Consider this our family Christmas card 4

The Kadane-Ford family Christmas card: 2015

Family photo on Playa Grande beach on our last evening in Costa Rica.

Family photo on Playa Grande beach on our last evening in Costa Rica.

It’s been another exciting year for our family that included spring break in Costa Rica and a road trip to Denver and Salt Lake City, as well as lots of hiking, trips to Fernie and Game of Thrones book bingeing for me (yes, I read all five and have become one of those nerds people who knows what R + L = J means. See you next year at Comic Con! I’ll be dressed as Brienne of Tarth.). In between the fun we made 220 school lunches, read over 600 bedtime stories, cooked salmon (Avery’s favourite!) at least 50 times and spent 57 hours planning future holidays. Here are some 2015 highlights for each family member.

Blake continues to enjoy his time away from an office job and has begun to cultivate some hobbies including wood-working and tending bonsais. He began to take an interest in the tiny trees on a trip to Japan and we now have two. On the same trip, Blake crossed off a bucket list item after he ate blowfish, a.k.a. fugu. The empty Tokyo restaurant seemed like a bit of a red flag, but Blake dug in with enthusiasm to the sushi, deep fried and weird congee-style blowfish and told me not to worry when his tongue went numb.

Poison, poison, tasty fish! In which Bennett makes like Homer and lives.

Poison, poison, tasty fish! In which Blake makes like Homer and lives.

Upon returning to Canada, Blake had a closer brush with danger when he hit a tree while mountain biking on his last ride of the regular season and suffered a subdural hematoma dark bruise in his kidney area. Fortunately, he stopped peeing blood after a week  healed in time for winter fat biking!

Avery continues to enjoy Girl Guides and piano and she tried jazz dance this fall. She is also keen to try archery after secretly reading The Hunger Games books at school. “What’s the big deal?” you might be thinking. “I read Flowers in the Attic in grade six.” Yeah, well, I guess Katniss offing fellow teens isn’t as bad as Catherine’s sibling love with her brother. Still, it pains me to see her growing up so fast and it makes me want to hide the Game of Thrones books (killing AND inappropriate sibling relationships!).

Avery was in her element in Costa Rica and loved all the wildlife including this red-eyed tree frog.

Avery, age 10 (grade 5) was in her element in Costa Rica and loved all the wildlife including this red-eyed tree frog.

There are still plenty of little girl cuddles, though, even if Avery has started giving us the hairy eyeball when we sing dorky witty made-up songs about Piper in public. She is signed up for the Fernie Extreme Club again this winter and I will die a little be a proud mama if this is the year she surpasses me on the slopes. Avery has also mastered her back flip on the trampoline, taught Piper how to “play dead” and “sit pretty” and is on her way to being a math whiz (even if we will never ever understand regrouping). We are thrilled by how much she loves to travel, and humbled by her desire to help others, including four-legged friends — she’s volunteering at the SPCA this year.

Bennett has had another busy year that included learning how to doggie paddle and chew gum, and trying new tricks on the trampoline including diving head first into the net. He has also branched out with his vocabulary and after-school activities. We had him in therapeutic horseback riding this fall, which he loved, as well as swimming every week through the Special Olympics.

Bennett loves horseback riding. Here he is on a pony ride in Grand Lake, Colo. this summer.

Bennett, age 8 (grade 3) loves horseback riding. Here he is in Grand Lake, Colo.

And, I don’t want to brag, but I am happy to report that Bennett has reached the life-changing (for me) milestone of being able to vomit into a toilet when he has the stomach flu — rather than all over his sheets or the carpet; that is such a dose to clean up at 2 a.m. We are so very proud. There are still many challenges with Bennett’s autism, which I wrote about in a Today’s Parent story, but for the most part he keeps making progress and finding new ways to torment the dog.

Speaking of Piper, she has calmed down considerably now that she’s closing in on three (that’s 21 in dog years — time to move out and get a job, Pipes!). The only time she still really loses it is when there’s a squirrel in the backyard. Then she trembles and whines and barks like a ninny as she bolts down the stairs after her ever-elusive quarry.

She has also started grazing like a cow on long blades of grass. This poses a problem during elimination as she swallows them whole and then they don’t necessarily come out all the way, if you get my meaning.

Piper stops for a rest at Nose Hill Park.

Piper stops for a rest at Nose Hill Park. Wouldn’t she make a great cover model for Gun Dog magazine?

We have also begun to question her intelligence as every morning when she exits her kennel, instead of running straight for the food bowl, she takes the time to stretch and thus gets herself caught in a steer wrestling headlock by Bennett as he seizes the opportunity to manhandle his favourite playmate. But for all her idiosyncrasies, she teaches us every day about unconditional love and she never takes us for granted. I can leave the house for just five minutes but when I return, there’s Piper, tail wagging, holding her lovey in her mouth as an offering.

Lisa (that’s me) has finally succumbed to ageing and has invested in a bookish/sexy pair of reading glasses. It got to the point last summer where I was hardly reading A Feast for Crows because the light had to be just so and I needed a selfie stick to hold the book three feet from my eyes. Alas, the “librarians” are LIKE A MIRACLE and I no longer need large print books.

Hangin' with the hairy coos on Islay, Scotland.

Hangin’ with the hairy coos on Islay, Scotland.

I stay young at heart through travel and this was a banner year. I enjoyed a press trip to Scotland where I drank my face off gained a deep appreciation for peated whisky. I also visited Churchill to test the limits of my cold tolerance see the polar bears. And Blake and I jetted off to Japan on a couple’s trip to tour the temples of Kyoto, stay in some ryokans and feed the aggressive deer in Nara. I continue to write about travel, parenting and cocktails, and I even appeared on TV mixing holiday drinks.

We’re looking forward to a busy winter break that includes skiing, snowmobiling, time with family and, hopefully, a visit from Santa. Happy holidays!

Yellowstone

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