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Thai Goodness

After 8 nights away from home, I enjoyed walking up my driveway and embracing all that is home. Hugs, clutter, little voices, and amazing artwork drawn just for me.

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I was greeted warmly at the Victoria airport by my new friend L who promptly whisked me off for a thai dinner to avoid rush hour (victoria!) traffic. Learning about a new little hotspot in my neighborhood felt really good. Warm. Yummy. Red curry.

Having just spent the last 30 hours in Vernon, even though away from my family, I recognize in many ways Vernon feels more homey. I enjoyed my moments in a place with so much meaning. So much knowing. So much familiar. I am left incredibly thankful for my godchildren. My bosom buddies.

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And I look forward to the unfolding pages of our new book. After celebrating a great life this weekend, and bunking into 1 room with 5 of my favorite people, I can feel tangibly that “everyday is extraordinary”. A new year. The year of the family. To be authentic. Balanced. Embrace simplicity, such as our new tradition of 12 days of painting as a family (Christmas to Epiphany). And the amazing play forts that can be made with simple 4 x 4 pieces of plywood. To love. Because that is what life here boils down to!

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Ritual foods and ART

IMG_1720 IMG_1719 Here we are having sushi in the van from Fujiyama. All this sushi for under $30. Unreal! The fun things you can do in Vancouver! This was our sushi party that followed our 2nd annual visit to our Aunt Lynda’s art studio at 1000 Parker Avenue.

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Stefan spent an amazing amount of time creating his masterpiece. Janelle tried out a new “multiple brush” technique with Aunt Lynda exclaiming “this is where genius is born”! And Daria thoughtfully created two amazing paintings…

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Diana freely splashed leftover paint up on a canvas, with her sole purpose to use up all the unused paint before we cleaned up and left the studio for another year:

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Waldorf education is “art infused with academics”. This annual event is an amazing way for our family to celebrate art, have a window into my sister’s new found talent (check out her story here), and experience playing with color together. I leave you with Kurt’s 5 minute masterpiece… what a feeling!IMG_1712

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Christmas 2013

This year Diana had her last Christmas in her childhood home. The last time the stockings will be filled by St. Nick on the mantle where they have been laid for 29 years. I think everyone had a lot of emotion sharing this special space for the last time:

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We celebrated this last year with some incredible “firsts”. Stefan enjoyed his first time playing with Kurt’s Grandma Dec 23. On Dec 24 we enjoyed caroling together with songsheets and instruments, and also “over the wire” with the Cann Clan in Kelowna:

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Janelle enjoyed her first ever Candycane (btw made with cane sugar and no artificial anything). The girls enjoyed their first time filling the night sky with light, as we anticipated the coming of Christ (a gift from our new church – wow!):

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And we had a blast in our outside playtime Christmas day, organizing Grandpa’s wood into “mangers” for Mary and Joseph… and having our first (annual?) family skipping event where Diana’s mom and sister got to share their skipping talents with Daria, whose current passion is skipping:

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And, best of all, Santa left each of us a surprise letter in our stockings this year which sang the praises of everyone in our family – describing his or her own special gifts, year’s journey, and reminding us all that the joy of Christmas was in each of our presence and not the presents! What an incredible new tradition that made all the Gerties “booble” (and even quivered some chins of our partners!):

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Z is for Zany

Kurt and I are zany. At least for the time being.

We regularly wake up at 5 anticipating hearing our 5:30 beckoning. We sort that out, and doze a bit more… By 6:30 our house in is full swing – meaning: we have had coffee already, put dishes away, done yoga for 1/2 hour, hung laundry or made muffins… and are onto mediating the countless number of interactions that make up our days at home. We both love our home days and wouldn’t trade it for the world. But going to work is by far less zany! Have a look:

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The 2nd photo is me trying to tidy my zany home office. Seriously. This is a crazy time of life. Last year I broke down and had a total fit before going to bed Christmas Day. I completely Failed to “keep on” my holiday mojo. With a capital F. As I prepare for another year’s “holiday”, I am deciding to use quotation marks. Let me explain.

Definition: HOLIDAY = a day of festivity or recreation where no work is done.

First, let me share with you our family’s HOLI-MOMENT (this is the place where we have brief moments where no work is done):

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In 4 sleeps I will take 3 kids under 7 away for 7 nights. The first 60 hours Kurt will have a holiday. I will have 3 nights of consecutive evening social events. Then Kurt will join me in our Christmas “holiday” which I envision as follows:

1. attempting to have quality conversation with people (whom I love!),

2. at all kinds of hours, in often indoor spaces,

3. for more than 3 minutes at a time,

4. while juggling the needs of my children and wanting to be present for them too

5. praying I will somehow pull it all off without appearing TOTALLY zany, and

6. all the while trying to fit in with others who are having a day of recreation

7. and maybe grabbing a moment for some self care (a bite to eat, a shower, perhaps a luxury tooth brushing, or heck even a pee!)

