The Essence

Living and growing a family in the North awards you with a real and tangible connection to the land. As a mother of 5 and as a home baker and wannabe chef, it is this connection that seeps into everything - motherhood, food, harvesting, and experiencing the very heartbeat of the bit of earth that sustains us.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One of those weeks

This has been one of those weeks. One of those weeks when you feel like you're forgetting to breathe, and your brain is buzzing so loudly it wakes you in the middle of the night. It started on Saturday with the Faro Children's Christmas Party. After packing bags for Whitehorse, getting the girls in their Christmas dresses, doing everyone's hair, cleaning up dried on cheerios off the table, remembering to clothe myself we hurried out the door after recieving an urgent phone call, "The party started at 10, you know, and Santa is already here and asking for Lydia, GET DOWN HERE!" So we rushed down to the Recreation Centre, ran in leaving a wake of coats, hats, boots, and mitts trailing behind us. After the party, we came home, I loaded the van with bags for me and Emily, and I proceeded to travel around town filling my van with girls for our trip to Whitehorse to see the Nutcracker. We had a wonderful time, the girls were awesome as always, and I returned home Sunday with the back bumper of the van barely clearing the road. Monday and Tuesday were spent dealing (or not) with an issue at our school, which resulted in our kids taking an early Christmas vacation. I'll not eloborate here, as in a small town eyes and ears are on you everywhere, you cannot hide! Wednesday T.J went to Whitehorse. And today is only Thursday. Also in there, I held a girls night, made 10 Christmas presents for mommies and daddies with 5 preschoolers, went to several meetings and 2 playgroups. I'm heading into Whitehorse on the weekend for a couple of days without kids to get pampered at my Mom's - if I can find someone to cook a turkey for the Community Potluck on Sunday. Any takers??

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

TJ vs Fireplace

I have to take a wee break from the Blind Creek stories to tell the tale of yesterday's adventure. Well, not an adventure really, more like a battle. Between T.J and our propane fireplace. T.J has an obsession with heat. He constantly worries about our heat source crapping out during the winter, and has worked tirelessly to find solutions. He believes a woodstove would solve all his problems, but has yet to just go ahead and install one. He procrastinates because the woodstove really should go into our garage, which we eventually want to convert into a room. And the garage is a mess. T.J is not the most organized guy, and junk is constantly accumulating. I have no idea where it all comes from, because every year we clean it out, take a load to the dump and a load to the free store, and every year the piles mount until there are little paths woven through to get to the freezers. The organization of the garage is most definitely a blue job, and I refuse to touch it. Kind of like how T.J doesn't touch the laundry room. Anyway, because he hasn't cleaned and organized the garage to make room for a woodstove, T.J has invested in alternate heat sources for our home. Besides our forced air furnace, we have a oil monitor and a propane stove.
O.K, I have to admit that the propane stove was my idea, in my opinion the next best thing to a woodstove. It looks like a woodstove, it feels like a woodstove, but it creates no mess and no work collecting wood. The guy who sold it to me also proclaimed an additional bonus - low maintenance. Economical, too, about $400.00 for the whole winter. So it seemed like fate when I was scanning the Yukon News one day and in the classifieds I found a Napoleon Propane Stove - just what I was looking for! I called the guy and he explained that when he and his wife divorced, he had gone over to the house while she was out and stolen it out of her living room. He seemed quite satisfied with himself as he told me all about it, he said he was moving and needed to sell it ASAP. Of course there were a few other people calling about it - it wasn't going to last long. So I bought it. For $1100.00. Not a smart decision, T.J said, without even looking at it or knowing if it even worked. As these things usually work out, we brought the stove home, T.J hooked it all up, and it has been nothing but trouble since. And T.J has no problem rubbing it in, either. After calling around in Whitehorse to all the propane dealers, there apparently are no people who fix these things. Except Superior Propane who will come to Faro for $150.00 an hour plus gas plus hotel plus food.
One unfortunate day I returned home from somewhere and found T.J ripping the stove away from the wall, swearing and sweating as he threw it outside in the snowbank. I got on the phone and arranged to bring the stove in to Griffiths, where someone would take a look at it for us. The repair guy called me one day while TJ was gone and explained that he suspected it was a venting issue, and that he couldn't know for sure without testing it in our home. Which wasn't going to happen, at $150 an hour. So a few days ago, T.J picked it up in Whitehorse and returned home, determined to try again. Yesterday he brought it in and hooked it up once more. He purchased a new thermocouple, and successfully installed it. Things were looking up. It lit up perfectly.
Then we noticed a smell. Thinking it was just because it had been turned off for awhile, we opted to give it an hour to see if it needed to warm up. But the smell persisted. Then our eyes started to water, we started to cough. We felt sleepy. Well the guy said it was a venting issue. T.J climbed up on the roof. I guess the chimney cap was plugged up with ice and snow, so he cleared it and came back in. The house was still filling with fumes. Thinking there was possibly ice build up down the chimney, T.J tied a rope around a broom handle, climbed back up on the roof and lowered the handle down. All clear. T.J started losing it again, kicking and swearing and stomping around. He came in and turned the "stupid" stove off. We opened all the windows. He was getting ready to throw it back in the snow bank. In one last ditch effort, we thought that maybe the problem was the stovepipe wasn't sealed to the stove - T.J broke the seal when he had ripped it off the wall. So I held the stove pipe up while T.J squirted silicone around the base. Just before he gave me the go ahead to lower the pipe back down, he spotted a little corner of red poking out of the bottom of the pipe. He reached up and pulled out a balled up dish towel. One of the new ones, of course, that I had purchased during our last trip to Whitehorse and then lost. Which was now pitch black with soot. He sheepishly grinned at me and said, "Oops, I forgot that I had shoved that up there". Well. HA.
The air started to clear right away and the stove has been running perfectly since. June had an especially good nap, also. I'm sure this is not the end of the propane stove saga, but our house is toasty and my husband is happy he conquered for now. We (T.J) are so fortunate that he saw that towel before we sealed the pipe. That small thing could have easily burned our house down, or poisoned us all in our sleep. A word of advice for everyone out there - DON'T buy a second hand propane stove - no matter what a good deal you found!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


