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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ottawa bucket list

There is an excitement brewing in me. This time next week, we will be in Ottawa, all together (Winslow is coming!). It has been over a year since we have all gone to Ottawa together and I am so beyond excited to go. We have lots to do and make up for in our short amount of time while visiting... but it will all be worth it.
Last time I went "home" to Ottawa it was very difficult for a number of reasons. The kids got VERY sick and so did I. We were without transportation for parts of the trip, and Katia was at an age that required A LOT of supervision from me. This time is different, and I am so excited to check some things off my Ottawa Bucket List!
Maybe it's because I haven't left the North in over 7 months, maybe it's because I've been in isolation for a bit too long, maybe it's because I miss my family and friends... maybe it's all of those things.
I am so excited to be home and to do the things that we have missed doing, like oh I don't know... going to a grocery store when I need to?

Ottawa Autumn 2014 Bucket List

~ hold and cuddle our new niece Maya and spend time with Yani!
~ see my sister and Amira and Tariq
~ spend time with Lolo, Lola, and all the Tatis
~ spend time with Grandpa
~ eat at my favourite pizza joint, Louis!
~Thanksgiving in Ottawa
~ rub Roxy's belly that is full of twins!
~ spend time with my best B and see Hanky
~ catch up, play with, sip tea with, be with the Niman clan... oh how I've missed them
~ hike in the Gatineau
~ take Noah and Katia to the pumpkin patch!
~ eat at the Green Door
~ walk on the beach in PEI
~ eat lobster in PEI
~ Thanksgiving in PEI
~ start my Christmas shopping
~ go to some sweet toy shops that I don't to go to regularly
~ go on a date with my husband. A REAL date * not one that I have to come up with and organize

Lots to do, but I'll make sure I get to do it all!

snow in September!

Friday, September 26, 2014

two roads project :: closeup


Johanna (left): At this age in my life, birthdays start to be less about the hoopla and attention, and more about meaningful connections and introspective thinking. 
Yesterday was my birthday and my big request was for butter chicken (with naan and basmati) and carrot cake for dessert. I woke up to many happy birthdays from Noah and Katia, and enjoyed opening my cards over a delicious breakfast of pumpkin waffles. I received phone calls and was just the right amount of celebration. 
Birthdays have a way of getting me to look at my over all life. How are we doing here? Am I happy right now in my life? Is there anything missing? 
In the New Year we hope to be moving on to a new posting, in a different part of the country. This big change on the horizon gives me hope and excitement, for the new changes that will surely unfold. 
With a big move stewing in the back of my mind, I think about what I want next for myself, for my family, for a home. I know that there are certain things lacking right now that I will want to fill in (a church or spiritual community, extra activities for the kids, more culture), but I also know that there are many beautiful lifestyle attributes (slow living, lots of family time, close connections to nature) that I will want to continue as we move on. 
There is hope and anticipation and possibility. There is the chance to look inward. There is the opportunity for change. And I am looking forward to it all.

Sarah (right): When I am old and my memory is fading, I hope I remember the intimacy of family. The smell of my babies' fluffy scalps as they rested heavy on my chest. The rough bristles on the nape of Rich's neck as I run my hands over it. The freckles, the sleep noises, the split-second expression I see: things only I notice. I want to remember Hailey and Robin's identical ponytails. Each day they wear their bangs this way, in floppy ponytails tied with impossibly small elastics atop their little heads. The contrast of sun-bleached white hairs against suntanned forehead skin. The wispy, airy feel of hair that has never been cut. The curls at the end, corkscrew tight in the back. These two little heads come running at me and collapse into my lap. I find myself staring down onto these little ponytails as we read another story, cut fingernails, slide on shoes. These are the things I hope flash before my eyes in my life's montage, evoking a powerful feeling of love found in the most minute of places.

The well-known poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken ends, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
Two women, who became friends via the magic of the Internet, were both living life on roads less traveled by. Circumstance had them both live in Whitehorse for a short time, where they became best friends. Life's map has them currently in differing geographic locations, but their connection and camaraderie continue as they continue on paths of motherhood, friendship, creativity and discovery. The Two Roads Project is our effort to reconnect with each other and our inner artists on a weekly basis, each Friday. (Or thereabouts. We don't always know which day of the week it is).
Sarah writes here

Saturday, September 20, 2014

these days ...

