Sunday, May 11, 2014

Leaving the Whine Behind

Well friends, after a personally challenging year, I'm raising my glass in cheers and farewell to the Whine. I've started a new blog about my struggle to find balance between all the demands of life. I'm fueling up with healthy food, putting on my hiking boots and backpack and hitting the trail journey towards better mental and physical health.

Please join me at "On the trail with Bacpacjac" by clicking on the link below. Thanks!

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.  
~Melody Beattie

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wondering Why?

The beauty and wonder of nature:
Two things I'd love for my kids to love

I've had a couple of friends ask me lately, why I spend so much time taking hikes and doing outdoorsy stuff with my kids. Another likened me to his "crazy old aunt". I took that as a compliment, but it also got me thinking. How can I explain it?

Before I go any further, I need to confess that I grew up as a girl who longed to be a Boy Scout like her male cousins. Stories like The Hobbit, The Call of the Wild and Robinson Crusoe, and shows like The Swiss Family Robinson, fired my imagination. Camping, hiking, fishing, boating, etc. have always been part of my life. Best of all, I loved helping my dad make campfires, and they've always had a peaceful effect on me. I went on my first no parents camping trip after my high school prom, and have been backpacking and car camping ever since. Heck, Steve and I even camped on our honeymoon. Simply put, it's part of who I am, and the older I get, the more important it becomes to me.

As a mom, I've always got disaster and emergency preparedness in the back of my mind, and there are skills that I feel we need to know, but it's more than that. I want my kids to feel connected to nature. I want them to understand it, appreciate it, take care of it, and be able to handle themselves in it. More than that, I want it to be important to them.

There's a simplicity in being out there that I want for them. In our daily lives, we're surrounded by gobs and gobs of stuff. It feels sometimes like we could easily spend all of our time either using said stuff, or making money to buy more of it. At it's worst, life is fast paced and very electronic. At least four of us in this family could spend entire day in front of a computer and not even notice the time passing. I used to have to drag Jonas into the house, he loved playing outside so much, but now that he's discovered video games, it's the exact opposite a lot of the time. Once he's out there, he absolutely loves it, but getting him there has become more of a chore than I'm happy about.

I don't want that for us. I want us outside in the fresh air, hiking the trails, learning about the plants and animals around us, cooking over fire, catching fireflies, and sleeping on the ground (ok, my hip and shoulder disagree with this one) and under the stars, gaining ever more confidence in ourselves and each other as we do. Most importantly, I want us out there being together, without all those distractions that are always calling to us from inside the house. It's amazing the things I learn about them when we're doing something as simple as taking a walk. Our tongues relax as our bodies do, and the listening comes easier. The insights are pretty incredible sometimes.

My goal is that, ideally, we'll spend time together outside every day, even if it's just a walk around the neighbourhood. It's good for our bodies, our minds, our souls and our relationships. I want my kids to explore the world around them, and let their imaginations and their bodies run wild. Don't get me wrong, I know that there are going to be days that it just doesn't happen. There are just so many things to do every day, between school, work, keeping house, etc... sometimes it's just hard to make the time. What we can do though is to make it one of our top priorities, and not let less important things push it aside. Most of the time, it's not going to be big family excursion. Most of the time, it's going to mean reading in the backyard, or having dinner in the forest out back, or something equally as urban. We're doing though, and we're going to keep doing it. That's the plan anyway.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Messages from the Universe


I read once that the universe has lessons to teach us, and that it will repeatedly send us messages until we learn that lesson. My lesson, for years now, has been to learn to say "No." In recent weeks, I guess the cosmos have decided that it's time, once again, for me to resume my studies.

