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Friday, April 18, 2014

two roads project



Sarah (right): 10 Things Readers May or May Not Know About Me
1- I try to heal most ailments myself: Case in point, I am currently fighting a flu bug. I am treating myself with magnesium detox baths, immunity-boosting smoothies (lemons, ginger, carrot juice, honey), sleep, liquids and Advil for when the fever symptoms take over. My kids get a spoonful of honey as cough syrup and would have to be pretty sick to be taken to the doctor. I just like at-home remedies more than I like the cesspool of infection in doctor waiting rooms.
2- I have gone scuba diving with sharks. 
3- I have seen a positive pregnancy test six times.
4- I met Rich at a new year's keg party in high school. We have never broken up, nor had relationships with anyone else. 
5- Grilled cheese is probably my favourite food ever. I remember the thrill of ordering it in restaurants as a child, eager to see how it would come out. Still do, really.
6- I followed the Yukon Quest sled-dog race as a reporter my first winter up North. It changed my view of the Yukon, and shaped my time there.
7- I am snarky and sarcastic when defensive.
8- I have a hard time making new friends. But when I do, you're in for life.
9- I wake up early almost every morning to write freehand, stream-of-consciousness style. It helps clear my head, figure out what I really feel about issues in my life, and start the day with some creative me time.
10- I've met celebrities Sam Roberts and Elizabeth Gilbert.

Johanna (left): 10 Things Readers May or May Not Know About Me
1. Growing up, my mother told me that we had gypsy blood in us. I think this is why I like adventure, road trips and to travel. If I don't keep moving, I feel trapped. 
2. I am a complete political junkie. I grew up in the nation's capital and enjoy following politics, just as some might enjoy following celebrities.
3. I am happiest when I am near the ocean.
4. I've lived in 5 provinces/territories in Canada. I've traveled to 9 of them. 
5. I'm so not a morning person.
6. I am part extrovert and part introvert and need both types of socialization equally. 
7. I like movies and books that make me happy. Not ones that leave me depressed or scared or with nightmares. You've Got Mail is still one of my favourite flicks. 
8. Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon. Wine in the evening. 
9. I go to church. I have many questions about faith in general and am not sure where I stand on the religion scale, but I love the peace and clarity that I get from quieting my mind and from being around like minded individuals. 
10. I chose out my baby names when I was 16. Yes, I am that kind of person. I still have a few more names chosen, just in case we need them ;) 


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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

welcoming committee







To come home after being away for 5 weeks can only be described as feeling so good.
My own bed, my house, my surroundings. All comforting and familiar. And then the most comforting of all, was to be with Winslow once again. After being apart for 5 weeks, both the kids and I, decided that we missed him so much and would never be apart from him again for that long. It feels so good to be home.
Spring is slowly making it's way to our neck of the woods and we are welcoming it with open arms. Long sunny days, snow melting and drip drip dripping, small patches of grass, peeking their way through the snow. The return of birds. Chirping away, busy I'm sure, making their nests. Spring is creeping in, and we are so very happy to welcome it back.
Spring has also set up shop here in our home and lives. As soon as I got home, and before I could even fully unpack my 4 huge bags from the trip, I went about collecting my Spring/Easter decorations and began to beautify our home. Up went the paper bunny garland, the decorative nests and cute little bunny figures that I've been collecting. Also, I treated myself to a lovely white forsythia when we were in Whitehorse, and it smells so delicious. I breath in it's heavenly scent, every time I pass by where it is placed, in our little Easter display.
Yesterday, wanting to do a Spring craft with the kids, I decided to bring all the materials to our community playgroup  so that we could make some cute bird's nests. The kids loved making them, and as always, I was so pleased to see the little ones sitting down and concentrating on their art work. This Spring thing is infectious and I just feel alive with it's return!
A few more Spring activities on the calendar this week ...
~ to start our seedlings. I let Noah and Katia each choose a vegetable to grow this summer. We'll see how we do and I'm sure I'll be paying an arm and a leg to get these things going, but I want them to see and experience how food is grown.
~ make some Easter sugar cookies to decorate (and eat of course!)
~ to attempt homemade hot cross buns
~ and to take a nature walk into the woods and look for pussywillows
I'm hoping that Spring is warming things up in your neck of the woods. Until next time.
xox 


