Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summer 2014

 beautiful sunset on Galiano Island

Funny how a life can change in a very short time.  Sometimes, we can live a life time in a matter of a day.  This July marked our two years on this beautiful island.  This July also marked a closure, an end of a chapter. (no, we are not moving)  With mixed emotions, we packed our car and headed out of town.  We realized then, that this was the first time in two years we have got off the island as a family.  No work agenda.  No other people.  No missing family members.

Just us.

Strange.

These last two years have been a whirlwind of life.  Leaving everything we knew behind to embrace a new life.  Putting roots down to build a community.  Building an authentic community around us for a brighter future and to put meaning in today.  We have left good employment, a home, a vibrant arts community and a community of good friends.  I left all of that for countless rejections while trying to make ends meet with creative financing and numerous part-time jobs.  I left all of that for loneliness and uncertainty.  It has been a challenging time.   But we kept pressing on.  Keeping the dreams alive.  Hope is a real motivator.  

 Sunset on Hornby Island

I wanted to go see some places I've never been.  Some unknown places and become invisible for a while.  So, we mapped out our route on 4 of the small Gulf Islands off the east coast of Vancouver Island and we were off.  I left my phone at home and recharged the camera battery.  I used to take lots of decent pictures.  I used to love that.  I was just starting to learn all the photography lingo and figure out how to use all the dials and buttons.  When my life gets overwhelming, those things take the backseat.  I packed a novel I had picked up years ago at a thrift store for a dollar--"The Power of One".  Aside from some audio books while I worked in the evenings, this is the first book I read in two years.

Mona and Penny showing us how it's done at Mayne Island Dog Show

We were by the sea every day.  We were surrounded by so much beauty.  I was with the 4 people who mattered to me the most.  Friends will come and go, but family is forever.  But they can really irritate you too.  We learned some new games.  We jumped off a pier.  We stopped and breathed in the salty sea air and watched the sunset every day.  I felt alive again.  Life is waiting for me.  I am trying to shed the two years of autopilot and blah to embrace this beautiful life.  As I was eating a veggie panini in an orchard on Hornby Island, I realized how such a small thing can awaken my senses.  This panini had some of the most fresh vegetables and spices I've tasted.  I used to love cooking like that.  So much flavours and so much fresh goodness.  I felt motivated to start cooking good food again.  Something I love and consider sacred.

Penny wasn't a big fan of camping and sitting in the dirt.  A warm tea towel in the sunbeam on the table surely is meant for her. 

The last two years have been nothing like we have experienced.  We had some of the best moments of our lives and some of the hardest.  I've met some amazing people here and have made some amazing connections (like my job at Bamboletta Dolls).  In all the goodness and challenges, I felt as though I have seen the best and the worst of myself.  I've seem myself shine and really lose it.  Our time away was great.  I am ready to move forward now.  I am ready for this new chapter of unknown and new.  I am hoping for a balance in the coming months.  I don't want my camera to collect dust.  I don't want to eat tasteless, blah food on the same rotation.  I don't want to miss my moments with my family.  I don't want to wait 2 years to read another book.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

For Scott


I've known him for 21 years.  Been with him for 20 years and married for 18 years.  We have something good.  Something really good.  We were two best friends ending in a marriage.

We were young.  Reckless.  Madly in love.  No plan.  Just two hearts beating as one.

We had no money.  No career.  No nothing.  Just two hearts beating as one.

Now, in the year #18, we wake up some mornings and wonder, "How the hell did we end up here and who are you again?"  Some days, I feel so intimately connected to him and other days, he feels like a stranger.  We have 4 kids in the house, 5 jobs between the two of us and numerous volunteer things and kids'  activities….and life.   Do you ever wake up in the morning and wonder what all this is for anyway?

Many times.

I honestly don't remember the last time I watched a movie with him without one of us falling asleep half way through or heaven forbid, been out on a date.

I remember when I first met him.   The way my heart skipped a beat and felt this tingly feeling called 'love'.  The fireworks and excitement.  Roses, dates and trendy clothes.  We were skinny and we had nice shoes.

