hotel above a bar with your baby. Rough night.

Fortunately, the next morning we found an awesome diner across the street and made our way to the lake-beach a few blocks away.

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The beach (and the playground) was more mud than sand but there was also a splash pad where Pearl had a blast running through water and kicking the spray. Then we all went back to the hotel and had naps before the wedding.

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This is the only picture I took of this beautiful, garden wedding but others caught some pictures of the three of us so I hope to share a couple soon (Along with the conclusion of my 30 Day Dress Challenge. I know, I know.) The weather was perfect and the ceremony and reception were held in a lovely garden with games planned in between. The bride and groom had a lot of thoughtful touches – including goodie bags for the kids!

After breakfast the next morning, we headed home. We opted the more scenic, southern route, which took us through several small towns along the way.

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Our original plan was to take our time on the way back and stop in a few spots. But when Pearl fell asleep leaving Penticton we decided to just keep driving. Of course, you can’t leave the Okanagan in the summertime without fresh fruit so we did make a lightning quick stop at a fruit stand in Keremeos for blueberries and cherries.

Pearl woke up as we drove through Manning Park so we stopped for a late picnic lunch and to look at ground squirrels.

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An important feature of every childhood road trip through British Columbia.

An important feature of every childhood road trip through British Columbia.

We made it to the ferry terminal with enough time for an ice cream break before getting on the boat (Pearl’s second time. She’s a fan.) and then home and to bed where we all slept through the night.

We had a few days of work and home time and Canada Day.

Last week, Peter was away for a few days so I took Pearl into Vancouver. She had her latest check-up at Children’s Hospital and we stayed with family for two nights and got to catch up with friends.

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Like these two who I’ve been friends with since I was seven years old! Pearl was definitely past her bed time here but she did really well the whole week and got to hang out with all of her cousins.

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I lived in Vancouver for fifteen years but four years in a small town on the Sunshine Coast mean that I’m not quite used to the hustle and bustle of the big city anymore. I’d also forgotten that smiling at and greeting people on the street or on public transit is not normal. I used our stroller a lot but for busier locations, the Ergo was great for our introverted little girl.

Our hospital visit went well. I’ve accepted that returning to Children’s Hospital will always be filled with emotions for me and so I was more prepared for it this time. Pearl’s test results on her kidneys, while not perfect, were good and a slight improvement on last autumn’s. Her kidney function is good and one is almost completely normal now. Most importantly, Pearl continues to be symptom-free from her hydronephrosis. I met with the renal specialist who said there’s no reason to do surgery now or, most likely, ever and we’ll simply continue to monitor her kidneys.

Pearl and I headed home on Thursday, arriving home shortly after Peter. And so, this week, our summer begins in earnest. I think it’s going to look like this:

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And some of this:

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And a whole lot of other fun!

Things That Happened Without the Internet

We moved! And it turned out that our new house had never had internet hooked up before. So we waited two weeks. They sent a guy. He needed a truck. We waited a week. Another guy showed up. And twenty days later we have internet.

Yet just as it did in the nineties, life exists without internet. Here are some of the things we did:

    • We moved! We’re now in our new house!
    • We enjoyed one last sunset in the boathouse.

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    • We finished renos on the new house! (Depending on how you look at it, we may or may not have finished said renos before we moved in. But they’re done now. Mostly.)
    • I cleaned a house. Then I moved and cleaned another house.
    • Pearl and I went on many long walks to explore our new neighbourhood.
    • Some of those walks were simply so she could nap away from renovations.
    • We also had some good backyard times.

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  • We found the quickest route to the corner store. Important.
  • We explored the local beaches and found the best spots for swimming. While we’re no longer right on the water, there are a couple of really nice beaches just five minutes away.
  • Peter took a week off work so that he could actually enjoy some of his summer.
  • We waited four hours at the ferry terminal! Pearl didn’t seem to mind too much.

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    • We spent a lake day with friends. Pearl did awesome, even taking a nap in our friends’ trailer. We took her swimming in the lake and she liked it a lot better than the ocean. After a gradual entrance, she was eventually clinging to a pool noodle and kicking her legs. (While one of us held her.)
    • We got burgers from our favourite joint and had a picnic at another lake.

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    • I fit into all of my pre-pregnancy pants! (There was one last pair that was holding out on me but they finally gave in.)
    • We went to Vancouver and visited family and got to introduce Pearl to some family for the first time.
    • I bought non-maternity clothing for the first time in over a year.
    • Pearl slept in her own room for the first time!
    • Pearl slept in her crib (not her bassinet) for the first time!
    • Pearl’s going through some sleep transitions so there were a couple of days that looked like this:

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  • (But things are getting better!)

Basically, we are having a terrific summer.

