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!)

January…

After the three of us recovered from our extended colds, January turned out to be a pretty good month around here.

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Pearl is now 23 months! Her hair is long enough that it occasionally gets in her eyes, she is currently getting a new tooth, and she is full of energy.

We stayed away from most of our usual toddler groups and drop-ins because we didn’t want to spread our germs around and so we ended up spending a lot of time outdoors, exploring the forest nearby and playing at the local parks.
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When the new year began, I made a list of a few goals for myself and while I haven’t worked out five times a week (probably not a realistic goal anyway), focusing on a few small changes have made a big difference in my attitude. Lots of outdoor time is key for both Pearl and I and makes our days more interesting.

Another of my goals was to spend less time on-line, especially before bed. I always have a book (or three) on the go so it’s a simple switch to close the computer and read inside. As well, I’ve stayed away from Facebook all month and I feel like that’s made a difference too. My Facebook feed is just too full of pregnancies and babies and while I normally love that I felt that I needed to step away for a while. I’ve been surprised at how good it’s felt for my own well-being.

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Pearl and I went on a fun adventure, just the two of us. We took a day trip into Vancouver, walking on the ferry and spending the day downtown. It was rainy and busy but we had a blast and I can’t wait to try it again when the weather’s better. We walked around a lot (her mostly in her stroller), Pearl had her first drink at Starbucks (steamed milk), and we rode the SeaBus just for fun (Pearl’s first time).

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Recently, Pearl had an appointment with the speech therapist. At her 18-month check-up, she wasn’t quite hitting the amount of words they expected her to have at that age (around 20) so we went on a wait list for speech therapy. By the time the therapist contacted me, Pearl had added a lot of words to her vocabulary; Peter and I estimate she has about 50 words now. It didn’t seem like it would do any harm to have her assessed by a professional though and to see if there was anyway we could help her along. I wasn’t sure how it would go since Pearl isn’t always the most outgoing around strangers. The therapist was awesome though, having a tea party with Pearl and bringing out lots of toys to engage her, all while surreptitiously jotting down her observations.

In the end, our suspicions were confirmed – Pearl is totally fine! It’s been apparent that she understands what we’re saying, including multi-step ideas (like, “Go get your boots and put them on”) and she’s adding new words to her speech everyday. She’s simply learning at her own pace and that’s okay! Just this past week or so she’s begun putting two words together to form sentences (“Hi mum!). I’m still glad that I took advantage of the appointment, plus I learned a little more about how to aid her speech development along. I can’t wait to hear what she says next!

Summer 2016…and some other news

Now that we’re well on our way into September and heading steadily towards autumn, I think I can just squeak in a bit of a summer re-cap.

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It was a perfectly normal, low-key, Coastal summer for us. The Sunshine Coast is one of the best places on Earth to spend the summer. It’s what we all tell ourselves as we live through the rainy, grey days of fall, winter, and (let’s be honest) most of spring.

Peter and I were both fortunate enough to be able to work part-time for the summer and so we did our best to balance work and family time, trading off to take care of Pearl while spending time all together too.

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There were lots of hikes and lots of beach time. We went camping with Pearl for the first time at the end of June. (You can read about that fun here.)

It went well enough that we tried it again in August, this time with two other families. These friends of ours also have little girls younger than Pearl. The older Pearl gets the more thankful I am to have friends in this stage of life. There have been many shared walks and talks in recent months and we had a blast camping together. (And no judgement about going to bed early!)

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On that camping trip, Pearl got to experience a canoe for the first time. For the first ten minutes she screamed about the unnatural horror of floating on water and then settled down and enjoyed herself. Peter also took her out on a paddle board for the first time.

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I opted for a more solo paddle-boarding experience.

On August 21st, Peter and I celebrated six years of marriage with a ferry ride and a fancy dinner out, just the two of us.

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And we topped our summer off with a visit from family where Pearl got seriously loved on from her big cousins. As she grows, it’s so fun to watch her interactions with these guys.

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Pearl is now 18 months. She has strong opinions and strong affections. She doesn’t say much yet but she can run and climb like nobody’s business. This summer we’ve really seen her imagination develop. She pretends with her stuffed animal friends and often seems to be making up her own little games.

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Like putting Big Bear in her high chair and feeding him crackers. She’s also excellent at sharing imaginary soups and making her stuffed animals give each other bunny kisses. She understands a lot of what we say and even if she doesn’t verbally respond yet, she makes her desires known and is getting pretty good at obeying simple instructions.

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But what’s really kept me busy this summer….

