Category Archives: The Child

As the days get smaller


As the days get smaller, shorter, quieter, and the nights become darker and longer, we move toward our woodstove, I pick up my knitting, and increase my vitamin D dose. But it’s not like we are hibernating! Our bears in this part of the world don’t even hibernate, so why should we?


There is still time for a bit of sailing, a bit of apple picking, a bit of mushroom hunting. IMG_3137 IMG_3138 IMG_3143 IMG_3149

My child, since she was small, has played with non-toys. Primarily vegetables. Maybe it is because we have such an abundance. When she was wee, she rolled around tiny squash, and now she clusters them into little families. She finds a green onion husk and suddenly it is a microphone and she is a rock star. Well, I already knew that!

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It’s funny as a doula entering my third year, I am noticing patterns when babies come. I theorize to myself that when it is cold outside, babies are often late because they are gaining that every ounce of insulation from their mamas. And when it is hot outside, babies come earlier because they don’t need the extra time. This is not substantiated by any evidence whatsoever. It is just a quiet observation as I begin to wonder about patterns with babies. This is the third Hallowe’en that I have been at a birth. Why do babies wait for Hallowe’en?


I hope you are finding yourselves moving toward your own Winter patterns as November sucks us in.

Happy Smaller Days, friends.

In Summary: She, Me and Him in October


Gabrielle started ballet this September. It is as cute as watching kittens run around aimlessly and bonk into each other and the wall and the furniture. We saw “Awww,” then cringe a little and send our condolences to the teacher.

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The photo below is not in focus, but it is a meal where we provided completely for ourselves. A chicken that Marc butchered, carrots and potatoes we grew ourselves. I spend barely any time in the produce section, unless I’m buying bananas, so I hope the cashier doesn’t judge me and think we don’t eat any veggies at home. We are overrun and blessed with scads of veggies. And we are giving them away like hot cakes, because the fruit flies are multiplying. Oh the dreaded fruit flies!IMG_2890 IMG_2937 IMG_2946 IMG_2965 IMG_2989 IMG_2992

I taught a beekeeping class in September and it was received well. I am looking at writing more curriculum for different classes I’m thinking of teaching so that will keep me busy.IMG_3002 IMG_3007 IMG_3084 IMG_20140826_181857

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Gabrielle has begun informal preschool at home with me. We are having a good time as we inconsistently learn letters and numbers a few times a week. She is already recognizing words. She amazes me!IMG_20140918_124058 IMG_20140919_151042

I’ve been trying to bake a lot of our own bread. It just tastes So Much Better!IMG_20140921_093557


We went blueberry picking in September. Most of the berries were done but we still got a whole bucket. I’ve become quite a lot more adventurous in my processing techniques compared to last year.IMG_20140922_172304 IMG_20140924_164213 IMG_20140925_102615

Gabrielle has been farming with every toy we have.IMG_20140925_135519 IMG_20140925_165434 IMG_20140926_095048

Life has been busy, bursting at the seams, but nourishing all the same. We are intentionally moving into Autumn as we begin planting our garlic and putting the garden beds to sleep. Then the sun comes out again and we dash outside for some hoola hooping, bean picking madness. My morning runs have become like dreams. It is dark and the shadowy leaves blow across the road as I pad along with my headlamp bouncing. I find myself accepting the changing of seasons, even embracing it, but also looking forward to next year’s new beginnings. But I suppose I could use a little bit of hibernation.

Now, to stack some wood. Soon daily fires will be our reality.

Happy October!

Living with the Seasons: A Nip of Autumn

I really love how our life revolves around the seasons. In August, we extract honey and process tomatoes. In September, we bring in the squash. We stack firewood. I watch my bees bringing in pollen in the spring, and capping their honey for the winter. Living with the seasons could be one of my favourite parts about living on Pender Island. The seasons feel “close” here. Maybe it’s because the windows are thin. Maybe it is living more rurally. But whatever it is, I feel the seasons here.

I’ve often wondered if I were blind-folded, and placed in a season, if I could recognize it from the smells. Right now, the sun is rising later. When I wake up early in the morning to run, I beat the sunrise. There is a nip to the air and now I’m reaching for my down vest. And there is a dry crumbling smell as the leaves start to die on the branches and the eager ones are already under-foot and crackling.