Here we are,  18 years later, I lay beside him at the end of the day, nearly comatose from the day of responsibilities and busy-ness.  In my old tattered T-shirt, soon to be in the rag bin.  But I am safe.  There is no fireworks.  There is no roses on my table.  In fact, he came home one day last month and told me, "I just bought you flowers in my head today".  A joke only we can laugh about,  knowing money is tight.   We laughed and I understood where his heart was.  Completely devoted to building our life together.   We awoke at 3am last Wednesday, and I told him, "I feel like we are just digging ditches right now.  Like really really long ditches".   That tingly feeling called "love" has turned into something else--digging ditches.   But they are beautiful ditches and I am kinda fond of the ditches.  I feel safer than ever.  He is my safe place.  He is my home and he will pick up my shovel when digging gets tough.  He might even sing in his happy jovial off-key voice.

I think of the days ahead.  We have some pretty incredible little people we are raising.  I envision a little cottage by the sea.  Just Scott and me.  Coffee and newspaper in the morning and wine and uninterupted conversations at the end of the day.   Our hearts still beating as one.    We are no longer the fireworks though.  We are the waves of the sea.  Constant and strong.  Always there, always will be.  No dramatic fanfares necessary.  Peace and calming.  That is where I hope we are headed.



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Winter

Funny how a 2 minute online chat with your best friend can release the emotions you didn't know you had locked away for so long.  I wrote, "I miss you".  Those three simple words I have said over and over the last 2 years since moving here to so many people.  Tears filled my eyes.  My eyes are burning and I can barely breathe.

Some say, moving and divorce are two of the most stressful things in life.  I didn't believe it.  For a long time.  The move has been easy.  Things have fallen into places.  We have a good little life here.   But maybe, just maybe, I have some unfinished business tucked away in the corner of my heart.

When I am alone, the silence is deafening.  I hear the clock ticking away oblivious to my annoyance.   I feel the emptiness of the house once filled with laughter of friends.  I then, allow myself to think and feel the times when my heart felt full.  I love thinking about sitting in Ranae's kitchen while she works her culinary magic.  I love the way how she made me the tea just the way I like it without asking.  I love thinking about Alicia, just stopping by to give me a hug which always turned into 2 more hours of heart-to-heart talk.  Her very presence makes my heart feel the warmth.  I love the way I felt sitting across from Bonnah, because it is as though our hearts beat as one.    I can go on thinking of each person who have left their footprints on my heart ever so lovingly throughout my life.  It's the familiarity and the people who became part of your every day.  Being understood and being thought of.  This makes my heart full.  "Give it time", "Keep trying.  You were there for 20 years".   For Scott and I, who have never lived close to either of our families, friends become family.  Not to replace them, but because we all need to feel connected and to care and to be cared about like families do in our every day.

I know I can't focus on what's been lost.  That will destroy my very soul.  I am grateful for the new day.  New mornings.  New day for new connections.  New day for deeper friendships.  I told my kids, "there are good people everywhere we go.  Just remember that and keep trying".  It's my turn to listen to my own words.

"Grateful for awkward new friendships, because they are hope for the days ahead."--something I wrote on thanksgiving this year.  I may have to carve it on my heart every day.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Not New Year's Resolution

I'm not a New Years resolution kinda person.  I run away from popular culture.  I want to be different.  I am a rebel at heart.   However, this time of the year, one is almost forced to reflect and hope.  

I have these new friends.  They are people who have dreamed and conquered the fear and made dreams come to fulfillment.  Big dreams.  Not like 'save up and buy new shoes' dreams, but 'let's travel around the world' kinda dreams.  

The kind of people I'm drawn to are fearless, counter cultural and they are not afraid to play their own tunes.  I'd like to think i'm like that, but in reality, I'm not.  I'm a dreamer.  I dream lots of impossible dreams.  I don't get discouraged or jealous.  I can easily let them go.  I'd say, 'well, if I quit dreaming, that's when I really should be concerned'.   But then, I realized that's my excuse for actually not conquering fear and seeing my dreams come true.   In reality, I'm a person filled with fear.  I'm not ambitious.  I make excuses.   I can also say, I let go easily.  I don't envy.  I go with the flow.  But our best traits can be our biggest enemies.   

Money.  Most dreams come with price tags.  We need money to fulfill our dreams.  Thought of money paralyzes me.  We've never really suffered and always had a comfortable life.  But we've never had much excess.   Since moving to the island, we've never traveled off the island as a family.  Realistically, to get off the island to a destination for a week cost us about $500 just in ferries, gas and kennel boarding for Penny.  That thought honestly paralyzes me.  So, I sit.  I'm content though.  I don't envy others who have Air Miles and the wings to fly.  

