Friday, February 29, 2008

E-The waiting game is over!

One year to the day since Alli passed away, and more than 2 years since I started my first fire fighting course, I finally got the call I have been anxiously awaiting. Actually, I got two.

I figure it's been roughly 800 days since I finished all of the basic qualifications (NFPA 1001, level 3 first aid, class 1 driver's license) I needed to apply to fire departments. In that time I have applied to many places and been through a lot of different processes. Not once however, did I get that phone call telling me I am being offered a job. After periods of disillusionment and a number of disappointments, I never thought I would be in a position where I actually got to choose between two local just didn't seem like a realistic possibility.

However, earlier this afternoon (February 28th) I was informed that I would be offered a job with the Vancouver Fire Department. Half an hour later I got a call from the chief of Delta Fire asking me if I would like a job with them. In a matter of minutes, all of the uncertainty of "what next if I don't get hired" vanished and a new responsibility decide what department I will be best to spend my career at. Some may wonder how I hadn't figured this out given how long time I have been playing this game. However, the chances of being successful in two processes, and to have them happen at the exact same time, is so remote that I haven't even allowed the thought to really enter my mind. Never the less, I am now in the very fortunate position to be faced with this difficult and important decision.

Vancouver is my home. I like the thought of not having to commute very far to work. It is a big department with lots of different challenges and opportunities for fire fighters.

Delta, on the other hand, is a smaller, more rural department. It has 7 halls to Vancouver's 20 and has about 165 fire fighters. Most of the halls would be between 25 and 45 minutes from our home........but much closer to our place in Point Roberts. In fact, the Point borders Delta and is only a couple minute drive from hall 2.

I was really impressed by the guys I met and could see myself being at home with that group of people. Everybody had great things to say about the department and seemed happy to come to work every day. They seem to be a cohesive group that also does a lot of extra curricular activities together. The department has top notch equipment and seems really well supported by the local community.

Today is a good day, and this is a great "problem" that I never anticipated needing to think about. Here is a picture of Les playing the part:

Happy Leap Day

Doesn't it feel like a stolen day? Almost like anything you get done on the 29th is bonus and cake icing-like. I think February 29th should be National No Library Fines Day. A complete freebie.

Spring continues to assert itself around here, and today it was another day of Spring Cleaning. Eric and I have been on a massive purge of late and innumerable bags of clothes, neglected toys and cluttery objects have been ordered out of our home at gunpoint. The new rule for the girls is NO DRESS-UP WITH REAL CLOTHES. Too bad they can't read, because written like that it seems clear I mean business. No more 15 outfits a day. We have a dress-up box...USE IT! Again, too bad they can't read because that also looks really serious. You don't mess with capital letters. We attacked (and I do mean attacked...I feel like I am engaged in an epic and mostly losing battle with mess. I am the underdog, so root for me please) the front hall, the laundry closet and the horrible-clothes-unfolding-monsters'-room. Here is a picture of Finny, glum at all the discarding...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Springy Sprung

On our walk from school to home this afternoon, we stumbled (almost trod) upon these rain-covered blooms. Pretty much as springy as it gets. I show you these pictures for two reasons: one, to gloat a bit that this is Vancouver, two, to say that these are by far the best photos I have EVER taken. I have been experimenting with the macro setting on our camera. Rain on flowers make for tantalizing subject matter. Hooray for spring and learning. And Timbits. Sorry, I just threw that one in there.

By the way, I just blew the top picture up on the screen here and turned to Eric, "hey, check out how gorgeous this is...". He responded with, "Yeah, technology is amazing". I guess I am not fooling anyone. I might not start the guest bathroom to darkroom conversion just yet...

E-One year ago today

It was a year ago today that my sister passed away. While this is obviously not an event to celebrate, it does make me want to remember the life of this terrific soul. I can't think of a much better way of saying how I feel than what I wrote in the emotion of the moment last year.

Allison Butler came into the world on a beautiful warm August day in 1972 and has been like a ray of sunshine ever since. She had an indomitable spirit, so strong that nothing this world would send her way could suppress her smile.

Alli was an athletic, intelligent, imaginative girl who loved life. She was a fantastic older sister, daughter and friend. Her self-confidence and humour drew people to her at an early age and she became a centre of her family and community.

