A Very Canadian Christmas

 

A very Canadian Christmas

Except for the part where there was no snow, it was a very Canadian Christmas. We did all the things we love doing in Victoria—bundled up and went walking, took in an ice-hockey game, warmed up in good coffee shops, and visited with all of Dave’s family.

Perhaps because I was more concerned about cramming ALL OF CHRISTMAS (!) into our suitcases before leaving, I forgot to pack my Canon, so the pictures on Flickr are courtesy of my phone unfortunately. Still, I hope you enjoy them!

One Community: January!

 

I’m not even going to try to limit myself to four photos for this month’s One Community roundup! We spent Christmas and New Year in Canada with Dave’s extended family, and the pictures are just too rich to not share!

Treasure. The heart of our visits to Victoria, BC, is always the opportunity for our boys to get to know their grandparents and older cousins, and spend time playing with their younger cousins. Tau asks about Kai (9) and Tait (6) often and opportunities to see them are rare. So when they do get together, it makes for rich little-dude photo ops like these:

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Cosy pub lunch after watching Kai’s ice-hockey game

Kai loves his baby cousin

Kai adores his baby cousin

Christmas cousins

Christmas cuzzies

Silver.  We were lucky enough to have two big feasts! One on Christmas day and a second a few days later when our oldest niece Kendra and her fiance Zack flew in from Australia where they live. 

At the first dinner, Dave’s sister Trisha placed a handmade cracker on each plate. Inside? A small gift for that person—holiday perfection.

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What this picture doesn’t show is the certifiable CRAZY that defines Walsh get togethers. Twenty-five of us crammed into a home designed for four people, climbing over each other to move from room to room, hunting down your misplaced wine or beer glass, washing and drying dishes in between courses, straining to converse with an aunt or nephew that you haven’t seen in a year over the shouting din. The kids’ table looked like this at the first meal. Not exactly off the pages of Martha Stewart. Right after this, Maceo spilled someone’s juice all over that table.

Just a few of the kids!

Just a few of the kids!

Resolution. There is little room for me-time or reflection on our trips North. I did get out for a nice long walk around our old neighborhood of Oak Bay on Old Year’s Eve though.

Dave and I lived in Victoria for 12 years before moving to San Diego. We married there and put each other through college there. It’s the place where we forged our partnership, struggled to make ends meet, and aspired to live somewhere else. So, returning is bittersweet. Around every corner in this town shrouded in winter is a memory, a feeling, a sense—each one particular and loaded with emotion.

So my walk around the bay, up through the golf course, and back past our old apartment was poignant as I closed out 2013 and looked forward to the new year. Surrounded by our old community, I was very aware of the choices we made twelve years ago to go do something different, and the many blessings we have experienced doing so.

These days, as a working, older mom of small boys, I am beyond torturing myself with New Year’s resolutions. Looking into 2014 is more about focusing on gentle intensions. On small actions that I can give priority, that will lead me to be healthier and more capable. That is all.

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Garden gate, Victoria, BC

Winter. We were fortunate to have moderate weather during our visit. Four years ago, we were in Victoria for Christmas and the cold was bitter! This year we packed warmer clothes, fleecy PJs and slippers, a hot water bottle and heating pad. And it made all the difference.

We are spoiled by San Diego winters—the sunshine, the balmy temperatures, the outdoor opportunities. Winter in Victoria reminded me that our sunshine and longer days are like gold!

Sunrise, Christmas morning

Sunrise, Christmas morning

Mid-morning, overlooking Oak Bay

Mid-morning, overlooking Oak Bay

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Happy New Year, friends!

See you next month!

One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

Each month, one of the hosts picks four words for us to interpret through photographs of what we see around us in our daily lives. You can see my previous entries for July, August and September. Starting this month, we’re opening this project up to anyone who would like to participate! We would love to have you join us! The link-up will begin on October 5th and stay open for one week.

The Rules: Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up. Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them. This link-up is all about building community!

One Community: November!

A quick post this month for our One Community roundup!

