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our tree

This tree has a story.  It’s a story about family – and about passion, generosity, having fun and good friends.

It’s not long or complicated – but it’s woven into the story of our lives since 2005. My parents gave us this tree, a flowering hydrangea (my fav) as a gift for our garden at our fist apartment together.  My dad helped us plant it, and we loved it.  When we decided to move three years later, the tree had to come with us.  By that point my Dad wasn’t supposed to be hanging out with plants as closely as he would like, so we rang up a couple of close friends.  They didn’t even raise an eyebrow.  Of course they’d help move the tree. They came to our little apartment, dug up the tree, drove the tree 45 minutes south to my parents for safe keeping (until we found our next home) and replanted it. In the rain.  Beers and a few good pictures marked the event, and our little tree stayed with us.

2008 tree

Trees don’t love to be transplanted.  This one was no different.  The tree didn’t flower the next spring.  It looked weak and had some spots on the bark.  My Dad, against doctors orders, fertilized and cared for the tree.  The next year it flowered. More flowers than in all the previous years.

By 2010 we had moved into a new house, had a baby, and were pretty sure this place was going to be our home for the foreseeable future.  We had found our next oasis.  My dad didn’t like the neighborhood, he was worried about our choice, but my mom talked him down and they even came to visit and enjoy our “backyard”.  It was time to bring the tree back. This time to our new home with our little family.  Our friends lives were busier, and time for carefree plant transplanting was a little more scarce.  New jobs, new homes, serious girlfriends or wives were in the picture – but when we called, they still made the time.  After a busy day at work, they all met out at my parents, dug up the tree, drove it 45 minutes north to Vancouver, dug up another bush, and planted the tree.  In the dark. And in the rain.  Beers and a few pictures marked the event, and our little tree stayed with us.

tree1 2010tree

A couple of years went by.  The tree loved our place.  It flowered and grew, it looked great in the garden, and our family and friends gathered many times through the springs and summers in our yard.  It was wonderful, and Cam and I often smiled at how far the little tree had come.  Life was busier still. Our friends all got married, moved into new homes, and had babies.  We all still made time for each other, and the friendships that started in university or before, continued to be strengthened by life’s experiences together. In that time, we were blessed with two baby girls.  Three weeks later, after meeting them once, my Dad closed his eyes for the last time.  Time does not heal all wounds.  That loss does not get easier each day. But the memories of his generosity and love and laughter remind us of the happiness he brought to this world, and of the kind of people we want to be.

A couple of years after the twins were born, we had clearly outgrown our little  home, and we knew it was time to move the tree once again.  We hoped it would survive another transplant, and knew it was not a good time of year to move it.  The timing was tight and we had no choice.  We had to move the tree.  We were embarrassed to ask our friends to help us once again.  We looked in to renting a truck for a day, or hiring someone to move it.  But the reality was that we needed the help of someone who knew the tree, and knew how much it meant to our family – how entwined it was with our history and our future.  By this time it was a gorgeous tree that flowered with big white beautiful smelling blooms that faded into pink and lasted until the fall.  It was healthy and strong.  We called for help.

Without a question, our friend came again.  This time he and Cam moved the tree.  We didn’t know where we were moving to (again) so it needed to go back to my parents house (again).  Busy lives and jobs and babies meant that they didn’t have time for the beer this time, but did snap this photo of the event, and the little tree stayed with us.

tree

 

My mom took on the role of guardian.  She watered and cared for our little tree.  She watched the spots grow on the bark, and the leaves get weak once again – but she nurtured it back.  She loves that tree as much as we do, and she knows how much it means to us.

Today we live in a beautiful home with our big little family, and as the first year passes us by in our new place we know it will be time soon, again, to transplant the tree and bring it home to us – where we hope to live for many years to come.

This tree: given to us with love,  has shown us so much.  It has helped remind us of what incredible friends we have.  It has shown us about resiliency and over-coming odds.  It has shown us about disease and sickness, and the ability to overcome to beauty.  It reminds us of the power of loving something and believing in it, the need to nurture and help those things we love to survive and thrive.

This tree has a story – it’s our story.

this is our tree today…

 

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jam!

Our kids now actively request “craft” or “baking” time.  It makes my heart sing to see how much joy they get out of creating things.  Even if I have no idea what they have created (a little awkward when they ask me for commentary on said ‘creation’).  It’s a side of each of them that I want to nurture – pure creativity.  No lines to colour in, no instruction to follow, just ‘make’.  It often results in painted clothes and faces, play dough in nails and toes (and food) and belly buttons perminantly coloured a little blue.  But – it’s a small price to pay to see the looks on their proud, satisfied little faces.

serious masher

I love making things with our kids.  I want them to feel confident in the kitchen, and to understand that they have endless creative power when it comes to what they eat (once we actually hand over said ‘power’).  This past weekend we lucked in to finding some fresh local strawberries.  It was a rainy saturday so I thought it might be a good opportunity to get them all in the kitchen making some jam.  It was a blast.  They mashed berries, they measured sugar, they squashed lemons and they stirred the red sweet goodness.  Upon seeing the amount of sugar that goes in to making a good portion of jam, they also all decided that they now like jam.  An unintended good side effect.  I’ll take it.

child labour

Our jam recipe is very basic (below) but it makes for good kid fun if you are in the mood… and if you’re in the BC Lower Mainland ‘hood’  check out Krause berry farm.  There are berries to pick, and activities to play as well as a store and restaurant on site.

jam

On a side note – we took the left over berries and blended them up with ice, OJ (or equal parts sugar & water) and had amazing strawberry “slushies” three days in a row.  so good!

no-cook strawberry jam!

