Thursday, August 30, 2012

More London Sights

Houses of Parliament

London Eye

Big Ben

Westminster Area


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

HMS Belfast

Usually it's the parent dragging the kid around to the museums but for us it was the other way round. Our trip was planned around the things that Kyle wanted to see and do in London. Ever since he was a little boy, he has loved reading about history - especially World War II history.

So, no trip to London would be complete for Kyle without seeing HMS Belfast.

"HMS Belfast shows you what it was like to live and work on board a warship. Explore nine decks of amazing seafaring history where sailors once hurried up and down the ladders, and hear their battle stories from the Second World War and beyond - the convoys in icy Arctic conditions, the bombardment of German defences on D-Day and the 404 days spent patrolling waters during the Korean War." source

To have been in Normandy a week and a half earlier and then to be on board the HMS Belfast, a frigate that took part in Operation Overlord supporting the Normandy landings, was surreal.
There were many times over these two weeks in Europe that I wished my husband could be there to see the things we were seeing. Quinn was in the Canadian Naval Reserves for more than thirteen years and traveled all over the world with the Navy. I know that he would have loved to explore this ship with Kyle.
Future sailor?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tower of London

I still have to catch up and post some last pictures of our trip to London. Of course we went to the Tower of London.

I remember coming here last time I was in London, more than twenty years ago and being enthralled to be where three unlucky wives of King Henry VIII were beheaded on Tower Green. I was sixteen years old, practically on my own in an unfamiliar city. I had been in Germany on a student exchange when my mom suggested I visit her friend in London (who worked the entire time I was there). But I had a bus map that showed all the main sights, and I went around the City for a week, on my own, crossing off my list of must-sees. I can't imagine letting Kyle loose on his own - but my parents let me and it was an amazing experience that I'm very glad I had. That week is one of the reasons I'm so determined to travel with my kids when they are this age.
We saw the Crown Jewels, guarded by this fellow (a Fusilier).
Oh, look there's a Beefeater.
Traitor's Gate, where Anne Boleyn arrived on boat via the River Thames prior to her execution.
Two of my kids have had to build trebuchets in Mr. Brummit's Socials 8 class. Not as big as this one though.
After we finished at the Tower, Kyle consulted our handy walking tour guide (a gift from my parents to Kyle) that we used throughout our trip.
We couldn't leave without taking some pictures of the Tower Bridge as a tall ship went through.

It was very cool to see the Olympic rings on Tower Bridge.
Using our handy walking guide, we set off for Saint Paul's and the London Museum,
and saw a piece of the (very old) city wall.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Kyle!

It's Kyle's 16th Birthday and he and his buddies are sleeping in a tent in the backyard {a clever suggestion from yours truly that should hopefully mean for a quieter night for the rest of us}. Later this week he'll write his driver's test for his learner's license and next week he starts grade eleven.

Whoa. Where did the time go? Seems like just yesterday he was a little guy:
And now he towers over both me and his Dad.

Some things I love about Kyle:
  • he has a strong desire to do the right thing
  • he makes good decisions
  • he is very thoughtful and helpful
  • he has a great sense of humour
  • his velociraptor impression is pretty awesome
  • he is a very good big brother and is (mostly) patient with his brothers and sister
  • little kids love him and he takes good care of them
  • he is super polite and respectful
  • he has no embarrassment about saying "I love you," even in front of friends
  • he isn't in any hurry to grow up and still likes to do 'kid things' with his brothers
  • he is fun to be with - two weeks of solid mom and son time in England put that to the test
  • he is so smart - he is both interested and interesting
  • he soaks up information and knowledge and has great recall
  • he loves current events - he reads the Economist and every morning before seminary reads BBC News online 
  • his love and knowledge of history is impressive
I am loving watching him grow into the young man he's becoming and I'm excited to see what the future holds in store for him. Yesterday he told me that in Young Men's at church they were talking about how happiness and success in life is dependent on the choices we make. I have no doubt that with the path he's already on, he has an amazing, successful, happy life ahead of him. And I can't wait to watch it unfold.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Pinterest is both a blessing and a curse.

It's great because there are so many great ideas out there, and Pinterest is the perfect place to find inspiration. It's also a great place to organize the awesome stuff I find on other people's blogs. A place to park my ideas for later when I'm ready to do something with them.