The accident in 1983 brought a lot of pain and suffering to Alli and those in her life. And yet, through this tragedy Alli's irrepressible spirit shone on and found a way to touch many people's lives. People who knew nothing of the gregarious, beautiful little girl who Alli had been found themselves touched by her. They recognized and admired Alli's strength, courage and love of life, which allowed her to live another 24 years.

Perhaps nothing displayed the strength of Alli's spirit more than the way she died early Tuesday morning. While losing a battle with a chest infection, Alli had to fight hard just to breath a couple of times a minute. With sheer will and determination, Alli held on for hours until all of her family could be around to say goodbye. Minutes after this happened, she just let go. Alli had a difficult journey but it wasn't in vain. She left behind a wake of energy in the lives of many people. Her strength, happiness, and love of life will live on through her family and friends.

I am proud she was my big sister.

E-The melting pot and the deep fat fryer

If all goes according to plan, which it rarely does around here, we should be finished digging our tunnel before the end of the weekend. Although it will take a couple of months to finish cleaning up our site and another year and a half to finish all of the cement work and the laying of the tracks, the biggest part of our project will soon be over. It has been an interesting experience to say the least.

SNC Lavalin, a Canadian company, won the contract to build the whole Canada line from the airport to Waterfront Station. They then subcontracted different sections to firms with various specialties. The section of which I am a part of, running north from 6th and Ash under downtown to the terminus, was subcontracted to SELI, an international tunnel boring company based out of Italy. Most of the engineers and managers are Italians, with a few Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese thrown into the mix. These guys have their own distinct laisez-faire way of doing things. It seems kind of "fly by the seat of their pants" for such a technical operation, but somehow things manage to get done. When I left Europe almost three years ago, I thought the rest of my working life would be spent beside a Mike or Doug or something. Instead I have come to work every day to say Hi to the likes of Miguel Rosinha, Guiseppe Imbesi, Roberto Ginaneschi, Gabriele Dell'Ava, Leorardo Pia, Larry Campanas, Joe Biason and Andrea Ciamei. We also have Ardalan Hamidi from Iran, Brendan Henry from the UK, Bing Mu from China and a whole team of surveyors from the Philippines.

The crew that does the physical labour is actually a more diverse group than in the office. We have our share of Europeans including Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards, Greeks and Romanians. We also have Chinese, Indians, Burmese and Filipinos. The majority of our workers though come from South America. Almost without exception the Colombians and Costa Ricans spoke no English when they arrived here 2 years ago. Although many still do not (they don't need it on our site- but it does make first aid issues a challenge at times), there a few guys who have picked it up pretty well. I think it's because a couple would like to stay in Canada and the others have met girl friends. It's amazing what a little motivation will do. Some of the people I will remember are Christian Calderon, David Bonilla, Jose Barboza, Joseph Hu, Ariel Palma, Cayetano Alincastra, Hector Sanchez, Rojelios Cortes, and Sandro Lachima.

Although we have had more come and go, there are currently only three Canadians working here if you don't include our first aid/emergency response crew. As one might imagine, our human resources manager Chris Wates has had a difficult job. The other two Canadians, Randy and Jim, work out in the yard. Jim, 48, has had to use my phone numerous times over the last couple of days trying to arrange a place to stay. The problem is that he has no money for a hotel or security deposit on a new rental unit after his last place burnt down earlier this week. Before you feel too sorry for him, what follows is the "cleaned up" version of the story he told me. "I had popped a couple of pills while I was deep frying some fries on the burner. Next thing I woke up and half my apartment is on fire". And to think people are saying that it's hard to find quality workers around here these days!