We shared Blind Creek with about 20 horses, 15 pigs, (the wild looking ones with the tusks, not the cute pink ones) 400 chickens,(the smell made your eyes water) 3 dogs, 3 cats and 4 goats, one of which was named Eli. Eli hated me right from the beginning. I don't know why, I have always loved animals, and animals generally love me back. Eli was big for a goat, he had big horns sprouting from the top of his head that he could scratch his back with. Eli had yellow eyes that bore right through you, and a big white bell hanging from his chin that swung back and forth as he walked. Maybe he sensed my disgust, when we first pulled up in our blue 2 door Sundance, when I caught him urinating into his own mouth. Don't ask me how he did it, but he did. I had never seen an animal do this before, and I stared, wrinkling my nose and he stared back with those yellow eyes.

Later, as we were packing our meager belongings into the cabin we were to call home, Eli strolled over to our Sundance and proceded to tear the mirrors off it. I chased him off, yelling and waving Dustin's baby blanket at him. From here on in, the feeling of hatred was mutual.

Eli would wait for me in the morning, when I had to walk from our cabin to the main house to help with breakfast. He would hide behind our wood pile, and when I got to where he could get behind me and block my escape back inside the cabin, he would come out. Almost every day spent on that farm, I ran from Eli. The first time he went to charge me as I went out to get a load of wood, I thought he was bluffing as he reared up on his hind legs and pawed the dirt up on the ground, and I laughed because he looked funny. Then when he came at me at a full gallop, I ran and climbed up on top of the wood pile. I yelled for T.J who came out of the cabin. The goat immediatly backed away and became submissive and T.J looked at me like I was the crazy one. He told me that I just had to let the goat know who was boss, after all, it was only a goat, nothing to be scared of.

I started carrying around an axe. The next time Eli charged, I let him come and when he reared up to butt me, I hit him right in the head with the axe. That didn't even stun him, he just got madder and continued to rear up and paw at me with his hoofs. I held him off (sort of) with the axe as I retreated back to the top of the woodpile. Next I tried throwing a bucket of cold water at him, then I tried an air horn. His hate for me grew.

