Thursday, November 2, 2017

Ovals and other things I learned

Tonight I am attending the 30th Anniversary of the organisation that gave me my first job in Canada - 24 years ago! 

As I was sponsoring Allan (who was waiting in South Africa for paperwork to be completed)  I needed to get work quickly and the place my Mom was working had a maternity leave posting for Office Manager. 

I applied and was interviewed while still jet-lagged.   I remember they asked if I had a personal mantra and somehow I replied "If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well" something I believe to this day.  

I also remember them asking about my computer skills and I skillfully non-answered with something like " "I am a quick study"  "I am quite technical and figure things out quickly"

I was basically trying to convince them I had computer skills  - which I did not.

So when I got the job I spent the time between the offer and my start date in front of  a massive desktop computer and "Wordperfect for Dummies" on my lap frantically trying make the answers I had given true.

The office manager job morphed into an admin assistant job for various departments and I learned and grew every step of the way. 

I vividly remember working for two heroines of the early childhood field and formatting a report they were writing.  I walked down to their office to give it to them.  They were on a conference call and they looked up and smiled as they started to look over the document.  Just as I was basking in my achievement one of them took a pen and drew a box around some pieces of text.  I tried not to panic as it dawned on me she wanted me to make boxes on the computer - text boxes - dear heavens - and my wordperfect for dummies was at home and google was not what it is today. 

I walked back to my desk in a mild sweat and sat down, drew breath and figured it out in pretty short order.  Ah ha - I waltzed back to their office triumphant.  Until I noticed the furrowed brow of the esteemed consultant as she looked at the text boxes, picked up the pen and made the boxes into ovals. 


Well - I conquered ovals and many more things in the years I worked at Westcoast Child Care Resource Center.  I found a cause to support, a field to grow in, a community of passionate women I could look up to and who invested in me (including the privilege of working in the same organisation as my Mom), and friends with whom I am still close.

My life and career have taken some interesting twists and turns but I am looking forward to celebrating tonight the good and important work Westcoast has and does and will do and also to reflect on how far this re-patriated Canadian has come and what a gift meaningful work is.   

Thursday, October 19, 2017


rain falling outside

a warm dog snoring next to me

a kick ass workout survived

a long hot shower


and slippers

at 7pm

peanut butter and honey on toast

for dinner


a glass of red wine

a working oven

sole control of the remote

the rest of the week, the rest of the world - heavy, busy, crazy....

this moment.... pretty close to perfect.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

10 years

10 years ago today Allan's sister Hazel died after a brutally short illness and only in her 30's.

It sent a shockwave through our family.  

As it would.  

Hearts broke. Even from far away.

And so a journey of grief began for a son, a sister, a brother, parents, sister-in-law, nieces and nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles...friends

One life gone like a pebble thrown into a pond - ripples and ripples and ripples of sadness and pain.

And each year, that ripple bumps up against my heart again. 

But I can brace for it now.  I stand my ground and it no longer overwhelms me.  

I let it wash over me and I feel the sadness but I can remember the joy too and the frustrations and we can speak the stories to one another now without our throats closing and eyes stinging.

We can remember her satisfied smile, the twinkle in her eye and the stubbornness of her stance and so she lives on in our memories and hearts.

Grief is a strange thing/process... a decade does make a difference in some ways and in other ways we can never recover.

We carry on as family less an important person.  We are poorer for her missed presence.

Never quite who we once were.

Hazy - we love and miss you - shine bright sister.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Still going

I didn't quit the first day, even though I almost threw up, because someone said it would be hard but I would be ok

I didn't quit the second day because I didn't feel like I needed to throw up #win

I didn't quit after the first week because Coach Jeff was so encouraging

I didn't quit after the 28 day challenge because I could do 20 ankle grabs without wanting to die and lift my feet off the ground while doing russian twists.#miraclesdohappen

I didn't quit after the second month because the children were watching their mother.

I didn't quit when I levelled up to 60 minute classes.  Although I really wanted to.

I didn't quit after the first Lift class when I could only lift the bar without any weight on it. 

I didn't quit after the third month because people knew my name and I knew theirs and I finally realised it's my workout and all I have to do is MY best.

I didn't quit after a bad week in the summer when I only made it to one workout even though coming back was hard.  

I didn't quit when the kids went back to University

I didn't quit after the 4th month because the community at the Dojo was starting to feel like a place I could belong, be known, encourage others

I didn't quit after the 5th month because #roar and #noexcuses and #lastsetbestset made sense

I didn't quit after the 6th month because, though my progress be frustratingly slow, I see strength returning to my body. 