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And there is something satisfying in all this. Something wholesome and natural. And then it warms my heart even more when Gabrielle sniffs the air, and sees the leaves, and stacks the wood and plucks the apples off the tree and she says thoughtfully, “Autumn must be coming soon. I’m falling over more often.”

Logic of a three year old. It cannot be beat.

Raising a Farm Girl

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Oh and I have to share this funny little story with you.

We were at our friends’ place for Canada day. They did a whole pig on a spit. It was incredible. In the evening, as they take the pig off the spit and prepare to butcher it all up into hunks o’ meat for their 70+ guests, Gabrielle walks up to Rob, the man in charge. She says to him with all her manners dressed up,

“Excuse me Rob. May I please have the tail?”

While the adults and children alike are watching in horror as Wilbur is getting carved up, my child is asking for the tail?!

He takes his big knife and hacks off the tail, plunks it on a plate like the grinch serves up the roast beast to wee Cindy-Loo Hoo. And off she waddles with a pig’s tail on her plate, as happy as…. a pig in mud?

I’m raising a farm girl.

31 months Post Op


Gabrielle had her last surgery at 11 months old. She is now 3 1/2 years old.

I get a lot of emails from parents with babies just diagnosed, or still in utero, that have just received the diagnosis that their child has Tetrology of Fallot. Each individual story is so different, even with the same diagnosis and I can only share our unique journey. But to those parents, even with such a diagnosis, there is so much light and joy that comes to you too. Because I’ve found that somehow, Gabrielle’s heart reminds me that life is precious. It reminds me of the miracle it is to have a child at all. And it keeps me holding her close and savouring her laughter.

Last Thursday, Gabrielle had her first un-sedated echo. Up until now, her echoes have always been sedated because she has a lot of fear and anxiety around hospitals, doctors, nurses and any kind of machine. The sedation is such a pain because there is fasting, watching your child on mind-altering drugs, and then the hangover that comes as the “drunkenness” wears off. This time there was none of that. But there was a lot of talking about the doctor’s appointment before it came. There was a lot of reassuring that there would be no pokes, and that the test would not hurt.

As we explained the procedure to her, in the days leading up, Gabrielle said, “Oh, well I still don’t want to go.”

The morning of the test, she and I woke up early to hop on a ferry. She asked me if I would have to leave when she got cut open and if she would be already asleep by then. It was clear my prepping her didn’t quite work as she already had a vision of what the doctor’s appointment would entail. I assured her again that no one was cutting her. And that I wouldn’t leave the whole time.

We arrived and she liked playing with the toys in the lobby. The technician asked if she would like to come in and have pictures taken of her heart. She said in her most grown-up polite voice, “No thank you.” And turned back to what she was doing. This makes perfect sense to her. They asked, she declined. Politely. It was a very civilized exchange. But it didn’t do her any good.

She had to be persuaded with Fraggle Rock and a Popsicle before she settled into the bed and the real work could be done. The staff asked her if they could listen to her heart or take pictures, to which she would politely decline. Then they would do it anyway. That part was a bit of a shame. But they were extremely good about letting her have control over the machines. They let her put the stickers on her chest. They let her hold the stethoscope. And when she had a good scream, they let her skip the oxygen saturation test. Everything looked good on the scans. We are still on the basis that we will see how the next 6 months goes. But they are estimating her next surgery will be Summer of 2015.

As the tests wrapped up, Gabrielle looked relieved and she said, “Now it’s all over?”
I said, “Yes.”
And she smiled and said, “Now we get to go buy my bonsai tree!”

Yeah so, I told her after the doctor’s office we would get a treat. I asked her if she wanted a cupcake at her favourite cupcake tea house but she told me she would like a bonsai tree instead of a cupcake. Oh and some raw salmon and raw tuna nigiri please. Yeesh! What other kid?

The Japanese man at the bonsai tree store found it hilarious that my daughter had requested a bonsai tree. We carefully picked out which one she wanted.

But our lovely cardiologist summed it up perfectly.

“Oh, a small wise tree for a small wise girl.”