My battles with Eli greatly amused TJ, who thought I was imagining things until one day he saw me tearing across the yard, Dustin in one arm and an axe in the other, Eli hot on our heels. He gave me a thick leather whip. From then on, I cracked the whip as soon as I stepped outside, just to let Eli know I was ready for him. He would slink out from behind the wood pile, and follow to the main house, bleating at me the whole way. He stayed just out of the whips reach, and believe me, I tried to get him with it. I started chasing him - it felt great.

I also found that I could ride horses everywhere, Eli would chase the horse around but at least he couldn't get at me way up there. I would stand on a log, prop Dustin up there on the horse and hang onto him as I swung myself up. We rode to the outhouse, to the henhouse to collect the eggs, to the main house to do our chores there. When I left Blind Creek in the summer, our car had no mirrors, one headlight was punched out and there were long gouges along both sides. I smiled when, a couple years later when we were chatting with our employer on the phone and he told us that he caught Eli ripping the mirror off HIS truck. He shot him dead on the spot. Stupid goat.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Humble Beginning

When TJ and I were first married, we moved from an apartment in Whitehorse to a one room cabin at a farm outside of Faro. TJ was working at the sawmill they operated during the winter months, and guided hunts for them during the summer months. He was to be paid $500/month, including room and board, and this goes to show how young we were, because at the time that sounded like a heap of money. I thought it would be an adventure, and pictured our little family, TJ, 5 month old Dustin and I, cozy inside our cabin like the Little House on the Prairie books I read as a child. I always dreamed of living on a farm, and pictured us feeding the horses together and collecting eggs from the henhouse for our breakfast. Dustin and I moved there in January, in 30 below zero, me trusting that my new husbands description of our snug cabin was accurate.

It was a shed, 12X14, uninsulated with a huge double barrel woodstove taking up 1/4 of the room. It had no electricity and no running water and no outhouse.

We stuffed our things into it, a table and chairs, a hide a bed that doubled as our couch, a TV to watch movies, and Dustins crib. We had candles for light, (not to mention the light coming right through the walls from outside)a bucket for our washroom, and a blue water jug and plastic tub for the kitchen sink. I hid my horror from my new husband, after all we were still getting to know each other and still getting used to being new parents.

We were 19 years old.

Because the shed was uninsulated, heat from the woodstove went right out of it. The stove didn't come equipped with modern day conveniences like a damper, so we couldn't shut it down to burn slowly. The fire raged, the heat inside went to about 100 degrees, (hot enough to melt both the candles and the television into puddles)and then went out just as quickly. One frigid night, I woke up freezing, and used the headlamp to read the thermometer by our bed. I placed it there to keep track of the extreme temperature fluctuations, so I could kick TJ out of bed to restart the fire. Which he did about 5 times throughout the night. That night, we must have been exhausted, him from working 14-16 hours a day on the sawmill and me from cooking and cleaning at our employers home. Which had running water, and propane lights, and a proper woodstove, and a outhouse just outside the back door.

The thermometer read -26 degrees.

I remembered the wee baby boy in the crib beside us. I jumped up, headlamp and all, and peered into my baby's bed, where he was fast asleep, with all his blankets piled up in the corner because he liked to kick them off. His nose was red as a cherry. I gathered him up and brought him into bed with me, curled myself around him while TJ started the fire again.

My next few posts will tell the stories about our time down at Blind Creek Farm, that first winter together as husband and wife. Our experiences there taught us both alot about perseverance, about patience, about the satisfaction of a job well done, about the bare bone basics of simple love. Living in that shed taught us that it doesn't matter where you are, it is who you are with. Blind Creek Farm provided us a solid foundation for our marriage and our family to build a life on. I wouldn't change a thing about it. Well, maybe the bathroom bucket, I might change that.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