And here I am... 28 straight weeks of gym classes, buckets of sweat, a couple of tears, a fully awakened body, new friendly faces, amazing Dana and Jeff (and all the other coaches) and the big heart of Mr Maki himself.

There are many more months ahead.  

This body needs much more work.  

There are heavier weights to lift (although I can deadlift 130lbs now!) there are more muscles to be worked and toned (although my arm, 5 fractures, 3 surgeries can now hold me in a plank! But I can't do burpees yet #don'thateme) and there are more laughs, more shared moments with Allan, some rolled eyes and I may be praying for rain so they stop making us run outside so much :)

I'm as surprised as anyone to be have fallen in love with a gym.  But this isn't any gym, as it turns out.

You are never too old or too out of shape to start moving. 

If I can. You can. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The nest

This is the second Saturday of the "empty nest".  

And to be perfectly honest..... it is quite enjoyable.

There is no doubt I miss my monkeys, a lot, and I am so proud of how they are doing out there in the world and so grateful for their communication and connection with us. 

And this nest is sure quieter in volume and activity.

With the parenting role on hold, or redirected in different ways, there is space.

Space for our spousal relationship.  We have more time to spend together, conversations are uninterrupted and timely, we are working out together, cooking together and managing to stack and unstack the dishwasher together without arguing (which was a task our children shared for years with no small amount of disagreement!).

We clean the kitchen and.... amazingly.... it stays clean! 

Our grocery bill is less than half it was.

We cannot get through a gallon of milk before it expires.

The dishwasher and washing machine run much less.

The children's bedrooms are clean and tidy and my blood pressure doesn't rise every time I walk by them - in fact I pause and look at the beauty of them. (and maybe have a little heart ache about the missing messy children)

Syncing our schedules take 5 minutes and very little logistical gymnastics

A pack of bacon lasts longer (ok not really)

The fridge, tupperware and shoe cupboards have all been cleaned out and restacked and neat.

We can eat mushrooms in everything.

We talk more to the dog.

We don't have to share the cookies.

No need to lock the bedroom door! 

It sure is an interesting new phase of life (and quite likely temporary if current statistics are to be believed).  So far I think we are doing just great.  Although I may be bugging both kids to come home for Thanksgiving - Christmas is just too long without hugs and face to face chats and laughs. 

Byres2 is wonderful but Byres4 is wonderfuller.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Better late than never!!

When one is due to enter the world on a well planned mid-august date and one decides to hang out in the womb for an extra 2 weeks and thus arrives September 1, then one will quickly determine that Sept 1 is possibly the busiest time of the end-of-summer and birthday celebrations will be haphazard at best.  

And so our beloved Mr David has found this to be the case.

We have certainly had some good celebrations but the last 2 years he was at camp and his birthday passed with little fanfare and only one slide into the ocean as per camp tradition.  This year David will be home but we, the parents, will be on the early ferry to Victoria for parental moving duties with his sibling. We will not even set eyes on the birthday boy until after 8pm! 

In many ways his tardy arrival and his lack of fuss about his birthday is a good indication of his personality.

This boy of ours, 18 today, is a laid back dude with very few demands on life.

He likes a good, crisp, shirt (he is the only family member who irons his clothes), breakfast is his favourite meal of the day, never without friends to hang out with though they be a varied and diverse group, loyal and steadfast and with little care for the what others think, strong in his faith, deeply enjoys jumping out of his bedroom door and scaring his sister, YouTube devotee, He loves to sing in the long showers he takes, has a deep love of broadway musicals and Starbucks, apparently takes amazing photographs (ah hem still waiting!!), generous and gracious and with a sharp wit!

I so love this boy - he is loving and caring and though his bedroom is a disaster, he is a procrastinator of the highest order and his text communication skills need developing - He makes me laugh, he amazes me with his breadth of knowledge on SO many subjects, he will debate his point of view to the e n d o f  t i m e, he gives good hugs and will dance with me in the kitchen, his long arms are the family selfie-stick and his smile makes my heart sing.

I cannot imagine our house without him.  

David Byres - you are such a gift to me, to our family.  

Go well - be true to yourself, eat healthy food and sleep enough, study hard and unless you want to unleash the craziness that is a mama bear far away -
learn to text more than one word at a time!!!

I love you to infinity and beyond.

Happy Birthday!!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Snap shots

As many of you know - time with our kids at home these days is precious.  

We are all home for just 48 hours and while my trusty iPhone snaps are great for FB posts and for me to troll through when I am feeling like I need to see all my peeps - they are hardly "good" photos.

But with so little time I didn't want the stress of a photo session. And I wanted relaxed photos...not formal ones.

So I asked a huge favour of a friend whose photos I love.  He has a great eye and while he is not a professional photographer,  you'd never know it from his shots.

