Thursday, August 11, 2016

There and Back Again A Canadian Holiday (part 1)

The Bumper's favorite view

A fairy house
I think I have recovered from the jet enough to write about our vacation trip to Vancouver British Columbia Canada. We went for the wedding of Nana's friends daughter. I was nervous about this trip for a lot of reasons. Firstly the Bumper and I had to get our passports, which in itself was an adventure. It was very hard work getting the Bumper to stand still for the photo. Secondly this trip was also the first time the Bumper has ever been on an airplane.  Thirdly because this was a sort of homecoming for me. We left Vancouver just after the end of my fourth grade year, and I had not been back since. I have long said Vancouver was my favorite city in the world, partially because it is situated in that sweet spot between the mountains and the sea, and partially because Vancouver  become had enshrined in a golden haze of childhood memory; I wasn't particularly keen on destroying the illusion. As it turned out I worried for nothing.

We left early, 5:30 am , on Thursday morning we were all too excited to sleep, which was just as well since the Bumper had a little trouble popping her ears once the plane took off and I had t8 o give her chewing gum to help teach her how. Unfortunately the Bumper persisted in kicking the seat in front of her for the entire flight. I was so embarrassed! I made the Bumper apologize to the lady when we landed in Vancouver. Upon arrival the Bumper was less than enthusiastic. She'd somehow gotten it into her head Vancouver was going to be a giant theme park with a roller coaster right out of the gate. I had to explain it wasn't that sort of vacation. She wasn't immediately won over.

Water Fun
He used to be smaller and I used to be taller
On Friday we met up with Nana's friends R and G and their son S. S and I hadn't seen each other since we were little kids. I admit I was half expecting a curly headed little boy in overalls. Um no! He grew up and so did I, we did that weird double take thing when we realized who we were, we then proceed try and cram thirty years into two hours of catching up. The Bumper took to S right away and he was a very good sport about it. The highlight for her that day was when we went to a local playground with a water park. The Bumper promptly got soaking wet, which continued as a theme for the rest of the week.
Perfect Day for a Wedding

The next day was the wedding. I am a sucker for weddings anyway and this one did not disappoint. It was held at the University of British Columbia boathouse on the Fraser River. My biggest fear was the Bumper would want to jump into the river, but she managed to restrain herself. In fact when Nana's friend R offered a life jacket for the Bumper I promptly refused knowing the Bumper would take it as an open invitation to get right in! Even though the wedding is supposed to be about the bride and groom (I wish them a long and happy marriage), the Bumper and two other little boys her age hit the dance floor and completely stole the show!  I think five years old is the only time you can cut in and steal a person's date it be perfectly acceptable. The Bumper even took a turn with the groom!

After the excitement and drama (the Bumper got carsick on the way back to the hotel) of the wedding we took a couple days just hanging out  going to visit old haunts, such as Simon Frasier University, Burnaby Mountain Park, new to us since it had not  been built when we lived in Vancouver, Lake Alouette-- where the Bumper had her first experience swimming in a lake and I was able to take a couple of long walks by myself. We also took a brief tour of Trout Lake Community Center, our favorite picnic spot, and the apartment play ground where we used to live.
View from Burnaby Mountain

I think Tuesday was probably the Bumper's favorite day. We went hiking at Lynn Canyon, where she braved the suspension bridge and went for a swim in a pristine natural pool.  Tuesday was also the only the heat wave broke. The day the Bumper went swimming was 15C (59F), but she was willing to brave the cold with S and had a ball doing so. We finished off the day by going to a community pool where the Bumper's bravery was rewarded by a long soak in a hot tub.
Yummy Blackberries

The last day was spent going to iconic Stanley Park and seeing the Totem Pole exhibit, having one last dinner with R and G, followed by a walk on a local tree farm. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures, but the Bumper had fun running races with R and G.

All in all the trip was resounding successes. I loved seeing the Bumper's reaction to the enormous trees and slugs in the Pacific Northwest and she thoroughly enjoyed picking blackberries every chance she got.  My favorite part, however was not the scenery, but getting back in touch with friends and making new ones along the way. We will definitely be back.