Sometimes, I've mistaken my lack of ambition and "giving up on my dreams" to my state of contentment.   

I need the balance.  

I need to see myself at the edge of a cliff and actually jump off.  

More often.  

That very thought scares the hell out of me.  

But I need to do it.  

Because life is short and I don't want to regret. Such a cliché but so true.  And if you knew me at all, I hate cliché.  


So, here is my list.  My hopes.  My heart.  These may not come to fulfillment for 10 more years or never, but I want to move towards them, little by little.  

1.  I want to be happy with myself.  At peace.  I want to be happy and not self-conscious when being photographed.  This is a big one for me.  I'm extremely uncomfortable in my own skin.  I'm that girl in size 6 jeans who sees an ugly reflection in the mirror.  

2. I want to travel. With my family.  I thought, one summer, we can pack up and drive across this beautiful country.  I live on the west end, so the only logical thing to do is to see the other end.  I also want to see Italy, Spain and Greece.  My idea of traveling though is backpacks, hiking shoes, baguette, cheese and wine on the beach and hostels.    

3. I want to get an education.  I have talents.  I have a heart.  I just don't have that piece of paper to get me the right job.  Educational assistant course is an 18 months course.  Then, I can then finally do what I've invested my life for the last 15 years. And I can quit killing myself with 4 part time jobs.  

4. I want to have an active life style.  We live in such a beautiful place.  I've seen the glimpse of the joy I get from mountain biking, jogging, hiking and kayaking etc.  I want to do those things more often.  

5.  I want to 'do' the West Coast Trail.  This one, at least doesn't cost me the $200 on ferries.  :). 

6. I want to appreciate and treasure my family.  I have a good husband and incredible kids.  I take them for granted.  

7.  I want to look back and see a changed person in me.  Every day.  And see that I've done something to bring these changes and to move closer to dreams coming true.    

I think that's plenty for now.  Time to get off my ass and actually do something.  Here is to a brighter future! 

Happy New Year to you all!  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Introduction


I left the prairies for the ocean 4 months ago.  Dust is settling, but I have felt lately that I am giving myself a quiet slow burial in order to 'fit in'.  I am burying the things that make me who I am.   Is it because I am a peace maker and a people pleaser?  I do know though, if I want to find kindred spirits, I have to be true to myself and live it out.  Why is it so difficult some days?  I don't know if this makes sense at all, but here is my introduction.  This is me.  I needed to remind myself,  because somedays, I feel like I am fading away.   

My name is Makiko.  My friends call me Kiko.   I like the ocean, so I am happy that I moved here but I left many many good friends behind in Alberta.  I like to cook really great food.  I like ethnic food.  I like good red wine and microbrew beer.  Dark stuff.  I get annoyed when men don't offer me beer.  My most favorite moment is when I can share carefully prepared food with good friends while sipping a glass of red.  Maybe I will play my favorite jazz or Samba in the background.  Some friends bring instrunments to my house and I like that.

I like artsy stuff.  I have tried my hands at many art mediums.  Painting, pottery, mosaic to name a few.    I have taught myself to sew.  I was surprised I was pretty good at it--Good enough that people wanted to buy what I made.  

I like music.  I actually have a music degree.  I like singing in a choir.  I have enjoyed touring with choirs and being challenged musically.  I have also been  in musicals.  I like being on the stage as long as I am not alone.

  As an adult, I am proud to have attained a brown belt in Shotokan Karate and learned to jog as far as 10km.  But don't drag me to play any team sports.  I catch like a girl and I throw like one too.  

I love dogs.  I love the nature and animals.  I would rather be on the hiking trails near my house with my dogs than in a mall any day.  I do like to look at pretty things though.  If you come to my house, you will see some pretty things.  I don't buy random pretty things though.  Ask me about anything in my house.  Most things have some stories behind them.  I hang onto things with sentimental value.  I like vintage glass.  Bright colors in 60's style.  

I value my family, friends and my faith.  I like my alone time but am not very good at being alone.  I don't like eating alone or going to movies alone.  I like photography.  Something I'd like to invest more time in.  I dream of living in a strawbale house.   I like foreign movies.  