Friday, April 11, 2014

on returning home



As I pack up our bags and begin to prepare (mentally) for the long trip home to the Yukon, I am left with mixed emotions about where I belong.
This military lifestyle thing is a complex one. Moving every few years is not something that I particularly love or enjoy. Sure, there is adventure and new things to do. And of course we have learned so much about other parts of our country, about other cultures and ourselves for that matter... yet it is hard, because at the root of it, there is me, and I ask myself, where do I belong?
Right now we are in a fairly transient posting. Beaver Creek is not and cannot be a forever place for us, and I understand why. It is far from our family, and it has it's limitations and challenges as a very small and remote Northern community.
For many reasons, I keep much of my feelings about living in a remote community to myself. Words can be misinterpreted and misunderstood, so I stay away from talking about it here, however, I think it is fair to say that I do have my personal feelings about this life, and my feelings are valid. All of our feelings are valid, aren't they?
Feelings of being lonely - missing friends and family, and of missing out on "normal" things, like lessons for the kids, storytimes at the library, a walk through a neighbourhood, picking things up at the grocery store when we need them, a coffee at a coffee shop.
As I prepare to head back to our little Northern life, I am trying to equip myself with some strategies to get through the next few months of isolated living. Things like daily walks with the children, seasonal directed learning (gardening, nature walks, crafting), healthy life style changes, and putting in the effort to support and nurture the relationships that I have with the ones that I love (those near and far). Making art, focusing on photography, reading more books and creating a focus for the future...I'm hoping that with a vision and a plan for the next year, that I can stay positive about things.
And one more thing that I know will help bring my spirits up is that Spring is just around the corner in the Yukon. Any Yukoner can attest to the power of the return of the sun. The longer days, the return to the outdoors (before the bugs arrive!) and just coming out of the house more often.
I have plans to make some longer trips into Whitehorse this summer. I'm hoping to find some programming for Noah (day camp) and would like to spend some of my time doing "city things" in Whitehorse, such as music in the park, picnics with friends, playdates, parkdates and coffee dates.
I think I'm seeing a trend here for the need of more social interaction. It's been rough for me, being such a social person who needs friends, not having a solid group of support. My situation is unique as I've explained, and it's not forever, so I need to find ways to make it through.
xox

Saturday, April 5, 2014

two roads project



throwback

Johanna (left): The power of a friendship that goes back some thirty years. This is something that I don't take for granted or lightly. I am blessed to have someone who has known me every step of the way and who has shown me love throughout those years. 
This was taken on an Easter weekend, sometime in the early 80s. Hanging out in the back yard with some rickety old play structure. We are happy to play outside for hours. 
Sarah (right): I had fun looking back through old family photos this week. I have happy memories of a childhood spent bossing my younger siblings around, taking dance classes, being dramatic and forging friendships that continue today. Remembering moments captured on film encourages me to romanticize a little, recalling funny stories, idyllic vacations, picturesque Christmases. Of course, there were sad moments, and we didn't take pictures of those. But remembering the summer I played house league soccer and the dress up games we played in the basement conjures familiar feelings of comfort, happiness and a sense of belonging. Knowing where I came from is such a helpful tool in helping me navigate where I'm going. Here, I am nine years old, posing proudly with my new baby sister and probably right about to roll my eyes at my annoying little brother. This is pre-braces, I was growing my bangs out, and was a tall, lanky thing. We're all in our jammies, as we called our pyjamas. And check out that steel contraption of a baby swing! I keep this particular picture in a stolen frame (from a now defunct Ottawa bar) in my kitchen cabinet, so I can check in on it and smile every once in awhile.