More pictures are coming soon!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Meatless Monday: Breathing space and Frontyard Gardens

Butterfly enjoying our marigolds
I try to keep the tone of this Blog light and homey. I talk about crafts, cooking, writing, reading and of course The Bumper. With what has been going on in this country lately, those kinds of things just didn't seem very important. What is the point of chatting about flowers, or how many beans we have been picking (a lot!), the progress made on my latest pair of socks, or crochet project; when we have two shootings of un-armed Black men in a week, the retaliatory killings of police officers who were just trying to do their jobs, yet another un-armed Black man shot by a police officer this week, and hateful, fearing mongering political rhetoric on the parts of the candidates for the highest office in the United States.

I wanted to cry out: "Where are you God?!" It seemed like He was very far away. I almost decided to give up blogging.  Then I read a note from a friend of mine's mother "We can rest assured that nothing is happening God did not allow, even though we may not understand." Okay slow down take a deep breath the world is not coming to and our country is not going down the tubes, in spite of what sensationalized media stories and self serving politicians would have me believe. Please note I am not being dismissive of those in true need. I am not saying I am going to bury my head in the sand about issues I feel strongly about and simply say "God's in charge and I don't have to do anything." I am saying that being overly fearful and anxious is counter productive. I am saying I am not going to let negativity depress me. I am saying will I will continue to blog about my family, crafts etc because these things are important to me and bring me joy.  I will continue to to blog about these things to be a place of thoughtfulness, rest, calm, comfort and encouragement in a media world dominated by the sensational, cruel and vapid.

We are leaving for vacation to Vancouver British Columbia Canada on Thursday. I hope to have some great pictures and stories to share.
The cherry tomatoes do not stand a chance!

In the meantime this Meatless Monday is all about the front yard garden We started a front yard garden last summer and have continued it this year. We are growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplant right along our front walkway. It so fun and easy to pick things as they ripen on our way back inside the house after a long day or even first thing in the morning after checking the mail and fetching the newspaper. The Bumper loves to eat cherry tomatoes, as soon as she picks them.  I love sneaking her vegetables in on her this way! I highly recommend front yard gardening who says walkways are only reserved for flowers?

p.s. Expect another post on canning tomatoes and pepper relish this year!


Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

Inspired by the wonderful Yarnharlot,,  for this year's Independence Day celebration I am posting a few of the things I like about living in the wonderful United States. In no particular order:

1. Freedom of the Press- I'm a writer so this one is obligatory.
2. Freedom to practice my religion without government interference.
3. Separation of Church and State- see number 2.
4. Our National Parks- I'd like to visit all of them; have some beautiful wilderness in the country.
5. The states are United and we its citizens can move in an out of them with ease.
6. There are three major mountain ranges within our borders: The Appalachians, the Rockies, and the Sierra Nevada.
7. The longest river is the Missouri River, but the biggest is the Mississippi.
8. Four of the five great Lakes, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and Lake Superior share a peaceful and prosperous border with our northern neighbor Canada.. Lake Michigan is the only one that does not border Canada.
9. Our national bird, the bald eagle became the symbol for our country in  1782.
10. The bald eagle was take off the endangered species list in 2015.

May all you have happy and safe 4th of July.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Blast Off to Kindergarten

Getting Ready

I celebrated a  small but sentimental milestone; the Bumper finished Pre-Kindergarten today. She came home with a real report card and everything. Next year she will be a real live Kindergartner. Her class put on  a performance for the parents. They danced and sang songs to show what they have learned this year, among them were the ABC's, Los Colores, and Abra Mis Ojos (Open My Eyes Lord). It was cute beyond words.
Jet Packs!
Afterwards we sat in the playground and the Bumper crawled up on my lap. "Mom," she said, "I'm sad."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because I won't see my friends for the whole summer, and even when we come back Mrs. H won't be my teacher. It won't be the same."
I had nothing to say, so I sat an rocked her for a while. She was right and all I could do was hold her and let her know I was not going anywhere.

I am glad she is still little and her mama rocking her was enough to chase the sadness away.

Praise God for a Good Year

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bring on the Summer

The Bumper gets her green thumb from her Nana
The Bumper's last day of pre-k is tomorrow. She is excited for summer vacation to begin. The Bumper is not a morning person (except on Saturday) and it has been a struggle to get her to school by 8am every morning. I am looking forward to the break from that at least.

The Bumper has a a wonderful school year, but not without some rough patches. She is a very high energy little girl and behavior no one would blink at in a boy often gets question when she does it. That being said she got into trouble the third day of school for yelling at her teacher. Her teacher however is very savvy in the ways of wee ones and quickly figured out the Bumper had misbehaved because she wanted to get sent home. So her teacher and I came up with a better way to deal with her disobedience. If she misbehaved in class she would not get to play on the playground at recess or after school. For the most part this worked very well all year. This school year also taught me I am the parent of THAT child. The one who makes other parents shake their heads and raise their eye brows, but that is a post for another day.

