What I did on my Summer Vacation

Summer of 2012 is probably the first in 20 years that I have been able to manage in the heat and enjoy my Summer.  It also feels like the one that has whizzed by the fastest.  Even though I have been enjoying it, I am (as always) looking forward to it being Fall – one of my two favourite seasons of the year (the other being Spring).

May 2012:

Beginning the first week of May, my partner started teaching a 12-week course at SFU in Burnaby.  This meant weekly commutes between White Rock to the in-laws and back home to Kelowna until wrapping up the first week of August.  Some of those trips were overnight and others were a week or longer when our kitties were left to fend for themselves (with visits from friends, our neighbour and an abandoned dog).  Over the Victoria Day long weekend in May, I traveled home to Parksville with my son while my partner worked in White Rock on her dissertation.  Most of May for me was prepping for surgery and getting chores done around the house I would not be able to do once I had my surgery.

June 2012:

On June 1st, I had my surgery and thankfully, it was a great healing experience for me.  I have a lot of gratitude for those who helped my body and I prepare both for the surgery and the recovery in the weeks that followed.  I still cannot believe I had surgery three months ago.  We spent the first week of June in a hotel room while I recovered from surgery closer to my surgeon in Vancouver before returning home for our sons last few weeks of pre-school.

Two weeks into my surgery recovery, I took on the position of Volunteer Coordinator for Okanagan Pride where I was trying to coordinate over 50 volunteers for eight events during Pride week.  Something I really do not recommend any one take on while recovering from surgery.  As much as I was looking forward to what was the biggest and most successful Okanagan Prides ever, I was burnt out long before it started and was looking forward to it being over.

July 2012:

In July, my partner and son were out of town and I was a Bachelor for Two Weeks.  Most of the time I spent in Kelowna by myself but I did take a Road Trip for five nights to my home town of Parksville.  The same nights that my partner was in Paris presenting at a conference, my son was gone to the Rockies with his grandparents (and most of those nights, I was in Parksville).

In early July, I got a lot of work accomplished (noted in Bachelor for Two Weeks) and started working on goals for primarily the Summer of 2012 but also preparing to head into the Fall of 2012.  It took me a few weeks, but I eventually turned what was initially just a quick checklist in Back to Reality, into well thought out SMART goals and a list of tasks that I am tracking on my Dreamboard Goals page.  At the end of July, I wrote and passed two of my Crystal Healing Exams and officially became a Crystal Healing Practitioner.

August 2012:

The first week of August was spent between White Rock and New Westminster.  I have to say that most of the weekend felt like a family vacation which was great!  I published the following blog posts about our adventures while we were on the coast:

Our son attended his first (Grossology) Lego Camp with Bricks for Kidz in Kelowna.  The following week he spent away from us with his grandparents in White Rock where he attended another camp.  As if I was not busy enough coordinating volunteers and volunteering myself for Okanagan Pride week, that same week, we started our canning for the year.  We started canning season with Cherry and Apricot canning and then on to making 46 jars of Canned Peach Salsa.  While recuperating the week after Pride, I landed a job that has me heading Back to Work in September.  I also caught up on work, relaxed and enjoyed the week off while our son was away before picking him up at Britton Creek.  I even spent four hours one morning on the patio of Blenz catching up on reading my Popular Photography magazines.

During the Labour Day weekend, we went to the IPE in Armstrong and also started canning just plain old Canned Peaches.  Because of how much canning we had already done this season, I bought two 12 packs of quart sized canning jars and will need to buy more.  Pears are just coming into season and I am not sure yet if we will can any tomatoes or spaghetti sauces this year.

Summer of Firsts:

Summer 2012 has also been a Summer for a lot of firsts for me thanks to the surgery I waited over six years for:

  • Felt the sun on my back
  • Felt the rain on my chest
  • Went topless in public
  • Enjoyed the Summer heat
  • Bought men’s swim trunks
  • First successful career change
  • Played with my son in the water park
  • True confidence and motivation
  • Living and enjoying life
  • Present in the Here and Now
  • Feel complete and the man I was meant to be

It was not until at least two months post-op that I realized just how much not having had my surgery affected my ability to live a healthy and fulfilling life.  Since surgery on June 1st, I have not just had the desire or dream of doing certain things in life (such as blogging and photography), I am actually doing them as you can see from the progress noted on my Dreamboard Goals page.

Now that Fall is settling in and our Summer is winding down, I really look forward to going back to a somewhat scheduled weekly routine:  my partner and son at school and most of all, my being back at work!  I am looking forward to getting back to Geocaching and finally succeeding in my Weight Loss Journey.

This post marks my first 1,000+ word blog post!  Now to celebrate with my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season!

Pumpkin Spice Latte and Pumpkin Scone

What did you do on your Summer vacation?  Did you go to any fairs?  Take in any parades?

