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Thursday, September 4, 2014

two roads project :: comfort


Sarah (left): What brings me comfort? Warmth, familiarity, ritual. As the season turns and I begin to look ahead to a time of preparation, I return to some traditions of comfort. As I noticed the first inklings of cooler nights and crisp mornings, I have slowly begun welcoming warm comfort foods back into our meal rotation. This week, Abby suggested we use some of our tomatoes to make Johanna's famous tomato soup. I jumped at the chance to use some of our garden bounty, and we had a jar of homemade chicken broth in the fridge waiting for just such an occasion. Abby helped me pick some ripe tomatoes, and that evening I blanched, peeled and crushed them for the soup. I picked some basil from our plants, and spent a quiet evening listening to a podcast of CBC's Tapestry while I diced onion, crushed garlic and stirred simmering soup. The next day at lunch, we made some grilled cheese sandwiches, and poured everyone a bowl of soup. I think it was the first time the twins had ever been served soup, as the idea of the mess daunted me last winter! Rich enjoyed his in a stone chowder mug I picked up for him in Maine, because he likes best to sip his soup. Abby, of course, informed me she didn't care for tomatoes and didn't want any, but she relinquished eventually, tried some, and finished her bowl. Hmm.

Johanna (right): 
With Noah now in school for the afternoons, Katia and I get to spend some special time together, just the two of us. 
Yesterday we tried our hand at a delicious tomato basil bread recipe. 
The scent of the basil (fresh from the garden) as we chopped it up was so delicious. 
The feeling of kneading the dough was comforting and rhythmic. 
The warmth from the oven, the coziness of the kitchen. 
There is something so comforting about homemade bread. 
I used to think that bread was one of those impossibly difficult things to make.  But after a few lessons and a very good everyday whole wheat bread recipe thanks to Sarah, we now enjoy homemade bread every week.

The well-known poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken ends, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
Two women, who became friends via the magic of the Internet, were both living life on roads less traveled by. Circumstance had them both live in Whitehorse for a short time, where they became best friends. Life's map has them currently in differing geographic locations, but their connection and camaraderie continue as they continue on paths of motherhood, friendship, creativity and discovery. The Two Roads Project is our effort to reconnect with each other and our inner artists on a weekly basis, each Friday. (Or thereabouts. We don't always know which day of the week it is).
Sarah writes here

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

first day of homeschool

 she looks so grown up here!

Without even realizing it, it seems that we have eased into Autumn. 
Each day we go for our walks to take it all in, and over night the colours have changed to beautiful bright yellows, oranges and reds. Fall is my favourite time of year, and it is also so short here in the Yukon. I say this every year, so I really do try to soak it all in. 
Already the nights are cold, with frost. And already, I am researching this year's new snowsuits, trying to decide which one will best for the long cold Yukon winter that lies ahead. 
This morning we started our first day of homeschool. It was an abbreviated version, as I don't have all of my materials here yet, but I felt that it was important that we get on with it. We had a circle/prayer time: we lit a candle, sang a song, and said a prayer. Then it was story time and a craft (self portrait). We also filled out a very short little questionnaire type thing "All about me" which was fun to do. We then went for our morning walk, and incorporated some math into our walk. We drew numbers in the dirt and found the corresponding amount of rocks or leaves to go with that number.
And that was our morning of homeschooling. Of course there will be more to it as we go along, but for me, it was just really important that we start off on a positive note and as we go along, we'll iron out the kinks.  
Some photos of our first project and our walk. I realize that I spelled Gorilla incorrectly. It bothers me, so I thought I would point it out. 
Notice Katia's self portrait. She insisted on having a black sparkly shirt on in the picture... oh that girl! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

how to survive 101

Fresh snow on the mountains on Sept 1st!!!!

So with Fall right on the verge of exploding (and then disappearing), there is no way for my mind not to wander down that road of... "oh no, here comes winter".
For me, winter symbolizes many things, some good and pleasant, while other parts of it are long, hard and relentless. I do enjoy the quiet, introspective, homey feelings of winter, but there are also the long stretches of not getting into town, the scary and often dangerous 5 hrs drive that I do (by myself with the kids), and the stretches of extreme cold where it gets hard to go outside.
Living up here in the far North has it's unique challenges. Many of them I have written about here. I try not to dwell, or throw a pity party for myself, but somedays I get little reminders that I do feel isolated and that life can be a little more difficult here in this remote community. At the same time, we have had such amazing experiences here, experiences that have changed us for the better. We choose to focus on these things more so.
We are starting to look ahead here. This will be out last winter up in the Yukon (we're pretty sure - of course nothing is ever 100% guaranteed), and this will also be our 5th winter here, and so with all of these past winters under our belt, I feel like I am somewhat seasoned at this whole winter thing.
And so I thought it would be a neat idea (if not but just for myself to look back on some day) on the things that I do and count on to help me get through isolated community living.