Lately there has been all kinds of activities to keep us going.
Last weekend, I made my way into Whitehorse to hold my Fall Mini Sessions. It was a busy, jam packed and successful weekend, and now I am playing catch up in all sorts of ways.
Community commitments, have us cooking and serving up lunches on Mondays, and leading playgroups on Wednesdays. It's a busy time, but it feels good to be involved in our little community, and it also feels good for me to keep at my creative endeavours.
Fall is here, or rather is on it's way out already. The leaves have all since fallen off the trees, and we are well into bellow zero nights and mornings.
The cold has brought on a hankering for warm foods, like pumpkin baked everything (muffins, loaves!) and comfort foods. We had garlic roasted chicken for dinner the other night (which ended up giving us one chicken dinner, 3 mini pot pies and chicken soup) . It feels good to be back in the kitchen, making yummy food for my family and for friends.
In homeschooling news, we've been slowly  finding our rhythm with our homeschooling days, which feels good.
I know that our homeschooling adventures will be an ever evolving concept, but for now, I have found a nice balance for us, that seems to be working.
We start each morning with lighting a candle. Sometimes we then say a prayer or sing a song. I like how this kind of brings us together, and sets the mood/tone for the morning.
After our opening meeting time, we then do our calendar and weather dial. I made the weather dial and the kids quite like it.
After the calendar, it is story time. Down the road, Noah will start reading to me (when we do sight word books), but for now, we are enjoying seasonal books and what ever else strikes our fancy that morning.
After story time, we usually do a bit of Writing or Math. Our writing activities include journal entries, writing letters to people, printing, letter recognition games ect. Math includes, counting games, sorting games, patterns, and more. I am trying to make the activities fairly short (5-10 mins.) and have a few up my sleeve. So for example, we may play 2-3 games in the span of 15-20 mins.
 Right now I am noticing that Noah's attention span is getting a bit longer. A week ago, I was lucky if he would sit through one 5-10 min activity.
To me, what is most important is that we enjoy our time together.
If I am or the kids are feeling stressed out, or rushed, or just plain cranky, then it's not going to work for us. Same goes for a lot of "busy work" or "sheet work". I truly believe in experiential learning, and that being creative and learning to problem solve are really important learning skills to foster, so that is where my heart lies in homeschooling.
And finally, we are all starting to get excited for our upcoming trip to Ontario and PEI in October.
It has been over a year that we have all been back to ON together, and we are looking forward to having family and friend visits. We are also taking a quick side trip to PEI to visit my mom and our family there. It's been nearly 3 years since I've been to PEI and I am so excited for it.
It will be short, but I am looking forward to having a belated Thanksgiving dinner with our PEI family :) I'm also hoping that the leaves are still displaying their beautiful Autumn colours when we get there, as our are all gone now!
And that's how our days have been rolling along. Steadily, busy, and happily content.

some of our Autumn books 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

two roads project :: comfort


Sarah (left): What brings me comfort? Warmth, familiarity, ritual. As the season turns and I begin to look ahead to a time of preparation, I return to some traditions of comfort. As I noticed the first inklings of cooler nights and crisp mornings, I have slowly begun welcoming warm comfort foods back into our meal rotation. This week, Abby suggested we use some of our tomatoes to make Johanna's famous tomato soup. I jumped at the chance to use some of our garden bounty, and we had a jar of homemade chicken broth in the fridge waiting for just such an occasion. Abby helped me pick some ripe tomatoes, and that evening I blanched, peeled and crushed them for the soup. I picked some basil from our plants, and spent a quiet evening listening to a podcast of CBC's Tapestry while I diced onion, crushed garlic and stirred simmering soup. The next day at lunch, we made some grilled cheese sandwiches, and poured everyone a bowl of soup. I think it was the first time the twins had ever been served soup, as the idea of the mess daunted me last winter! Rich enjoyed his in a stone chowder mug I picked up for him in Maine, because he likes best to sip his soup. Abby, of course, informed me she didn't care for tomatoes and didn't want any, but she relinquished eventually, tried some, and finished her bowl. Hmm.

Johanna (right): 
With Noah now in school for the afternoons, Katia and I get to spend some special time together, just the two of us. 
Yesterday we tried our hand at a delicious tomato basil bread recipe. 
The scent of the basil (fresh from the garden) as we chopped it up was so delicious. 
The feeling of kneading the dough was comforting and rhythmic. 
The warmth from the oven, the coziness of the kitchen. 
There is something so comforting about homemade bread. 
I used to think that bread was one of those impossibly difficult things to make.  But after a few lessons and a very good everyday whole wheat bread recipe thanks to Sarah, we now enjoy homemade bread every week.