Zany. With a capital Z. Our family quite enjoys being Zany.

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There we are all dressed up like we are at the North Pole. Nope, only watching an outdoor play at 7pm in this nice temperate Coastal climate. Zany!

Actually, most days at home we manage to find a lot of peace. How is that? Well, after 5+ years of this, Kurt and I have become quite skilled at merely siting back and enjoying everyone’s presence. No matter WHAT. It is all about expectations. For example, within the walls of our own house, having 2 out of 3 kids regulated (i.e. not yelling at the top of their lungs) is a success. Having 1 out of 3 regulated, we can usually manage to carry on. Having zero regulated, we merely exchange knowing glances and give up (i.e. freeze and wait). This does not always work outside of closed doors.

Chances are pretty high that 1 out of 3 children will be upset about something, all of the time. It’s our life. It’s ZANY. And pretty darn cute:

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Typically, the zany part is quite easy to keep behind closed doors… but on “holiday” its just a titch more work.

This year I hope to succeed at enjoying everyone’s presence. That’s really what I’m hopping on the ferry to find. Sometimes it is hard to get there. Why?

Well… one example: Kurt and I attempted to have a 2 minute conversation today on the couch. Only 1 child was present. We were interrupted by this dialogue: “You have LOTS of time to talk. Remember back before Daria was born? You should have taken all those minutes, RIGHT THEN, to talk”.

Exactly. If we only we knew (video link).

There is really no job like this job of parenting. We don’t fit any molds. We don’t always succeed. Often we fail miserably. It is a tough job. It is ZANY. With all capitals. If you have found this too serious, I hope you got some laughs from that video! Our life is that and much more.

So, it comes as no surprise to me that our whirlwind tends to disturb the soup of other people’s less zany holidays. But, for better or worse, Kurt and I don’t take holidays from parenting… so we are more taxed in this season than usual. It’s just a fact. We find it unavoidable. You may find us zany. But know this: we will always make the choice to be zany together, as a family. We choose each other, every day. 

We enjoy every day as a family. We embrace difference. We aim to be patient. And love. Love, love, love.

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Y is for Young

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Onto the 2nd side of our Advent bus, so 1/2 way through this season of Advent. Little d’s teacher has been preparing a LOT for this season. I cannot describe all the thoughtful, engaging pieces she has organized to build anticipation for “the child of light” (as they say at school) arriving! Through it all, she expresses great enjoyment of the young people in her class. Here is a beautiful quote from her latest newsletter:

“…the children as they find their way with sharing, co-operating, taking turns, being generous to others and truly finding love and companionship with one another. If we could harness the forces of love and productive enthusiasm that these children generate, then I’m sure we could create a better world.” She is so RIGHT! I feel that way at home too. Check out this dance show:

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Can we as adults share, cooperate, take turns, be generous, and truly find love and companionship? Then we will stay young! And truly find health and happiness, as this amazing 13 year old describes (make sure to scroll down to find the You Tube video).

Here is a snapshot of the experiences that keep me young each day in our house:

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Parades

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Dress Up (these 5 photos all happened in one play morning!)

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It is so easy with young children present, to be and feel tired, spent, irritated, irrational, and OLD! But this advent season I must choose to live into being young. Just like our daughter’s magnificent teacher, Ruth Ker.  ruthker_134x200 I am sure her experiences with these children over the last 30 years has made her one of the youngest people I know.

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X is for Xpress

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One of the intentions I have is to express myself – good, bad, ugly, magnificent… to feel what is. Look at these scenes of the ocean down in the bay here yesterday – magnificent!

This white building is the Clements Center that houses the Sundrops Child Development Center, where I’ve been working the past 4 months on Monday-Tuesday, running Pre K OT groups for kids born in 2009 who will enter school next Sept:

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The 2nd photo shows the college next door. This video is a beautiful expression of this center. It has been magnificent to contribute to their programs!! I say goodbye this month, as another OT returns from mat leave in Jan.

Here are the kids when I picked them up from daycare yesterday… they were soooo thrilled with their snowmen. Joy!

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And, if on the other hand I feel irritated or overwhelmed, I am now drawn to dig deeper and Xpress the more primary feelings of sadness, fear, and loneliness. They are so easy to shove deeper… but they are just as important to express as joy and magnificence!

Today – XPRESS!