A couple of weeks ago we met Great Auntie D and Cousin L for a strawberry picking session at Emma Lea farms. I hadn’t been strawberry picking in years and it was a fun way to spend a summer afternoon. J seemed to be enjoying herself, jumping over the rows of strawberries and (surprise, surprise) eating more than she collected. When we were done we had 16 pounds (!) of delicious, super sweet strawberries. We rewarded ourselves with strawberry milkshakes that went down way too fast. I don’t know why we don’t make milkshakes with fresh berries at home all the time. We capped the afternoon with a jump in Great Auntie D’s pool, which also served to rinse off the strawberry juice stuck in between little toes. Next up: blueberries!
P.S. I had no great plan for the strawberries we brought home. We ended up making lots of strawberry slurpees, a strawberry rhubarb crumble using this tasty recipe, strawberry scones, strawberry syrup to go on our pancakes one morning, and a strawberry spinach salad. The remaining strawberries are in my freezer but I don’t need to think about them for a while if you know what I mean.
TIP * Field strawberries are like little sponges and absorb water quickly – keep them fresher for longer by avoiding washing them until right before your eat them :-)
A few weeks ago we spent the afternoon strolling Denman street for Car Free Day. And while we navigate the majority of our days car-free because a) parking is too crazy-expensive in the city b) by the time you find parking it’s actually quicker to walk and c) it’s how we tire J out – something about walking up the middle of the street (when you spend your days constantly telling your child to stay off the road) makes you realize how great it would be to have more car-free spaces.
J was running into her little friends left, right and centre, which seems to be the case lately. I always thought it would be tough to carve out a community in a big city, but kids have a way of doing that for us, especially once they hit school-age.
The weather was a bit overcast, but warm, and we only had to take shelter once and wait for a rainy patch to pass. It’s that time of year where I pretty much refuse to bring my umbrella out, almost as if I’m willing the rain to stay away. Futile but optimistic at least.
We’ve gone to a few car-free days over the years, but this one made me really appreciate the value in creating more permanent car-free spaces. The relaxed vibe, the ability to linger and to chat with your neighbours is something that we sometimes miss out on when we hop into our cars and drive away. Maybe if we all just slap a pair of colourful tires on our bike it will encourage us to leave the car keys at home more often? At least until the rain comes back…
A few weeks ago, J, my sister and I took a day trip to our old stomping grounds, White Rock Beach. So much had changed in our hometown and it made me a bit sad to see all the development; the enormous houses jammed onto tiny lots, stop lights where once there were none, and quaint old structures dwarfed by new condos – some places were unrecognizable and I even took a few wrong turns in a place that I used to know so well. * Sigh. But despite the inevitable growth of the city and dwindling charm, there was something that remained so perfect; and for the most part, intact. The East beach is still home to my favourite fish and chips joint Moby Dick’s – and that particular strip of beach is still pretty old school. There’s not many places (other than certain chain restaurants) that I can say I’ve frequented for nearly my entire life. But Moby Dick’s has been around since the late seventies. And so have I :-). I went to school with a boy whose parents (at the time) ran the place, and I remember them sending us fish and chips after my mom had a baby (which one, I don’t know). And even though ownership has changed hands and the colour has been swapped from white to bright blue, it’s that greasy-good taste and tartar sauce served in a beer box that brought back flashes of childhood. The smell of hot beach rocks, salty air and seagulls surfing the breeze that culminated to create a sweet moment of nostalgia and contentedness. Toss in a giggling four-year-old chasing down seagulls and some time spent with my sister and call it a great day. Those moments. They are the ones.
A few weeks ago we flew to Terrace to visit my parents. That’s Terrace with a T – not to be confused with Paris – as J has often called it. And while I’m all for a trip to Paris (in case you ever feel like moving there, Mom and Dad), we were pretty excited about spending a few days at my parents’ place; relaxing and taking a break from our everyday routines, bien sûr!
One of the best things about my mom is that she lets kid-mess happen – maybe years of teaching kindergarten increased her tolerance for it. Whatever the reason, I think our four-year-old was in a little bit of preschooler heaven. J pulled out all of our old dress-up clothes from the ‘tickle trunk’, made a race track downstairs, had crafts on the go, and a doll house set up in the middle of the living room for four days. There is definitely benefits to being the one and only grandchild!
I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but I’m confident that Gus (the cat) was the highlight of the trip. Also pretty confident that if Gus could talk he might have said, “when the f%&k is that pesky kid leaving?” But he was very good-natured and put up with numerous whisker pulls, pokes and invasions of personal space. I had a similar good-natured cat when I was around the same age – who was most often spotted wearing cabbage patch doll pajamas – so I get where she was coming from.
