Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Visiting Family in Prince George

When we left the Okanagan last weekend to drive over eight-hundred kilometres north to Prince George I was feeling excited. I was looking forward to spending time with family and friends, enjoying the outdoors and taking some time to relax. Last time we came up at this time of year we were surprised by snow piles on the ground and ice on the lake. I had heard reports that, like the Okanagan, the north has been experiencing an early spring and so I was hopeful that as we left the sunny warmth of our home we would still experience beautiful weather up north. Upon our arrival, however, it was more than ten degrees cooler, overcast and swarming with mosquitoes. I sought refuge in the warmth of a housecoat, and snuggled on the couch. I was assured that this cooler weather only started after a storm came through that evening, and that it will not stay long. The following evening the most spectacular thunderstorm came to these parts, probably one of the most severe that I have seen in my life, and after the weather worked through its severe outburst the sky cleared and since then we have been enjoying plenty of sun and warmth. The mosquitoes are still around though.

I often find myself taking deep breaths of the sweet, fresh air out at the lake. Even though it has been a dry spring we are surrounded by deep shades of luscious green. It is such a contrast to the natural flora of the south Okanagan which is still beautiful but tends to be coloured in hues of yellow, brown and pale green. The lake, where my in-laws live, is beginning to warm up but only the bravest are swimming through its chilly waters. My children have been busy digging in the sand, riding bikes, fishing, taking rides in the paddle and motor boats and swimming. We are all enjoying our time up here and feeling grateful for our loving family.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Nk' Mip Desert Cultural Centre

We joined our fellow home learners to explore the Nk' MipDesert Cultural Centre (pronounce in-Ka-meep) this week. It was a sunny cloudless day in Osoyoos, BC which meant that it was hot, very hot. Our tour started with a video about the Syilx people of the Okanagan Nation. The story, named Coyote Spirit, is told though the eyes and experience of a woman who reflects back on her visits with her grandparents in the South Okanagan as a youth. The short video can be viewed here

Our guide then showed us around the small, but interesting, gallery before going outdoors to walk along the two kilometer desert walking trail. The trail is wide and flat with signs that indicated various species of interest, similar to the Osoyoos Desert Centre. Some added points of interest along the walking trail include metal sculptures in the form of the Sylix people digging roots, fishing, sitting, tanning fur, stoking a fire... There are also several exhibits that show how the Sylix people lived and traveled.  

Our tour ended with the Snakes Alive presentation. This was our second time seeing this presentation but it doesn't get old. During the presentation a snake handler shows several wild snakes and explains how to differentiate between several Okanagan snake species. We learned that the Okanagan has seven snake species of snakes, the most common being the Western rattle snake and Great Basin gopher snake. Learning about Okanagan snakes is both empowering and helpful in removing the fear and disgust that is often associated with these fascinating creatures. Snakes can be dangerous to be sure but when left alone they are rarely a threat to us and they play the important role of keeping rodent populations at bay.

A tip for visiting the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre in the summer is to prepare for extreme heat! My two little people complained during the entire walk along the trail because of the heat. Be sure to bring plenty of water, some snacks, hats and sunscreen.

Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre
Living in Nature Series: Snake Smart

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Visiting Kamloops: Kenna Cartwright Park and the Spirit Bear

This past weekend we had the pleasure of visiting our friends in Kamloops. I enjoyed the chance to catch up with them and see how much their little ones have grown. It was also a great opportunity to unplug from the distractions of technology and do a little reading, the old fashioned way (with a book). 

Soon after arriving at our friends' home they anticipate the need to stretch our legs and took us out on a hike at Kenna Cartwright Park. The main trail is wide and flat and is stroller friendly, with plenty of smaller trails splitting off the main path. The park has a large network of trails used by bikers, runners and hikers. The wide path to the top is edged by sagebrush and leads to an amazing lookout that overlooks the city of Kamloops. When you look down upon the city you can see the point at which the North and South Thompson rivers meet, which is how this city got the name Kamloops, or Tk'emlups a Secwepemc word that means "where the rivers meet".

We also had the opportunity to return to the BC Wildlife Park to see the newest addition: Clover, a Kermode bear, also known as a Spirit Bear. Clover is the only Kermode bear in human care worldwide, and has been the topic of much interest and debate. Kermode bears are a special and sacred animal to the first nations people along the north and central coast of British Columbia and some protection groups feel that Clover should be released back into the wild. Unfortunately, Clover was orphaned, and after two unsuccessful attempts of rehabilitation and release he was unable to reintegrate into his natural habitat. Clover is a poignant reminder of how human interaction can lead to the destruction of endangered animals and how we need to create awareness around caring for the precious ecosystems that surround us. 

