Friday, June 17, 2016

Another birthday, another attempt to keep blogging!'s been a while since I've been here. I think I'm over thinking the whole thing! I have been hesitant and unsure how to proceed with this 'journal'. Bronwyn is old enough to go on line and read for herself. River is old enough too and I have become conscious of privacy and safety and other factors that go with putting content on the Internet for anyone to read. Should I just do it anyway? That, in large part, is what stops me from posting the things that I want to. But on the other hand I have missed so much and, when I was going strong, I really did enjoy posting. So even though I've missed a lot, I will not dwell on flashbacks...but maybe I'll just continue anyway.

Speaking of Bronwyn being old enough. She just turned 12; a true Tween. The plan for this year's birthday was a beach party (which we organized last year). Sadly, the weather did not cooperate and so we swung into 'plan b'. Plan B was fully arranged by Bronwyn. She asked me to let her send invitations etc., and also to make myself scarce during the celebrations. So she did it; arranged her own birthday celebrations! She sent out invitations, organized everyone to go to swimming at UBC (via bus and car), and arranged for everyone to get back to the house in time for cake and presents. I was fully expecting to intervene, but apparently the prospect of me involving myself in her birthday was all the incentive she needed to do a great job organizing it herself! Why kids assume that you want to hang out with them and their 12 year-old friends is beyond me. Really, there are other things I like to do. Not that there is anything wrong with 12 year olds...but well, let's just say I'm not anxious to hang out and talk about Kylie Cosmetics and boys, or alternatively feel how old and outdated I am in everything I think. My presence is a mutually dissatisfying experience...well, apart from when I listen in on their conversations which are often a mixture of cute, funny, and mildly disturbing.

She's a smart and caring girl. She writes amazing poetry (if she lets me I will post a couple) and is great at art. In fact, this year's birthday present was some quality art supplies (watercolours and pencil crayons). Last week we had a day out downtown; art gallery and shopping - we had a lot of fun and she is great company! Happy Birthday to our wonderful daughter - we love you!


How time flies
I finished another Pinata! This time a cactus pinata: to tie in with Bronwyn's continued fascination with the desert. I am able to make them quite quickly and easily now and Bronwyn suggested I make them to sell. I wonder if that would work. I will try to dig up pictures of the pinatas I have made.

Here's a couple of recent pictures:

Crab Fishing at Jericho

In other news: we said goodbye to Cactus the gerbil who lived to over 5 years old. Bronwyn and I took him to the woods and buried him beside Ellee. Here is last picture of Caci, Bronwyn's beloved gerbil. And here is the embroidery she did and buried with him. It was very sad, but it seemed as though he was at death's door for so long that it was almost a relief.


Mark suffered a heart attack in January, which was surprising and upsetting for everyone. He had two stints put in and is now recovered. But it was a very stressful time, particularly for the kids (and Mark!). I had a hysterectomy in May which wasn't that much fun. Maybe more on that another time. I am mostly back to my variation on 'normal'. I will try my best to update a bit more regularly.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Thanksgiving Weekend 2015

Took a rainy-day walk to the Endowment Lands; something we haven't done for a while (well, it hasn't rained that much!). It was something the kids wanted to do - something we used to do quite a bit when they were younger - and I was very happy they wanted to go. Mike and I are used to walking distances. However, what we consider a short walk appeared to be a long, tiring walk for Bronwyn and River. They enjoyed it..but whining set in toward the end. The colours were quite dramatic; a 1000 shades of green and, here and there, a shower of golden leaves lit up the branches and lay draped and curled all around the green and mossy limbs. River was able to get re-acquainted with slugs (he became fascinated them when we went camping in August; almost as if he hadn't even noticed them before). Bronwyn chit-chatted and gathered large maple leaves. She wanted to bring them home and press them. I let her decide about that. It seems time to really let her try to figure out and make her own decisions about things. "Mummy, can I take this home? Do we have anything I can press this leaf with? Do I have any big books?" I replied that, yes, she could take it home. But as to whether or not she had a big book, or thought she could press it, that was up to her to think about and decide. It appears that giving kids this freedom to make their own decisions is not entirely welcome. Making decisions requires thought and a degree of effort, and so kids might prefer that you do all that though and effort. But my brain is tired of thought and effort and I sometimes feel that I cannot make another decision.