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, April 2, 2014

lately


strange tracks in the snow... they must be troll tracks!

is this a troll home in this tree? We investigated 

porcupine



We are coming to the end of our annual Ottawa visit, and I am now at the point where I try to cram in those last minute activities, visits and shopping trips. Our time here has been interesting but much needed ,and I think it is safe to say that we are all very eager to get back home to Winslow and our house.
While here in Ottawa:
~ we had the chance to see lots of family (some from far away - PEI+NWT)
~ we had a nasty head cold and then an even nastier stomach flu
~ we've been to museums, swimming pools, giant indoor playgrounds, sugar shacks, nature walks at the bog, and the movies (well at least Noah went to the movies).
~ and we've eaten our fair share of yummy food!
Our time here has given me the chance to reflect on some pretty serious issues that pertain to life. Things like happiness and where do I see our family after we leave Beaver Creek, friendships and relationships and marriage.
And while I have enjoyed the cafes and yummy eats, the seeing of family and the easiness of popping over to friend's houses, I really do miss home and feel ready to head back to the North, where we have a slower and more simple life.
Here are a few pictures of us at Mer Bleue Bog. A favourite spot we frequent when we are in Ottawa but need a quick and easy dose of the outdoors. We had a beautiful sunny warm day, where we ate our lunch outdoors, looked for trolls and troll houses and saw a real porcupine. I love that this  "city girl gone country" feels more at ease in the outdoors... and so do the kids!
xox



Monday, March 31, 2014

a joyful sound



photo credit: Noah Duyan (seriously my 4 year old is good taking photos. Also, he insisted that Kitty sit on my knee for the pic.)

A little known fact about me.... I love music. I mean, not just love music, but rather, I am a musical person.
My mother told me that as a baby, I used to sing. Like not cry, but sing ... as a baby? Its true.
As a little girl, I used to drive my older sister and her boyfriend CRAZY by singing Little Mermaid songs at the top of my lungs, at like 7 am in the morning. They loved me for it.
In grade 5, I joined a city wide choir, that I stayed in till I was 13. We went to Italy and performed in St.Peter's Basilica. It was a very defining moment for me. And as a teenager, I picked up my sister's old acoustic guitar and taught myself how to play. I wrote songs and held coffee houses in my house where my friends and I would perform.
Through the years, I have loved many different music genres. Rock, Hip Hop, Soul, Jazz, R&B, Reggae, Indie, Folk ... each genre speaks to me in a different way, and helps me understand the world a bit. And songs, particular songs can conjure up so many memories. For example, anytime I hear any song from the 1980s movie Stand By Me, I think of my childhood and of my best friend. I love how music can take you to a place and a time.
Over the Christmas holidays, while visiting my friend Natalie, she told me that she had received a ukulele as a gift, and that she had also formed a little singing group with her friends. As I stayed over at her house that weekend, I heard on a few occasions Natalie singing away in her kitchen, to herself and to the kids, and I was struck with how joyful it made us all feel. I knew that I wanted to bring back the music of life into our home. That I wanted my children to sing, play and hear it more often.
I've taken some steps recently, to bring more music into our lives. And while I may not be an amazing singer or a fantastic player, I want my children to hear real live music (not just recorded), so I feel that it is important that I try. I bought myself a ukulele as well, and have been playing children's songs and some of my favourites too. It's been fun to have sing alongs with the kids and to try to learn a new instrument. I'm also just doing my best to sing to and with the kids on a daily basis, knowing that it helps them during transition time or when they need a little positive boost, to hear a certain song.
Yesterday evening, my best friend and I went on a date to see the lovely Canadian group, Trent Severn. To see these three talented artists perform was such a treat for me, and something that fed my yearning for more music in my life. Their voices, their precision when it comes to playing, their stories told through song .... this is what music is about. This is joy.
And finally, last week I purchased our tickets for the Atlin Music Festival that will take place this summer. We will be looking forward to a weekend of camping, hanging with friends and of course, listening to live music performed by some amazing Canadian talent. I can't wait to see my little ones take it all in.
xox

If music be the food of love, play on
From Shakespeare's Twelfth Night


me with Trent Severn ... I have girl crushes on them all

Friday, March 28, 2014

two roads project



ritual

Johanna (left): There is one family tradition that I felt was important to carry on for my 
little family, and that is the ritual of saying a blessing at dinner time. 
As a little girl, we would always say a blessing before meal time, and the significance was always there for me. 
Holding hands, slowing down, saying thank you for our blessings, I knew that I wanted this to be a daily practice in our home. 
These days, we say our blessing not in the most conventional sense. Sometimes we sing Johnny Appleseed. Sometimes we forget at the beginning of a meal and say it half way through. Sometimes the kids are too hungry and start eating before we say it. But all that doesn't matter. To me, it is the act that matters. Just the simple gesture and pause. And I look forward to it everyday. 