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That little rascal in the bottom left corner…

…and the little one who has made its presence known through fatigue and nausea all summer! (The real world, physical arrival will take place some time around March 10th in the new year and we couldn’t be more excited to see our family grow!)

Reading with Pearl: The Ferryboat Ride by Robert Perry, illustrated by Greta Guzek

The Ferryboat Ride - Robert Perry, illustrated by Greta Guzek (Nightwood Editions, 1993)

The Ferryboat Ride – Robert Perry, illustrated by Greta Guzek (Nightwood Editions, 1993)

This is a thoroughly West Coast book. All about riding the B.C. Ferries, an experience well known to anyone who lives on our little peninsula here. Pearl rode the Queen of Surrey for the first time when she was just three days old, on her way home from the hospital in Vancouver. Fittingly, we barely missed the previous ferry and had to wait two hours for the next one, sitting in our car, first in line. We told Pearl that she had better get used to waiting around for ferries.

Robert Perry’s simple rhymes, accompanied by Greta Guzek’s distinctive illustrations show an idyllic view of this trip. And it is a beautiful trip. While locals may complain about our marine highway, the ride can be as magical as this children’s book portrays it. It’s not uncommon to spot whales, to wave at kayakers, or to simply enjoy the sun and wind on the deck.

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Guzek’s style is instantly recognizable and she’s a Sunshine Coast artist who’s well known in these parts. Nightwood Editions is also based here on the Coast. While the book obviously appeals to locals, I think it’s charms would translate well to anyone who likes being by the sea. I’ve given it as a gift to people with children in order to encourage them to come visit!

Garden, Forest, Beach

…with some playground thrown in. (Fair warning: this is mostly pictures of my kid. I think she’s cute.)

Spring is showing up around here and I love it.

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A lilac tree is one of my favourite types of trees.

We moved last summer but the first time we viewed our house was in the spring and the green backyard full of flowers was one of the things that sold us on this place. It’s been fun to see what’s blooming again this year. And it makes me happy to have (free) flowers in my home.

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Pearl saw me picking these in the backyard and has now taken to picking her own bouquets. Here’s her first attempt:

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Sunshine means lots of time spent outdoors and lots of trips to the little park near our house. Pearl loves to walk there all on her own – no stroller or carrier. It takes a little (a lot) longer but makes her so happy.

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She loves to pick up sticks and rocks. We’re starting a collection outside the door. She also likes to put on her own hats, as you might be able to tell.

Pearl seems more grown up to me every day. She climbs to the top of the playground all by herself and then comes down the slide with a little bit of help. Last week we sat on the bench in the park together to eat apple slices.

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And here she is going for a walk by herself:

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Jokes! We’re responsible parents, I promise!

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She’s very much about swings right now.

Warm weather also means beach time.

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…and forest walks!

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If this is a taste of what summer will be like, I’m happy with that!

Big Fir Hike

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Peter and I have always enjoyed hiking and exploring areas around us here on the Coast. So this has been something we’ve definitely wanted to continue now that we have a baby. Some lovely friends gifted us this sweet Deuter child backpack (the Kid Comfort III, if you’re interested). Now that Pearl’s six months and can sit up better, she’s big enough for us to use it. (On previous hikes with Pearl we’ve used our Ergo carrier, which has been and continue to be great. Now that she’s older though, we’ve noticed she was really straining to look around and observe. In the Deuter carrier she sits up higher and has more ability to see about her.)

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At the risk of sounding like an ad for Deuter, this thing is amazing. It’s extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear, as well as being comfortable for Pearl to sit in. She’s well-cushioned and supported so she’s not being bounced around. The carrier also has several pockets and sections to carry things (like wipes! and diapers!) and even has a spot for a hydration bladder. Those Germans – they know how to design stuff.

On this particular hike, we headed to Halfmoon Bay and took the trail to the Big Firs. These are the largest trees on the Sunshine Coast and I had never seen them before.

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There are lots of mountain bike trails around here too. The trail is pretty easy though, due to recent heavy rains, there were some major puddles.

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This area was heavily logged (and is still an active logging area) so I’m not sure how some of these old growth trees survived but it’s pretty neat that there are still a few of these massive, centuries old trees.

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There’s a small picnic area by the two Big Firs and we stopped there to eat sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies. Pearl didn’t seem that impressed by the big trees but everything is big to her so maybe she didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

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Apparently, being carried around in a cushioned carrier is existing because Pearl fell asleep on the way back to the car. Fortunately, there’s a cushion for her to rest her little head.