I volunteered to be PAC Chairperson this year. I am still debating the wisdom of this. It seemed like a good, if impulsive, decision at the time. I wanted to volunteer in the community. However, I really don't know what I'm doing and am thoroughly winging it. But I believe that it is through learning new things that I stay alert and maintain what little brain power I have. We'll see how it goes. The last meeting went well. I'm not sure I needed to give myself extra anxiety; I feel full of a myriad of anxieties these days. From the day to day concerns of family, money, job, the more fundamental and philosophical concerns such as life - death - aging, growing children and the future of my boy with autism.

On Sunday we took the kids swimming and they had a lot of fun. Bronwyn brought her friend, Cami, along. River swam by himself in a pool for the first time ever! I was both proud and cautious. I let him be by himself for only a few minutes while I got changed (and even then, Mike stayed by the side of the pool until I came back). I changed guiltily, wondering all the time if I'd done the right thing. Would he be ok in there? What if something happened and I was that negligent parent who selfishly left the pool rather than stay to accompany my child who can barely swim? Even though Mike was there and so were the life-guards, and it is shallow, and...he CAN swim! So I changed quickly and returned to find River happily swimming and playing around with the pool toys. A relief! My worry about River can sometimes be overwhelming and all-consuming. It's not something I can talk about without choking back tears that come almost automatically, and without warning, any time I voice these worries. And there are worries about Brownyn too. Going through all the uncertainty of puberty. Growing up, but wanting to stay small at the same time. Letting go with one hand, while clinging to me with the other. What a strange and difficult time for her. I have to hold back from lecturing to often. On the one hand I want her to make her own decisions, but on the other hand I find it hard to resist giving my thoughts and opinions on everything she does! Poor girl. She is not the only one growing and learning, I guess. It's not something that we just stop doing once we reach adulthood. I am, like her, still unfinished, with a lot to learn.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Update...Summer Fun

So...time for an update. And another attempt to catch up, and keep running.

October already. Still relatively warm here and the trees are beginning to display their Fall shades. This has always been my favourite time of year, though in later years summer has become a close contender for 'favourite season'.

Here's a recap of the last few months in pictures.

June and Bronwyn turned 11, quickly followed by July, in which Nicky turned 11. Now River anxiously awaits November; when he will turn 9. He is waiting to grow taller than Nicky. "Will I be as tall as Nicky when I'm 10?" We patiently explain, again, that when he is 10, Nicky will be 12 and still most probably, infuriatingly, taller than River. "Can you measure me again?" he asks, while examining the door frame at the entrance to the kitchen. We have measured the kids over the past couple of years and there are lines; pencilled and faint, along with Sharpie lines, black and thick, that measure our height. Well, mostly the kids.  "You probably haven't grown much since last week", I caution. Explaining things over and over has become a sort of pastime with River. I will try to contain my exasperation and carefully explain, "River, you already asked that question, and I have already answered it...many times". "But that's not the right answer," he replies. His strategy; to keep repeating the question in the hope that eventually he will get the answer that he wants to hear.

September: the crazy month. Let's put everything into September! says... I don't know...The World. Let's scramble and rush around and gather a  myriad of those never-ending 'school supplies'. Last year's un-used school supplies get shoved in a box. Perfectly usable...but not new. I had to work more hours than I anticipated the first couple of weeks of September. I felt as if I was in a mad race; busy, busy, and I am glad to get back to some kind of normality. (ha!)

Going to try to maintain this thing and will mostly just post updates of what we're doing and journalish meanderings.