Gratitude. This  summer, old friends of ours moved to San Diego. Steve and Vicki were grad students in Dave’s lab some fifteen years ago when we lived in  British Columbia, Canada. Since then, they have lived all over the United States and had three great kids! Not only have they moved to our city this year — they moved right into our neighborhood! Our kids get on extremely well and for the adults, it’s as if no time has passed at all. That kind of friendship is rare, and I am grateful for this unexpected gift!

Below, Halloween treats for our boys from Steve and Vicki’s three.

gratitude

Fun.  The long-awaited taekwondo party for Tau’s birthday was a huge success! The Plants Versus Zombies cake turned out well, and the kids had a blast. Best part of the party, I think, was the Chicken Grab, where each contestant has a rubber chicken tucked into the back of his or her belt. The object of the game is to spar and wrestle on the mat, and the first person to liberate the chicken from their opponent is the winner. Much fun had by all!

Fun

Blue. This boy recently discovered the local library not only as an endless supply of books, but as a place where you can RUN without getting too lost or your mother freaking out too much. It is also the home of the FISHES. We love them FISHES!

It is in moments like this one, where I see him boost his small body up on tippy toes on the librarian’s step stool to seek out the fishes who are “hiding, Mom!” that I realize how just big he is getting. As he steps into those small blue Crocs, which used to be his older brother’s.

Blue

Home. We had two other families over for the night of Halloween. We ordered in good pizza and served champagne with spiders in it for the adults, punch with eyeballs and witches’ fingers for the little people. And our home was suitably decorated for once!

Then we took the kids out trick or treating around the ‘hood, which because we live in a dense townhome development, makes for good candy bang for your buck. Our kids came home with loads of sweets! I told Tau the dentist would buy it all back from him for a dollar a pound, but he figured that he had about three pounds and that three bucks was not a good deal!

Home

See you next month, all!

One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

Each month, one of the hosts picks four words for us to interpret through photographs of what we see around us in our daily lives. You can see my previous entries for July, August and September. Starting this month, we’re opening this project up to anyone who would like to participate! We would love to have you join us! The link-up will begin on October 5th and stay open for one week.

The Rules: Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up. Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them. This link-up is all about building community!

One Community: October!


October in San diego is a flippy-floppy month. Turning leaves, hot Santa Ana winds, barreling towards the holidays, still wearing open shoes. October has a hard time making up his mind.

October is also Tau’s birthday, which brings me to our first word for this month’s One Community post:

Plants. Versus Zombies. Even though the boy’s birthday party is at his taewkondo studio, and will entail lots of kicking, punching and shouting “Ai-yaaaaah!” he has asked, repeatedly, for a Plants vs. Zombies cake.

Plants vs. Zombies is one of Tau’s favorite games, so yes, even though it messes hugely with my obsessive need for birthday-party theme matchi-matchiness, I will be making a cake next weekend with pea-shooting plants and nasty-looking zombies on it. Below? Making sure the characters will fit on the cake pan I plan to use.

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Bake. Though, technically, these are no-bake. Last weekend, I whipped up a pan of crack. Chocolate Rice Crispie Square crack. The recipe? Here it is — you’re welcome!

Chocolate Rice Crispie Squares

  • 5-6 tablespoons of butter (a little more than half a stick)
  • 10-14 oz of mini marshmallows
  • Approximately 12-14 oz of chocolate rice crispie cereal.

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray, or grease it with butter. Melt the 5-6 spoons of butter in a medium-sized saucepan on medium-low heat. When butter is melted, add the marshmallows and stir constantly until fully melted. Remove from heat and add the cereal, stirring gently until fully combined. You can tell that you need to add more cereal if it still looks gooey. When it’s the right consistency, it’ll be sticky and kind of stringy but still pliable.

Immediately spoon into the pan and gently press flat. Wait about an hour to cut, and store covered in the pan or on a plate once cut.