I suck at saying no. I hate feeling like I let someone down, and I love the feeling of helping other people. In fact, volunteering to help others is an important lesson that I hope to teach my kids, but here's a fine balance that needs to be struck. It's a wicked combination for me though, that makes that one two letter word very difficult for me to say. Our family is still recovering from can't say no volunteer syndrome, which overtook me a few years ago. The intentions were good, but resulted in a huge strain on family life. I always try to live my life with passion, and when I commit to something, I always try to do my best. The problem is that I let other people's priorities skew my own, and ended up doing more for others than they were doing for themselves. I'm determined not to let that happen again.

I do tend to feel guilty about saying no when the request comes from a person or organization that I care about. I try to be polite, and beat around the bush, and that never seems to work for me. I end up feeling selfish and beaten down sometimes, and then I end up putting the blinders on. That only makes things worse, because the other person ends up feeling frustrated, let down and disrespected. That's never my intention. Maybe I need to take a course in assertiveness or something!

After a day of confronting this issue, I need a drink!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Day of Grade Five - New Beginnings

The cool man in black. He even put on smelly stuff!
Jonas was pretty nervous about his first day of Grade Five. He had a hard time getting to sleep last night. He doesn't know that to expect, but he knows it isn't going to be easy, academically or socially. We talked about a new school year is like a new beginning, a fresh slate to write a new chapter in his story. Then his optimistic streak showed itself. When we were reading "The Hobbit" last night, he said something that I think we're going to post on the fridge this year: "Bilbo Baggins is just like me. Just when things look like they're going to turn out horrible, they turn out just fine. He just has to keep trying his best and not give up."

He woke up just fine shortly after the sun came up, but was a little leery about going as the time drew nearer this morning. When he complained of tummy cramps, it flashed me back to my own childhood, when I cried and had an upset stomach every single first day of school until high school. (Heck, I even threw up in Grade 8.) The cool factor overruled his nerves though, and he declared that he did not want Steve or I to go with him this morning. I was one proud mama watching him walk down the driveway towards the unknown.

When he got home, he exclaimed "This was the best day I've ever had at this school!" When we asked him to tell us about it, he was very excited to share that he made a new friend today. There are two new boys in his class, and he gets to sit beside one of them. They spent all recess and lunch together talking about Minecraft, and have plans to play together online on the weekend. "I'm so glad I have a new friend!"

He doesn't remember his teachers names or the name of the other new boy in his class, has no idea what his schedule looks like, didn't recall when the cross country team starts, and he forgot to eat his lunch, but he made and new friend. We both think that's awesome!


Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer of Memories

Well, if that's summer, we've done it! We missed Tasha, and we didn't venture very far from home, but four of us were together, and we made the most of it. Hopefully it's one that Jonas will never forget. I know I won't!

Here's a little slide show of some of my favourite pictures from Abby's first summer and Jonas's eleventh.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

End of Summer Camping with bacpacboy

It's hard to believe that there's only a few days left of Jonas's summer vacation. The one big lingering item on his To Do List was an overnight camp with just him and his mom. His camping career has been on a bit of pause the past couple of summers because of his new little sister. We've always made it a priority to carve out one-on-one time, and hiking and camping are our favourite ways to do that, but having a new baby in the family has taken some adjusting by all of us. Nonetheless, it was our goal to sleep out together before the end of the summer. It came down to the wire but we did it.

The bacpacboy and I spent a couple of days at Darlington Provincial Park, just before the long weekend arrived. The weather forecast predicted that Thursday and Friday morning would be our best chance. We always have our camping bags packed, so we double checked them, added a bunch of extra food and cooking gear, threw in a couple of extra water bottles, and we were ready to go.


It was a wonderful trip. We went hiking and frog hunting, practiced our firecraft and camp cooking, he made some new friends, and we had an awesome time snuggling up and reading "The Hobbit" by the glow of the campfire as the bats flew by. I'm so glad we went.

Here's a little slide show:

"It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us
how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy."
— Horace Kephart
"We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it.
We get it rough enough at home, in towns and cities."
–NESSMUK (G.W. Sears), Woodcraft, 1963

Super kudos to bacpacdad for staying home with the bacpacbaby while we went off and played!