Skye off the diving board:

Just wanted to mention that she is the one who suggests diving off of the diving board every time. It is no one's idea other than Skye's!

Skye swimming:

Skye started a new swimming class in another club and she is much happier! No arm bands, no screaming and on her second day, she actually wanted to jump off the diving board all by herself!!!!

I believe that this is the first time I see her swimming by herself and smiling during a swimming class!

What a difference!

Just words...

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving! My parents hosted it this year, which meant a short 15 minute drive instead of our usual 50 minute drive. We missed my other aunt and uncle, but saw one aunt/uncle set and spent the day with my parents, brother and "Aunt Fancy" and her husband. We call her "Aunt Fancy" because both of the aunts are named Karen, but this particular aunt owns a lovely black and white horse named Fancy. Ava loves the horse, and consequently, loves Aunt Fancy!

We saw my in laws on Saturday for turkey dinner number two, and spent that day lounging, watching football, and I was knitting like a madwoman to finish a certain Christmas present...
My mother in law sure makes a delish pecan pie!

After two days of culinary indulgence, we spent Sunday working HARD, getting our house decorated inside. Before Ava was born, we used to get our tree and such on the weekend after Thanksgiving. But...once she came along, we felt that having the house decorated for Christmas on her birthday every year was just not the best idea...for many reasons.

This year, however, we are taking an unexpected trip waaaaaay down South, right smack in the middle of the month. So, we asked (very nicely!) if Ava minded having the tree up for her birthday party this time. She cheerfully said, "Sure!" but then decided that it was HER birthday tree and the boys could put NO boy ornaments on it. Uh-oh! There were tears, and it got worked out, but I kind of doubt we'll be doing this again any time soon.

All weekend, I felt like I was on the up part of a roller-coaster...tick...Tick...TIck...TICK and guess what's happening today? Happy Monday to me! Over the top...aaaaAAAHHHHHHHH! Ha!

With volunteer work, three classroom parties for our co-op, two violin lessons, a haircut (that I'm doing), and a birthday party to plan and throw, this week seems a bit daunting. Not my typical week, we've cut WAY back on crazy time obligations from what we used to.

We'll make sure to drink plenty of kefir smoothies and eat lots of green veggies and healthy fats to keep our immune systems bolstered during this stressful week. We also use something called Berry Well daily during stress or a cold/flu time of year. This stuff is fantastic, and tastes good. Perfect for anyone who is "new" to alternative medicine and having a hard time getting their kids to swallow the garlic and honey!

I"m doing some experimental food drying this week and next in prep for our upcoming road trip, which I hope to be able to share with all of you. Also, my packing list and how we still eat healthy when we travel!

Happy Monday, everyone!

We made it!!!!

We are back and we found our way to the city and back on the train! I can't believe how easy it was! The train actually stopped underground and when we got out, it was right in the center of town! We did not even need to walk! We saw all the Christmas decorations and we went to the kids' festival. Between a disco baby, a shadow puppet workshop, an outdoor cinema under the stars and a create your own book workshop, I am shattered! I am glad they don't have festivals everyday! Oh, wait, no, they do!

Anyways, we had a blast and Skye chased her friends inside a maze made by passerbyes with newspapers. It's such a creative and artistic town. We had so much fun that we decided to do it again the following day. This time, we went to the museum, as you can tell with the enormous dinosaur.

The maze made out of newspapers in the city center.

The museum...Obviously.

The art exhibition.

The museum.

In the same week, we went to the Christmas party at the playgroup. There was face painting, wild animal encounters, lots of food and fun and Santa, of course. But, Skye decided to hide. Santa was too loud and too big for our liking...

Daddy and Skye with a wild Dingo.


this Boy


this Dog

we had to say


but the pictures




New Adventure...

There is a lot happening in the center of town between the festivals and the Christmas decorations. Parking is always a nightmare or too expensive. So I have decided to take the train with Skye today, all by ourselves. We usually go on such adventures with friends so they can navigate and show us the way. I always followed. I never know where I am and how I got there.
Michael reckons it is easy. I cannot go wrong. It is one way after all!
So I am extremely nervous. I got 3 maps of the same area, I should manage to read and understand one of the three at least! Of course, there is always plan B, which is stop people on the street and ask for directions.
I'll stop thinking about it because my hands are getting sweaty.
But will tell you all about it once we get back.

