Are the kids going?

In a few weeks we’ll be traveling to Nicaragua and almost everyone I’ve told has asked me if the kids are going. YES! The kids are coming we rarely travel without them.

Nicaragua is a place my husband and I have traveled before when we drove our Westfalia from Canada to Chile (if you look back I’ve posted some stories about the trip). He didn’t immediately fall in love with the place as I did and that’s another story (I’ll be sure to post soon) but it fit the criteria we were looking for in this family trip. We wanted to take the kids somewhere they speak Spanish and somewhere warm, check & check!

This time however we also wanted to add a bit of connection to the local people the kids really haven’t had before. So we’ve contacted a school in Granada and we will be taking some donations from my oldest son’s class to deliver when we visit. Things like arts and craft supplies mostly.

We chose this because we thought it would be something our kids could understand; at age 3 & 6 we can only expect so much but school is something they can both relate to. We’re hoping to show them how differently people around the world live. How much less people have and how happily they live their lives. We hope they’ll see the difference but the similarities as well. How a boy in Nicaragua likes to laugh and play just as they do. How he has to listen to his teacher and learn to read and write just as they do.

It feels poignant right now. Up here in Canada we have recently elected our Prime Minister who fills us with hope. Hope for bringing out the good in people. Hope for the future. But just below us, in America, watching the tidbits online it fills me with despair, true despair, to hear the politicians encourage racism, violence and hatred. I know we live in a bubble here on Vancouver Island, it’s why we live here, surrounded by lush green nature and welcoming supportive people it’s truly a paradise but I’m worried for my friends in America and how their lives will change if Trump is elected. Will their lives change? Will they survive President Trump? How will it affect us here in Canada? I’m afraid to find out the answer to these questions.

I want my children to know no matter where someone lives, no matter what they look like, how they dress, what religion they practice, how they feed their family we can always connect respectfully with one another. We can choose to point out the differences but we can also choose to celebrate the similarities because we are all human. We share this one planet. We breathe the same air. We all want to be loved, treated respectfully and with dignity. And every now and then we ALL need a hug to get through the day.

So this trip won’t be just all sand and surf it will also be about connecting and building relationships. It will be about celebrating similarities and diversity. It just feels right, right now.

All I Want For Chirstmas

Christmas time can be a bit hectic traveling to see family or having them come to see you. It always seems like a lot of extra people milling around, more cars on the road, more folks in the shops. Even in a small community like ours here in Campbell River I find the energy picks up and the frantic panic of shoppers starts to invade my space.

So this year I opted for the pre-Christmas get away with my family and can’t recommend it enough. We picked Gowlland Harbour over on Quadra Island for a one night stay. Once you hit the grounds there you immediately start to feel a sense of calm. Tranquility resides there and that was exactly the energy I was looking for.

We didn’t completely hibernate. We visited a family friend for a perfectly roasted, roast lamb dinner with all the fixings. Finished that off with an epic dance performance from our 3yr old while we rubbed our full tummies. After tucking the kids into bed back in our cozy cabin at Gowlland Harbour we lit the wood burning fireplace pulled out the guitar and curled up on the couch with a sweet apple beer we had picked up at the local market. Truly feeling at peace.

 

The next day we treated ourselves to an amazing brunch fixed by Chef Joe at the Gowlland Harbour restaurant. Soaking in the light drizzle of rain over the calm harbour water while being nestled between the floor to ceiling window and the giant fireplace in the centre of the large open room was just about as good as it gets for a Sunday morning. We had a restful morning taking advantage of the generous late check out time and frolicked the grounds exploring every nook and cranny.

Eventually we climbed a steep mossy rock cliff back to the main dining area for a delightful afternoon of cookie decorating, crafting and even a visit from Santa himself put on by the resort management.

It felt good really good to just unwind together. No frantic last minute shopping searching for that hard to buy for person in the family just us, nature and great food.

Gowlland Harbour was the place for us, a short distance away with exceptional staff, food and grounds I can’t recommend it enough but if it’s not in your budget or you live farther afield find somewhere that is and take time to just enjoy the holidays together. This time of year can get wild but even just a one night escape can remind you to slow down, enjoy the moments and connect with the ones you love. Our only regret is we didn’t stay for longer, there’s always next time. I have a feeling this will be a new family tradition for us.

So, happy holidays to each and every one of you reading, wherever you are I hope you are safe, have good food in your belly and a warm roof over your head.

Much love.

