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Thursday, December 30, 2010


Joop watching the little ones and their HEX bugs on Christmas morn.

Fernando is fresh and clean! He is home from the dog groomers. He smells lovely and I washed all his pet beds too.
A clean dog is so much fun to cuddle.
Ever since I arrived home from our Christmas at the ski resort, I have been pooped. So I have taken it quite easy. A little shopping, movies in bed...and my morning workouts are excruciating. It is very hard to continue to get up at the crack of dawn and work out when everyone is still asleep. I have been meaning to post my workout videos yet I have had no time to date.
Not very Zen around my mind lately, no time to fret about life though; just want to push myself ahead and finish my MA.
Traditional Western Christmas has never agreed with me: too much shopping, too much feasting and too much drama. I am relieved that this year was my last one. From now on I celebrate Zen Christmases.
Bought myself a new ski jacket and ski pants--one must look her best on the slopes! Actually I have dreamed of looking so lovely since I was 14; designing in my mind the coolest outfit ever. I have always just put together this and that--trying to look my best but never having a complete smokin outfit. Now I do ;)
Just returned from the doctor--the girls and I had our flu shots. Better late than never. I read in the BBC news that the swine flu is sweeping across the UK this month. I thought it was dead--I never read anything about it in the news anymore. But now that I see it is attacking people in the UK again--time to vaccinate.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Big White Karaoke Christmas 2010

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lunar Spies

The girls getting ready for their camp out in the living room as night spies. They camped out with hopes of awakening at midnight to see the full moon/lunar eclipse and solstice all in one. They slept through it.
Pip was sure they'd all turn into werewolves at midnight and was looking forward to it.

Today I write because I am on fire. Full of energy both good and bad and I need a release.
My parents visited last night and left for home this morning. After we met for coffee this morning, I went to Sport Check to buy Pip a ski helmet--big mistake. I was in no mood. I accidentally pinched her chin as I tried to do one up and she became hysterical. The sales guy was useless. Instead of helping, he ran like a bat out of hell away from us--disappearing never to return again.
 Last night Tabs threw a paper airplane directly into my face with force. Its tip lodged only millimeters from my eyeball--just on the inner rim. I have a red pin hole in that spot this morning. And boy did it hurt! I contained myself rather well though, and instead of letting loose with profanity left, right and centre, I managed to order her from the room. I think the only nasty words that escaped my lips were the words "why would you do that you little freak?" but I can't be sure as no one can remember.

I have enough Air-miles to go to Asia and back and so do the kids. As Peter is going to Egypt and England in the New Year, it is time for me to plan a trip too! This year I was spoiled and got to go to Hawaii, Malaysia, Perhentian Islands and Hong Kong. Next year I want to travel lots too.
Looking back on my year it was nothing short of amazing! I love adventure and I had plenty! Some highlights:
-kayaking to a remote turtle breeding beach in the Perhentians and snorkeling with about 4 big sharks.
-getting stung by a jelly fish in the South China Sea.
-swimming in the middle of the South China Sea with a leather back sea turtle as big as a compact car!
-riding in a canoe down the mighty Tembeling River in the Taman Negara Jungle.
-Shooting rapids on the same river.
-surviving the modesty police in rural Eastern Malaysia
-crossing the rope, suspension canopy bridges in the Taman Negara jungle.
-surviving the Kona Coast current in Hawaii- being swept into open ocean and having the strength to make it back to shore!
-Our super mod and luxurious hotel in Hong Kong.

I have been told that I am not an easy person to handle alone for most people. I can be exhausting as I like to be engaged at all times in something even if it is just a good conversation. I do agree with that. I have decided the best way to describe me is passionate, energetic and adventure seeking. But at the same time, if I am engaged in a really good, deep sleep, I am very happy.

Have A ZEN Christmas every dear reader who managed to stay with me until the end of this post! xx

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Zen Christmas

I do hope Fernando's Christmas is Zen. He will be at the Dog Spa with 4 of his cousins.
Never travel anywhere overnight for Christmas unless you plan to go somewhere tropical and not celebrate Christmas in any traditional way--just a thought.

Again, the Buddhist in me must explain my Christmas celebration. I celebrate Christmas for many reasons even though I follow Buddhist philosophy in life. One reason is that I was raised Christian and it is tradition in my family for generations and generations to celebrate Christmas. In fact, after my ancestors left Druidism, they were converted into Christians with such passion that a few of my Irish Catholic great aunts were nuns. The second reason is that my husband was raised Christian and may just be a Christian still (I am unsure on this point). The third is for my children, as a few of them consider themselves Christian to some extent and they adore Christmas celebrations. And the fourth and most important reason I celebrate Christ's birthday is because I believe him to be an amazing holy man. From all my research he was truly kind, compassionate, wise and a feminist. He had it all! I believe the Christian church perverted his teachings to suit their own means and that perhaps is the biggest Christian tragedy of all to me. So as you can see I genuinely celebrate the birth of Christ. I honour a great holy man whose teaching I also follow.