The guys on our site work long and hard. Usually the operation runs 24 hours a day, 6 days a week, meaning that each crew is working 9 hour shifts every day but Sunday. Often times the managers work 70 hours or more per week. Although the boring machine, trains, cranes, forklifts and bobcats do most of the heavy work, there is still a lot of difficult manoeuvring that requires strength, stamina and mental alertness. Amazingly, given the stressful conditions and incredible diversity of backgrounds, there have been surprisingly few negative incidents between the workers. Seeing these guys, so far away from home and family, working hard every day and doing what's asked of them without complaint, really makes you shake your head at the numerous beggars lining Broadway, less than 2 blocks away. And when you compare like this.....Jim, you're not doing too least you're trying.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Artists

Tonight, we practiced some of the brilliant observational drawing ideas I found on the Camp Creek Press site. It is pretty incredible what happens when you focus a kid's mind on the details of an object. I am all for creativity and making things up out of the quagmire of your own head, but there is also something very powerful in honing your senses to absorb something real. I will post tomorrow with the results of Molly's drawings of a Hello Kitty mug (don't judge me and my cute kitten drinkware). In the meantime and until I upload my those pictures, let me share some other creative work. I give you...ELMO ROBOT (turn your head sideways):
Ah yes, diaper art. I am just happy they are fresh. Yeah. I went there. And if you are wondering, as I was, why it is an ELMO robot, take a closer look at the diapers. The robot is constructed out of only Elmo diapers. No Big Birds or Zoeys. And when the girls explained that one to me when I asked, it was like I had just mistaken oil paints for acrylics. Some serious artsy snobbery. For Real.

And I will leave you with a Magna Doodle masterpiece, Molly's other major medium. Enjoy Mummy in Garden with Giant Snail.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Yikes, I fell off the daily wagon

I was doing so well blogging almost every day. And it felt good. Then somehow, I just toppled right off the back of the daily blogging wagon. It's alright. I have picked myself up, dusted myself off and given myself a stern talking to...

First things first. Remember my idea of paying it forward? Now, the indisputable evidence that I am very tardy in actually paying it forward: lovely, thoughtful gifts slipped into my mailbox from someone to whom I owe lovely and thoughtful gifts. And I owed her first. Don't worry Left-handed scissors, something will be forthcoming, though I cannot guarantee lovliness or thoughfulness. Certainly nothing as nice as that delicious handmade bag you posted today! Here are some shoddy photographs of some very un-shoddy barrettes we were lucky enough to get:

Since both are so nice, the girls very amicably decided to share both, thereby ensuring that they would be able to wear each with matching outfits. This compromise is less altruistic and more self-interested than it seems as neither wanted to give up the chance to wear either barrette.

In other news, I spent the weekend at Northern Voice, a two-day, non-profit personal blogging and social media conference out at UBC. I was there to help out, representing my globe-trotting friends Darren and Julie. Here is a picture Chris Heuer took of me talking to a laptop that contained Darren and Julie's talking heads in Morocco. When I helped out last year, I was a complete and utter blog-novice. This year, I am still very green (I stuck my head into the Photocamp session and basically ran in fear back to the lobby...when the Nikkon vs. Canon debate was equated to a holy-war, I knew I was in with the wrong crowd. I am pretty sure that leaving quietly was the right thing to do since if they saw my tiny pocket camera, they might have killed me and taken high-quality macro pictures while they did it) but I am also very eager to learn all that I can. I had such a fantastic time and it was inspiring to me to keep at blogging. I even came home and quickly started my Google Reader to keep up with blogs I read. I now love Google Reader. I think I read about...GASP, fifty blogs! Yikes. Someone wean me off this devil machine.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

E-A bigger circle

With sunny skies and weather warm enough that we could ditch our jackets, it felt like Spring had arrived today. Les, Luc, Finny and I went for a swim before picking Molly up from school. Our friend Kate Hill and her daughters Sophie and Hannah, who just moved from Edinburgh a few weeks ago, met us at the playground of Molly's school.

In what's probably a typical Vancouver ritual on the first warm and sunny day of the year, it seemed like every kid from the school was out in the playground this afternoon. This made for a really new dynamic for Les and I. In the past, Molly and Finny would usually play with each other, with no more than one or two other friends around. They would usually stick close to us, so supervision was easy.

With three quarters of Molly's Kindergarten class out and about the dynamic was really different. For the first time Molly was part of a gang.....making her a little bolder and more willing to wander beyond her....and truthfully OUR...comfort zones. This "letting go" is a part of parenting I have read and heard lots of talk about, but so far haven't experienced much of. But today, as Molly ran, played, hid and wandered about with her friends, I realized she had reached a new, more dangerous stage. I now need more skills- a greater attention span to be able to know at all times where in the vicinity Molly is, while at the same time trying to help Finny on the climbing wall and holding Lucas back from getting in the big kids way.