The Huntsman Spider...

This is one of the most horrific stories ever published on this blog. You have been warned.
While at the playgroup, I happen to stumble on a LARGE shadow in the dark gap between the fridge and the kitchen cupboard. One of the Aussie mothers said that it looked like a Huntsman spider. So we decided to brush him out to the backyard. But he was motionless. So we reckoned he was dead and dried. Still,carefully, we managed to brush him on a dust pan while poking him to see his reaction. Still nothing...

We flipped him on his back in the dust pan and suddenly, my friend and I barely managed to decipher it. But we looked at each other and we knew. We understood. The "Made in China" label was not very impressive actually but more embarrassing! The quality and the details of this spider were impressive! A story that will linger for a while in the air...If you listen carefully, you can still hear Michael, my husband,  laughing in the distance.

to grandmother's house we go!

After only a few months of employment I'd found myself with vacation time. The end of the year is fast approaching and our company is trying to schedule in our earned time off rather than carry it over into next year. So there I was, with over a week of freedom and nothing to do. Ryan was headed to Indiana for his own job, so I was left to fend for myself when it came to entertainment... a daunting task in my snowy, cold hometown.
I was in luck. My mom, like myself, felt in need of a whirlwind weekend away. Our flight discounts made it possible for us to fly to Ontario, visit family, and then return home in time for the week to begin. We set out for the airport Thursday evening. We figured our odds of getting on the flight would be substantially greater if my mom would take Friday off of work. We arrived to our gate just in time to be handed boarding passes... always a thrilling moment when you know nothing but standby travel. We stocked up on candy and boarded after my persistence that we had to hurry. I'm early for everything and have been my entire life. My mother (and fiancé, lucky me) on the other hand, take their sweet time getting from place to place and it wouldn't be the end of the world if they got on a plane at final boarding call. That for me, is unacceptable. I need to be on time. I don't know how I got this way with a persistently late mother, but it's who I am and as a flight attendant it's a pretty key trait. We finally got on the flight and settled into our seats... me stuck between my mom and a talkative old man who staked his claim on the armrest. We hadn't had time to have dinner, and therefore I felt it acceptable to satisfy my desire for a cheese tray. As I pointed out other items on our menu, my mom agreed to all of them and we found ourselves with loaded table trays as I forked over my credit card. It was a party! A quick 3 hours later, we were in Hamilton!
We disembarked and walked down the stairs at one of the only airports I know of that actually still uses stairs as opposed to a bridge. Waiting inside we found my smiling grandma, and there were hugs all around. When our bags finally arrived we hauled them to the car and set out on our way. It was past midnight by this point, but we ended up staying awake to chat and catch up until nearly 2 in the morning.
Morning came too soon. In a zombie-like state, we got ready for what was sure to be a fun day. My grandma, aunt (I feel the need to add that she is not in fact married to my uncle.. only because I know how much she's tired of hearing it), and mom had rented a car and we were going to cross the border for some shopping in New York! Before you get too excited, hang on a minute. People tend to forget that not only is there a big city called New York, but it's also a state. We weren't going to beautiful NYC (a far too lengthy drive for a day trip), but rather Buffalo. At the border we handed the customs officer our passports. Flipping through mine, he couldn't help but to ask what exactly it was that I did for a living. Once I told him, he understood the heavily stamped pages. We were sent on our way, and soon found the shopping mall that we'd come for.
We strolled through Macy's and the halls of the rather large mall, and I'm quite proud to say that I didn't purchase a thing. Okay, almost. My mom and I were both drawn to a ridiculous (awesome) hat with bear ears, covered in fur, complete with paws. It had paws! How could we resist?