Now...for some exciting thesis news: Although the ethics review board at UBC has been difficult for me to deal with, I have recieved a little diddy of info that has pumped my ego and made me more excited than ever about my research. I have to make changes, yes, before I get my study passed. However, my thesis has caused the most discussion amongst the most experts and more time than any research proposal to date at UBCO. A feather in my cap, I dare say. I am pleased-- it is such new and ground breaking research they had no past guidelines to compare it with. :) I did manage to apply for 2 conferences this spring even though I said I wouldn't--we'll see if I get selected to present.

I hope to blog over Christmas--to at least post our Karaoke competion videos! ;) I hope I can find the time. Tabs and I are ready with our dance/song duet. Although it is sung in such a high key, I blow out my voice box everytime we practice!

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Concert Collage

A few pics from the numerous Christmas concerts we attended these past few weeks.
Have had little time to blog this week. I am on twitter and facebook and blogger so my social media time is split.
Must meet with ethics board on Monday and fight for my study. They said no--too much deception. But it is because it is so new and ground breaking that no one understands the online social research and I must educate them. Will come prepared for the meeting with APA online guidelines. 
All I can say is I am insanely busy with my darling children and my thesis work. Decided I have a long way to go on my MA so am putting off conferences until next fall. Except for the grad student conference--I can present my thesis in process so I will do that this spring. I am loving academic life though. Seriously considering a PhD. I really want to be involved in the global literacy of women and I believe a PhD will give me the platform to make a difference and get involved in a larger level with some big literacy international orgs. Will see though. Baby steps. MA first then if I do a Ph.D. it will be in creative writing. As I love to write! The thing that I find the most difficult about a full time painting career is the social isolation. I am so social--I need to feel connected--all day alone in a studio spells HELL to me. I love to paint but on a smaller scale. I LOVE people too much.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

T'is The Season To Be Stressed

Pippi the Puppy
First the respite. My darling Pippi was a dog yesterday. I took my big girls to piano lessons in the evening and waited down town for an hour to pick them up. Pip fell asleep in the Van. I carried the sleeping girl into Starbucks and put her down on the chaise lounge. She awoke in time for banana cake. Dressed in her puppy hat, black tights and shirt, she was a magical delight--like a precious other worldly fairy creature. She entertained me with her charades of guess what she was: snowflake, reindeer, frog , etc. Watching that graceful, serious little soul act so intently for me at Starbucks was the greatest gift ever. It was a few moments of glorious wonder amidst a week of stress.
I am stressed. This is my rant. Do not read if you hate stressed people.
I am drowning in my thesis and now I have to write a paper for a directed studies class after I finish all my thesis work. Also, I must write a proposal to present a paper at a conference this spring. It must be done by the 20th. In addition, every night I have at least 2 places I have to be with the children. Tonight Tabs' has a concert and Mist is attending her friend's play downtown. I have had at least one child at home sick every single day for the last 2 weeks. I am trying to get all the present shopping done. I am worried about finding a job after I complete my masters--but guess what? As of today I am NOT looking for a job until I have handed in my thesis and passed my directed studies class. That won't be until the end of January I am sure--at the soonest. The UBCO ethics board finally meets today to determine if I can start my study. I've been waiting for approval since September.
Peter is in Vancouver so I missed my morning run--the washer jammed in the night and Tabs clothes for choir were still in water. By the time they were washed and dried it was too late for the bus. I drove the girls to school on black ice--the roads are terrible! My drive way a steep hill of solid ice--trying to get the 2 big garbage/recycle bins down this morning was hard.
I also have to find a dog sitter and pack the entire family up for Christmas at Big White. Never travel anywhere at Christmas. Christmas alone is exhausting without worrying about packing up a family of five and finding a dog sitter.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Toy Taker

