Monday, October 15, 2012

Cross Country

Conner and Liam were on the grade four and five Cross Country teams at their school this past fall. Conner was very self-motivated to run on the team, Liam less so (but was persuaded when told that it was X Country or no Minecraft).
Grade Four Boys' Race. Liam (2nd from right)
The season consists of three meets, two at our school, and one at the park behind our house (my favourite for convenience, the boys least favourite because of the wicked hill at the end to the finish line). The teams are from five or six area elementary schools.

This season we saw a lot of friends from church and were able to cheer on a lot of kids we know who go to other schools.
Rebecca and Emily
Across the field at the start of the race,
Grade 5 Boys' Race. Conner is fourth from the left
through the woods, and across the bridge,
and up Heartbreak Hill. It doesn't look too steep here, but there were more than a couple of kids crying by the time they got halfway up.
Conner placed in the top ten in a couple of the races, and top fifteen in the first race. He's plagued with shin splints and foot pain so I think it may be time for new insoles.
Liam may be in the back of the starting pack at the beginning of the race, but he always places in a very respectable middle position. He must have passed a lot of the kids that wore themselves on the sprint across the field at the start of the race.
I'm so proud of both of them for giving their best efforts this season. I love to watch them run, to practice and to see the result of their efforts.

Next up: soccer.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Seabrook, Washington

More on the lovely houses we saw during our anniversary getaway at Seabrook earlier this week...
The development is based on principles of New Urbanism, which basically means that it's meant to replicate a town rather than a subdivision or housing development. You are meant to be able to walk everywhere - there is a town centre with a restaurant and shops, streets have sidewalks on both sides, green spaces with park benches are on every corner it seems, and back lane access means that cars are tucked out of sight.
The restaurant was pleasant (loved the interior), although at lunch at least there weren't a lot of grain-free options and the hostess was less than hospitable.
Our house had beach cruiser bikes in the shed, which we used one afternoon to cruise around and check out the area.
This courtyard was similar to the one in front of our cottage (which I didn't get a good picture of, but this gives you the idea). The firepit would be a nice place to do s'mores with the kids in the summer.
Liam couldn't understand why we would have left him behind when there was two bedrooms in our cottage. I think we'll definitely head back next year with the whole family, perhaps in the spring.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

17 years

On October 6, 1995 Quinn and I were married in the Seattle LDS Temple.

Fast forward 17 years and we have four kids, a dog, a couple of businesses and lots of hard work and great memories both behind and ahead of us. It has gone by in the blink of an eye, and it keeps getting better and better.

We managed to get away for a couple of nights together, a feat that I wasn't sure we would be able to pull off between kids and work and a myriad of obligations. Our requirements were that it had to be within a reasonable distance to drive, didn't involve a ferry or plane, was relaxing and quiet, and was near the beach. Remember, I need the beach in my life.

I discovered Seabrook during an online search, a lovely little new beach town on the central Washington coast. It's a five hour drive from our house, doesn't involve a ferry or plane and is right on the beach. From Olympia, it's a straight shot west to Aberdeen, and then winding north up to Seabrook.

Seabrook is patterned after Seaside, Florida and was built on the principles of New Urbanism. It's hard to tell how long the town has been here. Every house is different and there isn't a vinyl home in sight. Instead there is a lot of natural materials - cedar shakes, board and batten, wood siding. Most of the houses are built on a small footprint and the gardens are low maintenance. In fact, the only grass we've seen is in central parks and greenspaces, and on the side of the roads. Many of the houses feature rear lane access and almost all feature some kind of porch or deck.

In other words, I'm in heaven.

We are staying in a two bedroom cottage that is one of ten identical buildings that face onto the same green space which features a communal fire pit.
It is adorable - outside it is white board and batten with a front and rear porch, and inside it's beadboard ceilings, mullioned windows, gorgeous white trim everywhere.

I'll be posting some pictures tomorrow of some of my favorite cottages at Seabrook - much like the Maple Beach post here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lazy Sunday afternoon

I love September. We've had better weather this month than we had in July. It's been beautiful and sunny for days at a time with little rain. This week's forecast is sunny with temperatures in the high twenties. I can feel Fall coming, but it's not here quite yet.

We had a lazy Sunday to make up for a busy Saturday. I took some pictures for my class after church -  some in our back yard (which needs some desperate attention - next year), and then I went for a walk by myself through the park behind our house.

Monday, September 10, 2012

September Afternoon

Practicing today with a 50mm f1.8 lens I have on loan. I like it. It's fun.

These wooden crates were from the barn at my in-laws.
Pretty girl. I love the shallow depth of field here - this lens makes it so easy.

Friday, September 7, 2012

{sooke, bc}

Sometimes I really love my job. Except when I don't - which is, you know, most of the time.

Usually I have to get up at five to drive into Vancouver on what is supposed to be a major highway but more resembles a parking lot. Stop and go (mostly stop) for an hour. And then we might be shooting in a dark studio, or in a house that is too small to accommodate a film crew. For at least twelve hours. And then when we're done I get back in my car and do the slow crawl home again.

But today I woke up in a beautiful hotel room, went downstairs for breakfast, and then into the lobby to shoot. It was glorious. I am in Sooke on Vancouver Island.

This is the hotel that we are shooting at.

Nice, huh?
This was my view for most of the morning.

When I wasn't looking at this:
I get to stay another night, and then I will leisurely make my way home to Abbotsford in the morning. Making the most of every moment...