1. My walks. My walks give me a moment to myself, exercise and a change of scenery. Even though Noah is a giant 5 year old now, I still put him and Katia into our double Chariot stroller to go on one or two walks a day. Yes, I should make them walk (I usually get them out of it for part of the walk), but for me, the Chariot allows me to go for a walk anytime I want/need to and get out of the house (sooo important).
2. Coffee. This may seem silly, but I enjoy good coffee made in my french press. I sometimes add a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg to the coffee grounds to make it taste extra good. Coffee is my treat and reminds me of being in a cafe (something I enjoy doing in town).
3. Having a plan.
My day can easily turn sour if I feel like I have no motivation to do anything. Having a plan, even if it is simple as:  breakfast, get dressed, do homeschool, go for a walk ect, can help me to feel like I have accomplished something.
4. Make plans, hold/host get togethers, go to events, be involved. Staying home and being a hermit is not good for the spirit, so I make the effort to go to community events, host girl's nights and I volunteer a lot. It keeps me busy. Also, if I don't like something or want to see something happen in the community, I just do it and make sure it happens.
5. Looking ahead. It's nice to know that in 2 weeks I will be going into Whitehorse to do some photography work. It's also nice to know that in 4 weeks, we will be going home to Ottawa for a visit. It's good to have these trips to look forward to. Something to have, for when the days feel long or lonely. 
So here's to one more winter of cozying up and ploughing through. I know someday I will look back on these years with such fondness and a yearning for these quiet, simple days.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Remembering Amang

My emotions have been raw as of late. We've had sad news in our family, Winslow's sweet grandfather (Amang) passed away this past week. And we couldn't feel further away from our family at this moment. To hear everything go on through phone calls was a sad experience. Our last goodbyes to Amang were from a phone, as he lay in the hospital. Amang was such a kind, quiet, gentle soul, who we will miss so much. 
And while we deal with saying goodbye to Amang, two very good friends of mine have each had to say goodbye to a parent, way way way too soon. My friends have been in my heart and prayers, it seems so unfair. 
Once again, through such loss, I have been reminded that each day is a gift. Life is a gift. And even when the days seem hard, a little bit of perspective can help to set me straight. Get over the little things and be thankful for my blessings. For being alive. For the blessing of my family, my freinds, my health, my home.
This morning on our daily walk, we wore layers of sweaters and jackets ... and mittens! 
Suddenly over the course of a week, Autumn has come in full force. Today I noticed fresh snow on the mountains down yonder from our community. It feels all too early, we aren't even in September yet. And I'm not ready for it. I'm just not. 
And to sign off, a few photos from our recent trip to Fairbanks Alaska for a field trip with Noah's school. It wasn't Autumn there yet. So I full took advantage of all the beautiful flowers that were still in bloom. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

back to school

 Noah's first day of school came and went today.
After a long, lazy, easy going summer of swimming, going for nature walks, playing with friends and having fun, he is now ready to go back to school and begin kindergarten.
Noah was very excited for school today and woke up with a big smile on his face. In my eyes, he seemed a little bit older today, more confidant, more mature. He walked right into the school and comfortably settled into his familiar setting with his friends and teachers.
We're so excited to continue our half days of home school and public school this year. Our goals for this school year are for a positive, fun and playful year ahead.
Happy back to school!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

late summer/early autumn

I feel like life is moving along at warp speed. 
Already we are taking advantage of the last few days that the pool is open. Soon our pool will close for the season, and already, Noah and Katia have passed 3 swimming levels- I am so proud of them :) 
School is about to start up, and with that, we will continue to do half a day of homeschool and half a day of public school for Noah. 
This year I have more on my plate in terms of homeschooling. Not that kindergarten is all that strenuous or that we have to cover everything right away, but as a parent who will be homeschooling for the first time, I feel the need to get organized now and to have a plan. 
I'll be honest, as a teacher, (in my past life ;) there were a few times that I "winged it", meaning, I went in with no plan... and boy was that a huge flop for me (and stress). So even though I know we will have a lot of fun just doing our normal things (crafts, playing, reading, outdoor time ect), I also know that I need to have some sort of plan to get me through the days. 
Lately, there have been all kinds of signs that Fall is just around the corner. 
The leaves have all begun to change (this seems very early, even for here). The mornings are cold (like little ice puddles in the backyard and wear a scarf on your morning walk). The smell of wood smoke fills the air and I am keeping my eye on the beautiful cranberries that are all jewel like in the moss. 
Fall is my favourite time of year, and I am fully embracing and enjoying it. 
I've been enjoying my daily walks with Ryder and the kids. Watching the colours change, keeping our eyes open for interesting mushrooms and other forest finds, berry picking, and also keeping alert in case we have a bear run-in (tis the season). 
I have my calendar out, looking ahead to my Fall Mini Sessions ( a photography event that I hold a few times a year), and also a Thanksgiving timed trip planned for Ottawa and PEI (yipee!). 
This season is busy, but never too busy to slow it down and take in all the beauty that is offered to us. 
My days have a lot going on (those two keep me busy!), but my walks through the trails behind our house make me take a deep breath in. It is so delicious this time of year. 
Here's to Fall, and all the lovely things that come with it. 

~ Apple everything (cider, crisps, sauce, pies)

~ Sweater weather
~ Scarves
~ Golden leaves 
~ Mushrooms of all sorts
~ Warm foods and drinks
~ Back to school
~ Wood smoke in the air