picture pains

Taking the annual Grantham Family Picture for our christmas mailout has not been an easy task this year. TJ has been away alot, and I have not figured out as of yet how to just paste his head amongst ours. We arrived home safe and sound on Saturday night, we spent a quiet family day together Sunday, and he has left us again for meetings in Whitehorse until Friday. I figured out on Sunday afternoon that we had better get out and get that picture taken, or our Christmas mailout would have to turn into a New Years mailout. So outdoors we headed, Dustin complaining that we were wasting his time, Emily indignant because she had left her mitts and hat behind after being told she'd better bring them, (she did her very best to cover up her coldness, but her shaking knees and purple ears did her in) Lydia hollering because June got to sit in the front of the sled, and June falling asleep with snot freezing to the side of her face because she had skipped her nap. One big happy family. We ventured out on top of a hill, where the view of the mountains served as a backdrop, and TJ got the camera and tripod set up. We got about three shots in before everyone started falling apart. Upon returning home, we discovered that 3 in the afternoon on a late November day is too late to be taking pictures, they turned out way too dark. The camera wasn't on "night" setting, so it's blurry, too. So the picture will have to wait. It's really too bad that on our last day on the beach in Mexico last spring, we gathered by the water and TJ waved down some random guy with a margarita in each hand to take our one and only family picture on our holiday. We were only there 2 months, you'd think we could have got it together before the last day. Anyway, I look brown and happy,the kids looked right at the camera and grinned,(except for June who couldn't keep her eyes off the pelican who landed on the sand right beside us) the waves crashed on the sand, and the margarita guy proudly looked at the picture, and said "great family!" as he stumbled down the beach. Later, going through the pictures, I discovered that he totally cut TJ's head clean off. So that one won't work, either. Oh, well, a New Year's update wouldn't be so bad. I need to hire a photographer.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Six once more

I can't help but feeling a small bit triumphant today, as I pack suitcases and dog food and coolers and plastic totes into the van to head to Whitehorse. T.J flies home on Saturday afternoon, and even though it's a huge job to get everything packed and it's a long, lonely ride in the dark, it will be worth it when he emerges from the plane and his children run into his arms. We had a pretty good time on our own for a couple weeks, me and the kids kept the decks and the driveway clear of snow, we ate suppers in the living room watching movies, we had hot tubs and sleepovers with their friends. We kicked off the hockey season at the rink and went to sports night and storytime and tai chi and playgroup and soccer. We had french toast for dinner. My friend Kara even "payed it forward" and knocked on the door with cake and something she called "crap in a pan." I had Dustin and Emily call it "Bleep" in a pan, so we didn't have Lydia and June running around saying "crap!" There were times when I wanted to scream, like when Dustin forgot to close the gate upstairs before leaving for floor hockey and the dog came upstairs and peed all over June's potty. Or when Emily and Liddie were playing tag around the island in the kitchen and Emily knocked my great grandmother's cuckoo clock off the wall. Or when June decided it was great fun to wash her hair with her food, in one day she had cheerios, applesauce, macaroni and spaghetti in there all at once. Her hair stood straight up stiff from her head. There were times I had to seek the quiet of my room for a moment, to close my eyes and count my blessings, instead of roaring, "YOU STUPID KIDS, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?" We are on our way to the big city, to play in the pool and go to the movies and stock up on groceries and ingredients for Christmas baking. Our trips are always action packed and we never get everything done on the list, but by the time we leave to travel the 4 hours home, the van is stuffed to the roof. There are usually things tied on top of the roof, too. We are happy and mommy is relieved that we will walk in our door Saturday night as 6.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Once a wee boy

