Sunday, July 31, 2011

Construction - Part 2

 




The final product!  Our friend Brandon did an AWESOME job!  The detail that he put into our front steps is more then we would have ever expected!  If you live in HRM and ever need a Journey Man Carpenter, let us know and we'll hook you up!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Slice of Life - Happy Accidents



This week's Slice of Life photography challenge is "Share the photos that almost went to the trash pile, but you now see the beauty in."

The day I took this shot I had taken over 50 shots of Liam jumping on the trampoline.  It's really hard to time the shot with the jumps.  I have about 45 shots of the neighbour's roof and the tree top.  I didn't plan on keeping this picture - he's not centered and he has an odd look on his face.  But when I started playing with the lighting and colours in Picasa, the picture really started to grow on me.

Share your happy accidents!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Construction - Part 1

From this:


To this:


and will be continued next weekend!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Destruction!

From this:

This is an old picture of our front steps, taken in 2005 when we bought the house. Look how small the forsythia's are compared to now.

To this:


Tomorrow is Construction!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Slice of Life - Round



It's funny that as soon as I get the weekly prompt from Darrah's Slice of Life, that I start seeing the theme everywhere around me.  My problem is that I am often too shy to just whip out my camera and take a picture.  I've started carrying my camera with me when I go places, and even just having it around my neck makes me think that everyone is staring at me.  I see all sorts of great shots, but I just can't work up the nerve.  

So that is my challenge to myself for the next week.  Stop and take a picture, no matter who is around.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Slice of Life - Reflections

I'm a week behind with this Slice of Life - Life just got away from me!




The prompt this week was "to take a little time with your reflection."

We so often don't take pictures of ourselves because we want to hide our imperfections or don't want others to see what we think we see when we look in the mirror.  I hate pictures of me and have since I was a child. I don't know how to smile, I hold my head at a funny angle, I have too many chins. But one of the things that I really notice when I'm working on Liam's scrapbooks, is that there aren't very many pictures of just me or of him and I together.  I need to make sure to get in front of the camera whenever I can.  I don't hate my reflection when I look in the mirror, so chances are that what everyone else sees isn't so bad either.

Be sure to check out the other Slice of Life posts here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Knowing the difference

It’s been just over a year that Liam has been diagnosed with ADHD and taking medication for it. It’s been an amazing year – he went from reading at a kindergarten level to a grade three level. While we got him extra help for reading, I honestly believe that having the ADHD under control thanks to the medication was a huge factor in things. On those odd days where life is so crazy that we forget his medication in the morning, we are quickly reminded that there are many, many reasons for him to be taking it every day.

The medication is great, but it does only stay in his system for a specific period of time, so by the time everyone is home from school/camp/work, he is mostly medication free and very ADHDish. We do have a short acting dose that he can take late in the afternoon if we have something going on in the evening, but since it interferes with both his appetite and his ability to fall asleep, we don’t give it to him every day.

So while it’s great that he is in control and not so impulsive during the day so that he can learn, form friendships and play, Hilary and I get the brunt of the OMG-PULL-MY-HAIR-OUT behaviours in the evening.

What I’m trying to contend with is knowing the difference between ADHD behaviours and just everyday 9 year old stuff. Being that he’s an only child and none of our close friends have kids his age, we have no comparison points. Some things are very obviously ADHD driven – the need for constant motion, jumping on the trampoline, fidgeting, moving, spinning. These were some of the first behaviours to go when we started him on the medication. After 2 days we suddenly realized that we hadn’t said “Liam stop spinning” once, let alone the 10 billion times a day we had been saying it previously.

We’ve been struggling with Liam swearing lately. Both Hilary and I have been known to sound like a sailor if the situation warranted it, but we’ve been really good at not swearing (too much) in front of Liam. I first blogged about his swearing almost exactly one year ago. It’s not constant, but there are times when it drives me crazy!! I thought the swearing was just an age thing, trying his hand mouth at being all grown up. Till I came across a post that talked about how swearing is processed by the brain in the same area that is affected by ADHD and how kids with ADHD often swear more than non-ADHD kids. Who knew!

It got me thinking…. am I giving Liam a free pass on some things because I think it’s the ADHD or am I too hard on him for other things that may really be out of his control?

Knowing the difference is hard.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Daring Kitchen - Home made Pasta

Blog-checking lines: Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks' July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

I was very excited by this months challenge.  I have never made home made pasta before.  Even Hilary's only tried it once.  The good thing is that we had all the toys - pasta roller, drying rack, even ravioli trays - that Hilary had gotten for a birthday gift years ago.  They all lived in their boxes tucked away in the cupboard.  The drying rack would get pulled out every now and then to use to dry Ziplock bags.

I had the house to myself one Saturday (Hilary was working and Liam was at a sleepover) so I set to work.  I had read countless recipes and watched dozens of videos; it was time to get my hands dirty.  I made 2 different recipes, 1 with all semolina flour, and one that was mostly white flour with only a 1/4 cup of semolina.  Everything I had read said that pasta made with semolina flour tastes better but is much harder to work with.  I was fully believing that as I was mixing it, since the flour has the texture of corn meal and my dough felt like I had dropped it in a sand box.  I didn't think it would turn out into nice smooth pasta noodles at all.  By contrast the white flour dough was easy to mix and formed into a nice ball very quickly.