I also like that I can look through my boards on Pinterest and see a common thread. I'm totally drawn to lots of white with black accents. You'll see it on my Pinterest boards, and you'll see it in my home. It's a great way to figure out what your style is.

via Focus Jennie

I love the inspiration. Thanks to Pinterest and the blogs I read, I really want to make a blackboard for the top of my stairs.

I've seen them on Shawni's blog,  Jennie has one too, and Pinterest is full of them.
I know that a lot of people get discouraged by Pinterest - like they aren't ever going to measure up. They feel like they've got to do everything. I don't feel like that at all but I'm beginning to see a problem with Pinterest.

When I find a great idea, it seems like everyone else has already beaten me to it. Which is fine - I don't mind being the last to the party. It's just that when I am, it's really hard to find what I need at the thrift store to make my Pinterest inspiration a reality.

I have wanted to make a blackboard for ages - but do you think I could find anywhere a sufficiently ornate frame with a hideous picture and a low price tag? No way - all the other Pinners have already been to my go-to thrift stores. Nothing for months at MCC, Bibles for Missions and the little thrift store by the railway tracks that always take my donations (unlike the Sally Ann in my town where they go through your trunk and pick what they want and turn their noses up at the rest).

But today on my way to the gym, I dropped in on a thrift store and there it was.
Ornate frame: check
Hideous picture: it could be worse, but I'm not going to feel guilty when I paint over it with blackboard paint
Low price tag: $10 - and when I got to the cash desk, they told me all pictures are 50% off this week.


This is where it's going to go (aren't my stairs nice? Quinn and I spent a lot of time staining all that wood).
Oh, let's get a little closer
Next up, I've got to spray the frame and paint the blackboard paint on. I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone and pick a punchy colour, but I have a feeling it'll end up white. Black won't work because it's a blackboard and the frame will blend in too much. A colour is tricky because it will be seen from both upstairs and downstairs. So white it is.

I plan on writing up quotes, little love notes to my kids (especially when Kyle's friends are coming over), scriptures, and birthday messages. Can't wait!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


My mother and father-in-law recently downsized from a large farm (15+ acres) with outbuildings to a house in town. Many treasures from their previous home weren't going to fit in the new one so being the incredibly generous people they are, they told their kids to put their names on anything they wanted.

The goodies were delivered recently, and I was pleased to see how perfectly they fit in our home.

I have a thing for turquoise glass, and these old bottles are from a collection belonging to Quinn's dad. The funny shaped clear glass piece by the mirror is a glass insulator from a power line. Random but cool.

I like the insulators so much, I got some turquoise glass ones too. Oh, look - there's the only nice picture we have of Quinn and me. Need to do something about that.
Keeping with the beachy, turquoise thing I've got going in the living room, this watercolor of a Vancouver Island beach is perfect. I love it so much I often find myself standing and staring at it. I need the beach in my life and now I have a beautiful reminder in my living room.
A couple of years ago, my mother-in-law gave me her ironstone collection. She knew how much I loved it and told me that instead of waiting, she wanted me to take it home that day. There was more that didn't fit on the table. I know, that's a lot of ironstone. Aren't I lucky?
When we were renovating, I wanted to be sure to have a special place to display the ironstone, and  designed the dining room with it in mind.

To display the collection, I bought a glass cabinet from a local shop. They only had one and told me that the company had gone out of business. I kicked myself afterwards because I knew that I really needed a second matching display case and now I was stuck with just one. A few weeks later I was standing at the till at my local grocery store, and lo and behold, there was a display case that looked suspiciously like the one I had already bought. Except this one was black.
So I bought it and had them both sprayed in a black lacquer. The white ironstone pops against the black beadboard, and there is glass on three sides so you can see the ironstone as you come down the hall into the dining room. Love. It's one of my favourite things in my house.