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Orange and Activity. This past weekend, Tau tested for his full orange belt. And the boy aced it. Booyah! Even though his arm has been in a cast throughout September, he continued going to the studio. In these pictures, you can see that he is still wearing a wristguard to protect his wrist while it strengthens. Their new goal word at taekwondo this cycle is perseverance. “That will be easy, Mom. I know about perseverance.” Yes, you do, hon.

orangeaction

One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

Each month, one of the hosts picks four words for us to interpret through photographs of what we see around us in our daily lives. You can see my previous entries for July, August and September. Starting this month, we’re opening this project up to anyone who would like to participate! We would love to have you join us! The link-up will begin on October 5th and stay open for one week.

The Rules: Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up. Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them. This link-up is all about building community!

Surf Is Totally Up!


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On our recent trip up to Ojai, just north west of LA, Tau was keen to try surfing, mostly because the two older kids that we were vacationing with were very eager to take lessons.

Dave doesn’t surf and my sense of balance is dodgy at best, so we didn’t have great expectations. Instead, I was just impressed that Tau was prepared to try something so out of his comfort zone.

And whaddya know, but that boy totally surfed like a little grommet. Not quite a pro, but he certainly got up on that board and rode the waves!

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He never fails to impress me. Also, have you ever seen a kid look so cute in a wetsuit?

One Community: September!


I was at a loss this month for our One Community post. Our words to photograph were work, gold, centerpiece and balance — and I had no upcoming celebrations where I might see a centerpiece to photograph or even put one on my own table. Centerpieces are all about Thanksgiving and weddings and Christmas for me. Funny how you can get stuck on something like that.

And then I realized, girl, you have 7303 photos in your Flickrstream. You mean to tell me there isn’t at least one centerpiece among it all?

Turns out there were many, along with plenty of work and gold and balance. And so below I give you a handful of my Flickr faves that speak to my family, my community.

Work. I am fortunate enough right now to work ten minutes away from home, close enough to drop and pick up kids, to take them to doctor appointments and after-school activities, to pick up milk, bread and fruit on my way home. And my kiddos are with me all day at work, along with Yoda of course.

work

Gold. Why is it that pictures never do sunrises, sunsets and moonscapes any justice? This was the view from our front door the other night and the whole sky was on fire! Golden! The person who invents an app that can capture that? Will be my hero.

gold

Centerpiece. Before Maceo, when we were three not four, we used to have very civilized meals. With place settings and tall candles and the good napkins. Now we have rice-n-gravy smooshed into hair and projectile sippy cups and maniacal screeching. Lots of screeching.

And before we were three, we were two, just a man and a woman. And we bought those beautiful pewter figures you see on the table, which are actually a salt and pepper set. One day our table will look like this again, and we will look back and be thankful for all the crazy and the laughter that Tau and Maceo brought with them.

centerpiece

Balance. Ahem! Talking about the crazy. You are not allowed to walk on the balance beam until you are in third grade. Third day of third grade? We lost our balance and fractured both the left elbow and wrist. We had visits to Urgent Care and the ER, multiple x-rays and a CT scan, and now we’re a week into four weeks of an awesome red cast. Go us!

balance

One Community participants include:

Sarah is a life-long Missourian who shares her home with her husband, two sons, and an old grumpy dachshund. Like every good Midwesterner, she can (and will) talk to you at length about the weather. Sarah blogs at http://www.beautyschooldropout.net.

Colleen lives with her handsome hubster and two feisty felines in Portland, Oregon. She loves rain and sun (in that order), words and pictures, and chatting up the neighbors. She blogs at: http://www.underaredroof.com

Rebekah lives in Kilkenny, Ireland with her husband. An American by birth, she’s discovering what it means to be an expat on the Emerald Isle. She blogs at: http://www.honeysucklelife.com

Kara is a cheerful nerd living in downtown Phoenix, AZ with her law-studying husband and an anxious pound puppy. She works full time in the mental health field but in her off time enjoys sunshine, great food and the occasional craft beer. She blogs at: http://www.sunshine-cupcakes.com

Teresa lives in Massachusetts with her husband, college aged daughter and two crazy cats. She is a creative spirit who tries to find the lesson, blessing and humor in everything and she blogs at http://laughteramongtears.blogspot.com/

