Look to the Sky

I left work late tonight, as is often the case these days. But I guess the days are indeed getting longer, because instead of being dark the sky was full of brilliant tiger stripes of colour – pink and red and orange and wisps of blue. The city skyline was a barely lit silhouette, and at the end of the wash of colour was the outline of the mountains and a brilliant, golden glare as the sun started to sink behind the horizon. It was incredible. Stop-to-take-a-picture incredible. (But of course no picture I could take would ever do it justice.)

I breathe deeply when I see sunsets like that (even if I’m in my car). And in doing so I pause, sometimes just figuratively and often just for a moment, and think about something other than what I have to do next.

brick wall

Your comments on my post about missing inspiration were interesting. Good interesting, even though I don’t agree with many of you, including my mother. (Sorry, mom.)

Here’s the thing: I like that wide open space of a new year. I love the anything-is-possible feeling. I thrive on change and possibility and new. Day-to-day life gets boring pretty fast, and if I don’t have something to jolt me into a new perspective I will blink and 20 years will have gone by and my small boys will be big and all I will remember is how much laundry I did.

That is not how I wish to live my life.

I realized, upon reading (and railing against) some of those comments on that last post, that I don’t necessarily want some huge, gigantic goal and I’m not really looking for change. But I also don’t want to let life just happen. I prefer living with intention.

That’s why I’ve chosen one word as a guide post for the last few years. It’s why I have a life list and why I breathe in sunsets.

Northern lights in night sky

So where does that leave me? I’m not sure yet. I will probably start by committing to my one word for 2014 (and sharing it here). I’m going to make some changes to my day-to-day focus and schedule. I’m going to move away from feeling stuck in the everydayness of wake/feed children/commute/work/commute/feed children/put children to bed/walk dog/do dishes/fold laundry/repeat.

I’m going to look to the sky. And see where it takes me.

Missing: Inspiration

The new year is normally soaked with inspiration for me, like a path laid down just waiting for me to walk it.

I never quite found that path this year.

snowy path

I looked for it. I waited. I read the usual things and saw the usual references to potential and opportunity and new. But by the time the new year came it seemed like the path had been walked by everyone else already.

This time last year I was pursuing my goal of exercising for 30 days straight and looking forward to a year of adventure and exploration. This time last year, not incidentally, I was on mat leave.

Maybe the path is always well-worn and maybe it’s up to us to find our own footsteps or our own way to walk it. Or maybe my path is just filled with other things right now.

Every other year, it seems, I have felt like I can do anything. Anything! I just have to decide what to aim for. And then of course the inevitable everydayness sneaks in and turns that anything into well, maybe something and eventually it’s more like at least I can do a few things, but it has always started as a wide open space.

This year that wide open space is filled with laundry.

It’s hard to make new goals and seize opportunities when it’s all I can do to remember which day we need to put the bins out and when I’ve been carrying cheques in my wallet for weeks (months?) because I can’t figure out how to get into the bank to deposit them (because cheques in US funds need to be deposited in person and do you ever find yourself in a situation like this where you wonder if it’s really worth the 30 bucks?).

So I haven’t found my 2014 inspiration. I’ve chosen my one word for the year—or, I suppose, it chose me—but I haven’t quite managed to commit to it. I haven’t spoken it out loud.

Maybe this year, this time – maybe right now I need a different path. Maybe inspiration will only come in small doses.

Think small instead of big and a month instead of a year at a time. Chase moments instead of mountains.

It’s a different path forward, but it will be okay, I guess.

It’s an okay path.

I’m trying to believe that.

How is your new year going?


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Join Greta from Gfunkified and I for #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

Explore: Life in Pictures, Vol. 6

The end of 2013 whipped by. Last time I did a photo update on my word for last year we were finishing summer and transitioning into kindergarten and I was getting ready to go back to work. And now it’s 2014. January 7 already. Before I know it May will be here again and the snow will be gone and 2013 will seem very far away. So here’s the end of the year in pictures.

I didn’t do much in the way of exploring, at least not in the traditional sense. But we hit some milestones and had some fun, and I guess that’s what it’s supposed to be about anyway.

Someone turned one.


You would think he didn’t like his birthday cake.


But you’d be wrong. He devoured that piece.


It was a good birthday. The last first.


Christmas came even though I wasn’t ready, as predicted.


It was fairly low-key – a rare thing in my family. But we did the obligatory (and enjoyable) things. Now I just need to clear the detritus from my living room. (I did mention that it’s January 7, didn’t I?)


We had a cold snap in there too. A very, very cold snap. Did you know you could get ice an inch thick on the inside of your windows? In Alberta you can.