This experience also made me realize that now is the time to teach Molly some skills we have been putting off. One parent pointed out to me that he doesn't let his boy run in the bushes around the school after he saw some used needles there. Pretty sad, but it's a fact of life here. I know I can't keep Molly insulated from all these type of possible risks but I at least owe her the duty to educate her on reasonable risks she might encounter. So I called Molly over from the game she was playing in the local shrubs and talked to her about the dangers of touching dirty needles. She had lots of questions and a concerned look on her face as I explained things. As her concern grew I started to wonder if I was already too late and that she had already played with some junkies' discarded paraphernalia. I was quite relieved to find out that her concern came from the fact that she had been playing with some pine needles that had fallen to the ground. Poor girl, her dad hadn't given a very good definition of needles. Talk about innocence!

What is the right amount of protection vs. freedom to provide kids with in a big city today? It's a difficult question to answer but something I am sure we will wrestle with over the next few years.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

No words needed

I never had a sister and since there are nearly nine years between me and my brother, watching two sisters as close to one another as Molly and Finny are is an experience. Observing their sistery-ness is by turns: inspirational, heartwarming, heartbreaking, horrifying, breath-catching, time-out producing, and just plain fun. Things catch me by surprise all the time, but this morning one little incident stood out so much I had to write it here.

This morning, I offered to make the girls either scrambled eggs or omelettes. Finny wanted scrambled, Molly wanted omelette. As a Sunday treat, I made each girl what she wanted. But I have to admit, in my head I was ready for the battle that could ensue when each saw the other's breakfast and changed her little mind. I made the food and sat down to referee. Instead of a girlfight, what I saw left me astounded. Without saying a word to arrange it, Molly and Finny each took a bite of their own food, then scooped up a bite for each other. They fed each other so sweetly, trading forkfuls evenly every time until both plates were empty.

They did it so absent-mindedly, completely unaware of how precious and rare this unspoken closeness was to see. Each mouthful was handed over gently, without guise or reserve, exactly the same as putting food in their own mouths. I watched with my eyes welling up, willing myself to remember moments like these. To treasure them safely away in a corner of my heart. To stack them up as loving insulation against the more numerous and noisy squabbles and spats. It was love, as only true love can be: taken for granted.

So nice, right? Of course, the antidote is writing this post and hearing Eric threaten to stop reading bedtime stories if they don't calm down and be good to each other...wait, what was this post about again? Something about breakfast...?

Friday, February 15, 2008


Oh the joy that is your first real taste of paper hearts...

E- 1 out of 3 aint bad

Just under a month ago I wrote another entry about my quest to get hired as a fire fighter. I haven't updated anything on the blog since....not because I am trying to keep my disappointments private....but because I just haven't heard anything yet. I interviewed with the Vancouver fire department on January 8th and won't know my score (which determines if I am offered a job) until the beginning of March. The North Vancouver process that I have been going through since September is still not completed. I recently went to a second interview there and will likely be put on a (could get hired- depending on the number of retirees) list with 3 others. At this point however, I really don't know how this list works or the likelihood of getting pulled from it.

I have spent the last few weeks going through a speedy but intense process in Delta. In less than a month since the applications closed, I have already written a test, done hall tours, gone for an interview and started my ride along process. The ride along is 3 full days of working, training and responding to calls with different crews from Delta Fire and Rescue. I have been issued my own turn out gear plus SCBA and asked to demonstrate my skills with ladders, hydrants, hoses, ropes, searches and of course hall duties. The days have been long and challenging, especially for someone who hasn't gotten to work on his skills much the last couple of years. However, all the guys I have met have been great and have made the days go by more quickly and comfortably than I might have expected.

If things go well, I will have another test and interview next week. I estimate that, between the tests, interviews and ride-alongs, I will have spent between 40 and 50 hours on this one process alone. One might guess that this would mean the odds of landing a job are pretty good. However, even at this stage in the process I still have less than a 1 in 3 chance of being hired. Although that's not great odds, it sure beats the 1 in 50 odds at the start of the process.....and it would be a fantastic place to work if I could get it.