Sarah (right): It has stuck with me since childhood. You know the little nursery rhyme: "Starlight, start bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight." I can remember my Dad, bent down to meet me at eye level, looking out my bedroom window with me, into the night sky. He taught me the little song and showed me how to wish. The magic inherent in the wish is only activated if it is recited on the very first star I see. So be it: I can be driving, leaving an event, in a parking lot and when I look up and see it is a clear night, I stop what I am doing, and focus on the first star that catches my eye. I say it softly, to myself. I always will. It's a silly little ritual, but it gives me a reason to stop, slow down and send a wish out to the universe. I am superstitious, you won't be surprised to learn, so I cannot tell you for what I wish, but it's the same wish every time. My little secret.

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).

Saturday, March 22, 2014

two roads project


roots

Johanna (left): This week I had the chance to watch my little boy eat adobo (a traditional Filipino dish), made by his Filipino Great Grandmother (Lola). While to some, it might have been just another moment in the day, I felt like it needed to be recorded. Whether he knows it or not, he is taking in these moments with his family and is filing them away as part of his history. What a gift both my children have been given, to have this time with their extended family (on both sides) and to get to know who they are in a greater sense.  I want both Noah and Katia to be proud of their cultural backgrounds and to know where they come from ( a family of many colours and backgrounds). 

Sarah (right): When I was little, my family members used to tell me I looked so much like my Nannie. When I hand drew birthday cards, or hung another watercolour on the fridge, people would remark, "An artist, just like your Nannie." I loved this. I loved being compared so endearingly to our family matriarch, a woman who was held in such high esteem by everyone in my life that mattered. She was a locally famous artist, who painted mostly flowers and still life watercolours, and a poet. My Nannie died when I was nine years old, but I carry a piece of her with me. Her paintings hang around my house, reminding me of her. As an adult, and an artist, I feel her in my roots. She is there in my foundation, a key nutrient in my blooming soul. When I feel especially tapped into my creative side, I wonder if she felt the same surge of inspiration in her brushstrokes as I find in my pen on my paper. I sign my paintings in my maiden name, "S. Gilmour,", as tribute to her. I return to my paper when I don't feel like writing anymore, in honour of her dedication to her art. She left us a long time ago, but I count my lucky stars to be her descendent.




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 at Cure For Boredom.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

a moment of clarity





He looked at me with the brightest, most innocent and wondering eyes. "What will I do when I'm bigger Mommy?  He had overheard my father in law talking to me. My father in law had just finished saying, that someday, my kids will be all grown up and will not want to spend their time with me. That it goes by far too quickly. He said this all with a tinge of sadness and longing in his tone.
I explained to Noah what Lolo was saying. That someday, he will be too busy and grown up to want to spend all of his time with me. But all I could see was confusion in his eyes.
"No Mama, that will never happen. I'm always going to want to be with you." he said earnestly. And all I could think at that moment, was thank God.
Thank God, that I have right now. Thank God that it is not the future. Thank God, I have him and all of his attention right now. Right now, my boy wants to be with me and I am thankful that I have these moments, to just be with him.
If this sounds a little a long the lines of Hands Free Mama, that would be because it is inspired by her book. If you haven't had the chance to read this great book and are looking for some inspiration and direction in your parenting journey (or just journey in general), I highly recommend it.
Lately I have found myself to be naturally stepping away from the major distractions in my life, namely Facebook. It started slowly, and it was hard. I'd have to fight the urge to check the internet (as I used to do somewhere near 20 times a day!), and limit myself to short and less amounts of internet time. It scares me to admit it, but I think I was/am addicted to the internet. It is still an ongoing struggle for me some days, but I am happy to report that my outlook on life and direction is more in tune with what I want and need for myself.
Since quieting the distractions in my life I've been able to do more of what is truly valuable to me, and I am noticing how much more happy it makes me. Things like learning how to play the ukulele, painting more, writing letters to friends and taking more pictures (for myself). It has amazed me to see how much more satisfied I feel without the noise and energy suck that is social media.
So what then will I do about blogging? Is blogging an energy suck for me too? Happily, I can report, it is not. Blogging has never been something that makes me feel down about myself. Nor have I ever felt tied down to it or as though I need to check it constantly. I use my blog to record my thoughts, feelings, observations, and the day to day happenings in our life. For now I will continue on my way with it. I have thought about turning my blog into a personal blog (not making it public), and that is something that may or may not happen down the road. I've often thought about the repercussions of putting our life out there in the big wide web world. Not sure how it sits with me. But for now, I am here.
xox