I want to use this space once in a while to record special memories. Today is little Dustin's turn. My first born is an inconceivable 13 years old, but once he was a sweet little guy who could melt his mommy's heart. Dustin was a super easy baby, he was quiet and cuddly and happy to go along with most any situation. He was never a fighter, never took to wrestling or armpit farts or getting filthy in the mud puddles. We were over at a friends house one day and Dustin was playing with her little boy in the living room while we visited in the kitchen. While our conversation paused we overheard the boys cooking up plans to re-enact a WWF match that was on the television. My friends kid was right into WWF and watched it with his father religiously. Dustin was innocently going along and followed his friends instructions to lay down on the floor and pretend he was knocked out. I jumped up and ran into the room just as his friend leaped off the arm of the couch yelling, "BODY SLAM!" TJ came home from work that evening and gave Dustin a wrestling lesson. Our little boy was a lover, not a fighter. Things changed a little when his sister Emily made her appearance when Dustin was 3. One day about a week after bringing Emily home I was changing her on our bed and just happened to glance out the front window. There was Dustin, running down the driveway with his PJ's on in his daddy's boots. He had a backpack on that was stuffed to the brim with apples, and they were falling out as he was making his getaway. I yelled out the door, "Dustin, come back here, where are you going?" and he hollered back, "I'm moving to Grammas!" Another day shortly after we had company for dinner. Dustin went through a (short lived) phase when he was stoked about setting the table for meal times. He was running back and forth between the kitchen and dining room with dishes, salt and pepper, napkins and the butter dish and when he was done he stood back to examine his handiwork. All of a sudden his eyes lit up and he ran back into the kitchen to retrieve whatever he'd forgotten. He walked proudly out holding 2 hotpads, and exclaimed, "Look, Mommy, I forgot the breast pads!" TJ was horrified and scolded me for using those "kinds of words" in front of his kid. I don't remember Dustin being disobedient on purpose until he was at least 7 or 8. He crumpled if I looked at him with a frown, he was innocently naughty. Like the time at the swimming pool when he was around 2 years old. TJ has only been swimming with us a handful of times, and this was one of them. We were on holidays and after much nagging and laying the guilt on about how much it would mean to little Dustin for his Daddy to see him practice all the things he learned in swimming lessons, TJ gave in and came with us. Only because we were on holidays and the chance of him running into someone he knew with his shorts on were slim to none. Dustin followed his Daddy into the men's changeroom for the first time. After swimming, we went to get changed and when I got out to the lobby red-faced TJ gave me one hot look and I knew we weren't going to head to the "Shark Shack" for onion rings and icecream. Once we were safe out in the car, he came unglued and I laughed so hard tears rolled and my stomach hurt. TJ had plunked Dustin down on the bench in the changeroom while he retrieved the towels from his locker. A big naked fat guy emerged from the shower, his locker was on the bottom row right beside where Dustin was sitting. He bent right over to get his things, and out of the corner of TJ's eye, he saw Dustin poke his finger right into the guy's butt hole! I guess TJ shoved his head right inside his locker and hid there until he thought it safe, then he got the hell out of there as quick as he could. A very long time passed before TJ got back into the pool with us, and when he did, I had to take the kids with me. Dustin is not so innocently naughty these days, but he is still a pretty quiet soul, content to be himself and not too worried about whatever is "cool" on any given day. He is passionate about planes and flight and we won't be surprised at all if his plans to be a pilot are realized during the next few years. He is still a lover, and TJ and I swell with pride as we witness him growing into the honorable, kind man we know he will be.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sweet Satisfaction