I would love to travel.  I would love to see the world.  So far, I haven't had much chance to do that.  One day.  Italy, Spain and Greece intrigue me.  I like history and art.  I like hearing people tell stories.  I like stories of the land I've never seen.   I like old people's stories.  Stories you can't read in history books.   

I'm a pretty good company.  I've been told I am a good listener and have a wicket sense of humor.  I will try anything once and I am not stuck inside a box.  I am a loyal friend.  

You wanna hang out sometime?

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Long Walk on the Beach that Failed

My new home in BC is less than a kilometer from the beach called Maple Bay.  It is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  It's peaceful.  There are no words to describe how amazing it is to live here.  I try to make the best of it.  I try to get down there for long walks as much as I can.  Today was no exception.

It was after school.  I picked up the girls and decided they could use a cold drink.  So we went to the corner store for 'slushes' and drove down to the Maple Bay beach.

We unleashed the dogs and walked down the beach.  Girls are enjoying their rare treats as they told me about the a cappella group that came to perform at the school.  Sun is shining.  Water is cool.  Rowing club is training on the water.  All in all, it is a very good day.

My middle child is running ahead with the dogs.  "Come on  guys!  Hurry up!!"  She is beaming.  She wants to show me the tree she climbed the last time she was here with her dad.  I wave.  As I get closer, I see her frowning.  "Mommy, I got to go....oh wait, I am already going....."   By the time I have caught up to her she was drenched, no chance of turning back and a little embarrassed.  I tell her to go in the ocean and get her clothes wet.  I burst out laughing.  She laughs.  She is wading in the water laughing.

The oldest turns to me and says nonchalantly , "well, I got to go too...." and drops her pants and goes on the beach.  Fortunately, she know how to do this without getting herself wet.  I see a lady with a dog in the distance.  She pulls her pants up quickly and all is well.

I sat on a drift wood to take in the beauty of my world.   Sailboats are bobbing on the sparkling water.  It's so beautiful.  I breathe in deeply.  I love the smell of salty air.  That is when the youngest said, "Mommy, I got to go number two".  "No, you don't"  I dismissed her.  She is the youngest.  The copy cat.  She has to do everything the older sisters are doing.  I have taken many trips to the bathroom when it was 'urgent' but with nothing to show for.  "I really do have to go, mommy"  "Okay, if you do have to go that bad, take off your pants and do it."  She is starting to take off her shorts, forgetting that she has a pair of sneakers on.  The pants get tangled with shoes and she is falling, rolled up like a ball with her bare bottoms hanging out.  I tell her she should take off her shoes first.  She gets up laughing and pulls up her pants.  She says, "I actually don't have to go".  See, I knew it.  Copy cat.  We start to walk again.  Two seconds later, she has to go again.  Okay, if you really have to go, you know what to do.  This time she takes off her shoes and pants and she is squatting.  She DID have to go.  Real bad.  I think it was the 'slushie' that gave her the runs.   Oh dear God.  I have no tissue.  I used up the last poop bag.  I tell her to put her clothes back on and we will give her a bath at home.  She is obeying me beautifully.

I am looking for some drift wood to scoop up the 'number two'.  That is when Penny, our 6 months old weimaraner puppy jumps off the tree and lands right in my child's poop and starts eating it.  I chase the dog into the ocean and grab the nearest tree bark and successfully scoop up everything and toss it into the ocean. I even had enough time to gain my composure back to say a friendly hello to that lady with a dog in passing.

"Good thing I love you guys so much".  We laughed until it hurt.  It WAS a good day after all.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May 5th, 2012

It's been over 2 weeks since Scott left Alberta to start his new work in Duncan.  It will be 2 months before we will join him there.  He is meeting new people, jumping into his job with both feet and enjoying it immensely.  Scott was offered a place to stay with an older couple just outside of Duncan.  The water is just a short walk away.

On the home front, it has been a constant reminder of the love and community we are gifted with.  I have cut back to working half time, which still means getting everyone ready and out the door before 8 am.  This can be a big challenge for a night owl like me.  My two girls are in school,  while Tori gets to hang out with my dear friend, Ranae who loves her as her own.  I have a dear lady who drops off homemade loaves for me every now and then with a sweet note.  Another reminder that I am not forgotten.  Two friends knocked on my door yesterday morning to tell me they are raking and cleaning my front yard.  A bucketload of beautifully cooked mussels were dropped off just for me.  "I am at Costco, do you need anything?"  Play dates and dinner invitations.  I am loved.  I am part of this beautiful community.