Will post this just so that I can actually get started. I hope the posts will be more up-to-date and refined from this point. I hope.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bacchae 2.1

Mike and I had the weekend to ourselves and spent an embarrassing amount of time fiddling with paper mache. Mike said "crafting" in a somewhat derogatory way, but noooo, we are  not crafting. We are creating ART (ha ha!). I will post some pics of what we are doing. I found information online on how to make eyes from Fimo clay. They turned out surprisingly well; though I need to practise a bit. I will do a write up about the paper mache creations. For documentation purposes, of course.

On Friday night we decided to see a play at UBC; Bacchae 2.1 by Charles Mee (based on the play by Euripides. Here's the write-up:

"Expect the unexpected from Charles Mee’s richly poetic creation The Bacchae 2.1. In addition to Euripides’ classic Greek tragedy, the script draws from German literary theorist Klaus Theweleit’s Male Fantasies, Valerie Solanas’ The S.C.U.M. Manifesto and Joan Nestle’s Lesbian Herstory Archives. All find their place in Euripides’ theatrical celebration of the god Dionysus, set in a world both ancient and modern. WARNING EXPLICIT CONTENT"

Sounded kind of interesting and the tickets were cheap and it's fun to go see a play. A couple of weeks ago we went to see a play at the Cultch; "All That Fall" by Samuel Beckett. It was very enjoyable and made us want to see more plays. Something I used to do many years ago in my student theatre days.

So we didn't quite know what to expect, despite the warning of explicit content. It was, well, quite unexpected. Very heavy dialogue and long, complicated soliloquies by the principal actors; Dionysus and Pentheus. It would be difficult for me to go into a long explanation. Children might read this. What was, I suppose, mildly shocking was the long lists of "pleasures" that the actors describe. And what goes on in the Dionysian colony of women. The language was full of explicit sexual fantasy and desire, straight, gay, lesbian etc. you name it, it was in there. I found myself glancing sideways at Mike, who was sitting on my left, and trying to make a kind of apology with my eyes for bringing him along to such a strange production. There were some moments when it was quite funny and even the fact of us sitting there and watching it on our 'night out' seemed a little strange. It wasn't that we were blushing, it was just, well, strange.

There were audience members sitting in the row behind us and we caught snatches of their conversation; obviously two older couples getting together for dinner and theatre. (When I say 'older'...older than us). During the play we heard one man behind us whisper in disbelieve as a character described some male fantasy, "He's sick, that guy". We had to stifle a chuckle. At the end of the play, the same man remained in his seat and was shaking his head saying, "That was disgusting, disgusting!" A woman in their group felt the need to vindicate herself, "Well, I can't take the blame for this one, " she said.

That said it was well acted and all the young cast did a great job and carried along the heavy script which was a little didactic, as Mike mentioned, because he uses words like "didactic". But it did feel like we were supposed garner some moral instruction from the play. I don't think we did. But it was a bit different from the usual and that made for an interesting evening. It took me back to my student days when me, and my fellow Theatre Arts peers would take ourselves (and theatre) incredibly seriously. We worked earnestly on experimental theatre. We even created a play, "The Cry of the Nerve"...which was an experimental ramble about a man going mad (of course!) and feeling alienated and alone in a world in which he didn't feel he belonged. Production involved a sparse set, improvised 'lines', actors all in grey pajamas, masks on sticks, the sound effect of a loud foetal heart beat, and all bathed in red light. I think we used a bit of scaffolding as well. Strangely enough, we didn't sell many tickets and the play was lost and forgotten. For the best, I suppose.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cherry Bomb and Parkour

Bronwyn has been bugging me to take her to a store called "Cherry Bomb" in downtown Vancouver. We passed it on our way to the Christmas Party in December; a custom T-shirt store (and more). A particular T-shirt (a stormtrooper wearing a Santa hat) caught her eye. Every weekend, well, every day, since then she has asked; "Can we go to Cherry Bomb?" "You said you'd take me to Cherry Bomb." "We're going to Cherry Bomb, right?" "Remember you said we could go to Cherry Bomb?" Relentless.