In addition to my 30 hours in Delta this week, I have worked on the Canada line for another 48. We have had some big delays because of an oil contamination on the boring machine (it has 6,000 litres- making for a difficult oil change) which has prolonged our round the clock work schedule. Les has had to bear the brunt of my absence by having less help than usual with the kids.

I did get one afternoon with Finny though, and luckily it was a sunny one. Molly, who was at school, had asked Fin to take care of Baby Jack, her little stuffed elephant that has been a favorite since birth. Fin, who seemed particularly excited by the responsibility she'd been entrusted with, was quite torn when I asked if she wanted to go for a walk. "I really want to, but can't leave Baby Jack". When I suggested she take her mini baby bjorn, she was thrilled. We went up to the bank, Shoppers Drug mart and checked out our local firebombing site. It was such an ordinary afternoon (minus the firebomb) with errands to take care of and to-do lists on my mind. However, as Finny coasted down Broadway with Baby Jack on her back, dodging pedestrians and pointing out all sorts of new and wonderful things to me, I couldn't help think how much my heart will ache one day realizing that these "mundane" moments are all behind me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On Being a Bird

Over dinner tonight, Molly, Finny and I discussed the pros and cons of being a baby bird. Now, before you ask, yes we were eating chicken. But before you make a cringe-y face and mentally chastise me for talking anthropomorphically about our dinner, you need to know that the topic was not raised because we were eating poultry. Rather, it was prompted by this incredibly delightful video made for an amazing (and slightly addictive) children's song. If only all kid's music was such a pleasure...anyway, the beautiful rainbow baby bird floating through the delicious animated landscape in the video caused Finny to blurt out that she wanted to be a baby bird. Both Molly and I protested "No!" at the exact same time. Then we looked at each, we were both so insistent.

I told Finny that I would never want her to be a baby bird because then I wouldn't be her mummy. (Insert short conversation about why humans cannot give birth to birds...I won't bore you with that discussion). Then I asked Molly why Finny shouldn't be a bird.

"Your reason was good Mumma, but mine is better. If Finny was a bird, she would have to eat worms. Worms would be yucky to eat."

I'll end this by saying that while Finny seemed to really weigh the worm thing quite carefully, I don't know if the "your mummy would be a bird stranger" swayed her all that much. I guess Molly was right. Her reason was better.

E-Telus: the future is expensive

Keeping up a blog is actually quite a bit of work. Pictures in particular, even as unorganized as they often appear on this page, take a long time to work with. There are lots of perks however, and our kids should have a pretty nice record of their childhood.

One perk I haven't yet taken advantage of is being able to rant to an audience. Although we aren't exactly trying to promote our blog, we do have a number of people who stumble on to this site.....which means a least someone will listen to here it is.

If you are like me, you probably don't scrutinize your telephone bill too much. I think they are made especially difficult to understand for that very reason. Now that I have my internet and television bills on the same paper, but on different billing cycles, it becomes tough to know exactly when and what I am paying for. Maybe this is the reason that Telus (our only local phone company) thinks they can get away with a $2.95 "LD access charge". I would never even have noticed this, except that Telus overcharged me by $50 last month, so I took a closer look at the bill. According to the company the "LD access charge" is levied on my account because the cost of providing long distance access is increasing. Because I am not signed up for a Telus long distance plan (which cost a minumum of $5/month to have the right to pay long distance rates which are at least 3-4 times higher than calling cards), I am now charged this access fee whether I use long distance or not.

The representative from Telus told me that a notification was sent out with my October bill. I, probably like most people, never even knew looked at this paper. I got 4 telephone calls from Telus trying to convince me to switch to Telus T.V. versus one small piece of non-descript junk mail to tell me I am being charged for something I don't even use.