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

{with patience & faith}

My dad is in the hospital, in Australia. It is times like these that I am reminded of how far away my family is, and I feel helpless. I just want to be there, to sit in his room with him, to help lift some of the burden my mom is carrying. Ask the questions of the doctors and nurses who are caring for him so that we can find out what the heck is going on. Despite running a battery of tests, they know little more than he has a staff infection - they don't know why he's so sick, or why he's in excruciating pain.

Sunday we fasted for my dad and for his doctors. It was testimony Sunday which means that we don't have regular speakers but anyone in the congregation who wants to share can speak. It is a time for people to bear testimony of those things they know to be true. I wanted to talk about what my family is going through, and how badly we want to be able to do something, anything to help, to change the outcome, to improve the odds. But the reality is we can't do anything. We are almost ten thousand miles away. It takes at least a day and a half and a lot of money to get there. It is completely out of my hands, and it would be even if I were there.

Directly, there is nothing I can do right now. But I can fast, and I can pray, and that brings some measure of comfort when everything seems helpless. It gives me something concrete to do, and I know that it works.

That's what I wanted to say when I bore my testimony. But as I stood at the microphone, I could not speak. I started to cry. I knew if I opened my mouth to say anything, I was going to wail and lose it completely. An uncomfortable minute went past as I tried to compose myself, but it didn't get any better. It got worse. I turned around and looked at Quinn, who was sitting behind me (he's in the Bishopric so that's where he sits during Sacrament Meeting), and he stood to put his arm around me. I whispered to him that I had to leave. And then I walked out the side door and out into the parking lot, where I did completely lose it.

For the most part, I don't like to be vulnerable. I feel shame when I show what I perceive to be weakness in front of other people. I like to think of myself as being articulate and well spoken and while I don't mind expressing emotion, I like to be restrained in the way that I do it. I was none of those things on Sunday. I was a mess and two hundred people witnessed it.

The upshot of the whole deal was that I was reminded of the amazing, kind, loving friends that I have in my church family. I've gotten some very sweet phone calls and emails expressing concern. People who don't even know my dad are praying for him and his doctors. Sunday night one of my absolute favourite people showed up on my doorstep with the most delicious plum torte and a big hug. People have offered to care for my children if I end up going to Australia. This is the gospel in action. I am so grateful to be in a church surrounded by awesome people who practice and live their faith and who can authentically show love, concern and care for others. My heart is full.

We went through a similar scare with my mom about seven years ago. She had a brain aneurysm and miraculously survived the surgery to repair the site, but suffered setbacks after the surgery with language and speech loss. I arrived the day after she got out of hospital. My parents aren't LDS, but they are so respectful of my beliefs and honour the place the Gospel has in my life. With my parents consent, I arranged for two young LDS missionaries to come to their home to give my mom a Priesthood blessing. Her recovery was nothing short of miraculous and my parents credit the blessing and all the prayers said on her behalf.

My dad asked me today if I could arrange for him to receive a blessing. I phoned the LDS Mission Office in Perth to explain the situation and make the request. By the time I had phoned my dad back less than half an hour later, the missionaries had already been in contact with him to arrange a time to visit him in hospital to give him a blessing. This is the gospel in action. Half way around the world, strangers have stepped up to offer service gratefully. I am overwhelmed and am so thankful, knowing that everything that can be done, is being done.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back To School

September is one of my favourite times of year. I love the summer - the weather (when it cooperates on the Wet Coast), the lack of schedule, long stretches of time with my kids, the freedom from routine- but come September, I'm usually more than ready for some structure. I get excited by the possibilities, by new beginnings.
Grade Eleven. I can not believe how fast this guy is growing up. Kyle's at least two inches taller than his Dad now. He is taking some interesting courses this year (Marketing, Law, Journalism) and is committed to putting the time in to get some stellar marks. He has made some good goals and has figured out what he needs to do in order to get there. This year and next everything matters. And while we are here to support him in whatever way we can, Kyle realizes that it's up to him to do the work. I know he's going to have a great year and even he will be amazed by what he can achieve when he puts his mind to it.

Grade Nine. High School. Semesters instead of terms. Kyle and Emily are in the same school for the next two years, and I have a feeling I'm going to get more information about what's going on at the high school from Em. I've been a little, let's say uninformed the past two years. Kyle's just not as into the details as I'd like :) I can't wait to hear how it went when she gets home. I'm going to make a big plate of cookies and we are going to sit at the island and chat all about it.
Grade Five. Last year of elementary school. A school leader. He's already thinking ahead to middle school next year, but I hope that Conner soaks up his last year of elementary. We had a good long talk before bed last night about school and some of the things he's nervous about. I reminded him that he has his Dad, Mom, his teachers and his principal all cheering him on. We all want him to succeed and he needn't feel alone. Conner is such an easygoing kid that sometimes I don't pick up on the struggles he's having.
Grade Four. Liam is in a 3/4 split this year and I'm glad. He has the same teacher as last year and she totally gets him. Liam is good at school - he likes to be organized and is meticulous with his work. This year he's working on taking some risks and not being so careful all the time.
They were mortified, but I did get them to stay still long enough to snap a picture out the window of my minivan. Yes, I am that Mom.

Reconnecting with other friends we haven't seen over the summer...

This is my two last years of having kids in elementary and I want to soak it up. I plan to spend a lot of time with them in their classes and helping out around the school.

The day after Labour Day to me is more the start of a new year than January 1. Forget New Year's for resolutions, I think September is the best time to start fresh. Here's to a great year!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

More London Sights

Houses of Parliament

London Eye

Big Ben

Westminster Area