Kimberlee xoxo

Collecting Moments

The point of writing, of writing this blog is to get stuff down. To tell our story. To put our history into words to be read down the road. I’ve been contemplating this a lot. Some times I just write for fun too. Or because we’ve had a great experience and I want other people to be inspired to get out there and have experiences, adventures. But sometimes it’s more personal, like today.

A few weeks ago I painted. Something I don’t do a lot of and quite frankly I’m not very good at. Normally I wouldn’t write about painting but as the project evolved it became more and more of a story I wanted to get down.

It started with my parents renovating the upstairs of their home. Renovations usually come with massive purges of things and at this point in their lifespan they’ve begun to minimize their “things” and just get back to basics, downsizing of sorts. So, I acquired my Dad’s old wardrobe. I needed something to put bit and bobs of things in and it seemed a perfect fit.

It sat in the garage for a few days before I decided I wanted to spice up the house with a bit of colour and finally went and got some paint. I’ve never used chalk paint and everyone raves about how easy it is to use, they are right, all of them, so easy. Well, I got the thing all painted up and was pretty pleased with myself then as I moved it into the house and reattached the original hardware this piece of furniture started to tell it’s story.

My sister was over visiting one day and she mentioned how the dresser seemed so short. We reminisced about trying to reach coins from the top of the wardrobe as little girls. How we boosted each other up to get change and then quickly jump on our bikes to ride to the nearby gas station for handfuls of 5 cent candies.

Then later I was filling the bottom drawer with games and began to tell my oldest son how this drawer was where my Dad, Pumpah as he calls him, kept his socks. I told him how I’d sneak into his room and pull out my favourite wooly pairs to wear to school. I told him how I did this so often I think Pumpah went with out socks a lot or how he’d come down the stairs and pull up my pants and demand his socks back, which I’d begrudgingly have to take off and return.

Where I stack my sewing fabrics and craft projects are where my Dad used to keep his sweaters. I’d even steal these to wear because wearing a big fuzzy warm sweater, especially your Dad’s, always feels good.

I’m so happy with how the project turned out the new version of my Dad’s wardrobe looks great, but what I’m really thrilled about is how filling up our home with things that have meaning, memories, love, has become important. How when I open the doors of the dresser that familiar slightly creaky sound makes me smile.

I’ve come across this quote a few times “collect moments not things.” I’m sure you must have heard this one too and probably think I’m crazy to believe I’m actually living this but I am. I truly think I am because some “things” are so full of memories it’s worth making an exception to the rule.

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My Dad’s old dresser
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One coat with the new colour. I {heart} chalk paint now!
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Closer up with a little distressing
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The devil is in the details
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I love the new pop of colour in our house

Musing on balance

Finding balance. I’m starting to dislike this concept. I practice yoga on a semi regular basis, meaning some weeks I get to accomplish practice more than once a week, other weeks I’m not so lucky so I hear or see this statement a lot at yoga class or in my readings. Finding balance, creating balance in your life, etc. Balance, balance, balance.

Lately the pursuit of balance has been a lot like the pursuit of happiness. You think you have a sense of balance then one tiny thing throws it off and your struggle to find balance resumes.

Balance seems to be accompany a calmness in your life. I feel calm, pretty much all the time and even when I’m not perfectly clam I’m still pretty relaxed, but I’m certainly not balanced. Take yesterday for example I thought I had it all worked out drop kids off at daycare and school, babysit my niece, prep stuff for dinner, trade cars with my husband, meet my oldest at the pool for swim lessons then go to work. Except I messed up the daycare schedule, oops. Oldest was a little late for swim lessons, didn’t have time to switch cars with hubby and ended up taking yogurt and an apple to work for dinner. It didn’t exactly feel balanced but I did feel calm.

I fantasize about routine thinking maybe this will bring balance. Routine is something I’ve tried to strive for, it’s good for the kids too right? I’m coming to realize it may just be out of my grasp and frankly I think we do just as good without routine as we do with it, which is to say we take it day to day and it seems to work, most of the time. What I don’t like is my “me time” gets pushed aside frequently when we don’t have routine. It’s a mommy thing. I think we all have it to some degree. It’s making the kids lunches before mine and eating yogurt for dinner instead because I ran out of time to pack my dinner.

But being in balance means making sure I’m taking care of myself too so I need that “me” time. Like when the oxygen masks drop down in the plane they always tell you to put your mask on first then help others. It’s kinda a metaphor for life isn’t it? You aren’t effective if you’re incapacitated. I’ve got to learn to put the oxygen mask on first. Why is this so hard?