"It's a lame t-shirt store", I responded negatively, "You will be disappointed." And I blabbed on about not wanting to waste my precious weekend time. But the requests weren't going to stop until we'd made the trip. So on Sunday, a warm and cloudy day, Mike and I decided that we should all do a bike trip downtown. Well, actually, we parked our bikes close to the Burrard Bridge, and walked over the bridge and into downtown.

It was a fun afternoon. Cherry Bomb did not disappoint Bronwyn. It was not the store that I remembered or thought it was and so I had to eat my words. You can choose a design from 100s of pics and get it printed on a t-shirt or sweatshirt. We only had time and money to look at the pre-made shirts. Many of them are not what you'd call 'child-friendly'; lots of drug motifs. As well, the store has a whole bunch of vintage Playboy magazines everywhere. I didn't understand the connection (custom t-shirts - Playboy...nope, still don't get it). The far back of the store appears to be a head shop...beware when you are taking curious children. With all the weed 'dispensaries' opening up in Vancouver (about 4 in our own neighbourhood), I am answering a lot of questions about Cannabis lately. Which is a subject for another post. We enjoyed looking around and, of course, came out with a shirt for Bronwyn, a phone case for Nicky, and a wallet for River.


As we approached downtown along Granville Sreet, the kids got quiet. I could see them looking around at the strange array of people we were passing. A group of teenagers, not much older than them, dishevelled and scruffy, covered with sleeping bags and crouched together with their dogs. "I feel really sorry for the dogs", Bronwyn said. I remembered a Seinfeld skit where he asks what is the point of having a dog if you're homeless, with the dog probably thinking, "Hey, I can do this by myself!" If you are a dog owned by a homeless person are you a stray dog? Anyway, the kids gradually warmed up to the surroundings and what started as apprehension soon turned into interest. It is quite a colourful part of downtown; grungy restaurants, seedy looking adult stores (although they are far fewer than there used to be), flop houses. We watched as a slow and stooped old guy struggled with his walker to to enter the adult store, which advertised 25c peep shows and other 'delights'. Alongside this scene is the up-and-coming side to Granville Street; hotels and newish trendy stores and restaurants as you get closer to the downtown core.


Nicky impressed us with his parkour skills; jumping and spinning and climbing over any structure he saw along the way. And downtown is great for that, walls and steps to jump and climb, gates and poles to negotiate. Bronwyn followed a little more apprehensively. River followed too. When Nicky jumped a fence or bicycle rack, River would follow and crawl under it. It was quite funny. River lacks the balance and coordination that Nicky revels in. He is way more cautious, but he got into the spirit of it. So did Bronwyn, who is growing into a young lady and perhaps thought it was a little undignified to be flinging herself over walls and railings.

Nicky had to leave as soon as we got back and that always makes us a bit glum. But we'll plan some stuff for the next weekend.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Saturday at the Museum

Busy weekend. Nicky with us which always makes for a fun and busy time as the gang of us make our way around the neighbourhood. During the past summer we'd bike to the beach every day; often with an extra child or two in tow. Mike would carry our small barbecue in his hand and our rag tag mob would weave our way down to Jericho. It was the summer of swimming as Mike and I enjoyed and exhilaration of swimming in the ocean (as the kids always do); the initial cold shock followed by the refreshing pleasure and trepidation of swimming in cold, deep water. We challenged ourselves with the distance we would swim out and, on a few occasions, swam late at night. It was memorable and fun and we are planning to repeat it this year when the weather has warmed up a little. That said, it's 12 degrees today and I think we swam in October in a similar temperature. Anyway, moving on to this weekend.

Bronwyn and bear - way back when

Playing drums
 On Saturday we made our way to UBC to visit the Museum of Anthropology. We even bought a family membership! We continue to live without a car; determined to do without for all kinds of reasons, so a short trip to UBC is easy to do on the bus. The kids enjoy MOA. My strategy with these kinds of things is to make the visit relatively short (Mike and I could spend hours in there) and keep it moving. Next time I suggest we go there, and I will, I want the kids to say "OK" and not think, "Oh no, a long boring trip to a museum!" We've been a few times over the years and I thought it would be fun to contrast this visit with a picture from a previous visit.

