17 August 2014

summer...so far

This summer, like so many in my life has been hectic and a little crazy.

We started July with one of our favourite summer activities - Canada Day in Pugwash.

Celebrating Canada Day in Pugwash is a bit of a Nova Scotian tradition for us. It starts with a parade...

heavy on the pipe bands - we all love the pipe bands. Then lunch with one of our favourite ladies from church - she is always so generous in taking us in and feeding us...and then a visit to the highland games.

The highland games are always fun to watch. The boys are always impressed with the strength these men have and I think it is fun to watch a bunch of big guys twirling around in skirts. 

My mother-in-law is from Scotland so all the kids feel a little connected to their Scottish roots every time we visit the games. 

Some of my boys want to try it and prove to everyone that they are the strongest. See that blurry kid back there on the wrong side of the ropes heading for the pitch...the one who had to be moved out of the way before this guy could throw...that's right...he's mine. 

I've been trying to let the kids have a bit of fun whenever I can. I'm trying to loosen up a little and let them enjoy the little things in life more often. They only get to experience childhood once...

You would think this kid won the lottery when I caught him blowing bubbles in his milk and asked if I could take pictures of him. He obviously thought he was going to be in trouble. It made me wonder...how mean am I usually? Yes milk spilt all over the table and the kid...but he really had fun and I had another opportunity to teach him about cleaning up - win/win. 

I've been feeling little guilty because most of our summer has looked like this. My kids...especially my youngest...have spent so much of their lives living out of boxes. This summer we moved back to British Columbia...new city this time. I am hoping our moving days will soon be over. At least the big moves. 

The only thing that I like about moving is the opportunity it gives me for road trips! (and yes I do realize that it is probably much cheaper and a lot easier to just take a road trip - my entire life has been a little like choosing the shortest line in the grocery store...you know the one...that short line that always takes the longest to get through...a constant lesson in patience). 

I love driving across Canada. And it is a good thing I do because this was our fourth time doing it! 
On this trip we were able to stop and visit some new-old friends in Manitoba. The boys had so much fun - well, we all had fun, but my boys in particular had a great time. 

We all learned a little about shooting guns...

riding quads...

and catching frogs.

As always the trip was beautiful and we loved being back in the mountains. We missed them.

It has been two weeks since our arrival and I am exhausted. After cleaning our new home, unloading boxes, beginning to unpack, visiting family, and getting in some canning...I am ready for a vacation. 

Yesterday, we took the afternoon off to have a bit of family time at the local heritage village. 

It was kind of nice heading back in time for an afternoon. But, that is all the vacation I am going to get for awhile...more boxes are waiting to be unpacked and I refuse to be the family that lives amongst piles of boxes. Maybe I'll have time to sneak in a bit of fun next week...

01 July 2014

Macarons...and a lot of green

I've been super busy finishing up school projects - plus of course all the end of year stuff with my kids, working on house projects, and planning out what's next...etc.

The usual getting ready for summer around our house.

For my grad show we are using the theme of colour - I chose green. I also chose to photograph food for my final exhibit. 

I had a lot of fun planning and executing some green photo shoots. 

The shoot that I was most excited about was macarons.

I have been wanting to make macarons for a really long time but was feeling rather intimidated because I have read many times how difficult they are to make. I had been procrastinating making them in fear of failure. But, when the time came to plan out my grad exhibit I knew I wanted to do macarons.

Now I won't say they were easy...or that every cookie turned out perfectly...you can believe me when I say they didn't. But like most things they weren't as difficult as I thought they were going to be and I was really happy that I had enough good cookies for a photo shoot.

I actually learned an important lesson doing this shoot. When I first pulled the tray out of the oven and looked at my creations... I was disappointed. I saw a few cracks. I saw that not all the macarons had the oh so necessary feet...my first impulse was to declare myself a macaron failure.

But, then I stopped and looked a little closer. One of the biggest things I learned in photography school is to always look for the good. My teacher told us to try and see the best in people when doing a portrait - as a photographer your job is to make them look good, right?! I extended this to apply to my pathetic looking tray of macarons. As I looked I noticed that many of them did not crack and that some even had feet...good looking feet...even if they didn't always extend around the entire cookie...I only needed one good side! Maybe...I wasn't a total macaron failure after all!!!

I was actually able to get a few shots that I didn't hate - probably the biggest thing I learned in photography school (after learning how to look for the good) is how to see all the things I did wrong in my photos, which hopefully will just encourage me to keep practicing and get better but also has the side effect of making me dislike most of the photos I've taken. But for now - I was satisfied. I ended up with the best shot I could get with what I had to work with...and it gives me a starting off point to improve upon in my next macaron shoot!

As I finish off school this week I also hit the one year anniversary of our latest move. I have been looking back at all I have learned this year and I am so grateful that we were able to spend the year in the maritimes. I have made many memories and learned so much - obviously about photography but also about life. I had no idea that I still had so much to learn! I know without any doubt that I have been exactly where I needed to be. That really is the best feeling.

I've done a lot of thinking and praying and changing of plans this year as I have struggled to know what I should do next. I haven't had that same no doubt feeling as I have been planning my upcoming year. There have been things that seem like the right thing to do, but I just haven't been 100% sure.

Over the past few months the details have been slowly falling into place - it's actually taken most of the year - one little piece at a time. When I think I know, something changes. Frustrating at times but each decision evolves from the one before it and I have almost reached the point where everything feels right. I should have all the details worked out later this week...and will post again soon. What a crazy year it has been!

17 May 2014

Life in a Whirlwind

I just realized that it has been almost exactly six years since we packed up and moved our family of six from BC - driving across Canada - to Nova Scotia. We were so excited for our new adventure. I didn't even mind getting rid of most of my stuff.