After letting the doughs rest, it was time to start rolling.  I started with the semolina and it seemed like the difficulties were going to continue.  But after 2-3 passes through the roller it was smooth and easy to work with.


I was so excited when I ran the first sheet through the cutters and it came out looking like actual spaghetti!

The white flour pasta turned out to be much harder to work with.  It was sticky and required the addition of a lot of flour before each pass through the rollers, otherwise it got stuck and made a big mess. The colour of the semolina pasta is also a much richer yellow and just looks nicer.


I served the pasta using one of my favourite recipes that Hilary makes - cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and Brie all tossed on hot pasta.  It's a delicious blend of flavours and goes best with fresh pasta,


This was a great Daring Kitchen Challenge.  Without that push I would have NEVER considered trying to make my own pasta.  I don't think I'll be doing it every weekend, but I will definitely try it again.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Slice of Life - Summer

This shot of Liam reminds me of all things summer - the sun, shade trees and  being outside having fun.


Be sure to check out Darrah's blog for everyone else's Slice of Life Summer shots.

Nine


Friday, July 8, 2011

The end.

This journey started more than 40 years ago, when the decision to place me for adoption was made. The journey of my life took a left turn when I was born and I travelled down the new road that was put before me. Iris continued down her own road and it would be 31 years before our 2 roads would cross again.

For me, the journey to find Iris was a long and slow one that spanned more than 10 years. I would occasionally research things at the library or check out reunion websites, but mainly I waited for the Ontario Adoption Reunion Registry to get to my name on their list. That is what took 10 years. It took them about 10 minutes once they actually got to my name. They opened the file, looked up Iris’s name and made a phone call.

The reunion road itself was bumpy and bendy and hard to travel. After keeping me a secret for so long, Iris was slow to reach out. She did eventually and our relationship grew from letters to phone calls to meeting for lunch and spending time at her house.

Yet a real and open relationship could never be. Iris had never told anyone about the baby she placed in 1970, not even her daughter who still lives with her. For many years I respected Iris’s need for privacy, I followed her rules – I never called or sent letters to the house, I waited for her to contact me. After 2 years of silence, checking obits or having friends call her house, I decided enough was enough. I would not be kept a secret! I broke my promise and reached out to Iris at home.

While the mechanics of getting a letter to Iris were initially difficult, my friend Julie finally arrived at the house (with my Mom stashed in the car down the road!). She knocked on the door and told Iris who she was delivering the letter from. Iris was TERRIFIED. She kept looking over her shoulder (presumably to make sure Madelaine couldn’t over hear) and refused to take the letter or even let my friend tell her what was in it.

I was pretty upset initially. It felt like such a huge rejection. I decided to sit on things for a few days before deciding what, if anything, I was going to do next. I’m glad I waited!

2 days later I got a call from my Mom. She doesn’t often call in the afternoon, since she knows that I’m working. Well! It was quite the phone call. Iris called her.

Yes, Iris reached out and called. Unfortunately she had to sneak out of the house and call from a payphone at the grocery store. She felt horrible for what had happened when Julie tried to deliver the letter and wanted to explain. Madelaine is apparently suffering from a mental illness and can be very unstable and often suicidal. She is also very controlling and does not allow Iris the freedom that she deserves. Iris lives her life in fear of setting Madelaine off and having to suffer through the aftermath.

Iris poured her heart out to my Mom. She apologized for not contacting me and refusing the letter, but she did not feel that she could risk it. Madelaine had been laid off from her job a couple of years ago, and since then has been home every day, in essence cutting Iris off from anything that Madelaine did not approve of or was not a part of. Iris feels that Madelaine finding out about me at this point in her life would be too much for her to handle and Iris fears the consequences that could come of it. She even went so far as to tell my Mom that she had given away the wrong daughter.

My heart aches for Iris. I cannot imagine having to live in such an abusive relationship, and that at the age of 80 there does not seem to be any possible way out.

My Mom told Iris the dates that I was going to be visiting and invited her to come out or call if she felt that she could. Unfortunately I did not hear from Iris while I was there. I have no way of reaching out to her, so I can only hope that she is okay.

And so I’m letting our journey come to an end here. I don’t want to do anything that would put Iris in harm’s way or make her life any more difficult. I have accepted that the bit of time we had to get to know each other is all that there will be.

It’s still hard and it still hurts but it is the end.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Slice of Life

This weeks theme is "close ups".  I'm on vacation at my Mom's and I love to go out in the field and capture photos of the wild flowers.  Before I had even read this week's Slice of Life theme, I had taken this shot.


All of the flowers are so pretty, but this huge dandelion-like one caught my eye. The seeds remind me of jelly fish.  The entire ball looks so solid from a distance, but so very delicate when you get up close.

Be sure to check out Darrah's blog for everyone else's Close Up Posts.