The well-known poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken ends, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
Two women, who became friends via the magic of the Internet, were both living life on roads less traveled by. Circumstance had them both live in Whitehorse for a short time, where they became best friends. Life's map has them currently in differing geographic locations, but their connection and camaraderie continue as they continue on paths of motherhood, friendship, creativity and discovery. The Two Roads Project is our effort to reconnect with each other and our inner artists on a weekly basis, each Friday. (Or thereabouts. We don't always know which day of the week it is).
Sarah writes here

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

first day of homeschool

 she looks so grown up here!

Without even realizing it, it seems that we have eased into Autumn. 
Each day we go for our walks to take it all in, and over night the colours have changed to beautiful bright yellows, oranges and reds. Fall is my favourite time of year, and it is also so short here in the Yukon. I say this every year, so I really do try to soak it all in. 
Already the nights are cold, with frost. And already, I am researching this year's new snowsuits, trying to decide which one will best for the long cold Yukon winter that lies ahead. 
This morning we started our first day of homeschool. It was an abbreviated version, as I don't have all of my materials here yet, but I felt that it was important that we get on with it. We had a circle/prayer time: we lit a candle, sang a song, and said a prayer. Then it was story time and a craft (self portrait). We also filled out a very short little questionnaire type thing "All about me" which was fun to do. We then went for our morning walk, and incorporated some math into our walk. We drew numbers in the dirt and found the corresponding amount of rocks or leaves to go with that number.
And that was our morning of homeschooling. Of course there will be more to it as we go along, but for me, it was just really important that we start off on a positive note and as we go along, we'll iron out the kinks.  
Some photos of our first project and our walk. I realize that I spelled Gorilla incorrectly. It bothers me, so I thought I would point it out. 
Notice Katia's self portrait. She insisted on having a black sparkly shirt on in the picture... oh that girl! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

how to survive 101

Fresh snow on the mountains on Sept 1st!!!!

So with Fall right on the verge of exploding (and then disappearing), there is no way for my mind not to wander down that road of... "oh no, here comes winter".
For me, winter symbolizes many things, some good and pleasant, while other parts of it are long, hard and relentless. I do enjoy the quiet, introspective, homey feelings of winter, but there are also the long stretches of not getting into town, the scary and often dangerous 5 hrs drive that I do (by myself with the kids), and the stretches of extreme cold where it gets hard to go outside.
Living up here in the far North has it's unique challenges. Many of them I have written about here. I try not to dwell, or throw a pity party for myself, but somedays I get little reminders that I do feel isolated and that life can be a little more difficult here in this remote community. At the same time, we have had such amazing experiences here, experiences that have changed us for the better. We choose to focus on these things more so.
We are starting to look ahead here. This will be out last winter up in the Yukon (we're pretty sure - of course nothing is ever 100% guaranteed), and this will also be our 5th winter here, and so with all of these past winters under our belt, I feel like I am somewhat seasoned at this whole winter thing.
And so I thought it would be a neat idea (if not but just for myself to look back on some day) on the things that I do and count on to help me get through isolated community living.

1. My walks. My walks give me a moment to myself, exercise and a change of scenery. Even though Noah is a giant 5 year old now, I still put him and Katia into our double Chariot stroller to go on one or two walks a day. Yes, I should make them walk (I usually get them out of it for part of the walk), but for me, the Chariot allows me to go for a walk anytime I want/need to and get out of the house (sooo important).
2. Coffee. This may seem silly, but I enjoy good coffee made in my french press. I sometimes add a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg to the coffee grounds to make it taste extra good. Coffee is my treat and reminds me of being in a cafe (something I enjoy doing in town).
3. Having a plan.
My day can easily turn sour if I feel like I have no motivation to do anything. Having a plan, even if it is simple as:  breakfast, get dressed, do homeschool, go for a walk ect, can help me to feel like I have accomplished something.
4. Make plans, hold/host get togethers, go to events, be involved. Staying home and being a hermit is not good for the spirit, so I make the effort to go to community events, host girl's nights and I volunteer a lot. It keeps me busy. Also, if I don't like something or want to see something happen in the community, I just do it and make sure it happens.
5. Looking ahead. It's nice to know that in 2 weeks I will be going into Whitehorse to do some photography work. It's also nice to know that in 4 weeks, we will be going home to Ottawa for a visit. It's good to have these trips to look forward to. Something to have, for when the days feel long or lonely. 
So here's to one more winter of cozying up and ploughing through. I know someday I will look back on these years with such fondness and a yearning for these quiet, simple days.