But winter is beautiful. At least I think so.


So we took advantage of it.


We walked, and found signs of beauty and love.


Winter lasts for a long time here, but sometimes you just have to throw yourself into it and become one with the snow. (Literally, even.)


He looks like he’s not enjoying himself (or maybe he just thinks the hat is goofy) but he had a blast. Deep snow is apparently quite fun when you’re one.


We had some losses…


…but many more wins.


And so ended 2013.

#iPPP is back for 2014! Join Greta from Gfunkified and I for #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

Explore: Summer in Pictures (Vol. 5)

We had rain last week, cool after what seems like endless hot summer days. The water park in our community closed has closed. Fall is here.

But, oh, the summer was good.

Through no actual intent or forethought on my part, I planned my maternity leave perfectly. Going back to work in October (one more week! Already! How can that be?) is a beautiful thing. I had the summer to explore, play, and travel with my family. I think we made the most of it, and now I’ve had September to help with the transition to Kindergarten.

(And speaking of exploring, I’ve given up my Yummy Mummy Club blog. I just decided it’s time to focus elsewhere.)

In any case, I realized it’s been a while since my last one-word update and what I’ve been exploring, so this is a bit of a photo dump to share some parts of our summer.

We did a few different trips over the last few months.


We went to the mountains. We looked way up at them, and we looked down at the world from their peaks.


Finally, after much anticipation, we went to San Diego. We dipped our toes in the water.


We played in the sand. (This is his “beach face.”)


Oh yes, we went there.


And it was a hit.


San Diego is such a beautiful place.


One night after Ethan was asleep Connor and I went for a walk along the boardwalk. Well, I walked. He wanted to go in the stroller, which he very much does not fit in anymore, but we managed to get him all tucked in there. He hunched beneath the canopy, so quiet I hardly knew he was there. We walked, all along the boardwalk and out to the end of the pier. We got ice cream. It was lovely. The perfect evening.


Below is the view from our room on our last night. I wasn’t awake nearly late enough to fully appreciate it. (I love marinas.)

Yes, San Diego was great. (We even got to visit Tonya.)


We also visited our best friends.


And got in touch with dinosaurs.


We went Stampeding.


And even dressed the part.


We camped. (This is his “hi!” face.)


And we went to farmers’ markets.


Lots of ‘em.


Yes, it was good.


How was your summer?

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Explore: Life in Pictures, Vol. 4

Alternatively titled: How to Make a Thursday Feel Like a Saturday

We had an adventure last week. The exploring kind. More for me, I guess, since we went somewhere I hadn’t been before that Rich had (and he has the scar to remember it by). It was somewhere I’ve wanted to go since we moved here and now that we’ve been I have no idea why we didn’t go sooner. It’s a town not all that far from here that’s best known for its dinosaurs. The real kind, and, as it turns out, the kind people put on signs to make the most of the millions-of-years-old tourist attraction dinosaurs create.

I figured it would be fun to go, and a dinosaur-themed day was sure to be a hit with Connor. Rich suggested a couple of other stops along the way and, like any good explorer, I was game.

And, oh, was it a good day.

Here, then, is how to make a Thursday feel like a Saturday. It’s really not hard at all.


1. Put your kids in the car and drive for an hour and a half until the landscape looks like something from another planet.


2. Climb up high.


3. Take the opportunity to admire the view and get some perspective.


4. (If you do it on the day your baby gets his first tooth, you end up with a sad little dinosaur.)


5. But he’s a good sport about it, so play with him anyway.


5. Find the world’s largest dinosaur.


5. Climb into its mouth. (Resist the urge to add to your four-year-old’s terror over the situation by making loud roaring noises.)


5. Decide to see what happens if you take the aforementioned scaredy-cat child to a museum with actual dinosaurs.


6. Clarify that the dinosaurs aren’t really real, because the four-year-old thinks real means alive and he seems convinced that the Tyrannosaurus is going to eat him. (Secretly think he’s lucky he’s behaving well that day, otherwise you might have been tempted to see if T-Rex wanted a nibble.) Then measure him next to a dinosaur’s foot (but don’t point out that the dinosaur could crush with one toe any small boys who throw things at their little brothers).


7. Watch your boys draw. Smile.


8. Then get up close and personal with a wooly mammoth (without the wool).


9. Head back out and find some dirt to play in.


10. Ponder life and the elements and the meaning of time in the context of evidence of the millennia that created amazing things.


11. Be grateful you live in a place that offers such diversions close enough to do them as day trips with your kids.


12. Finish exploring and hit the highway so you’re home in time for dinner.


But stop for ice cream first.