I don't think there are many people that would argue that it is pretty crumby corporate behaviour to sneak in a monthly charge for a service that isn't being used. However, they may just be doing me a favour. The only way the charge can be eliminated is to block long distance access, which I have now done. Although I have mostly been using calling cards anyways, I did occasionally dial directly with Telus when I had no credit left on my cards. I figured that if my calling card to Austria costs 1 cent a minute, then Telus couldn't be more than 25 or 30 cents. Although it wouldn't be a frugal decision, I was sure that I could finance the 10 minute call. I wasn't very pleasantly surprised when I got my bill and saw that their rate to an Austrian land line is $1.45/minute. When I asked the billing department why I was paying 145 times the calling card rate I was told "we have a different business model than them". I couldn't help but agree. Telus' long distance business model must be to target the people who are too busy and rich to care about their money.....and the elderly who are just used to picking up their phone and dialing....because that used to be the only way to do it.

I always thought their coffee tasted a little burnt...

So, our local Starbucks exploded.

The word on the street is that the sonic boom sent out by the blast was earth shattering. Apparently we sleep like the dead because no one here, less than one block away, heard a thing. Including three little people who are pretty light sleepers. Eric was at work a few blocks away and he thought it was an earthquake. Me.......not so much, what with the still sleeping and all.

When Lucas finally did wake up at about 6:45 (only because Eric and I were chatting loudly...hmmm, how loud were we? The kid slept through an EXPLOSION!), the two of us took a little walk up the hill to investigate the damage. In person, it is quite a shock. In fact, the CBC cameraman standing behind me said it reminded him of Kandahar.

I also took the precaution of placing a very early morning preemptive phone call to my parents. I didn't want them to wake up to the news that our block had been sent skyward without knowing that we had not been taken with it. You know, up to the big cappuccino machine in the sky. My dad seemed relieved that we were alive, but probably more relieved to get off the phone and continue sleeping.

I also noticed that the photo the CBC had on its website was grainy and weak. I sent them my picture, which they published here. You didn't know I was into photojournalism, did you? Me neither. I guess I have a nose for a good story...just not much of an ear.

UPDATE: My picture is now on the main news page here. So funny!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Valentines and Apples

Sometimes I get urges to make things (uh, have you met my three children?). These needs to create come and go cyclically, I think. I, apparently, am in an upswing towards an apex (ahhhh, beware the valley below when we will all be eating Alphagetti and Velvetta) because there has been a whole lotta baking, cooking, crafting and knitting going on.

As I spend this evening cutting out 100 hearts for Molly's class valentines, it occurs to me that repetition is definitely the bummer of making things...cardstock hearts over and over and over again. Ugh. Plus, I am not 100% healthy, I don't think. There is no way to live in the germ soup I have been marinating in and not suffer some ill-effects.

Dinner tonight (such a cheat because it is really a dessert, or breakfast at best...a german apple pancake):

And to keep my hands warm (or at least one hand until I lose momentum and interest in completing the second one...that's ok, this glove can live with the other one whose mate I never finished) Also, note the ghetto knitting style: that is my earring I am using as a stitch marker:

And finally, I couldn't resist this picture of Lucas, which looks a lot like this one of the girls.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What I wish I were Doing Right NOW

Well, we are finally crawling out from under the full week of sickness. And now that we have emerged (albeit have no idea how foul Molly, the sweetest girl in all creation, can become when cabin fever we are quite behind You know, all the little things that pile up when you are looking the other way? I am tired. Too many nights of mopping up after sweaty brows. And now it is almost Monday again. Yikes.

Today, the stale and germy air in here finally became unbearable so we headed out to enjoy the sunshine at the park. Sickness be damned.

While Eric did this:

We did this:

And it felt good.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

E- It's a bad one.

Who knew that two little girls even had this much liquid in them? Finny is now on day 5 of a stomach flu that has been incredibly consistent/persistent but not too severe for her. Molly has been throwing up every 45 minutes or less for over 24 hours now. Let's just say we don't have a lot of clean towels left in our house.

Apart from the retching noises, we have had a pretty quiet couple of days hanging out, watching videos and reading. I have been working nights all week, so have been happy to rest with the kids during the day.