We spent hours walking and browsing until we were so tired and hungry that we couldn't walk any further. We set out in search of a delicious meal and much to my satisfaction, we settled on The Cheesecake Factory. We were told that we'd be waiting for 15-20 minutes, so we ordered drinks to pass the time. Over 30 minutes later, we were still waiting. When we asked the hostess she checked our pager and said it would be about 20 minutes more. This news was not taken well by the 4 of us hungry shopped-out ladies. We had skipped lunch and my one drink was going to my head. We expressed our concerns about the miscommunication and before we knew it, they bumped us up and we had a table! Our next challenge was deciding what to order from the massive menu that sat in front of us. Everything sounded delicious and I was too hungry to make decisions. I finally settled upon barbecue salmon, and was very satisfied with the very American sized portion served to me. Dinner was over and I was certain that I couldn't eat another thing for at least a day. That was until our waiter brought dessert menus and I remembered exactly where I was. I couldn't leave without cheesecake. My mom ordered a slice of red velvet and I chose peanut butter cup.
We took them as souvenirs to be enjoyed upon our return to Canada only hours later. It had been a great day, although a long one. We called it a night and left the mall, stopping for a quick wander around Target before proceeding onwards to the border. We flashed our passports and carried on our way home. I was exhausted, as was everyone else. I was going to have the best night's sleep.... but first, I had to sample my cheesecake. It had been about 2 hours since dinner and though I was still far from hungry, I like to believe that there is a separate spot in my stomach dedicated solely to dessert. Oh my goodness, what a perfect combination of amazingness that cheesecake was. Peanut butter and chunks of chocolate all snuggled in between layers of cheesecake. I could think of no better end to our day.
It was off to bed, and this time around I had an amazing sleep.
The next day was a day to be spent with family. My grandma was organizing a dinner and we'd spend the afternoon and evening visiting and catching up with those that we don't get to see very often. My mom and I had some time to pass before anyone showed up, so we went for a drive in search of a quick snack. We somehow ended up at Homesense and my willpower was put to the test as I resisted buying any of the beautiful home decor. My mom picked up a couple of rhinestone-covered dog collars for our beloved puppies. At the grocery store we grabbed a small tray of sushi and enjoyed it for a quick lunch, before deciding it was probably time to return home.
Dinner was delicious, as it usually is when made by a grandmother. We stuffed ourselves full and then enjoyed a dessert of lemon meringue pie.
Once everyone had gone home and we'd said our goodbyes, it was time to call it a night. Well, almost. I must not forget that I felt it necessary to finish my slice of cheesecake before returning home. I force fed myself each yummy forkful, and then crawled into bed. (And yes, I did purchase a gym membership the day we arrived home...)
We'd originally booked for the evening flight back to Calgary, but after checking the loads and finding that it was completely sold out, we were forced to switch to the earlier flight. Unfortunately, that meant a 7 am departure, which meant a disgustingly early wake up time. We were practically sleepwalking as we packed our suitcases. My grandma drove us to the airport and we hugged goodbye before disappearing through security. It was a long 4 hour flight as we tried our best to get some sleep. We finally landed and I immediately hated our decision to return home. It was so darn cold!!! It had been well over a year since I'd felt such bone-chilling temperatures. I donned my bear hat and was thankful that we were in my mom's vehicle instead of mine. I'm quite certain that my next car should have heated seats.
It's not often that we start a day off in Calgary, so we decided to take advantage of it. After a breakfast at Denny's, we wandered Ikea and then headed to the karaoke store for my mom to update her song collection. Once we'd accomplished our tasks, it was back home to our warm house that I vowed to never leave until sometime in May!