Pippi as the Toy Taker
Pippi's favourite character from "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" is the Toy Taker. She likes to wear this costume to preschool.
Tabs had a wonderful choir performance today. It was at a church way down Lakeshore. We made it just in the nick of time. I taped a little of her performance so I hope to post it soon. Afterward Tabs and I stopped at our "office" and worked on our stories (Starbucks--we love to go together and write on our laptops). It is the best as Tabs blows kisses to me from across the table every once and awhile.
Pip has a bug: tummy, upper respiratory and fever.
 Mist is babysitting for Auntie M this evening. She had a girlfriend over for the day.
My CHristmas rant is this: The North American way of celebrating Christmas has evolved into mass commercialism and the en-slavery of women. Seriously. All the mother does is run all over shopping and cooking and everyone else enjoys themselves. I don't like this tradition at all. I don't like feasting. It had its place in a society that had little food. But in our society feasting happens daily and we don't need anymore sugar!
Next year things will be very different for my family. I will celebrate how I want. Gifts from Santa for the children and that is all. No excessive feasting. GIngerbread cookie making for the kids and that is all. A traditional Christmas dinner and a pumpkin pie for dessert (because it is my girl's favourite). A tree will be our only decoration. Simple. Free the woman.
Tomorrow the big weekly house clean, a mountain hike, a friends book launch and picking up our Christmas tree.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

UBC Annual Review 2009-2010

Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning
As a teacher in the Faculty of Education at UBC’s Okanagan campus, Peter teaches students to be good teachers. But as Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning, his job also extends to ensuring that the campus’ 300 faculty and 100 TAs have the tools and support they need to teach effectively. “Our mission is to support, promote and lead excellence in teaching and learning through a variety of programming opportunities.”
Partners in Teaching and Scholarship 
One of the ways he promotes excellence in teaching is through the Partners in Teaching and Scholarship Program, which pairs new faculty with experienced faculty members outside their department to discuss goals, teaching, scholarship and even work/life balance. “We have lunches where the pairs gets to meet. It helps the new faculty members in their transition, and we have so many mentors who want to give back and really make an impact on their new colleagues.”
Inspiring Excellence through Support
Making sure UBC’s faculty can stay on top of their game requires Peter to keep on top of his. With one of his specialties being learning technologies, he keeps abreast of the ever-changing field so that he can support UBC’s staff as they work to improve their teaching efforts. “We support the course management system (Web CT Vista) and other learning technologies,” he says, adding that because technology is always changing, it’s critical to provide support in order to ensure it’s used effectively. “Faculty are willing to take risks in the classroom if they know someone is there to assist them. They come to us with ideas for improvements, and we support their efforts.”
Why did you choose to work at UBC?
I came here to lead the work in educational technology and it was a natural progression to build an academic development centre for teaching and learning. We’re now a team of five immersed in learning about successful learning environments, and we have such a good working relationship with the amazing people here. We all love coming to work.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Lovely Daughters

Mist, Tabs and Pip pose before their piano recital
A dramatic pose
A relaxed pose
Mom couldn't stay away
Me and my girls

Tabitha and Mistaya played piano at The Dorchester retirement home last evening. The students perform and the residents enjoy Christmas piano music. On entering the facility we were ambushed by a very angry old woman who was obviously suffering from dementia. She shouted at us to STOP! I TOLD YOU TO STOP! What is wrong with you? Don't you listen? It was rather horrible to be shouted at as angrily. I tried to calm her by saying, "Pardon me?" in a calm voice but that only made her nastier.
Mist and Tabs both home today. Mist sore throat and Tabs nausea. I had a tummy bug on the weekend so perhaps this is what is wrong with Tabs. Pip and I are fine though. Pip is always busy playing with Fernando, drawing or playing with her cousin Artemis. 
No Christmas tree yet as we have been running around all week and haven't even had a chance to get the week's groceries. 
Mistaya's sleep over party was a great success on the weekend. However she seems to have ended up with this sore throat and has yet to go to school this week. She missed her band concert last night because playing the bass clarinet is impossible with a sore throat.
Me? Busy working out, doing my thesis study, shopping for Christmas presents, attending concerts, children's lessons. Feeling a little Christmas season fatigue already. I am a low key Christmas girl. I'd rather have the simplest holiday in the world. I don't like mass commercialism and feasting. But the only way to achieve the simple Christmas is to travel far away each year. My goal would be to volunteer as an ecotourist each Christmas and spend the holiday working with wild life around the globe. Such plans are very pricey for a family of five and this is why I don't. 

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream Cake

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream Cake by Melissa Mix Hart

1 cup ginger snap cookie crumbs 
1 cup crushed pecans
1/4 cup melted butter.
-press into a 10" spring-form pan
-bake 10 min at 350 oF
-when done, drizzle with 1/2 jar carmel or butterscotch sundae sauce.