Sometimes I have pretty unproductive days, not the laying on the couch all day channel surfing days of my adolescence, those are long gone, but the kind of days where I go round and round with no real enthusiasm for the monotony of housewife life. Then there are days like today, when I finally have a chance to sit down and breathe while I listen to June sing herself to sleep, I marvel at all the things I got done. It probably had something to do with the good sleep I had last night, as June only woke up once and was back asleep with a quick "shhhhhhhhhh", Lydia did not wake up screaming that someone ate all the yogurt, and Emily didn't have a tummy ache. (Or an eye ache or knee ache or neck ache, Emily seems to like to ache these days.) This morning when the alarm went off I was up out of bed, I didn't hit the sleep button even once. I made myself some coffee, turned on Alan Jackson and made french toast and eggs and smoothies for breakfast. I got the kids off to school on time and welcomed the 3 preschoolers I care for all by the stroke of 9. We made playdoh and played playdoh, put together a snack for playgroup at the Recreation Center, and I got everyone's coats, hats, mitts and boots on and everyone into their carseats by 10:30. I then swung by my friends house to pick up her kid, because as I was sipping my morning coffee I read her blog that she posted at 4 in the morning while up with her crazy wide awake-way-too-early children, and I could literally see the tears rolling down the screen of my computer. I thought to myself, "what could be the difference between 5 and 6?, besides, now she owes ME a favor!" After playgroup we cruised by the school (actually I just had to back up the van and move it about 3 meters into the school parking lot) to pick up Dustin and Emily, the former of who had to ride in the back hatch as there were no more seats left. After dropping the friends kid off, we headed home for soup and sandwiches. I organize a program in Faro I've dubbed Friendship Feasts, kind of lame but totally awesome. It's kind of like a meals on wheels. After lunch as I was reading "If you give a pig a party" for the upteemth time, I realized that it was my day to cook 2 families meals. Instead of letting things unravel, as they so easily could have, I ran down to the freezer and grabbed a few packs of ground moose meat. I put down my sleepers for their naps, which left me 3, and I explained to them that today for craft we were making Shepherds Pie. They seemed O.K with that and we got started peeling potatoes and chopping carrots and onions. Lydia eyes even watered, and she laughed like crazy when I teased her, "Liddie, STOP crying!" They really liked whipping the potatoes with the Kitchen Aid, especially on the highest speed so potatoes splattered all over the wall. I got out the casseroles, everyone of course wanted their own, so that made four. Two for Friendship Feasts, one for us and one for my friend who is struggling with "my kids are turning me into a zombie" syndrome. The kids were a little irked at me when I told them they couldn't take their Shepherd's Pie's home to their mommies, but when I told them they could lick the potato bowl, strangely it made it all better. After a couple dreaded runs down the sledding hill again, everyone got picked up at 5, Lydia and Dustin headed out on the snowmobile and June and I loaded the van and started deliveries. This was the best part of the day, seeing everyone's grateful smiles as they cradled their warm casserole dishes, and the sweet satisfaction of knowing that today I made a difference. We went home to the quiet, June played while I cleaned the potato off the wall, we had a delicious supper and I started to get ready for aerobics class. Then exhaustion started to set in, and I totally caved to the call of my hot tub on my back deck. Oh well, I'll get fit on Thursday.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pink and Blue

In our house, jobs are categorized into two colors, blue and pink. TJ would argue that pink doesn't really exist, he would say he gets stuck doing all jobs, but I can prove that isn't the case. Take breast feeding, for example, there is no way he is ever up at 4 in the morning with someone attached to HIS nipple. Or giving birth, he never had to endure that. Or packing kids suitcases for a trip to town, I take care of this or no one would have any underwear or toothbrushes. Most of the time the laundry and the cooking and the cleaning of toilets and the grocery shopping (no easy task for a family of 6 when you are only loading up every 6 weeks or so) falls under the pink category. I do these jobs day after day, usually with a minimal amount of moaning, because taking care of my family fills me with joy and deep satisfaction, especially because T.J is around to do the blue jobs. Today T.J left us for a couple of weeks, Alberta bound for work - and a little deer hunting on the side. Blue jobs suck. Especially when you have to do all the pink jobs on top of all the blue jobs. These occasions when I am left to manage our house on my own, I find new appreciation for my husband. I miss him when I have to be the first one up in the morning to make my own cup of coffee. I miss him when I find it snowed 3 feet overnight (OK, exaggerating a little) and I have to go outside in the dark to shovel off the front porch so we can open the door and I have to shovel a path off the back porch so the dog can get out for her morning pee. Note to self : never again in my housecoat. I miss him when I have to take the garbage out and as I scrape the ice off the windshield of the van. I miss him when one of the kids decides they need to use a whole roll of toilet paper after taking the biggest dump ever and they plug the toilet. I miss him when the gas light comes on and I have to heave the jerry can up on my shoulder to fill the tank and I miss and spill gasoline all over myself. I miss him when I find a mouse in the trap in the garage, and when a fox scares the crap out of me with his nose pressed up against our back window. I miss him when June decides that sleep is not actually necessary, as I pull the pillow over my ears to block out her hollering. I miss him when I burn the supper because I'm trying to do too many things at once, when he would save the day with scrambled eggs and grilled cheese. I miss him when I find the dog thinks its amusing to piss all over the toboggans outside, as I clean it off in the bathroom tub. Blue jobs are gross. I would take my pink jobs over the blue ones any day. Hurry home to me, husband, it's only day one and I've already had enough. Hats off to all the single moms out there, you are strong and inspiring and you encourage me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sledding Joys