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Hello August

Last weekend, Peter and I took a long weekend trip south of the border – down Seattle way!

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We headed over Friday evening after work and made it through the Peace Arch by sunset.

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We were in Seattle together at this same time three years ago so we knew some of the places we wanted to visit and we found some new spots too. I didn’t take a ton of pictures – preferring instead to just enjoy our time and the moment. But here’s a few I did take:

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Just as we did three years ago, we managed to hit Seattle during Fleet Week. Lots of naval officers walking around, including a few Canadians. I can tell I’m getting older because I didn’t get hit on by any Marines this time.

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Can you visit Seattle and not view the Space Needle?

Related question: Can you view the monorail and not sing the sing from that episode of The Simpsons? MONORAIL!

(I have to confess, growing up in Vancouver where we have the SkyTrain, I have never been motivated to ride the monorail in Seattle.)

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Triffids. Or art?

Either way, they started to play music when you walked by them.

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Of course there has to be a visit to Pike Place Market! I don’t know if this is a terribly touristy confession but it’s probably my favourite spot in Seattle.

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Mostly because I love food.

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When we were there three years ago, I had the macaroni & cheese at Beecher‘s and when people asked what I was going to do for the weekend in Seattle this time, I responded, “Eat macaroni and cheese.”

And I did. Two days in a row. And it was glorious. Probably the best I’ve ever had and this is my favourite food so I know mac & cheese.

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On Saturday morning we passed a truck setting up that advertised Free T-Shirts. Because we love free things, we stopped to chat. Turns out, they were travelling around a few major U.S. cities to promote Texas. Yep, they were handing out free t-shirts to convince people to visit the state of Texas. “People don’t realize there can be lots of things to do in Texas,” they told us. “There’s art and culture.”

So now we’re two Canadians, advertising Texas with our free t-shirts.

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Sunset in Seattle.

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On our way home, we took one of our favourite drives along Chuckanut Drive (from Mt. Vernon to Bellingham. Lovely, lovely.

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And then we came home. And that was great too.

Day 30 – 30 Day Dress Challenge 2014

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This dress may look familiar. In fact, this picture may look familiar. I’ll be honest – this is a photo from Day 2. I wore this dress again yesterday and when I curled up in bed last night, realized I hadn’t taken a picture that day. So the 30 Day Dress Challenge ends on a whimper and not a bang.

Yesterday, Peter started his summer job and we marked the beginning of summer with a hot dog roast on our beach with a few friends. It was lovely. This dress was perfect for a casual day with friends, playing in the water, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and eating ‘smores. I love summer.

Thanks for following me along on my 30 Day Dress Challenge. In the end, I wore 25 of my 30 dresses. Two went directly into the thrift store pile and were never seen here. Three were overly fancy for my regular life, though one will make an appearance at a friends’ wedding soon.

Day 4, Day 10. Day 16 will also be sent to the thrift store. My month of dresses was a fun way to cull my closet a little, get creative with my wardrobe, and think about what I really wear. I have to admit, I was pretty happy to wear shorts today.

 

Day 7 – 30 Day Dress Challenge 2014

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The Dress: Thrifted at Goodwill on this trip through Washington. It’s a fun, easy-to-wear, shirt-style dress. It’s light and sleeveless but not overly casual (at least on the West Coast). It was a little windy while we were hanging out at the beach this morning so I also threw on a cardigan.

This was another dress that I took to Europe last summer. It did me well but I do remember feeling under-dressed wearing it in Venice. Italian ladies are serious when they dress up!

The fish cone. A meal we haven't stopped talking about.

A favourite memory in this dress…Cinque Terre, a big bottle of beer, and the legendary fish cone.

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And today…distracted by a hawk flying by.

Despite the cardigan, today was beautiful and summery. Fantastically Saturday.

While Peter went to a meeting this morning I strolled through the weekly market downtown.

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At the thrift store, books were 50% off and I found a stack of good ones. 6 books for $4.50? Love it!

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Tomorrow, the men of our church finally shave so I took a few pictures to commemorate Peter’s beard.

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In the afternoon, it was warm enough (almost) for my first swim of the year! Speedy but the first of many this summer. And even better to sit in the sun and dry off afterwards.

And then…

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Saturdays are good.

Summer’s Still Here

Summertime on the Sunshine Coast is an especially wonderful time. The days are long and bright, the water is warm(er) but always refreshing, and there is always something to do outside. From kayaking and mountain biking to sitting on your own or someone else’s deck and drinking a cold beer.

I honestly feel a little sad to have missed out on the majority of summer here. Don’t get me wrong, I travelled in Europe for a month so I’m not exactly feeling sorry for myself, but summer on the Coast is a world class destination.