He agreed to hang out with us over family dinner last night and just shoot as we did our usual thing.  He was so unobtrusive and we felt very relaxed and had our appy's and sat down to a bbq dinner - as we so often have.  

Here are some of the photos.....I am SO SO grateful  - I love them.  I was determined even to love the ones of me (which I usually detest) and you know what.... I actually do love them.  Of course I see all my flaws first but I lingered long enough to see the joy and love too.  And the ones of my parents and the kids and Allan - so wonderful.  No staged group shots - just us as we are, right now....

Garth Poon - you did such a great job - we are so grateful that you took on the challenge - you did a masterful job - if that teaching gig doesn't work out we think you could make a go of the photog gig!  Thank you thank you thank you.

Byres4 + Gaga and Papa Summer 2017

We are lucky to have each other, to have this home and the means to enjoy wonderful meals.  Boy am I going to miss these gatherings as Lindsay leaves tomorrow and David next weekend but I will cherish these memories and photos and trust that there are more moments and meals to come - together.

Lindsay and David - I am so very proud of you.  I know you are ready for your next chapters and will do us and yourselves proud as you go.  Remember this Mama loves you to the moon and back 50 million times and that will never change.

Go well my sweeties


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Staycation Stats

It will come as no surprise that we had a plan for this staycation.  Allan and I each made a list of things we wanted to do, places we wanted to go and then we made a tentative itinerary for the week, weather and energy depending. 

So here's how it played out:

Well funnily Allan wanted to get up at the crack of and head to the Squamish River to try for a few Pink Salmon.  I stayed in bed like a normal person and enjoyed a quiet coffee in my favourite mug (not my travel mug as usual) and then drove Lindsay to work. 

Allan met me in Vancouver for a spot of shopping and then we headed to 33 Acres - A local brewery we have been meaning to check out. 

2 beers, 1 pretzel, 5 cornichons, 15 man buns, 1 hour of pretending to be hipster-ish

We ended Monday with 1 haircut (for me) and a workout at Maki for 3.  

A good start.

This was a day I had wanted for a long time.  10 years ago we kayaked to a beach that looked onto Jug Island.  I have wanted to get back to that beach and found the hike to do it.  We loaded Spanner up, hit our fave Main St. Bakery for a Schnecken - if you can get yo'self to Main st - go and get a schnecken at Trafiq.  

And then we  drove to Belcarra Regional Park and Hiked to Jug Island Beach.

I love a wander through a coastal forest and a PNW pebbly beach with the water lapping gently - AHHHHHHHHH so good.   

We rounded out Tuesday with a long anticipated dinner at Osteria Salvio Volpe in Vancouver.  We selected the option to have the chef design a menu for us and we were not disappointed.  

2 baked goods, 5.5kms, 1 tired dog, 1 nap and an excellent 5 course meal

This was Allan's brilliant idea!  We headed out to the Fraser Valley to try some local wineries we have driven past so many times en route somewhere but never stopped at!  What a revelation!  We loved the ones we tried and had a lovely lunch at the Bacchus Bistro at Chaberton Winery.

Many sips of wine, 3 wineries, 3 bottles for the cellar

What is a staycation if one doesn't wander into the village?  An early morning at the docks, the early bird breakfast special at the Steveston Hotel and then we headed to the beach.

Centennial was busy but we found a corner and sheltered from the wind. 

$7 brekkie, 5km wander, 2 cheeseburgers , 2 iced coffees, 3 hours chilling on the beach, 1 sunburn (because I never learn that the sun is fierce even when I am freezing on a Canadian beach)

Major fisher-wife points as we headed up to the Squamish again in search of the slightly elusive pink salmon 2017 edition.  Of course I have lots of photos - because what else was I going to do to stop from dying of hypothermia?  This fishing trip no issue from bears as there were dozens of outdoorsy type peeps all along the bank.  After a slow start Allan hit his stride and landed fish with alarming frequency - he let his somewhat frustrated fishing neighbour land one of them (you can only keep 1 and you have to land it) and gave his precious lucky fly to the birthday boy fishing next to him as we made a graceful exit. 

4:40am start (it can't be emphasized enough), 7 salmon hooked, 4 landed, 2 friends made, 1 hear shaped rock, 0 bears, not enough coffee or washrooms.

All this was followed by 1 excellent nap and a lovely evening on the patio with the 5th glass of Rose.

All in all it was a fantastic week with my Honey.  We chatted, we walked, we ate, we laughed.... we were relieved to have enjoyed each others company and feel confident when the children depart in 10 days (insert very sad face) we will be just fine together and we have lots of adventures planned!