We picked up our beautiful Weimaraner puppy, "Penny" a week ago.  It's been a challenging and rewarding time trying to train her.  It's crazy but we love it.  We are starting to notice her great potential.  She has also become a good distraction while Scott is away.

I am starting to pack our stuff and get organized.  I am planning two road trips.  One is to Princeton, BC to join Scott for Young Life National Conference and another to see my best friend, Bonnah in Flin Flon, Manitoba.  I spent the last evening in Drumheller with the cast of 'Joseph'.  We shared a meal and hiked up the hill which takes you to the top of a small ski hill.  Standing on the top of the world with good friends looking over the vast valley of the beautiful Badland while the full moon came up.  I have always loved the badland.  I realized then that it will be a long time before I can return to see this beautiful sight.  I am trying to take in all the beauty of Alberta, not taking it for granted.  Last night was the perfect way to remember the badland.  It was an incredible night.  I was once again reminded of all the beautiful gifts.  My life is simple, but I love it.  I would not trade it for all the riches of this world.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 7th, 2012

It's been a long while since I posted anything here. I am still alive and well. Popped by here several times trying to write something. It just didn't feel right, but I am just going to do it anyways. It will just be a post with some updates.

Since the last post, lots have happened. The biggest news here is we are moving. We are leaving this little prairie town for the ocean. We are moving to Vancouver Island, Duncan area to be exact. Scott has a new job with a non-profit organization called Young Life. It is a Christian organization which works with teens. I think he will be fantastic at it. Since we got the news of his acceptance in the late fall last year, we have been busy. Scott has been raising financial support, fixing up the house to sell, and being a fantastic house husband while I have gone back to work.

It looks like Scott will be leaving mid April to start his work out there. Right now, he is busy fixing his motorbike so he can ride it over the mountains.....a 1973 Honda CB 750. I will stay here with the girls until the end of June so they can finish the school year here. I will continue to work half days and a friend has graciously offered to look after Tori while I go to work.

As I look to the next 2 months of 'insanity', I am overwhelmed by complete peace and confidence. I have absolutely no worries. I know girls and I will miss Scott, but I also know that we are surrounded by friends who have eagerly told us to 'put their number on speed-dial'. I am confident all things will work out. All in good time.

This past winter, my oldest daughter Maya and I were involved in a theatre production in our community. We have just finished two weeks of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat" performances. I have enjoyed every minute of it. I am just catching my breath and enjoying the evening off which I have not had since we started the practice back in January. The production was received well by the community. We made new friends and great memories.

Our next big item to report--we are getting a puppy. A female Weimaraner puppy will join our family in 3 weeks! This is terribly exciting. She is coming to us from a good friend who breeds weimaraners in a town about 45 minutes away. When Bootsy died last summer, I said, "I will never get a puppy" and "I will never have two dogs at the same time". Never say never. It's been a really long time since I trained a pup (14 years). I have gotten Caesar Millan and Brad Pattison books from the library and spending my spare time reading them. I also watched some Youtube video on Caesar. The first episode I watched was about this 'demon chihuahua'. Not too sure what I think of his methods yet. He is good, but not too many actually methods are being explained. I am going to spend lots of time with my pup. I want her to be a good dog. Hopefully, she will be my jogging partner.

Speaking of jogging, I have been jogging again. This winter, I was lazy. So going back into jogging has been very challenging. I feel good though. I run 5 kilometers each time I run.

I plan to do some sewing when Scott leaves for BC. I bought tons of awesome fabric last year and they just sat in my basement. I am hoping to make a bunch of bags again and sell them before I leave town. I will keep you posted.

I am terribly excited and a bit scared about the future. I spent the last 20 years here. I am ready though. I will miss my dear friends, but we are confident this is the path we are supposed to take. We have seen little 'signs' along the way to encourage us and to confirm we are on the right path. I also know that I will meet new friends. There are good people everywhere we go. I will go with open hearts. Of course, when I hit the grocery store in Duncan and there is no one to talk to, I might melt into a puddle of tears.