I don’t like to go by exact measurements because I find it’s about ratios for good jam – it all depends on how many strawberries you have. One thing to note is that you need to work in smallish batches or it won’t settle properly.  But roughly:  3 cups of mashed up strawberries (about 7 cups pre-mashing), 3 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice (fresh is way better than bottled), and one package of pectin

  1. wash your containers in hot soapy water (if you cook your jam you need to boil the containers in advance)
  2. wash and then mash berries as finely as you like them (we are a no-chunk family so the mashing was quite involved)
  3. add sugar, stir and let sit for 10 mins
  4. add pectin and lemon juice and stir for 5 minutes
  5. pour into jars, seal, and leave on a shelf for 24 hours to settle

jam will be good for 3-4 weeks in the fridge or 3-4 months in the freezer

strawberries!

super dad!

I don’t know when it happened.

One day we were sitting out by my parents pool celebrating the end to another year at university, and the next we had three kids, two cars, six giant trees and an only slightly terrifying mortgage. In the span of four short years Cam has become the Dad to three kids who’s favorite pastimes include riding horsey all at once and playing gang-up on daddy soccer.

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Cam isn’t the kind of guy who wakes up one morning and decides he’s going to start a family.  He’s a thinking man.  A weigh-er of options.  A studier of situations.  An analyzer and a question ask-er.  He thinks it through, talks it through and sees all the potential issues that might arise.  He is patient, and kind, and thoughtful.  He is married, as you likely know, to a doer.  A not-super rational-er. A lets just give it a try-er.   So together we take steps, and sometimes leaps, and when we’re lucky things work out.  But sometimes it’s scary.  And he is there.  Always.  Mopping up the floor, picking up the child, thinking of the best way forward, or out, or over…. And it’s in those times that I look at him, this boy who turned into a man, who turned into a Dad… and I wonder how I ever got so lucky.

We started with one.  We were among the first in our friendship group to have a baby – so we worried about how this new phase would impact our enchanted life.  He was kind of a dream baby… so we ended up with lots of sleep, and lots of big smiles early on.

one

Cam turned into “Dad” within seconds.  He cared for and adored Matthew from moment one, as most dads do.  But for Cam, it meant stepping outside of his comfort zone, every minute of the day.  And from that morning in December four and half years ago on, he has continued to step up and be an unbelievably engaged Dad.  Matt became a part of our every day.  We didn’t have to change very much, but through Cam’s choices he brought Matt along into his love of hockey, his roller coaster passion for the canucks, his enjoyment of lego and cereal, and icecream.  Matt adores his dad.  I think it’s in large part because every day Matt can tell his Dad adores him too….

cam and matty cam and matt1 cam and matt2 cam and matt3

 

Every step of the way it’s been exhilarating, scary, and filled with questions – and at each point, right as I wasn’t sure how we were going to tackle this next hurdle I felt it … his arm slide around my back.  And I’d know we were going to be okay because we were in it together.  There have been some crazy moments.  And some really hard moments (And to those of you reading who are way ahead of us – I know … the real tough stuff is yet to come).  I’ll never forget his face when Matt was just 10 months old and I drove up to his office and asked him to come downstairs to meet me.  Tears streaming down my face I thrust the ultrasounds towards him.  He didn’t understand.  He thought something was wrong.  I had gone to this ultrasound alone – after baby #1 things get busier and you can’t be there for each step together, divide and conquer is sometimes just reality.  The recognition of what “A” and “B” meant crept across his face and I watched intently through a blur of my own fear.  I had pushed too hard this time.  How were we going to do this? Our son wouldn’t even be a year and a half when we had TWO more babies.  We lived in a tiny, amazing, perfect little house… with two bedrooms.  We had an easy, comfortable life.  How?  He looked at me and smiled.  He hugged me super tight.  And he said, Ker – we can do this – this is wonderful news.  And again – he was right.

buschel3

Our baby girls came  five weeks early and had to spend some time in the hospital.  This was our first time away from Matt, my Dad was nearing the end –  and with each passing day our girls were getting weaker instead of stronger.  Cam stood strong.  He went home daily to play with, feed and put Matty to sleep – while his mom dropped everything and cared for our son and my mom cared for my ailing dad.  He came back with pictures and sometimes even a smiling Matty.  He held my hand when a nursery stay turned into a (quick in hindsight) visit to the NICU, and when increased oxygen turned into CPAP and when nursing turned into feeding tubes.  Our girls rallied quickly, and again we were lucky.  By day 10 we were all heading home together.  Our family of five.

hostpital hospital babiesour family

Cam showed Matty how to be an amazing brother.  He coloured and played soccer, ate freezies and went for walks, answered endless “why” questions and went on countless drives to either make babies sleep or take one who had had enough out of the scene.  He shared the secret of delicious milkshakes with hidden fruit, and he learned to love to read stories and signs and cereal boxes to our inquisitive kiddos.  Despite what you see in these pictures Cam doesn’t love to dress up.  Being super man and Santa – not his fav.  But he does it, and now he does it without even so much as a “seriously?!” look my way (getting him to be peter pan for the girls birthday might be a bit of a stretch but I’ll try…)

milkshake santa love first steps

He’s amazing.

And now that we have friends and family with their own babes, I’ve loved watching each of those guys turn into Dads and be amazing. These last four years have been crazy, and busy and demanding – but Cam knows how fast it’s flying.  Yesterday we had three kids who couldn’t walk or feed themselves.  Today they know how to gang up on him in a water gun fight.  Tomorrow they’ll wave out the window as they drive off to university.  And in between I’m sure we’ll have heartache, and struggle and worry.  And I’m just so unbelievably grateful to have this amazing guy as the Dad to our kids – because I know we’ll get through it…with a smile.  Happy fathers day sweetie.

hawaii