Since then:

-we had the best summer of our lives exploring the maritime provinces and enjoying the incredible beauty that is found here.

-my husband spent two years commuting two hours in each direction to Halifax to attend school. We barely saw him. But, we were so excited when he received his Master's Degree.

-We then moved back to BC - driving across Canada - again getting rid of half of our stuff - and spent a year living in a 600 square foot cottage. It was a great experience and I'm really glad we did it. We were able to spend a lot of time with my family.

- We then moved to Vancouver (about a five hour distance from where we were). We were so excited for my hubby to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming an architect.

- Our first week in Vancouver we both knew we were not supposed to be there - this was not the path for us. One semester later we moved back. We spent a year and a half living in the town we both went to high school in. My entire family (parents, sister and family, and brother and family) were all living in the same town at the same time. My kids were able to spend a lot of time with their cousins, which made me really happy.

- Last year we got rid of half of our stuff, packed the family up and moved back to Nova Scotia. My hubby taught at Acadia university over the summer and loved it. We were so excited for him to finally be starting a career he loved.

During all that time I worked on and completed my bachelor of Arts degree majoring in English, minoring in History.

I started a photography course in September while completing my bachelor's degree (I finished my BA at the end of October and received my degree in March).  I finish my photography course in July.

We've shared our home with exchange students over the past year and have enjoyed spending time with a 16 year old girl from Italy, an 11 year old boy from South Korea and a 13 year old boy from Colombia.

We've loved spending time with the missionaries from our church and have had them in our home for many, many meals over the past ten months.

Over the past six years we have learned so much, made many new friends and we have been able to spend a lot of time with old friends and family We have loved our many adventures and all of the things we have seen and experienced. I have felt the love of a Heavenly Father who has guided our path.

During this time we have also experienced many challenges, trials, and hardships. Our financial burdens have often been heavy. We have always pushed forward having a great desire to do what we feel is right for us. Over the past six years I have felt more joy than I have ever felt in my life. I have also felt a lot of fear and frustration and guilt.

My hubby has been out of work since October. This has been very difficult for him but he has been incredibly supportive of me and has (mostly) happily played the part of Mr. Mom while I have been at photography school. I have felt a lot of guilt studying photography, but for some reason we both feel strongly that this is something I should do. I have learned so much from this experience and not only about photography. This has been the first time I have daily left home and spent some time alone in fifteen years. My hubby has increased his appreciation of all mother's do...

We are currently planning and praying and trying to figure out what we should do next... I have been accepted into a Master's of Libraries and Information Systems program. I think this will be a good fit for me. It's an online program so I can do it from anywhere. I think I know what I'll be doing for the next two years. My hubby's career is not so clear. University jobs seem to be getting fewer and harder to get. He has been looking across the country and the few that have become available are very competitive. He couldn't find any available for the fall in his field. He has been looking into trucking...there seem to be more jobs available in that field than any other. But...he needs to upgrade his DL and courses cost money...so we're not quite sure what he is going to do yet.

We need to make some definite plans soon. Money has to come from somewhere...we're just not sure where yet. Right now I'm feeling a little scared...but, I do have faith that something will work out for us. Hopefully, soon. I've been feeling a lot of stress and varied emotions this week.

Mostly - today - I'm feeling a little tired.

26 April 2014


April has gone by so fast... here is a little of what I have been up to:

The first week in April my middle son had a birthday... as I was making cupcakes for him my oven died. DIED. Completely. After an hour in the oven I had raw cupcakes. The light was warm enough to activate the baking powder, which allowed them to ooze over the edges of the pan and develop a very thin, light crust on top...

but they were completely raw. The oven has been dying since we arrived here in July - but, it was waiting for a special moment to die completely. So, I improvised and bought cupcakes and added sprinkles.

Nobody noticed the difference.

 I'm not sure how I feel about that.

The kids all skipped school and we went to crystal palace - an indoor amusement park. It was nice to spend some time just with our family. It's been fun having exchange students but I miss spending time together just as a family.

We have a family birthday tradition of whoever's birthday it is, they get to choose what to have for dinner.

They can choose anything.

My daughter always chooses a big greek feast with leg of lamb. I look forward to it all year.

This year, my son challenged me.

He chose hotdogs.


I have never bought hotdogs in my life. I really don't like them. When they ask for them I will usually buy bison smokies...but hotdogs? Really? My poor deprived child was so excited when I served him real hotdogs.

It was the easiest meal I have ever made. I see the appeal. About ten minutes in the kitchen and dinner was served. But, I still am looking forward to that leg of lamb...

After the oven died - we had to special order a new one. Ours is natural gas and not many people here have natural gas - so, we had almost three weeks without an oven. The week our oven died there was a sale on BBQ's, so we bought a charcoal grill that neither my husband or I knew how to use. Lucky for us we knew a griling expert...

and my husband began his grill master training. He's still learning...but we are enjoying his attempts at perfection. 

We've been grilling a lot...pretending summer is coming...or at least spring... it snowed this week again.

Easter was pretty low key this year, but I had fun decorating eggs with the kids. 

We didn't get too fancy... just coloured them and then I bought some face stickers...

My six year old loved them and didn't want to eat his.

I've been busy with school and trying to practice everything I've learned. I think I'll need a few years of practice before I get really good at it but I am having fun.

The six year old was super excited this week when he lost his two front teeth at once. He looks older now.

This month I have been thinking about how quickly my kids are growing up. This is a strange year for me. This is the first year I have all my kids in school and it is the first time I am away from home going to school. I miss my family. I feel so blessed to have them. There really is no greater joy than being a mom.