It has been interesting to see how each of the kids has reacted differently to their illness. Although they have both been troopers, doing a lot less complaining than I probably would in a similar situation, they are also really different when they are their lowest point. A ralphing Finny gets a bit angry and wants to do something about this mean bug attacking her stomach.....kind of a "let me at him" approach. Molly on the other hand, is a picture of composure.....she may not enjoy this but she can at least be pleasant through the process. Picture the queen worshiping the make that Royal Doulton...god.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Since living in France and putting on five pounds of bread weight, I have gotten pretty snooty about baguettes. When they are good, they are worth every gram of nutritionless tastiness. When they are bad, they aren't good enough to blow my nose into. Most days on my way home from work in Paris, I bought a baguette to have with dinner. And most days, I crossed our doorstep with about one-fifth left and a face covered in crumbs.

Yesterday, Molly and I happened upon Mix. I have heard good things about their bread and so I had to try the rustic baguette. Verdict: pretty darn good.

Just in case you are interested, the best baguette I have had in the city was from the now closed Champs Elysee bakery. C'est dommage. You would think La Baguette & L'Echalote on Granville Island would be a logical winner, but I was very disappointed in their offering. However, their take-and-bake potato bread is to die for. Terra Breads makes a mean baguette, I think. Anyone else have any suggestions?

Monday, February 4, 2008

E-One Word /One Onomatopoeia

Just shy of 14 months, Lucas has been making word-like sounds for quite a while. However, as somewhat skeptical parents, before Les or I are willing to classify any of these sounds as words, we need to see certain usage patterns. There has to be lots of repetition, it has to sound the same every time, and it has to be close to the English word we have taught him.

Under these strict criteria, Luke's first successful stab at speaking was actually an onomatopoeia. He consistently says "Wuuuh ,Wuuuuh" any time he sees a dog. However, considering that he is imitating the sound that dogs make, we're not sure whether this actually counts as his first word.

Which brings us to "buuuh". Lucas wobbles around our living room floor, which is littered with balls, saying "buuuh" everytime he picks one up. Clever little guy. Now if only he'd smarten up enough to stop chewing the foam ones, I'd be really happy.

On Baking and Puking

I will start with the baking. To mark the occasion of my brother's 25th birthday, the kids and I decided to BAKE HIM A CAKE. Not just bake him a cake but...bake him AS a cake. Here is the result:

Please note the brilliantly executed coloured sugar soul patch. I was pretty happy with the results. He, as you can probably surmise from his expression, he was less so. Somehow that makes it even better.

Lucas, jumping on the party train with gusto, was given his first ice cream cone. He. Was. Happy.

Happiness. Can. Be. Tiring.

Since then, maybe as punishment for my dessert mockery, I have been awash in vomit. Finny is down with the flu. She spent the day on the couch sipping Gatorade and slurping Jello. Her stoicism in the face of the flu is inspiring. The pile of laundry I have dealt with today is not.

Friday, February 1, 2008

E- Molly Reid and Fin Podborski

My mom has taken on the brave challenge of teaching the kids to ski. Not only did she outfit them with all the necessary equipment, she is also willing to take them up the mountain every Friday and ski with them. And when I say ski with them.....I mean run after them when they fall....carry them up the hill...carry their skis...and all that fun stuff. Usually my mom's friends Catherine or Louise help her, but today it was my turn.

In less than half an hour we escaped from the grey slush of False Creek to the dry powdery wonderland on Seymour Mountain. We had a great time and the kids were surprisingly easy. Listen to Molly laugh in the video. She couldn't get enough of the whole thing!

Two years later..

When Eric and I were moving around every eight or nine months, pulling out familiar pictures to hang on bare walls was one of the first things I would do when we arrived somewhere new. Funny then how the walls in the first permanent home of our lives as a family have remained bare...until now.

Yesterday, I finally got around to making home a little more homey. Warning, do not pull out your virtual rulers or measuring tape. This was a very amateur, freehand attempt at wall hanging.

Note: These beautiful photographs of the kids were done about six months ago. The kids posed for the students at Focal Point studio in return for copies of the finished pictures. What a deal...let's just say that I actually cried when I saw them for the first time. It might be worth giving them a call to see if this opportunity still exists.


In my new unpaid position as full-time blog peruser, I came across this swap on Mollycoddle. We were partnered with another family and we'll spend the next month gathering and making treats and treasures to send to...Dubai! I have been reading Susan's blog with interest...her pictures of exotic locales offer a lovely mini-holiday from our pictures of rain, rainforests and raincoats. We are already very keen over here bandying around swap ideas.