This is a fermenting crock used for pickling and making sauerkraut. It's big - about a foot high and ten inches in diameter. It's empty right now, but it would make a pretty awesome cookie jar. Or maybe I'll use it to store my compost scraps. It's in perfect condition and I love the colour.
This piano was an anniversary present from my father-in-law to his wife for their anniversary many, many years ago. Emily and Liam are starting piano lessons in the Fall and now they get to practice on their grandmother's piano. 
The kids each took a special reminder of the farm. Emily was thrilled with her vintage typewriter and has actually handed in homework typed on it. It makes me smile to hear her clacking away on it in her bedroom.
Kyle took home a giant life-size cardboard Darth Vader, Liam has his grandpa's spyglass, and Conner took a bow.

The items are beautiful, but even more special is knowing how lovingly these items were collected by Quinn's parents over the years.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Elder Slade

I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. When I was 18 years old, while staying with a high school friend and her family, I went to church for the first time. I was struggling in my life, and it was a confusing time for me. I didn't like myself very much or the direction I was heading. I was, to put it mildly, swinging wildly out of control. I had a plane ticket to return to Australia (where I was born and lived until I was 11) and I had a couple of weeks to kill before leaving. I had long admired my friend's family and wondered whether it was their faith that made them happy and loving. They certainly had taken me in with open arms and so I found myself at Church with my friend that first Sunday in her congregation of young, single adults.

I remember sitting in Sunday School, looking at a picture of the Saviour that was leaning up against the blackboard. It hit me that for the first time in a very long time, I felt peace. I felt safe. I knew that I wanted to feel like that all the time. And so I told my friend that I wanted to learn more. There were two sets of missionaries in the room - one set of young women (called Sister Missionaries), and one set of young men (Elders). Naturally my friend made a beeline for the Elders and asked them to come and teach me at her house.

Elder Slade and Elder Cooley taught me the first discussion that evening. Everything I heard resonated with me, sounded familiar somehow. They told me about Joseph Smith, how when he was a young man of fourteen and struggling with questions about his faith, went to a grove of trees near his home and prayed to know what to do. They taught me about Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. They gave me a Book of Mormon and asked me to read it. When they were finished, they asked me if I had any questions. I told them that I didn't, that I had liked everything that I heard, and that I wanted to be baptized. But I was leaving for Australia in a week and wanted to be baptized before I left.

Now I know how unusual it was to commit to baptism so quickly, but at the time it felt like the natural next step. I didn't see any point in delaying what I knew was the right thing to do. So every day that week, Elders Slade and Cooley came to Rebecca's and taught me. We watched church movies, we had many discussions, and they answered my questions. I prayed for the first time. I felt God's love for me and that feeling of peace and comfort I had first felt in Sunday School continued to envelop me. I no longer felt alone.

Saturday morning, July 17, 1993, Elder Chad Slade baptized me. Elder Cooley confirmed me a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and gave me the gift of the Holy Ghost. Every good thing I have in my life I can trace back to the decision I made to be baptized. I have never not gone to church since. It has been a constant, stabilizing, uplifting influence in my life. I met my husband at church, we were married in the Temple and we have four amazing, awesome children. My life is full and rich in ways that I could have only imagined.

Chad and his family are visiting BC and yesterday came to our house for dinner. It's been nineteen years since my baptism and fourteen years since we last saw each other. I've been caught up in memories this morning, thinking about that week in 1993 when everything changed. And how life has only continued to get better. And for that I am so grateful.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Eat Street

Our trip has come to a close. We're packed and ready to leave for the airport and we are tired. But a good tired. We packed a lot into our last day and I wanted to post the pictures of one of the things we did yesterday before we leave.

On our last day we went to the Whitecross Street Market. Our kids faithfully watch a show on the Canadian Cooking Channel called Eat Street.
They travel around and profile various street food vendors. Mostly in North America, but they did a couple of episodes in London. Kyle was determined to track some of the food vendors down before we left so we found ourselves at Whitecross Street Market on a beautiful Friday.

Eat My Pies was profiled on the show.
Andy Bates is the owner. His mother was running the stall and she is lovely.
We had a Scotch Egg and it was delicious.
Here's a recipe on BBC Food if you want to make your own.

We visited quite a few vendors and ate Paella, Steak and Chorizo Pie, Scotch Eggs & Mussels. For dessert we had the Australian classic, Lamingtons. Delicious but it was way too much food for me. Kyle was fine, of course. I was sick but that was my own fault for eating too much.

 We ate our lunch in the park across the street before heading off to the Churchill War Rooms.