This summer we are going on a trip out to Vancouver B.C. Canada. It will be the first time the Bumper has ever flown. I am nervous, she is thrilled and asks about it everyday. She has began X-ing out the days until we leave. Unfortunately we do not leave until the end of July. It is going to be a long wait!
I have been very busy meeting personal writing goals for my novel. Writing is hard work and has not left much time for blogging. Still I hope find some balance this summer and I am looking forward to spending time with the Bumper and just slowing our pace down a little.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Lazy Weekend

I spent a very relaxing weekend at home with the Bumper. We stayed in most of the day, watching movies, playing dolls, and putting together puzzles, Saturday except for in the late afternoon when I decided a bit of fresh air seemed in order. We wandered over to the local school yard where the Bumper happily climbed, swung, and slid; until raindrops splattered our faces and we ran for home. She won. I am still recovering from a cold, but the Bumper had no mercy and ran full tilt.

Sunday was Palm Sunday. I normally enjoy the recreation of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem, followed by a reflection on the passion and crucifixion, but I discovered yesterday that an empty stomach, a head cold and a hot church are a bad combination. I nearly passed out right in the middle of service! Fortunately a quick trip outside in the cold air, made me feel much better and I was able to take Holy Communion. Still it was embarrassing and I hope not to make a repeat performance anytime soon.
Palm Sunday also marks the end of  Lent and the beginning of Holy Week and Easter. I thought about what my small sacrifices might have meant in the larger scheme of things. While it isn't much, I am still glad to provide an example of cheerful sacrifice for the Bumper. She is watching, even when I don't think she is. After church I headed over to my knit and natter group, but no one was there. So I sat in my car and knit by myself listening to the rain fall. I can't recall when I have had a more peaceful two hours.

Yesterday was the first day of Spring, and this morning ice covered the car. Oh well, it is better than last year. I am hoping the cold snap will be brief and we will have a warm Easter Sunday. Of course here in the Mid-Atlantic anything can happen weather wise and usually does!


Friday, March 18, 2016

Sleepy and Slow

This morning was one of those mornings. The kind where I get up too late and run around in circles trying to get the Bumper out the door when she has emphatically stated she does not want to go to school. She was tired and I was tired and rather than get into a power struggle I slowed the pace way down. We had a breakfast of cold cereal, much to the Bumper's dismay as she prefers a hot breakfast and the Bumper pulled out all the stops on the go slow chart. She wanted to do everything except get dressed for school. I let her. I went about as though she were not there, putting things away, and starting my morning work routine. In between times I manged to get her dressed in her school uniform. I then told her if she was sick, by all means she ought to stay home--in bed. She decided she would much rather go to school. It was an hour late, but we went.

I understand her reluctance. For some reason the time change hit all of us especially hard this year; and we were all out late last night celebrating St. Patrick's day, which made getting up this morning very difficult.  Still I had to be firm and make her go. I was glad I did; because as soon as we got to school the Bumper perked up. We walked in on her teacher asking what Easter is really about, instead and the Bumper slid into her seat, like a ball player heading for home base, hand waving wildly in the air shouting "Jesus!".

Enthusiasm is a good thing.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Photo courtesy of The Garden
This year we are all about the green on St. Patrick's Day. On most days where the Bumper goes to school and I must admit I was unprepared. I simply grabbed the only green shirt she owned, and called it done. Well I "forgot" the Bumper is now going to a Catholic school; and they take 'wearing of the green to a whole other level! Next year I will know better.