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Happy Labour Day

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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In the News…

Our local paper comes out once a week and covers news and events from Gibsons to Pender Harbour. My favourite section each week is the RCMP report. This column details crimes and misdemeanours that have taken place on the Coast. Generally, it’s a lot of traffic issues – drunk drivers, car accidents, an elderly person who gets confused while driving. What I enjoy about it is the lack of hardcore crime it displays. It’s usually petty thefts – like the attempt to steal a huge propeller on display in someone’s yard – or petty incidents like the teenager caught uprooting a shrub and throwing it into the street (the officer who caught him made him replant the shrub and then called the teen’s parents). These are submitted by the local Mounties and sometimes the write-ups are simply delightful. Like the one where a motorcycle hit a deer and “the deer fled the scene”. This week was a good one:

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In other good local news – the forest fire is 100% contained! I believe there is still some ground burning that will probably not be completely out until we get a good rain but it will continue to be monitored. In the meantime, the air quality advisory has been lifted, which Pearl and I are very happy about! Our whole community is so thankful for the firefighters and tree fallers who have worked to contain this fire. We are still under strict water restrictions and there are still many other fires burning across our province and in the prairies. I’ve never seen a July so dry.

Drought in a Rainforest

IMG_2326It has now been almost a week since someone’s campfire burned out of control and a forest fire began here on the Sunshine Coast. As of the most recent report, the fire is 250 hectares and 40% contained.

Sunday morning the wind shifted and we woke to smoke and ashes in the sky all along the Coast. I woke up in a panic, the room an eery orange. The mornings around here are usually full of bird sounds, the odd chirp from a squirrel, the dogs next door barking. But Sunday morning was perfectly quiet and still.

This was our view:

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Everything outside had a thing layer of ash over it.

From our bedroom window.

From our bedroom window.

There are currently more than 100 fires burning in British Columbia, so our air quality is a result of our own forest fire but also those on Vancouver Island and near Whistler. The forest fire here is not even close to being the largest.

Since Sunday we’ve been under an air quality advisory, a warning to avoid unnecessary time outdoors. Our local hospital is full of those suffering from respiratory illnesses. Pearl and I have been on lock down since Sunday afternoon. Since she’s still so little, we are keeping Pearl and her tiny lungs indoors, windows shut.

Although it looks cloudy and foggy outside, it’s hot out. And it’s hot in our house without fresh air circulating. We’re all having trouble sleeping around here and last night I let Pearl sleep unswaddled since she was waking up every hour in a sweat anyway. This at least let her and I sleep for a couple of hours at a time, until she would stretch or startle herself awake again. (And six hours of sleep in two hour chunks is not the same as six hours of uninterrupted sleep.)

Setting sun two nights ago.

Setting sun two nights ago.

But I know I can’t complain. Although it might look like the end of the world out there, it’s not. We’re safe where we are and the fire is moving away from the town. Tragically, there has already been a life lost in the fight against this fire. People have had to evacuate their homes. There are men and women out there right now fighting this fire, my brother-in-law among them. Our community is grateful. If uninterrupted and sweaty sleep is the worst I have to deal with, I am very fortunate indeed.

Clearer but still hazy skies yesterday morning:

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Forecast calls for rain this weekend. We’ll be thankful for it when it comes.

Powell River Getaway

This weekend, Peter and I took off for a couple of days to the furthest reaches of the Sunshine Coast – Powell River!

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Peter had been before but I never had so it seemed an appropriate getaway for the weekend before my birthday.

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Waiting at the Earls Cove ferry terminal.

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We had better luck with the camera timer and the top of a garbage can. Plus, this way you can see that little baby, now in our third trimester!

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It was a beautiful Saturday morning ferry ride.

Powell River’s old Townsite area is a historic region, centred around the mill on the waterfront. The town was designed for the mill workers, stretching back up the hill from the water, all the streets named after trees. While both the mill and the town have had their ups and downs, in recent years there has been a lot of work put into revitalization and the town looks lovely.

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We stayed in the Old Courthouse Inn – lovely and historic.

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The view from our window.

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The Patricia Theatre is the oldest still-running movie theatre in the country.

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A tiny lending library.

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Two of my favourite things? Yes, please! (The fudge was excellent.)

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Powell River also features a microbrewery – Townsite Brewing – and Peter and I happened to show up at the exact right moment for the free weekly tour, followed by a taste test. Well, Peter taste tested and I sniffed.

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Saturday night, Peter and I drove to the end of Highway 101 to a little spot called Lund where the road ends.

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It was dusk when we arrived and dark before we left but still nice to check that destination off our list.

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Like our own small town, most things were closed on Sunday so we spent the day exploring trails, lakes, and oceanside before we turned and headed for home.

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