Probably because when the oxygen mask drops down its right in front of your face to grab, hold onto and just breathe. Yoga class is my oxygen but it’s not in my face when I need it.

So how am I ever going to achieve balance? I’m not. I’m going to strive for awareness instead, noticing when I am so out of whack, so unbalance, I’m not being effective anymore. Balance is too momentary, fleeting, but it feels so good. I guess I’m torn, I’m not going to give up on balance. I just want to take away the expectation it will stay for awhile and instead accept and enjoy it, temporarily.

When I’m feeling a little burnt out and all out of whack I’m going to just put my feet on the ground where ever I am be in the moment, practice my yoga. So, please don’t knock me over if you see me on the sidewalk standing in tree pose I’m trying to create my balance.

Imagine Gratitude

Well folks Life is Beautiful is undeniably living up to expectations, so glad. Yesterday was filled up with performances from New Politics, Royal Blood, Big Data, Lique, Metric, Soja, Chance the Rapper, Duran Duran, Snoop Dogg and capped with a extraordinary Imagine Dragons set. Phewf, writing it all down it seems overwhelming, but it wasn’t, it was just right.

The connection Imagine Dragons had with the audience was unexpected for me. The lead singer, Dan, is a third generation Las Vegan (I might have made that word up, Vegasite seemed wrong) and the band was formed here, had their up and coming in the Vegas Casinos. I didn’t know their history but it certainly directed a good vibe from the band and the crowd.

One thing I loved was his sincere humbleness on stage. He thanked many early supporters and of course his mom and dad who were in the audience. This got me to thinking about my own kids and how unconditional love and support can be so magical but also nerve wracking as a parent. I want to keep them safe, I want to minimize the rejection they may experience but I also want them to find something they love, even if I don’t love them doing it. I stood in the audience wondering about how hard it must have been for his parents to support his passion for music through, I’m sure, so many ups and down, the self doubt, the verge of collapse moments. He recanted a story of making his Father listen to his recordings in the living room and saying to him “keep doing this son.” I wondered if he knew his son was something special or if he was just responding to the excited gleam in his son’s eyes.

I guess what it boils down to is love, doesn’t it always.

He also told us about being criticized early in his career by a critic for “thanking too many people on stage.” Come on, really?

Well in response, my gratitude extends to you Imagine Dragons. Thank you for sticking to it and making great music. Thank you for putting yourself out there so I can turn up the music in the kitchen when your songs come on and have a dance party with my family. Thank you for allowing me to fist pump and head bang to Radioactive with my sons in the car on the ride home from school. Thank you for using your voice to inspire me to move my body and let everything go in that moment. Thank you for being unabashedly grateful.

Vegas?

If you have been within earshot of me over the last few days you would know I’m heading to Vegas for a 3 day music festival called Life is Beautiful.

I really never planned to go to Vegas, it’s never been on my radar. I wasn’t really interested in the over glamourized, over illuminated, over intoxicated little patch of desert to the south. When I heard about the Life is Beautiful festival though I was pretty sure it was right for me. In the past I’ve dreamt about Coachella or Burning Man but something deep down stopped me. Maybe it was the line up that year or the disappointing reviews on the commercialization of Burning Man, etc but Life is Beautiful has drawn me in.

What I expect may not be what I get, we’ll see and I’ll let you know, but if I sum up my expectations of Life is Beautiful I’m looking at 3 days filled with incredible music, inspiring art, unique culinary experiences and a bit of mind blowing words from some truly exceptional people. I hope to be reminded that humanity is not in a downward spiral of war and destruction and that somehow, love will conquer all. Big expectations, I know, but it’s Vegas and bigger is better there, right?

On the flip side I’m also really looking for to some me time. It’s been a busy summer. Not physically but emotionally and just well weirdly. I’ve had a lot of job offers and new clients to juggle which always take up a lot of space in my head. I think I’ve done of good job of keeping focused and picking what I can handle with people I like working with but timelines change, get sped up, then sped up again and although I’m blessed for the amazing support I get from my family it wears me down.

So, time for a recharge. Pool side Vegas sounds good to me, why not? Just me, some books to read, a glass (well probably more like a pitcher) of some cool tasty drink and 2 of my most fabulous girlfriends. I’m ready. Wait I’m not ready I still have to pack, write some articles and get my kids off to school and daycare…….sigh.

Adventures in the Kitchen

Today marked a beginning for our little family. Our two boys are now engaging in after school activities. Hello Soccer Mom! Well not exactly, they’ve picked gymnastics, hip hop and swimming for now. This means a lot of scheduling, planning, reminding my husband where and when to drop off, pick up, etc.