Kelli lives in Phoenix with her dog, Willie Nelson Mandela. She is a novelist, public health advocate and United Methodist. She blogs at: http://www.africankelli.com

Stephanie is a lifelong Wyomingite with ranch girl roots. She has her own marketing and graphic design business and in her free time, she enjoys knitting, fishing with her boyfriend, and team roping. She blogs at: http://www.nowicanseethemoon.co

Eduarda is a curious, visual creature who believes all pictures tell a story. She hails from Mozambique, via Portugal and NJ, and now is desert rate living with her husband and two teenage daughters in Chandler, AZ. She blogs at: http://of-blue.blogspot.com/

One Community: August!


We’re away for a week with friends in Ojai, CA, just northwest of Los Angeles. And while I remembered to bring my good camera, I forgot my USB cable.

So we’re going to Instagram it this month for One Community, our monthly photo project in which bloggers take pictures of their homes and communities with four theme words in mind.

Today we visited close-by Santa Barbara, a city I love and that we’ve visited many times. Our friends were new to the city, so we visited the mission, ate fish tacos and walked State Street.

Anyhow, I managed to juggle my Canon (sans USB, so you’ll have to wait for those), my iPhone, the stroller and a gaggle of kids, and still got a few pics.

Our four words for August:

Ice cream. Well, really, frozen yogurt, and my favorite kind — Pinkberry. I chose chocolate thinking there would be nuts to add as a topping. But no nuts, and so I had to add strawberries and cheesecake balls. A bit much but I needed a luscious ice cream photo, right?

Ice cream

Bright. A gorgeous tile mosaic in the entrance to Lululemon on State Street today. This Instagram photo? No filter. No filter, I tell you.

Bright

Numbers. If you’ve visited Santa Barbara, you know the architecture has a heavy Spanish influence. And what’s Santa Barbara — hey, what’s Southern California — without Spanish ceramic house numbers?

Numbers

Finally, we wrapped up a long day of tourism with carne and pollo asado tortillas, and a soak under the stars and palm trees at the gorgeous house we’re renting. Dave snapped this one of Maceo and I in the hot tub — SPLASH!  Hope you’re all enjoying August friends!

 

Splash

 

One Community participants include:

Sarah is a life-long Missourian who shares her home with her husband, one (soon to be 2) son(s), and an old grumpy dachshund. Like every good Midwesterner, she can (and will) talk to you at length about the weather. Sarah blogs at http://www.beautyschooldropout.net.

Colleen lives with her handsome hubster and two feisty felines in Portland, Oregon. She loves rain and sun (in that order), words and pictures, and chatting up the neighbors. She blogs at: http://www.underaredroof.com

Rebekah lives in Kilkenny, Ireland with her husband. An American by birth, she’s discovering what it means to be an expat on the Emerald Isle. She blogs at: http://www.honeysucklelife.com

Kara is a cheerful nerd living in downtown Phoenix, AZ with her law-studying husband and an anxious pound puppy. She works full time in the mental health field but in her off time enjoys sunshine, great food and the occasional craft beer. She blogs at: http://www.sunshine-cupcakes.com

Teresa lives in Massachusetts with her husband, college aged daughter and two crazy cats. She is a creative spirit who tries to find the lesson, blessing and humor in everything and she blogs at http://laughteramongtears.blogspot.com/

Kelli lives in Arizona with her dog, Willie Nelson Mandela. A native Arizonan, she is enamored by the lush landscape, and looking to build community. She is a novelist, public health advocate and United Methodist. She blogs at: http://www.africankelli.com

Stephanie is a lifelong Wyomingite with ranch girl roots. She has her own marketing and graphic design business and in her free time, she enjoys knitting, fishing with her boyfriend, and team roping. She blogs at: http://www.nowicanseethemoon.co

Eduarda is a curious, visual creature who believes all pictures tell a story. She hails from Mozambique, via Portugal and NJ, and now is desert rate living with her husband and two teenage daughters in Chandler, AZ. She blogs at: http://of-blue.blogspot.com/