Daddy Reward – The Gift of Patience

One of the greatest life lessons I feel I have learned since becoming a father, is patience.  I am sure most parents can attest to the fact that having kids, especially smaller children, can really slow down your day and be frustrating at the best of times when you are in a hurry to go somewhere or get something done.

We were fortunate enough to have our son in daycare/pre-school that either was or had Waldorf philosophy.  He helped prepare (cut with a butter knife) the fruits and veggies for snack, made soup and baked bread a couple times a week.  The children also helped with gardening, folding laundry and setting the table and cleaning up at snack time.

As my son has gotten older and because of his tasks at school, I have allowed him to help me out more when I am doing chores around the house and he offers to help.  There is always the urge to want to tell him “no” because it is much quicker for me to just do it myself.  I won’t let him help when there is a chance he might get burned or cut himself.

It has always broken my heart to see my son upset, especially when it comes to telling him “no” he can’t help me out (until he’s older).  Growing up, there were times I wanted to help out and was not allowed and at times, it really upset me.  I don’t want to do that to him.  There are times when there really is nothing he could help out with and I do have to tell him no.  Other times, I will just make up something for him to do because of the sense of pride he gets from helping out – even if it’s just retrieving a bowl from the cupboard that I don’t need.

I worked pretty fast preparing the fruit for our Cherry and Apricot Canning and can have several pounds of fruit prepared for canning in a short amount of time.  The cherries just need to be stemmed and then washed while the apricots need to be washed, cut in half and pitted (we don’t pit our cherries).  My partner then packs the jars, fills them with water and then into the canning water bath they go.

When we were preparing the apricots for canning, my son wanted to help us.  I had decided he could pit the apricots after resisting the urge to tell him “no” he couldn’t help because it would have slowed down the food prep.  I cut the apricots in half, threw the half without the pit into the bowl and placed the half with the pit on the tray in front of him.

Pride ensued as he kept exclaiming that because he was helping out, things were speeding up.  I would just smile and agree because the sense of pride he had in helping out was worth more then me pitting the apricots myself and being done a few minutes sooner.

If you are a parent yourself and have kids that want to help out, do you let them?  Do you find creative ways to include your kids in what you are doing?  Or do you (still) feel the need to get things “done faster” without them?

Cherry and Apricot Canning

Growing up on Vancouver Island, I was used to canning salmon every Summer with my family.  This was back in the day of great fishing and being allowed to catch and keep up to 4 salmon and 3 cod a day.  Pre mid 1990’s, you could fill up the boat with four people and come back with 16 salmon within the hour which of course made up for the days you caught absolutely nothing.  We always had an abundance of salmon to last us through the non-Summer months including: smoked salmon, canned salmon, salmon steaks and of course, whole salmons.

My partner and I started canning fruit the Summer after we moved to the Okanagan.  My grandmother always canned cherries but growing up, my family did not do a lot of canning.  Every few years, my Mom would make raspberry jam, strawberry jam and zucchini relish.  When I was in college, Dad and I would make dill beans (which I really need to get the recipe for).

In the past three years, we have canned:  pears, apricots, cherries, peaches, tomatoes, green ketchup, red ketchup and peach salsa.  So far this Summer, we have canned closer to 50lbs of cherries and yesterday we picked closer to 75lbs of apricots – less then half of which was canned as of last night.  There is a good chance that we will go and pick more apricots next weekend and we are only two fruits into our canning season.

Last year, we took down closer to 80lbs of seconds (produce they can’t sell for premium price but is great for canning) for about $23.00 (there was another six boxes of tomatoes in the backseat of the car):

Trunk full of Peaches, Apricots and tomatoes.

Above are the peaches used in our first attempt at canning Peach Salsa.  Because we went through about a jar a month, we were almost out by the Solstice!  I am hoping we can at least double (if not do four times) the amount we did last Summer!

When my MIL cans apricots, she shells the kernels and places the almond like seeds into the jars to add flavour.  Last Summer, I tried one pre-canning and holy crap was it an awful, bitter taste!  Fresh from the kernel, they taste nothing like they do after they have been canned with the apricots.  In my Googling, I discovered that in central Asia and the Mediterranean, the Almonds are much sweeter then they are in North America.  I also came across this great article on Apricot Seeds Kill Cancer Cells without Side Effects:

Keep in mind that the cancer industry world wide is estimated at a 200 billion dollar a year industry. There are many in various associated positions within that industry who would be without a job if that cash flow dried up suddenly with the news that there are cheaper, less harmful, and more efficacious remedies available. Big Pharmacy would virtually vanish.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/027088_cancer_laetrile_cure.html#ixzz23LpOndsk

Doing what I do these days, I was very happy to read the health benefits to those tiny little seeds we can with our Apricots.

Do you do any canning?  Got any favourite recipes you want to share?