Now, we just need to sell our house. I am hoping to find a job in a school-- a job working with kids with developmental disabilities. Something I believe I am good at and have done for a long time. I have exchanged some emails with people out there. We will see what happens. We are having fun looking through real estate listings as well.

We will keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This Morning in My Kitchen....

Poor men. Sorry we put you up to this all the time. ;)


Makiko: (emerges from the bedroom dressed in jeans. After months of exercising, she thinks the jeans are fitting better)


"How Do I look?"


Scott: (Oblivious to her inner thoughts, fixing lunch for the kids in the kitchen. After a quick glance.)


"You look fine"


Makiko: (gives him the *stink eye)


"I mean, HOW DO I LOOK?" (now, the capital letters mean louder voice)


Scott: (stops his hands and takes another look)


"I mean, your hair needs to be combed, but you look fine"


After a little silence......


Makiko: "DO I LOOK SKINNY?"


Scott: (disappears for 2 seconds, runs back into the kitchen, with hands up in the air, gives Makiko a man hug, wide eyed)


"HOLY SMOKES! LOOK AT YOU!? YOU LOOK INCREDIBLE! LOOK AT YOUR SKINNY LITTLE WAIST!!!!!!!!!"


Scott & Makiko: Burst out laughing......

Another Epic Fail Moment

It's September and officially my garden zucchini production has become an annoyance than a joy. After staring at a huge mountain of yellow zucchinis and pattypan squash for a week, I finally decided to make zucchini loaves to put in my freezer.......at 10:30 at night.


Now, I do not own a food processor. My little food grinder broke last winter. So I am left with a cheese grinder. I start shredding my zucchinis by hand--the old fashion way.


Scott walks into the kitchen. "Do you want me to help you with something?"

"Oh sure". "Would you mind just starting the batter while I shred these? I can take over and finish later"


So he cheerfully starts on the loaf batter. This recipe makes two loaves. I have one loaf pan. Each loaf takes 1hr to bake. You do the math. While the first cake is in the oven, we decided to pick a movie on Netflix to pass the time. Scott picks a movie. He assures me it's a light comedy. I don't like it and I told him so. Without a word of complaint, he starts up another movie which is more girl-friendly.


I remember the first 10 minutes of the movie and I was gone. Fast asleep. I don't remember anything after that.


Next morning, I woke up. Scott had gone to work already as usual (he's usually gone before 7). I walk into the kitchen. I saw two beautiful zucchini loaves politely sitting on my kitchen counter.


This makes me either the biggest jerk or the luckiest woman on the entire planet....or maybe both.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bootsy 2 days before she died.

Tears catch me off guard. They come at most unexpected times. The alarm clock shows 3:35 am. Even the clock is sleepy. I lay awake and remember she is not here. Tears come. I take an extra long shower and let the tears come.

13 years is a long time, but death always comes too soon. We buried a good friend yesterday. I had to think real hard to know what day it was. Somehow, in our sorrow, it feels like forever ago. It was only yesterday. I am trying hard to wrap my mind around it.

Bootsy had a massive seizure. 4 days later, she died in her sleep as the new day was about to be born. During those 4 days, we tried to keep her comfortable as we kept our chins and hopes up. Maya is away in Japan. "Can you hang in there until Maya comes home?" "But if you have to go, we understand". She would sit in front of our house in the shade of poplar trees and watch the world go by. She would wag her tail and try to get up to greet us, but after two days, the light in her eyes gone and she is distant.

Scott woke me up to tell me it's time to say good bye. We held her lifeless body and told her what a good dog she has been. I tell her I am sorry when I was too busy for her or I got annoyed with her. I touch her silky ears and try to remember how they felt in my hands. I bury my nose in her beautiful golden fur and wish the time would stop. I take her paws into mine for one last touch. It's always too soon.
Our other dog Ranger at Bootsy's grave

Scott took her to the top of a rolling hill and put her to rest, right beside our friend Zippy. He came home saturated in tears and sweat. "The only regret I have is I didn't sleep with her that night". During the 4 days, I would often find him sitting beside her gently stroking her and talking to her for a long time. Man's best friend. Silent and Loyal. She was gracious and faithful until the end. The last conscious thing she did was to get up and greet me when I returned home.
Flowers for Bootsy

13 years is a long time, but death always comes too soon. Tonight, we went to visit her grave. A beautiful spot. I can see her running through the tall grass. Poking her head out every now and then to check on me. She can smell the gophers and prairie chickens. She is grinning. tail wagging. Flood of memories. I let the tears come.