Isn't it sad how everything that is fun and exciting and hilarious as a child changes when you grow up? Like sledding. When we were kids, I loved getting all bundled up and fighting my way through the snow to the top of the hill behind our house. We used to build jumps, we used the big boulder planted in the middle of the hill and just piled and packed snow over it so we would hit it with the sled and sail through the air. Whoever got the most air won. Whoever got the most snow down the front of their snowsuit got extra points. Usually, if the snow was right, we would whiz down that hill at about 50km an hour and end up in the willows and the rose bushes at the end. Sometimes we would see how many of us could pile up in a single toboggan and how many of us would still be in it after hurling over the boulder. We would squeal in delight when we would land head first in the snow bank to emerge with only our eyes showing. The best part was getting home to the warmth of the kitchen, peeling off our soaking coats and snowpants to sip hot chocolate and marshmallows in front of the woodstove. Today I was feeling adventurous, I was feeling brave and I took the kids, Lydia and 3 preschoolers I take care of, sledding on the hill beside our house. After explaining to them that they had to bail off the sled before they hit the metal garbage can at the end of the hill, we headed up. At first they piled in the sled and joyously shouted, "MUSH!" at me as I lugged it up, but then I came to my senses and kicked them out. At the top we piled in and away we went. At 32, snow down the coat and snow down the snowpants and snow on my face so the only thing you can see are my eyes is just not the same. The kids thought it was the funniest sight ever. "Again, again!" they screamed as they ran back up the hillside. After several more runs, one of which we hit the neighbors fence and one of which we hit the willows and rose bushes and one of which we narrowly missed the garbage can, I declared our fun over and lured the kids back in the house with the promise of hot chocolate and marshmallows. At least this will never change, the warmth of my kitchen and the sounds of the children still laughing at the sight of me with my head in the snow, and the smell of hot chocolate on the stove are still the best parts. Even though my bones and my head and my butt are aching.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Only 44 more shopping days till Christmas.....

The Christmas crazyness has begun. We were in Whitehorse on our grocery/fuel run this past weekend and I found myself in the midst of decorations, twinkling Christmas trees, toffifee and Frosty the Snowman blaring out of the PA system. As I watched Lydia run from aisle to aisle checking out this year's toy selection, as Dustin checked out laptops and Emily played with the latest ipod, I felt a little disgusted at the annual spending spree for either a gift that costs so much you need to make payments on it or a gift that is played with for a day and then lies under a bed or at the back of a closet the rest of the year. So I came up with something different for the Grantham Christmas this year. We drew names. The gift has to be homemade. And no, my sweet children, it doesn't HAVE to suck. I overheard the kids wishing out loud that they hoped June didn't draw their name. I wonder what I got myself into. In my effort to avoid the chaos, did I just create more? Now I'm going to have to spend the next six weeks making, sorry, "helping" 4 kids make gifts. I'm also going to have to nag T.J everyday about his gift until he panics on Christmas Eve and spends all night in the garage, conjuring up something. So I will have to have a back-up gift just in case his doesn't "work out." And I'm going to have to make my own gift. So now I have to make 6 gifts. This better be worth it. It better be meaningful, we better remember how great the homemade Christmas was for years to come. Maybe I will finally learn how to knit.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The power of a girl