Monday, March 17, 2014

the maui roundup
















At first I was planning on breaking our Hawaii trip into 4 posts. There was just so much to say about our trip and I wanted to give each experience it's own post, but alas, time is slipping away from me and here we are with a few weeks that have passed by, so I have decided to conclude our Maui trip with this final post.
While I had hoped to write more in detail about some of our very favourite parts of Maui, I realize that I am not a travel writer, nor is this a tour guide book, so maybe it's okay to be a little more point form and get the job done.
So here we go. Thoughts on the rd. to Hana, the Needle (State Park), and a few other things.
The rd. to Hana was one excursion that we were told about time and time again. Many friends had recommended doing the rd. to Hana, and we knew that it was an experience that we would want to do while there.
The funny thing is that we didn't know, just what the appeal of the rd. to Hana was, we just knew that we had to do it. So with a tour book in hand (seriously, get a guide book if you plan to do this drive), we headed down the highway, and set of on our adventure/day trip.
First off, I just want to say, the rd. to Hana was probably my most favourite experience of our trip. The sights we saw, the places we went, the things we did, were ones that I thought I'd never actually get to do or see in my life. For much of the day, I would say that it was almost an out of body experience for me, and I came away from it all feeling very blessed and thankful for it.
For those wondering, the rd. to Hana is just that, a road to a small town called Hana (on the eastern end of the island of Maui). While the town seemed charming and like a great place to stay for a night or two, we did the drive, solely for the stops along the way .... and there were many stops along the way to see.
I won't go into all the details of each stop that we made, but I do want to make note of what we saw and did.
On our first stop, we found a magical grove of rainbow eucalyptus trees. I had seen these on Pinterest before, and was hoping that we might see them in real life. So needless to say that I was thrilled (as was everyone in the family), so see these amazing trees.
Our other stops included a swim in the most beautiful local swimming hole (it was a waterfall fed swimming hole), a short hike through a forest full of giant trees and lots of bamboo, a swim at a stunning black sand beach and a picnic down by some cliffs, over looking the ocean.
Sigh, the rd. to Hana will stay with me in my dreams for years to come. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see breath taking scenery. And if you do it, grab a guide book so you know where to find all these hidden gems (or you risk driving right past them, as none of them are marked).
Onto our next adventure. We decided on a whim to take a little trip to see a famous natural landmark known as "the needle". It is a tall rock formation in amongst the mountains and has been made into a lovely State park that includes easy paths and and trails to walk. I'm a bit ashamed to say that I never did read up on the significance of "the needle" to the local people, but to my defense, we had two little kids to keep an eye on and there were many steep stairs and winding path ways. The park had informative plaques everywhere, but I was just so busy keeping an eye on Katia. I suppose I will just have to do a little post trip research instead.
This little excursion was a last minute idea of ours, but I am so glad that we did it. The state park had very accessible paths that made it easy to get around. Noah enjoyed bounding down the trails, while the little streams kept Katia enthralled. It was so lush and green there, and we enjoyed spotting banana trees , as well as the popular plant taro.
And so this is where I leave off for now with my Maui stories. There is so much more I could say about our time there. The beach, the swimming in warm ocean waters, the morning walks (alone), the time I had to re-evaluate my priorities and dream about the future. This trip did us all very well. Now, we think ahead to next year... will we return to Maui again? I am hopeful.
xox