"If it hurts so much, why would you get a dog?", I've been asked.

Because you are their whole world.

Rest in Peace, beautiful girl. Thank you for the wonderful 13 years together.



Friday, July 1, 2011

Becoming a Canadian

I was 14 when I fell in love with this 'strong and free' country. I became a Canadian 14 years after that, in the summer of 2000. When I go to the United States, people often tell me that I 'act and speak like a Canadian'. I take it as a compliment. I love Canada. I am proud to be a Canadian.

Coming from a country with a long history (2,670 years to be exact) and a strong sense of culture and heritage, being a Canadian can give me a sense of identity crisis. Today is Canada Day. We celebrate 144 years of Canada being a self-governed country. I typed in google: Canada's national food. The first hit: Ginger Beef. Second: Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. I laughed but was not surprised. People say, Canadians are so nice and friendly and that we say "sorry" a lot. I know it is a dangerous task to generalize a whole nation of people--all 33,739,900 of us, but I tend to believe that. A few years ago I was walking through a crowded IKEA store. I kept bumping into people with my cart. It was my fault. But every one of those people I bumped into said, "sorry" to me. I fell in love with Canada all over again--in IKEA.

When I became a Canadian, I had to learn its history, culture, geography and politics. The immigration department sent me a little booklet to study. "You must write and pass the citizenship test in order to become a Canadian citizen", the letter stated. I learned about fur trade, Confederation, John A. McDonald, parliament government system and even memorized the words to O Canada, our national anthem. I nervously walked into a government building to write the test. 5 questions total. Multiple choice. One of the questions stated: What is the emblem on the Canadian flag? Options: 1) Eagle, 2) Maple leaf, 3) Rainbow, 4) Beaver, 5) Queen Elizabeth. I passed the test with flying colors and proceeded into a crowded court room for the official ceremony. I looked around to see people representing many countries all over the world. Young and old. Some seemed emotional. I realized then, that this 'strong and free' country has so much to offer to so many of them in that court room that day. I wondered what story they have to tell. I am sure many of them had lost everything, escaped danger and gave up so much to get where I was. I recently met a woman who has not seen her children in 16 years and and another who lost her family fortune in order to pay the bribery--all in order to come to Canada. I know no such hardships. I do not know war or poverty. I was in that court room simply because I married a Canadian. I did not have to give up anything. While witnessing the emotions in the room, I fell in love with Canada all over again. Hope and freedom it gives to so many. Open arms and open doors to those who have lost everything. I love this country. I am proud to be a Canadian.

The ceremony proceeded and the judge spoke about 'Canadian pride'. Cultural Diversity. That's our pride. He read off the countries represented in that court room that day. There were at least 20 countries represented. I saw beautiful women in Saris. Turbans and hanbok. The judge gave us each a paper Canadian flag. He brought an old tape recorder with a sound track for O Canada, which we sang proudly together. After finishing our singing, he flipped the cassette and played the other side which was "O Canada" in French. We all looked stunned and watched in silence as the judge sang alone with the cassette. It was quirky and sweet. Nothing fancy and majestic. We shook hands with people around us and left the court room.

Maya--Japan Bound

I just booked a plane ticket for Maya to go visit her grandparents in Japan this summer. She is ecstatic. 2 years ago, when this idea came up, and she was absolutely against it. Now, she has a permanent grin on her face and every now and then, she would say, "Thanks for letting me go to Japan, Mom". My heart is excited and terrified all at the same time. She is growing up faster than my heart would allow. I am so proud of her bravery. I am proud of her because I can trust her to take on such a big adventure at such a young age.

To be honest, I have not done a good job of teaching my children about their Japanese heritage. I don't speak Japanese to them. My kids cannot, for the life of them, use chopsticks. They are Canadians, through and through. Since she was very little, Maya has always wanted to go to Japan. The desire is so intense--more than just a little kid wanting to go to an amusement park or an ice cream shop. I could sense that she really wanted to know this part of herself --like a missing piece of the puzzle. I never knew if it was ever going to be possible for our family to go, but always hoped she could go while she is still young.