While our family does have Irish in it on my mom's side, it is back a couple of generations. We haven't made much of St. Patrick's in years past, but this year Nana is making corned beef and cabbage, boiled potatoes and Irish Soda bread.  I will be making tofu scramble for those of us who do not eat meat, not traditional but very good. We will be headed over to a friend's house and we are celebrating in memory of another friend who passed away four years ago. Our late friend was second generation Irish American and very proud of her heritage. It is in her honor we are having  a small party tonight. There will be no raucous drinking, or singing, just good plain food shared in thanks with friends. Given that one of the cornerstones of Christianity is sharing what we have with others I can think of  no better way to honor St. Patrick.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Reading in Bed

Enough already! I am seriously sick of being sick! I feel like every other blog entry goes something like this: Hi, I'm back. I was sick. Today I took a walk. Six months later. Hi, I'm back. I was sick. So on and so forth. Urgh. On the other hand being bed bed ridden  does have it's compensations. I got to catch up on my reading list. Here is what I have been reading in the last couple of weeks or so (honestly I've been sick so much I've lost track of time)

1. Booker T. Washington: Black Leadership in the Age of Jim Crow by Raymond W. Smock.
 This was one of my Black History Month Reads. It turns out I knew next to nothing about this pre-civil rights era leader and founder of the Tuskegee Institute

2. 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup.
 To find a narrative written by a man who had been born free and sold into slavery is nothing short of a history buffs dream. It did not disappoint.

(Yes I know we are well into women's history month, but I have been sick so a little slack is warranted.)

3. Susanna's Dream by Marta Perry
An Amish romance. Well written, not heavy on the mushy stuff.  The story focuses on family connections and community, while the romance is in the background. Great if you like that sort of fare, which I do.

4. Missing Your Smile by Jerry S. Eicher
Another Amish romance, I'm on a roll here, again well written and it deals more with faith issues, plus reading romances written by a man offer a different perspective.

5. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
This is the second in the Outlander series and I am hooked. I am such a sucker for historical fiction. The writing is fast paced, intricate and character driven with enough history to keep it fresh and interesting. A little graphic in the sex department more my tasted, but I just skip over those parts if I find them disrupting or repetitive. 

6. The Mill on the Floss by George Elliot
A classic that has been on my to read list forever, because it is one of those works of literature that as an English major I'm supposed to have read but hadn't gotten around to reading. Getting used to the style is the hardest part, mid-nineteenth century affectations get on the nerves of this post Hemingway reader. It does make me very grateful to have been born in the twentieth century where my options as a woman are far less limited.

So what is on your book shelf, or night stand or bathroom counter dear readers?



Friday, March 4, 2016

Randomly on Friday

Right now Mother Nature is laughing at us. This morning we woke up, much to the Bumper's delight, to a blanket of white fluffy snow, and by this afternoon it was gone. Her school, much to the Bumper's dismay, remained open; so she had only a few minutes to make a mini-snowman, eat her syrup snow and pelt me with snowballs on the way to the car. Since it was my volunteer day in the school cafeteria I stayed at school all day. Because we are still in Lent the kids were served macaroni and cheese with a corn muffin and carrots. By the end of lunch time I felt sorry for the poor little carrots as they all got left behind while the kids took only the trays with the pasta.

In keeping with our Lenten theme of Meatless Simplicity the Bumper ate left over  cheese pizza from yesterday's lunch, I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Nana ate soup. After standing on my feet all day preparing and serving food the last thing I wanted to do was come home and cook. Friday and weekends in general we keep it pretty informal, sometimes we even just grab some tortilla chips, salsa, popcorn, and maybe hot dogs (not during Lent of course) for the Bumper and Nana, and a veggie burger for me and we sit in the living room and watch a movie together.

This weekend we are looking forward to a play date with one of the Bumper's friends and I hope to get to my knit group to enjoy some crafty me time.


Thursday, March 3, 2016


Bare Trees
I've reached the point in the year where I am restless. I am tired of winter and ready for spring to be here. I am ready to go outside for walks and to soak up some sunshine. I am ready to send the Bumper out with her Nana into the garden and flowerbeds to begin Spring planting. I will gladly take allergy medicine just as long as I can leave my jacket, scarf and gloves behind. We have had unusually mild winter, which makes it all the more aggravating and I know winter is not done with us yet. Sure the calendar says there are only three weeks until the first day of Spring, but last year we got a snowstorm on that day, so I'm more than a little skeptical.
I just love a white picket fence

Spring also means the feast of the Resurrection is close at hand and our Lenten fast will end. I am looking forward to a family get together and singing Alleluia in church. Until then we have lots to occupy us including an auction fundraiser at the Bumper's school, Stations of the Cross and Meatless Fridays.

To get rid of some of my restlessness the other day I managed to go for a walk. The day was warm and sunny it felt so good to be outside. As I sit typing this the temperature  outside has dipped to uncomfortably just above freezing. I am glad I got out when I did-- before the next round of stormy weather.