14 ounce can of pumpkin pie filling
1.65 litre Butter Pecan or Pecan Pie flavour ice cream
-place ice cream in refrigerator for about 1/2 h to soften.
-mix ice cream and pie filing well.
-pour on top of cooled crust.
-freeze over night.
-in the morning pour on the rest of the carmel sauce onto the top of cake and smooth into a circle.
-pipe tuffs of whip cream along the edges of cake.
-remove spring-form pan and serve.

* I invented this recipe for Mistaya's birthday because pumpkin pie Blizzards are her favorite treat. It turned out perfectly and it was delicious!

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Saturday, December 4, 2010


One happy recovering sugar addict on her way to a Christmas Party. Forgive the fake Hollywood smile please--we were in a rush and I had to pose quickly. It's good for a chuckle anyway!
I am out of denial. I am a self-confessed sugar addict. It was easy to live in denial for so many years--my entire life to date! You see, I always prided myself on my sweet tooth. Believing it to be the secret to being thin. I can give up any food except sweets. Thus, I thought being a sugar addict actually kept me thin. However, soon I do give up on meals. Soon I am only wanting homemade peanut butter-marshmallow squares and ice cream--nutrition be damned! I gave up on grains--only eating sprouted whole grains and whole grain pasta, brown rice , etc., yet I refused to let go of sugar. If there were no grains in it: i.e. ice cream and my peanut butter-marshmallow squares, then eat away!
Here I am, on a low-sugar diet and loving it. How? Well, I developed adult acne, mood swings and exhaustion and strong hormonal responses during my cycle. I am so sensitive to the sugar high that I start to crave more and ore sugar to keep the high going all day long and soon I am eating nothing but a treat for lunch and a treat after a tiny supper. My nutrition sucked and I was on sugar highs and lows all day long.
Now, I eat protein, dairy, veggies, fruit and feel so much better for it. I have replaced sugar with dark chocolate (85%). Now I substitute the sugar high my a chocolate high. It is much better for me. I don't have insulin rushes and drops. I allow myself 2 squares of 85% chocolate each day along with my healthy meals and unlimited tea ( I am the worlds biggest tea drinker. I drink it without milk or sugar: green, black, oolong,white, hot, iced) Once in a long while I will have a small treat but I make sure it is as low in sugar as possible and if it is full of sugar I only have a small piece after a meal so as to not get an insulin rush.
All is well and as a recovering sugar addict, I've never felt better! I am full and alert all day long and I believe my acne will vanish for good and no more hormonal bloating each month. YAY!

Now, after saying all of that, guess what I'm off to do? That's right! Make Mistaya's Birthday cake. She wants a pumpkin pie/ice cream cake. I made up the recipe and boy oh boy, watch out sugar addicts, this is going to be the best cake ever.
I'll let you know the size of the piece I take after my meal (of course)   ;)

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Angel Daisy

Meet Angel Daisy from Nelson, BC
Angel Daisy on the run
Angel Daisy just hanging around...
Pippi stayed home from preschool yesterday as she was feeling a little unwell. However, a new girl, Angel Daisy was visiting us from Nelson BC and decided to go in her place.
Pippi's preschool teacher said the entire class did very well, remembering to call her "Angel Daisy" all day long.
Pip came to me in the morning and said she wanted to wear something no one had ever seen before because she wanted to surprise her class as someone they'd never met.

A busy week. My study is keeping me busy. We have REAL fans! My assistant is finding her job very busy as well.
Tonight is UBC Christmas party. Tomorrow Pip has skating and Tabs her first Kelowna Youth Choir performance. Saturday is Mist's Bday party (sleepover) and Sunday we get our Christmas tree and Mist and I have skating. Monday both Mist and Tabs have their final Piano Christmas concert and Mist has a band Christmas concert at the very same time across the city! No to mention before all of that they have their weekly piano lessons.

Went on my first run since contracting bronchitis. The run went well. I use spiked grippers on the bottom of my shoes to run on ice.

After I took the Tabs to choir yesterday, I looked all over for a Playmobile advent calendar. Sold out all over the city. Thus, I quickly went to Toys R US and London Drugs and stocked up on gifts to make my own 24 days of Christmas advent calendar. I then stopped at the dollar store and purchased 24 red and white bags. Once home, I had Tabs cut out (of construction paper) and glue the numbers 1 through 24 on the bags. And assembly line style, I stuffed each bag as soon as Tabs had glued on the number. We now have an advent calendar made (start to finish) in about 2 hours. We lined up all the little sealed bags on our wooden staircase ledge. A lot more work and $ than Playmobile but it is done.

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