Although I am absolutely overwhelmed to let my little girl get on a plane all by herself to cross the ocean, I feel in my gut this is the right time and it will be an amazing opportunity.

Someone asked me the other day, when I was in Japan last. I responded, "oh about 10 years ago....in 1993". Wait a minute, that's 18 years ago! Sometimes, I long for the intense heat of the summer. I dream of showing my girls the Japanese countryside I grew up in. Catching cicadas and praying mantas and listening to the crickets at night. Going to get fresh peaches and fish that were just harvested/caught in the morning. The Hustle and bustle of the city centre. Food stands and fireworks.

What will Maya see? Who will she meet? I wonder if she will meet my neighbor who let me borrow the book, "Never Ending Story"? I am sure so much has changed but so much are still the same. As much as I want to be there to take her down my memory lane, I am glad she gets to go on her own. She will go without mom's agenda. She is free to decide what she wants to see and to experience Japan in ways that are meaningful to her.

We will look for books about Japan and make a list of things she wants to see and do. So far, she wants to go to Tokyo Disneyland. :) Maybe I might even give her a crash course on the language and how to use chopsticks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Activity List

The Summer Vacation is upon us. In order to keep my children occupied and happy, I thought I'd make a list of activities so we won't be sitting around going...."mom, we are bored!!" Here is my list. I am trying to keep it simple and cheap and yet fun. Living in a small town requires some creativity....and that is okay.
* Make postcards and send them to friends near and far
-this helps us keep connected to our friends. It will make friends happy. Encourages creativity as we will be making them. It will help kids learn how to address letters and learn to write and spell better.
*Make Tinfoil Hats
-just because. It's silly. It's fun. It's cheap.
*Splash Park
-because there is a new one in town and it's free. Also try the one in near by towns
*Library
-because they have air conditioning. My girls love reading.
*Take care of our flower & vegetable gardens
-Share the loot with neighbors and friends
*Sprinkler under the trampoline
-So so fun!
*Sleep on the trampoline
-I might regret saying this.....
*Cook with each of the kids
-So they can make a meal from start to finish.
*Giant Bubble Experiment
-found here
*Set up Maya's loom
-seriously, in 2 years, she made 2 projects because I'm too lazy to set it up for her.
*Study Constellation
-maybe we can do this while we are driving down to the States.
*Use our fire pit often
-gives us time for slow down visiting time

*Rag Curls...
-because they are girls and school nights don't allow this often.
*Go to the OCEAN
-Oregon coast....we are coming!
*Learn to play Yatzee
-I bought it a year ago and we still haven't opened it.
*Homemade ice cream
-dust off the old ice cream maker
*Family Movie Night
-my goal is to actually stay awake for the whole movie....
*Teach girls sewing
-I have my heart set on making these hats for my girls in the next week to welcome them to summer vacation.
*Lemonade Stand
-It's the symbol of childhood summer memory
*Go to the river
-because it is the closest thing to the ocean here and we love it there.
*Make friendship bracelets
-You just have to when you got girls.

*Looking forward to the lazy summer days.....Come by and join us in our adventure*

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Almost 4.

4 seems so much bigger than 3. As she masters more skills and takes pride in her independence, there is a feeling of relief and panic mixed in one. Relief that she doesn't need me to do everything for her, but panic because like water, the childhood is running through my fingers.
I always wanted 3 kids. And there she was. She is nothing like her older sisters. She is spirited. She is unpredictable. To be honest, she has been the one that has most frequently challenged my patience and made me question my ability as a mother.
But perhaps because of her, I will be more patient. I will be more accepting of the unexpected. She will make me a better mother.

Ironic.

Mismatched socks. Fairy wings. A pair of silver mary janes. She takes me by the hand to shows me the world through so much innocence and excitement.

"Look mommy, Robins!"
"I love these flowers, mommy!"
"Worms!!!"
The world is a beautiful place through the eyes of a toddler.
This past year, two of our good friends became very ill. Tori was the one to pray for them. Everyday. Every chance she's got. She said some profound things in her prayers. We saw miracles and they are now healed and well.
It is a beautiful thing to watch your childen make this world a better place by just being who they are. I hope my eyes are open to see it, instead of focusing on the troubles and inconveniences.

I think tomorrow, we will walk to the park and I will push her on a swing high up in the air to hear her belly giggles.