The good news is this: Summer’s not over. You might think it is because Labour Day and Back to School and a couple of days of rain, etc. But it’s still officially summer until 21 September and our good weather here has been known to last into October.

So I’m holding on to summer and enjoying our beautiful home with the following activities:

1. Jumping off the local pier.

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2. Adventures up the hill with friends.

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This was also the day I had my first sighting of a Sunshine Coast bear. More accurately – the bum of a black bear as it ran away from us into the bushes.

3. Picking apples from our tree and baking with them. (Pictured: using one of my favourite thrift store finds!)

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From our own back yard we have also enjoyed golden plums so juicy you have to eat them outside. And from the garden of friends we were gifted with kale, lettuce, carrots, and a giant zucchini. Pair these goodies with the salmon Peter caught the other week and it’s the best local diet ever.

4. We pass by this lake every time we make the trip from our house in to town.

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That’s Trout Lake and since February Peter’s been telling me it’s nice to swim in. So, on Labour Day, we went. I learned to swim, to canoe, and to pull leeches off my skin in a lake.

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5. Just this past weekend I tried two water sports I’ve never attempted before.

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Our friends kindly lent us their paddle boards and so we’ve been exploring our shoreline in a different manner. It’s surprisingly peaceful.

On Saturday, Peter and I went over to my in-laws to go tubing. Unfortunately, the tube fell apart before I took a turn. This can happen when your tube is 20 years old and has pulled around countless numbers of kids. After a few attempts with the kneeboard, we got out the waterskis. Peter made it look pretty easy and got up on his first attempt in about 17 years. I still don’t think I can say I’ve waterskied exactly but at least I’ve attempted.

Thirteen summer days remain. Make the most of them.

Long Weekend, Long Weekend, Long Weekend

That’s a pretty beautiful pairing of words, isn’t it? Oh, Canada! Thanks for the long weekend!

What did I do?

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Got dressed up and had a fancy dinner out with my handsome husband. We had a gift certificate (Thanks Jen!) to a nice restaurant nearby and ate delicious food while watching the rain fall over the ocean on Friday night.

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Had a delicious breakfast with the in-laws.

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The sun showed up like crazy this weekend (finally!) and Saturday is market day in Sechelt. It was also $5 bag day at the thrift store. I’ll devote a separate post to those findings!

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We spent the afternoon on the beach, after a lovely ocean swim.

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Saturday night sunset at our house.

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Drive back into town on Sunday afternoon:

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Patriotic dessert.

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Sleepy puppy cuddles.

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And just one from the Canada Day parade, but more to come!

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Happy Birthday Canada!

I’m here, on the Sunshine Coast, looking out on the ocean and listening to the rain. I love it. Peter and I start our house-sitting gig tonight. I’m so happy to be here. Many adventures to come, I hope.

After a long and busy day of moving on Saturday, it was great to relax and celebrate and see friends yesterday on Canada Day. (Huge thanks to Carl, Tanya, and Brent for helping us move, as well as my awesome in-laws!)

It wasn’t sunny for the parade yesterday but it didn’t rain. This was my 2nd Sechelt Canada Day Parade. It begins with locals kids riding their bikes, decorated with flags and red and white streamers. Kids on tricycles are flagged by jogging dads.

Then the classic cars, drivers and passengers honking and waving. It’s a small town so the waves are often directed at friends and acquaintances, with people calling out hellos to each other.

An overhead visitors buzzes the tower.

I know not everyone loves bagpipes but I really do. When they’re played well, at least, I think they’re a powerful instrument. I’m just Scottish enough for that, I guess.

And, of course, the Mounties.

Then the floats begin. Here are a couple I got pictures of:

There were a few references to the queen this year, due to her recent anniversary, no doubt. Here she is with a Mountie and a couer-du-bois and a dog (this was the pet store’s float).

And the parade finishes with the emergency vehicles.

I am proud and thankful to live in Canada. I’m very aware that life is easier and better for me in many ways, simply because of my citizenship. I’ve travelled to a few different countries and many are beautiful and fascinating and amazing but I’m always happy to come home and I’m always proud to introduce myself as a Canadian. We’re a huge and patchwork-style type of country and what it means to be Canadian might vary from province to province but that’s part of what makes our country special too. Even though I wasn’t born in Canada, I’ve always been a citizen, due to my Canadian parents. It’s good to remember not to take that citizenship for granted. Although our country has many flaws and we are not always the polite lumberjacks we may pretend to be, we are fortunate to call this place home. I felt more thankful than ever yesterday when I woke up, rolled over, and looked out on the ocean. Home and Canada might look different for someone from Manitoba, Quebec, or the Northwest Territories, but for me it looks like cedars and firs on a rocky ocean shore.