Our kid is slightly obsessed with these energy bites. So she made them with Auntie J and Nana while we were there, but I’m pretty sure she ate most of them before they had time to chill in the fridge. They are actually so easy to make and so good for you…I think I’ve linked to them before, but in case not, here’s the link. I like mine with cranberries.
Going to my parents’ without having a bon fire would be just weird. We’ve been having them as long as I can remember, and it was definitely a highlight of J’s trip…what wasn’t a highlight? Me putting a limit on her marshmallow consumption. Meltdown doesn’t quite cover it. Next time I might be wise to pull out the ones that she’s allowed and then make the bag disappear. I’m still figuring out this parenting thing and, as far as I can tell, four-year-olds don’t like to being told what to do. Or just children in general. SO… I’m working on my “coaching’ not ‘controlling’ approach. But that’s a topic for another day...
…and my little brother? Nobody likes him. Especially not J. But I kid. They are both the best, and I’m really happy that on this trip they were able to get to know J better. In fact, J was so smitten with uncle B’s easy smile and jokey demeanour, that she quickly decided that he was in charge of bath-time. Doesn’t sound like a big deal. But trust me, it’s a big deal. Thanks for bringing the fun, you two!
A tornado potato is what everyone seemed to be lining up for. They looked and smelled so tasty – we couldn’t pass it up. Unfortunately they smelled better than they tasted. But that did not stop my kid from eating it all.
I think these next snaps are my very favourite from the trip. We’d sent the two Js to watch a rugby game. But that’s not all they did. They found the perfect ‘rolling hill’. J really wanted Grandpa to roll down with her. Auntie J had already done it several times with her. But we thought it was best to let Grandpa be a spectator and save himself a trip to the chiropractor. Next thing you know we’re tumbling down the hill, making ourselves crazy-dizzy, getting covered in grass and catching a case of the giggles. Seriously, want to feel like a kid again for a moment? Roll down a hill. Then try to stand up and walk. Ha. Just don’t tell anybody you pulled a neck muscle and got a rash from the grass. ‘Cause that totally didn’t happen to me.
We ticked off another girls camping trip a couple of weekends ago. Truth be told, I was a little worried about the trip. It was supposed to rain the entire time. And we’re not exactly what you would call sophisticated campers – you might remember my fancy tarp set-up last year using my camera tripod. But do you see the smile on that face behind the pillows? As if I was going to wimp out and crush four-year old dreams. No. Way. So we packed the car, included our umbrellas and some extra sweaters and wellies. We were pretty prepared. Except for one thing: I forgot my rain coat. Minor details, right?
When we arrived, the rain was pretty intense. So I parked J on a little lawn chair with her red umbrella. She was all too happy to watch me set up (and pretty much have an outdoor shower). I was fairly pleased with my set up. I mean, it didn’t look pro or anything, but it was going to keep us dry. However, moments later an RV pulled up only to inform me that they had booked the site we were in. Booooo! Hisssss! I had mixed up site 19 and 17 – simple mistake, right? Long of the short, I had to take our gear down, move it and set up. Again. Not a great start, but at least Auntie showed up to help with our second attempt.
The rain stopped pretty much as soon as we had our set up complete (!) and we were able to start a fire. My dear friend and her little one showed up to hang out by the lake, sip some wine and have some salmon burgers – oh, and she brought me a rain coat :-)
The first night in the tent was a good one. It rained overnight but we managed to stay warm and dry, and even slept in a little. Something about waking up in the fresh air is just so fantastic…even if instant coffee is the first thing to hit your lips.
Auntie C gets an A in the Auntie department. My friend and I joked that she makes a better mother than the two of us lumped together. All kidding aside, I am just so happy that J has such great people around her to help shape her and care for her. She’s a lucky duck.
For the third year in a row, Auntie C jumped off this dock in her classic ‘X’ style jump – we made her do it twice this year since we didn’t think the form of first jump was very impressive. The water was pretty frigid. Yet another reason why we think she’s pretty cool.
The second night in the tent was a bit tough. It was cold and J kept kicking out of her sleeping bag then waking up because she was cold. Two early morning trips to the washroom (er, bush) later, it was time to rise and shine. But we managed to get things packed up before the rain returned – so I’d call it a win.
We’ve decided that a two day camping trip is a bit too short for the work that is involved. Plus, J was in tears about having to leave so soon – she thinks camping is pretty much the greatest thing going. I really hope it’s a tradition that will repeat itself for years to come. It’s so nice to slow down a bit and just hang out, chat and breathe some fresh air. Some of the best heart-to-hearts have come from the time we’ve spent just sitting around a campfire, eating popcorn and s’mores. Thanks for an amazing weekend, girls. xo xo xo
I love this little shot that J’s Daddy took on their adventure to Granville Island a few weeks ago. She really looks like a kid in this picture. And it’s fun to flash back to this very first portrait post to see just how busy that little body has been. And to this fun day, also a Granville Island adventure.
Have a great week!