one more Last Time

Babywearing is near and dear to my heart...

it's one of the things I miss most about not having a tiny one in the house...and one of the things I hope I'll get to do again someday

Back in the spring, Ava went through a brief spurt of asking me to wear her on my back as I did housework. She was the one I wore the most as an infant because I was finally at home full time. After having to leave my boys as babies with a sitter, I just didn't want to put Ava down!

I knew that these were going to be the last times she asked me...she's getting so big and she should be! I wore her one more Last Time, I grabbed the camera and stopped time with our reflection in my dirty living room mirror...

i love you, baby girl!


We have this beautiful tree in the smack middle of our's some type of hydrangea, we call it the "snowball bush"

Every summer, beautiful white round flower clusters grow, and snowball fights in shorts is a popular activity

Ava loves the flowers...

Daddy and I don't love the location of the bush


can't bear to cut it down!

ice ice baby

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post include a significant amount of complaining and ranting. Should you choose to continue reading, you void all opportunity to complain about me complaining.
This happens every year. One day I wake up and come to the realization that summer is over. For the next 6 months I'll contemplate hibernation as ridiculously cold temperatures hover outside. I hate winter. I hate snow and I have an anxiety attack nearly every time that I'm forced to drive in icy conditions. Don't get me wrong, I love my country and I'm so proud to be Canadian... but I wouldn't object to spending my winters elsewhere. In fact, that's what I've been attempting to do for a few years now. First I ran off to the sunny beaches of Australia. I came back for a year and then spent 2 winters in the Dubai desert. This will be my first full winter spent in Canada since 2008... and I'm really, really not looking forward to it.
The general consensus is that people complain too much about winter. I'll confess, I don't stop until the sun starts shining again sometime around May. In my defence... You'll NEVER hear me complaining about the heat in Canada. On the hottest of hot summer days, I'm soaking up the warmth and just thankful that it's not 50 degrees like SOME places that I've called home. I don't like to be cold. I don't like how dry my skin is as the cool air strips it of all moisture. I don't like snow, and I will never, ever like winter.
I know what you are all thinking... I can read your mind, my lovelies.. half of you are in complete agreement, while the other half is wishing that I'd just stop complaining as you mutter the usual "If you don't like it, leave!". Well, may I remind you... I did leave. Twice, in fact. I left for some of the hottest places in the world, like baking hot Cairns in Australia and of course Dubai. I came back from Australia because my visa was up and leaving on my own accord just seemed like a better idea than overstaying and facing deportation. I left Dubai primarily because I have a snow-loving amazing fiancé here in Canada, and I really missed him. The things we do for love. Try as I might, he'll never want to leave. I took comfort in the fact that on the coldest of days he'd be here to cuddle up to me and keep me warm. As I type this, I'm watching a blizzard outside my window... and where is my furnace of a fiancé? He's working in the United States, somewhere with temperatures above freezing. I'm the flight attendant, and therefore I'm supposed to be the one running off to warmer places.
Oh, that reminds me. I'm running off to Ontario for the weekend with my mom. It's not tropical but it sure may seem like it after the frigid week we've had here. It's only just begun. We had our first snowfall just last weekend and the temperatures are what we'll consider balmy by mid-January. I'm not sure how I'll get through this winter. If anyone cares to take me on an all expenses paid tropical vacation, or buy me a car with heated seats... I'll be forever grateful. I'll write an entire blog dedicated to your amazing greatness. No? Nobody?! I guess I'll just have to be thankful that I have such an amazing job that occasionally takes me to places warm enough to grow palm trees.
Alright, end rant. Thanks for listening. I'll try to withhold from further complaints about the weather, but I can't make any promises...

It's about time!

Yesterday was my birthday.
It made me think about endings and beginnings
and it made me think about how much I had missed writing about our journey
during my hiatus.

I'm ready to pick back up again!

here's a little bit of this
and a little bit of that...

We took an amazing vacation to Hilton Head Island at the end of August/beginning of September.
It was all about the ocean! I had three pairs of wide eyes and thirty curious toes discovering everything there is about the seashore.

It was without a doubt the most incredible trip ever. After the initial discomfort of figuring out the island, enjoying our time together was effortless.  Our condo was right on the beach, and it was off-season, so we had a little strip of heaven all to ourselves.

We saw coastal wildlife, plenty of dead sea critters washed ashore (even a dead armadillo!) and got our fill of watching the magic of a sand dollar burrow it's way into the beach.

We saw an indignant puffer fish, a baby flounder, noisy blue crabs, oyster beds squirting up at the sun, and curious dolphins.

...and a really cute bunny by our boardwalk!

We went on a road trip south one day and toured the deep mystery of Savannah in a yellow trolley.  The city seduced us with it's magical canopy of trees and soothing green squares.  Forsythe Park amazed us and we spent an hour or so gazing at the white iron fountain...and giggling at the partially nude mer-men and long necked geese sculpted at the bottom!
At the end of the day, our ears ringing with tales of fearsome pirates and desecrated graveyards, we wound our way deeper into the city and enjoyed flavorful local fare for dinner.

We also took time out from the beach to go see Fort Pulaski and Fort Sumter, squeezing in all the history we could in the all too short week we had.  Gazing at century-old brick, molded by hands, and scarred by canon balls, we took a step back in time and appreciated our past all the more.

On the way back north we breezed through Charleston and gawked at the stunning waterfront residences. Having no more than a few hours in the city, I rolled down my window and had Marvin drive slowly as I photographed everything beautiful (which was everything I saw!)