Hope you are enjoying yourself wherever you are and whatever your weather.
Does anybody else get restless this time of year?


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Works in Progress Wednesday

This is what I am currently working on:
I thought two at time would be faster-- it isn't

 A pair of socks for my sister.

This is taking longer than I expected

A scarf for my sister- the Pattern is Hitchhiker and is available on Ravelry

The Granny Stripe blanket from Attic 24

It is impossible to be sad working on this blanket

A Christmas dishcloth that will most likely be finished next Christmas.


I am a very slow crocheter and knitter, but the only way to get faster is keep crocheting and knitting (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Screeching to a Halt - Lent Interupts the Busy

This must be the season of busy. I am busy, the Bumper is busy and Nana is busy!  I am writing on my novel, crocheting, knitting, housekeeping and volunteering at the Bumper's school. The Bumper is full time in school and most days stays on the playground for an hour afterwards. On Thursdays we go to our local library for the Lego challenge and she builds stuff. She has also been attending birthday parties for her new classmates. One of them was a very girly tea party. The Bumper liked dressing up, but she did not like having to sit still for so long. She prefers to be active.

Our February weather had us going topsy turvy one day it would be sunny and warm enough to leave our jackets at home the next day a snowstorm. The Bumper liked the snow storm best of all. She crammed all her favorite activities into one day. She ate syrup snow, had a snowball fight and built her first ever real snowman. February also marked the beginning of Lent this year. We ate pancakes for supper on Mardi Gras, this has become a family tradition and one the Bumper heartily endorses. The next day was Ash Wednesday, and the Bumper got ashes put on her head for the first time, she thought it very funny and said we all looked silly. She then asked if it was okay to look silly for Jesus; I said yes.

This year our whole family is participating in the Lenten disciplines of prayer fasting and Alms giving. The Bumper is learning the Lord's prayer, which we have been reading and saying together at night, Nana and I have given up our morning coffee and sweets. I am making the time to read my Bible in the morning and to go to church one extra day during the week.

 The Bumper is excited to see how much money we can put in our Lenten Rice bowl to go to Catholic Relief Services. (The money I would have spent on coffee and treats is going into the bowl).
Since this is the first year the Bumper is aware of what is going on, Nana and I are trying extra hard to practice what we preach and to do so with cheerful hearts. It may not seem like much, giving up coffee, sweets and no meat on Friday, but we are demonstrating the value of  spending time in prayer, self discipline, and thinking of other people's needs.

Little things can make big things happen.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Sick Day or Month or Whatever

This January is turning out to be the month of illness. First I was sick, still am, with some sort of stomach bug, then a sinus infection which turned into asthmatic bronchitis. I was bed ridden pretty much until this past Sunday; even then  I coughed my way through most of the service. Then the Bumper came down with a version of the stomach flu. She started vomiting at around 10pm on Saturday  and kept going at two hour interval until 8am on Sunday. At least two of the episodes she caught me full in the face. Yep I spent most of the night covered in kid barf... ah the joys of motherhood. I know I was sleep deprived because I found it funny that we were being ceremonially re baptized ( Whereby the priest sprinkles the entire congregation with holy water) and a scant two hours before I was drenched in vomit. I saw it as a rather blunt metaphor for sin and redemption through Christ.
The Bumper was feeling much better today and she should be ready to go back to school tomorrow, but now Nana is sick. We have all been drinking loads of hot tea and eating lots of soup.

p.s. The Bumper's mittens turned out rather Seussian

Friday, January 1, 2016

Dear 2016

Dear 2016,
 Here we are on the first day of a brand new year and in spite of having another nasty cold I am feeling pretty optimistic. I am looking forward to seeing what this year holds. It is hard to believe it has been five years since I started this blog. When I started the Bumper was not yet born and now she is five. I am excited about watching her grow even more. I feel so fortunate that I get to share her adventures with her and I hope there will be plenty in 2016. This year am hoping to improve my knitting, crochet and sewing skills. I have several projects I have finished which have not yet been photographed. I am looking forward to finishing my second novel this year. I had to start all over at the end of November, but I don't mind because the story is stronger than it was before. I also want to improve my physical fitness. 2015 was a year of illness and inactivity. I want 2016 to be the year I get active. As always I want to grow closer to the Lord, but this year I am going to be more mindful of the example I am setting for the Bumper.
What are your hopes for the new year?

Happy New Year!

p.s. I also hope not to wash out for Vegan MoFo!