Historically we’ve never been really great planners tending to be a bit more on the side of spontaneity rather than well planned. It’s ok, we take the mishaps, frequently in stride and keep our expectations low it usually results in a few good stories, some posted here!

Today was the first day though and I wanted it to go off without missing a beat. Get off to a good start at least. I also wanted to make sure everyone was fed with healthy and energy packed food. My oldest is gymnastics lesson is 2hrs long right at supper time – ekkkk!

What does a Mom do when she’s looking for a great easy recipe – ummmmm Pinterest, of course. I knew I wanted a great salad packed with protein and have been craving fresh flavours lately so I picked a Southwest Salad. I knew the basics and didn’t need a recipe for the salad base but I did for the dressing and hence the Sunday morning, hot coffee, legs curled up under me on the chair beside the fireplace, Pinterest session. I could have stayed there for hours but had to get my youngest to swimming lessons. Eventually I pulled together a few recipes for an avocado dressing and compiled one that suited mine and my youngsters taste.

I didn’t expect to post this until I saw the end result and the combination of colours inspired me to post so here’s a result of the salad with and without the creamy avocado dressing.

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I should probably come up with an awesome name for this salad and dressing combo……..how about Southwest Salad with Creamy Avocado Cilantro Lime dressing. Ok, it’s not awesome but it is descriptive!

The Salad Basics:

Romaine, thinly sliced (I threw in a bit of fresh basil my friend gave me earlier in the afternoon for a really fresh taste)

Corn, Black Beans, Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, Grape Tomatoes and pre-cooked chicken (one of those barbecue already to go ones – you could roasted your own but who has the time for that!)

Throw it all together in the quantities you like, salad part done. Sooooo simple!

Creamy Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing

Flesh of a whole avocado, a bit of salt, a bit of pepper, a pinch of cumin, a dash of paprika, juice from one small lime, about a 1/4 cup of each of: milk, plain greek yogurt and salsa. Add as much cilantro as you like to suit your taste. Blend it all up and pour it on top.

To be honest mine didn’t really pour I kinda scooped it onto the salad then mixed up the salad really good. Before completely devouring it.

If you’re looking for something really fresh with vibrant colours to eat give it a shot. Substitute anything you like or head on over to Pinterest and find a recipe that suits your taste buds, then let me know if you like it!

Day one off to a good start!

AA Pub Crawl: SLC

Last month we traveled to Salt Lake City, during the day while my husband spent hours inside a windowless conference room in a large franchise hotel while I lounged by the window of a sunny cafe and planned our adventures for the evenings. During one of these episodes I decided to design our very own SLC pub crawl.

I had booked us a condo via Air BnB called the Adventurist’s Urban Retreat. It was great, a very hip loft in a very hipster part of town. I likened it to what Gastown was about 20 years ago when it was just starting to get the attention of condo developers and restauranteurs. Our hosts, as the owners are called on Air BnB had complied a list of places near and far with brief descriptions on what to expect. From this list I formulated our pub crawl.

So one hot, hot afternoon we met at the BeerHive it was just around the corner from where my husband was attending his conference, perfect location to get our feet wet. BeerHive was everything I hoped for in our pub crawl. A long wooden bar backed by a wall of assorted bottled liquor and more taps than I could count. The dark interior environment illuminated mostly from the large front window was laden with wood features, formerly a barrister’s office, and accented with brick walls.

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The service was not too intrusive and just the right amount of help with the long, long list of beers to choose from. These bartenders knew how to bartend. We were handed our glistening pints of beer topped with the perfect amount of frothy foam onto the 3 inch strip of ice built into the middle of the bar and before you think otherwise this is a brilliant idea. My last gulp of beer was as cold and welcoming as my first.

From BeerHive we moved onto Bodega a few blocks down the road. Needing to fill our bellies with a bit of food we signed up for a few $2 soft tacos and $3 Tecates. Tecate is not exactly the best beer but at $3 a can, why not? Bodega has a tiny front room and apparently a back room as well although we found a spot in the front window to munch our tacos, sip our Tecates and watch the world of SLC walk by. Bodega is nestled into a former stock brokers office with minimalistic vintage Mexican decor and excellent cheap fish tacos it’s worth a stop.

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With a bit a food and a few more beer under our belt we merrily sauntered a few more blocks to Gracie’s.