The very last day of the trip, Marvin surprised me with a tour through one of Charleston's few remaining precious gems, a plantation home called Drayton Hall.
It's been left in it's natural state, only preserved, not restored. Original sun faded paint partially covering the hand carved mahogany ornaments on the walls, and no furniture to distract the eye from the architectural loveliness made for a veritable feast for my eyes! Sadly, our jaded tour guide rushed us through and I wasn't able to satiate my photographic appetite!! But it was still awesome...

When we got home, it was time to jump right in to our school year. There are definite advantages (like cost!) to taking a vacation at the beginning of everyone else's school year, but also disadvantages. Our homeschool co-op that we participate in started the week we got back, and I felt oh-so-rushed and pressured to rapidly undo the post vacation disaster that overtakes the house when one returns from a trip.

This time around at the co-op, I'm teaching a class, so there was even more prep and pressure involved! Fortunately, I had spent time in the summer planning out the entire two semesters in great detail, so I was able to be a bit more relaxed on the first day.

The kids did great, last year Benji was extremely clingy and I could go NOwhere (not even the bathroom) without him attached to my side, and Alec nervously used walkie talkies for several weeks to find me. This year, OH MY GOODNESS! It's like I have entirely different children!

I don't see Alec all day at all until it's time to go home, and I hardly see Benji and Ava unless I"m walking them to their next class. It's amazing what little time and patience can do when there are frustrating developmental stages with a child!

The class I'm teaching is going well, it's my first time working closely with teenagers...They are awesome! I've enjoyed every minute (mostly!) of it so far, except for the fact that we never have enough time in class to accomplish what I want to.

I finally got my curriculum choices for this school year narrowed down for my three...I had a major hitch in my giddyap a few weeks ago, though, when Alec found a history book on the shelf and positively BEGGED to use it instead of what we had planned.  Thank goodness we hadn't ordered anything yet!

You know you're doing something right when your child is begging to use a history book! So...we're derailing from our grand plan (which was to switch everyone over to Sonlight) and heading down the now familiar path of an ecclectic school year. A little bit of this and a little bit of that!

Benji's remedial exercises for reading are coming along very nicely, and Ava had her very first formal reading lesson today. Although she already knew what I was teaching her...that girl has a mind like a steel trap and has been listening in to her brothers lessons her whole life!

We are still doing the GAPS diet...have been since May. We did try and stick closely on our trip, but had a few "illegal" meals, too!  I promise I'll write about all that soon. I have some great food photos and recipes to post and lots to share about how going grain free has helped our family.

I've also recently learned that I have hypo-thyroid (low-functioning) and while to some that may seem dismal, I'm actually quite relieved. I've been feeling like something just wasn't right ever since Ava was born and this answers and explains a whole lot.  I'm looking forward to sharing this new journey to healing with all of you!

I'm finally feeling like I've got a pretty good handle on the routine of our life at this moment...but I know that won't last long! God has a habit of shaking up my snow globe the moment the flakes settle!!

And now, because it's the end of a long day of school, house cleaning, food making and violin practicing...I'm heading to my pillow!

'Night all...and thanks for reading!

Shark attacks on our Beaches...

  • What has been happening lately... From the ABC North West Australian newspaper...
    Great white shark swims with a school of fish
    If faced with a five metre white pointer in the waters off Western Australia, not many people would swim toward it to get a closer look but that's exactly what Paul Hosie did over the weekend. ...Photo iconAudio icon
    Monday 14 November 2011
  • Rottnest Island
    Two five metre great white sharks have been spotted off the coast of Rottnest Island, 20 kilometres from Perth....Photo icon
    Monday 31 October 2011
  • Perfect predators
    Shark hunts carried out in the wake of three deaths in Western Australia have caused anger among shark experts. They question the motives behind such hunts and ask whether it will have any affect on public safety....Photo iconVideo icon
    Tuesday 25 October 2011
  • Chopper to patrol WA beaches for sharks
    Wednesday 26 October 2011
  • Great white sharks can be found along a vast expanse of Australia's coastline
    Following three fatal shark attacks in two months, Western Australian fisheries officers have been given permission to catch and kill any shark they suspect of being responsible for the attacks....Photo iconAudio icon

    I guess people say never believe what the newspapers say. In this case, we are sticking to the river for a while until things calm down...especially that we are new here and we are not familiar with our environment.