This morning I woke up to the sound of the shower running. I knew it wasn't TJ, because he jumped out of bed hours earlier (4am actually) to drive 21/2 hours to the "exclusion zone" to try to tag one of the ultimate trophy's according to him - a Yukon Elk. It was 7:35, just after my alarm went off and I heard the water come on somewhere in the depths of our house. I lay there wondering if someone forgot to jiggle the toilet handle again, or if it was the sound of the bleeder that was recently turned on, because, yes, winter is here to stay. But no, I also heard some faint humming or music, maybe it was Dustin's radio downstairs? I dragged myself from the cozy layers of my bed and stumbled down the hallway to investigate. Holy crap, it was Dustin in the shower! This is a first, people, the first time ever Dustin has without nagging or yelling or holding our noses as we pass by him to give him the hint, that he has on his own had the urge to get clean. He was singing a tune, enjoying himself even! Then later, as I was sitting in the dining room cradling my cup of coffee, something even crazier happened. There was a smell. It was wafting up the stairs, the delicious scent of TJ's AXE colonge. The kind on the commercials where all the girls attack the guy wearing it, because he smells so good they can't help themselves. I'm sure that's why my husband bought that brand, because he thinks there could be a chance of a hundred girls running towards him to give him a smell. My son had somehow got hold of it and had put it on. Not a little dab, either, I think he might of washed himself in it. Crazy things kept happening today with Dustin, he came home at lunch and reapplied, then he came home after school and did his laundry. Then he went outside and shovelled the deck. I am so not prepared for a teenager. It must be a girl. But who? There are only like 4 in Faro that it could be. Some girl has possesed my son into a showering, cologne wearing, laundry doing, snow shovelling, get his homework done early so he can go to sports night lunatic. The girl must be at sports night, I'm going down to pick him up and I will be sure to check her out.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I remember Halloween being my favorite holiday, maybe even surpassing Christmas. The goal was to get the ultimate load, running from house to house, block to block, making absolute sure that you accumulated more loot than your siblings. Now Halloween is greeted by me with a groan, as I battle pumpkin guts and stuff plastic ghost bags with newspaper to hang from the trees. This halloween, I did the holiday proud. We made ghost candles and egg carton spiders, we took off our socks to stamp white footprint ghosts on black paper, we learned halloween songs, fingerplays and poems, we told ghost stories. We bought 6 pumpkins (never again) and carved all of them, not just a typical triangle face, either, we had a puking pumpkin guts one and a pumpkin eating a child's leg one. Dustin won a bowling ball sized Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory pumpkin at the pumpkin carving contest. We sprinkled red food coloring and ketchup on the snow for blood. We played scary music. Lydia got up at 6 am asking if it was time yet to go trick or treating, and I when I explained to her our rule about waiting until until it was dark outside, she said, " But Mommy, it IS dark outside!" We got up and make witch finger cookies for the Halloween party. At the party there was a goblin dance, a red jello eating contest, a pumpkin pinata and a costume contest. June won "funniest costume" for her depiction of a chicken. After staring out the window for an hour and a half, Lydia declared it dark and we put her in her snowsuit and stuffed her into her puppy dog costume. Emily and Dustin are now too cool to trick or treat with us, and they joined up with friends to tear around house to house just as I did. June went to one house, got her treat and was done. She saw the little bag full of treats in her bucket and all she could focus on was to get them into her mouth, wrappers and all. We took her home to daddy and carried on. Lydia ran house to house, I got to stand at the end of the driveways this year and wave. She ran out of steam at about house number 17 and plunked herself into the sled, eyes wide at the pillowcase full of junk. She was ready to go home and dump it on the floor. We all met back at our house and I warmed up the truck to take Dustin and Emily to the dance. I chaperoned till 11:30 when the kids declared it "lame" and wanted to get home to their candy. I fell asleep on the couch. Today T.J let me sleep in till 9:30, when I woke up and discovered it was only 8:30. I love fall back! Now I have an extra hour in the day to scrape the pumpkin guts off the deck, take down all the decorations and referee 4 kids on a sugar high. The dog already ate the ketchup off the snow.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Brand New Blogger

I'm checking off "start a family blog" off my list of to do's, this is somthing I've wanted to get to for awhile. For me, this is a space that can record the day to day happenings of our family life, a journal we can look back on in our later days when the pitter patter (or thundering) of little feet is just an echo in our hallways. It can be a reminder of the sweet days of raising our children, of the chaos of bathtub toys floating in the toilet, a pumpkin thrown down the stairs to smash open against the wall, of KY Jelly used as body lotion. In the midst of the day to day grind sometimes its easy to lose sight of the joy, the humor and the absolute delight I have in all the moments that make up a day. One day our house will be filled with quiet, I hope this can be a space for me to look back upon to bring a smile to my day, a space of memories that might otherwise be forgotten. I should have started this 14 years ago when I was newly married and pregnant with our Dustin. 14 years of daily happenings are stored somewhere in my brain, maybe I will add them as I remember, so they won't all be lost. My family, my marriage, my children are my greatest gift, my reason for being here, my comfort and my refuge. I am so very blessed. I dedicate this blog to all our family and friends, you all help make us who we are and what we are about. You contribute to our family to make it full and great and more than we could have imagined.