Gracie’s was only a few blocks from our loft and may have been a bit disappointing after BeerHive and Bodegas. A large bar with an up and down stairs sports bar feel we initially opted to sit on the covered patio until I found the continuous spray of mist above our heads a bit too offensive, even in the heat it was weird being wet while sitting in a pub. The section of beer was adequate but we opted to stay for only one pint here.

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We would have moved onto Salt Lake Brewing Co, right next to Gracie’s but we were a bit too teetery and decided to pack it in for the night back at our loft. We did check out the graffiti art and peeked inside the brewery located in a beautifully restored old brick building.

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Besides these establishments we also hit up Red Rock Brewing on our first night in town, we had flown in late so our options were limited even on a Saturday night but it was a great introduction to SLC night life and we enjoyed great pizza along with a few brews.

As a side note In SLC you must have your photo identification with you at all times and are requested to present it everywhere you buy alcohol no matter how old you are. They even write down all your info.

Getting Back to Nature: Little Huson Caves

I’ve been finding the summer days, although luxuriously long, have been falling through my grasp like fine dry sand. Looking back, well I don’t even want to do that right now because frankly it scares me a bit how fast days, weeks and then months disappear, gone.

I’ve also been needing a great big dose of nature. Just us in the wild, no one else but us with trees, a big body of water, blue skies (preferably) to just explore somewhere and it needed to be a new place.

I stumbled, online, onto Little Huson Caves. Just floating around the interweb thinking about exploring the north of Vancouver Island I found this site. The first opportunity I had to go was last weekend but my husband was out of town so I bribed a friend, with drink, to accompany me and my two wild boys on an adventure and what we found was unbelievable.

Little Huson Caves is about 90 minutes north of Campbell River. After taking the turn off to Zeballos you follow the well placed highly visible signs all the way into your parking spot at the trailhead. The trail is so easy my 3 year old could do it no sweat, both ways, while jabbering about anything and everything that crossed his mind. We took small glow in the dark sticks for the kids to explore the caves with and I highly recommend this if you go with children or headlamps at the very least. The caves are very open so taking a light source is not a requirement for having good time but let’s face it, it’s way more fun with light sticks!

This weekend my husband was here and my short burst of caving experience had given me an idea. I planned our over night lake/cave/canoe adventure.

When we left Saturday morning my husband looked at me from the driver’s side and said “so, where are we going?” I wasn’t exactly sure but I knew I wanted to find somewhere it could just be us with no influences, no noise. “North” I said with a confident shrug. I had some ideas in mind but with the camp fire ban finally lifted after many, many weeks I was certain we would be battling to find any kind of privacy. We started again down the road to Zeballos and I found myself thinking what have I gotten us into now, would we be spending all day looking for a camping spot? The kids were already getting a bit tired of being in the truck, placating them with copious amounts of snacks and finally, grudgingly, handing over my husband’s iPhone we pulled up and parked in a small gravelly parking lot. I had scouted this spot out the previous week but had wholeheartedly expected to be confronted with a well established camp filled with seasoned J Crew clad campers frolicking in their smoky camp fire scent. What I received was glorious space, filled with everything nature. A small lake, perfect for our relaxing family canoe paddle, enough wood, rocks, blue sky and trees to fill up my nature void.

Ok, sooooo the relaxing family canoe ride was, ummm, not exactly relaxing being only the second time my husband and I have canoed together. Broadside to the wind, actually paddling in circles, the kids yelling we are “going to crash” into some rocks at the edge of the lake was anything but relaxing but once our feet were firmly planted on firm ground we hit our stride, well right after the wasp sting.

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Faith & Love: Salt Lake City

Her words rang in my ears the rest of the day, “I came here willingly.” She said this roughly 7 times in a mere 2 minute exchange with a visitor. When gently pressed by the visitor about her 18 month commitment to stay here her forced, thin lipped smile conveyed her exasperation of the perceived judgement.

“We’re discouraged from going home to visit with our family during this time. I came here willingly, as a missionary.”

Our eyes met for the briefest of moments, hers read tired, maybe even a little sad, mine empathetic. As I quickly tried to slip by her and out the door she lightly, lovingly even, touched my wrist and just above a whisper I heard, “thanks for coming.”

To say I know nothing about the Mormon faith would be a lie I do however acknowledge my understanding is limited.

What I know in my own heart is, faith, whatever that may look like to you, is personal and to be respected by yourself and everyone around you. Faith, to me, is love based. Love yourself, love your neighbour, love every living thing, love the Earth. Love is beautiful. When any one of these things gets too out of whack and the love is lost or perverted then we need to examine what the consequences are, are they making the world a better place?