River - 2009 - interacting with exhibits!
The pout

Mike and I (and Bronwyn) are busy making paper mache heads. I have thought of working in paper mache for a while now and have dabbled here and there. But I really wanted to try making a paper mache and cloth figure or doll. Our original idea was to make monsters or strange creatures, that is still the plan - but I'm not sure what it will turn into now; and that is part of the fun. I am working on a couple of heads and Mike and Bronwyn are working on one each. Mike and I were especially interested in going to the MOA so that we could look at the vast array of masks and figures and, hopefully, get some inspiration and ideas. We were not disappointed.

Museum fatigue
 Towards the end of the visit the kids got tired and lolled about; various complaints of thirst and hunger and boredom began to surface and so we knew our time was up. But, hey, we got a membership, we can go back whenever!

Waiting for the bus - sitting on Mike's feet

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Not Quite New Year

Hena taking River down the slope
Yes, it's me. Still here. I'm gonna try again to keep up this thing. As usual, I am mad at myself for missing so much. River's 8th birthday, Christmas, New Year's Eve at the beach (well, I think I will still post a little about that). Recent trip to Calgary, new jobs....too many new jobs! Kids and outings. All the things that I started this blog in order to document. Of course, I am still journaling - but it's not for anyone's eyes but mine, and not particularly useful. I may recap some events, but time keeps passing and I don't want to play too much catch up. I'll just start from here.

Might as well get down to it, so here are a few pictures from our recent few days in Calgary, visiting Mike's parents. It was a good trip. Not without it's awkwardness, which I could go into if I had more time. It was nice to spend time with them and Gloria kept plying us with delicious food, which is always welcome. We also spent time with Hena, Nicky's cousin (Bronwyn and River's step-cousin?). The kids had fun together and Hena did a great job at teaching River to swim...and toboggan (until a bunch of kids, unexpectedly, crashed into him at the bottom of the hill). We were only in Alberta for a few days last weekend, but on Monday we borrowed the car and drove to Banff. My first visit. We'd arrived in Calgary on the Friday and had already spent the weekend at their place. River had been on his best behaviour. Staying under control and contained takes a lot of effort for River. Just following along with everything, especially new things, is a challenge, but he did well. And we were quite busy; toboganning, swimming at the pool attached to their complex, visiting. It meant that the drive to Banff was a chance for him to relax and so he was quite silly on the way there and driving us crazy. Just as we got to Banff he took a deep breath and announced, "Ok, I've stopped being silly now". "Thank you", we said in relief. I do believe that it is difficult for him to control his silliness when he's had a period of time where he's tried hard to keep control. It tells me what a struggle school must be. Overall, he is doing very well these days and it is good to see. The kids had a great time playing and swimming. They actually took some minutes away from their devices...gasp!

Banff was beautiful, but cold. Around -10 (which is very cold as far as I am concerned). We walked around the Banff Springs Hotel, which is quite an amazing building; majestic and well positioned in the snow-capped mountains. We were playing out in the snow, which was mainly what the kids were interested in doing, and a friendly passer-by/conference goer offered to take our picture. Bronwyn perched herself on top of the mounty statue. Nicky is in the background, leaning on the horse. Of course I will post better pictures as I get back in the groove.

Family in Banff
Mike and Nicky at the top of the hill

Look out below!
Nicky, Bronwyn, and Hena

Banff Hotel
River and I walking in snowy hills near the house

The family photo
It was River's first time on an airplane since he was 7 months old. He was very nervous, and so was I. Everyone assured me that he'd be fine, but I wasn't so sure. I had visions of him panicking at take-off. My fears proved unfounded. A few deep breaths and he remained quite calm and even said he really enjoyed going on planes. What a relief!

There have been quite a few adventures since my last post, and I wish I had written about them. Where I can I will try to add some notes about them. The whole purpose of this is to try to record happenings in our lives, mostly for my own benefit and so the kids have something to look back on...and also so that far away relatives, who are bored, will have something to do when every other form of entertainment has been exhausted. Back soon.