Our visit in Kamloops was wonderful and we hope to return again in the near future. Thank you to the R family for the lovely visit and we hope to see you again soon.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Garden Journal (yr 3: vol 5)

This week I worked hard weeding, tilling, digging and planting. Two of the raised beds were seeded in the last month and most of the seeds have sprouted. The peas and broad beans are healthy and vibrant. The carrots and beets are getting a bigger every day. However, not everything in my garden is doing wonderfully. Something has wiped out most of my swiss chard and kale seedlings by eating away at their tender little leaves. The same insect is eating my spinach, radish tops and pac choi. Other than ants I cannot see any other insects, not that I'm fooled, something is definitely out there. Whatever is snacking on my plants better watch out because I am on the hunt for some food grade diatomaceous earth!

I spent most of my efforts this week in the remaining two raised beds. These were weeded, tilled and watered before being planted with tomato, pepper, cauliflower, broccoli, leek and cabbage seedlings. Planting food into the ground is such a satisfying act, but there is no denying that it is hard work.

As I walked around the rest of my yard I noticed that the elderberry bushes I planted a couple years ago are monstrous. I will have to turn my attention to giving them more space next week. The raspberry bushes are in bloom and filled with the steady buzz of pollinators. Listening to them work is like listening to the sweetest of music. Small apples and peaches are swelling on our young fruit trees, and there are pretty columbines blooming in my font yard. These sunny spring days fill my heart with gratitude for many things.

Two Week Ago: Garden Journal (yr 3: vol 4)
One Year Ago: Garden Journal (yr 2: vol 4)
Two Years Ago: Garden Journal (vol 5)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Celebrating Three Decades!

Today I celebrated my thirtieth birthday! I thought it would be fun make photo journal of the first day of my third decade of life.

6:52 a.m. Me. Uncensored. First thing in the morning. I am a self-professed night-owl. However, in the last few weeks I have been waking up earlier and going to bed earlier. Is this a hint of things to come? Will my thirties start with a circadian cycle shift? Anything is possible I suppose. I will admit that I've enjoyed waking before my little people so that I can enjoy a moment of quietness before the breakfast diatribe begins.

7:00 a.m. I took a quick stroll through my gardens and moved my seedling outdoors to make some room in the kitchen. The seedlings are still being hardened-off, and I hope to plant them soon. 

7:09 a.m. The boys awaken, a little earlier than I had expected, but they both remembered it was my birthday and wish me a "happy birthday" while we had some snuggles on the couch. 

7:52 a.m. It was a beautiful sunny morning. In the afternoon the clouds rolled in and showered us with a spring rain, regardless it was a lovely warm day.

8:05 a.m. A typical morning breakfast in our home: steel-cut oats boiled in milk and generously covered in maple sugar, nuts and fruit. 

8:28 a.m. A surprise visit from the husband. He spilled milk all over his clothing this morning and had to return home to change. I think he should spill his milk all over himself more often (grin). I enjoy seeing his smiling face in the morning. My daughter slept in until after nine, during which I was preoccupied with something or another. 

10:29 a.m. That's right. This is the year I will finally Get Strong! Since the birth of my eldest, over seven years ago, I have been plagued with aches and pains. After trying various things that have left me in even more pain I have decided to start strength training. In the last couple weeks I have been slowly building strength through mainly body-weight exercises (squats, push-ups, pull-ups). I purchased Nia Shank's Beautiful Badass Bodyweight Workout Guide (e-book) and have been using it as a guide.

11:51 a.m. There's my Claire-bear. Always one to take her time in the morning. This picture was taken right after she crashed her head on the stairs.

12:00 p.m. Chili in the slow-cooker. Grilled cheese and veggies for lunch. An endless flow of dirty dishes and laundry. What would be a photo journal without including at least one picture of these daily tasks.

1:53 p.m. Once everyone was sufficiently fed and the kitchen was somewhat tidy again, it was time for a little sit down learning. A few minutes of piano practice, some spelling and math. 

3:00 - 5:30 p.m. (No pictures) We went into town for swimming lessons. I managed to register my two eldest into swimming lessons at the same time. While they were at their lesson Teddy and I played in the pool. Every now and again I managed to convince my little guy to dip his toes in the hot tub so that I could enjoy the jet streams.

6:00 p.m. - 9ish p.m. After being rather non-committal about my birthday plans my friends took it into their own hands to throw me a special birthday party. I made a big pot of chili and they brought the rest of the meal: many loaves of garlic bread, a fresh spring salad and a delicious angel food cake covered in lemon glaze. I feel so blessed to have such lovely friends ♥.

7:58 p.m. One candle for each decade and a little helper to blow out the flames.

7:59 p.m. And lots of helpers to eat the cake!

9:42 p.m. Thank you to my friends for your well wishes and kind words. I am excited for this next decade of my life and I am ready to own those grey hairs on my head!