The Kadane-Ford family Christmas card: 2018
We really settled in to life in Kelowna during 2018. We skied at several Okanagan resorts, tried a new hike almost weekly, visited every winery in town and then decided it would be more fun to drink with friends. To that end Blake and I have joined the
Oldtimer’s Club Newcomer’s Club, where we feel like Millennials meeting up with our grandparents every Thursday at pub night.
We started the year off in Cuba, where it was so cold iguanas were falling out of trees and I wore my down jacket daily, and ended it with a wine and ski weekend in Sun Peaks where it was almost as chilly. During the intervening months, we enjoyed some nice family trips, including spring break in balmy Arkansas and a fall road trip around the American southwest. Blake and I headed to Israel and Jordan for 10 days in May, where highlights included accidentally eating garlic dip for breakfast in Tel-Aviv (we thought the Hebrew label was a picture of fig yogurt), and Blake channelling Indiana Jones by cracking a bullwhip at Petra.
Summer was a fun mix of sending the kids away to overnight camp, family road trips to Calgary and the West Kootenays, learning to breathe through a thick haze of smoke, and welcoming
an endless stream of house guests eager to swim in the pool till they saw I still haven’t brushed up on my water chemistry.
In between all that there was life. Here’s how each member of the family spent their time over the past year.
After earning a certificate in Horticulture and Landscape Design from Okanagan College, Blake got busy building a Japanese garden in the backyard. This involved renting boy toys such as a bobcat and excavator to move truckloads of dirt and place giant boulders over what had been a patch of dead grass. He recruited
slave labour friends to help spread mulch and install irrigation and, faster than you can say “shizukesa” (that’s Japanese for serenity!), we had a mossy Eden of yews, boxwoods and Japanese maples to rival any nihon teien in Kyoto.
Blake toned down his mountain biking a notch this year and only managed trips to Vancouver and Bend, Oregon, but he keeps the dream alive with fantasies of one day cycling Scotland’s whisky trail with his brother. In preparation for this future journey he spent a week sampling Pilsner in Eastern Europe, with side trips to Auschwitz, a Budapest bathhouse and an evening of beer drinking with said brother in Prague. Speaking of beer, this holiday season Blake joined an Advent Beer Club at a local craft brewery, which landed him on Lisa’s naughty list because he skipped off to the bar before dinner prep every evening for a month.
Avery is still padding her veterinary school CV by continuing to volunteer weekly at the SPCA. She also
conned convinced us that backyard chickens would be a good idea because of ALL THE EGGS. Turns out, out of four hens, we only have one layer (so far), so these are some expensive eggs. But we enjoy “the girls” and Avery has made up for their lack of production by starting a chicken Instagram account (follow @theylwflock), becoming a chicken influencer (she has more followers than I do!), and earning swag such as chicken diapers and chicken tutus for her efforts. I am not making this up.
Avery turned 13 in May and spend her birthday
at band camp on a band trip to Vancouver. She played the trombone and it sounded like Piper farting a really good effort by the spring concert. She continues to do gymnastics, which she enjoys, but she is so over the weekly hikes and in fact has asked ‘Santa’ for some Get Out of Hiking coupons for her stocking. Now that she’s in grade 8 she’s too cool to let us walk her to the bus stop, but that’s okay, we find other ways to embarrass her such as singing loudly and dancing to the Fossil Rock Anthem on the Geology Trail at the Grand Canyon.
It’s been a year of growth for Bennett, literally, who sprouted up three inches over the summer, is now wearing a men’s size 7 shoe, and, thankfully, whose bladder expanded enough for us to ditch the nighttime pull-ups for good. He seems to have accepted Kelowna as his new home, except every time he goes on Google Earth he navigates to Inglewood and tries to make the little avatar person go inside our old house. We’ve made great strides on the behaviour front thanks to a wise consultant who taught us how to use
the force Jedi mind tricks to get Bennett to do stuff. Basically, whenever Bennett asks for something–usually food–we make him do a puzzle, complete worksheets, spell words, name zoo animals, or answer other skill-testing questions (what’s the capital of Azerbaijan 2 + 2? ) before we grant his request. We hope to have him filing our taxes by April.
His aide at school is working on life skills with him and has taught Bennett how to wipe
his bum the tables and unload the dishwasher in the staff room, and chop vegetables for soup on cooking Tuesdays. He’s still a layabout less motivated to pitch in around the house, but I imagine that once we master the Jedi stuff we’ll get him vacuuming and scrubbing the toilets in no time. Bennett started riding an adapted bicycle in the spring, and he is still swimming and skiing regularly. He loves looking for the planets and moon nightly on Blake’s solar system app, and its fair to say we love him to the moon and back.
Piper adores her new Okanagan lifestyle, which consists of daily off-leash walks, hikes or bike rides; quails and doves to flush from under thickets of mahonia; a trove of deer poop snacks to eat (and occasionally, deer limbs to fetch); and Chuckit! ball chasing. She somehow knows that domesticated birds are off limits, mainly because they peck her nose whenever she gets too close. The only part of Kelowna she doesn’t like is Woofy World, the kennel where we occasionally leave her when we go out of town. Woofy World is like prison for submissive dogs and we fear she becomes some labradoodle’s weekend
Our best girl has become smarter when it comes to Bennett, though. Piper now treats her basement kennel like a panic room and heads there to hide out whenever there’s a “home invasion” (e.g. Bennett gets home from school). Otherwise we are treated to Cujo-like growling as Bennett
pokes and prods pets Piper under the coffee table.
Lisa (that’s me!) continues to write about parenting, autism, health, booze and travel from her home office. My Today’s Parent story about yelling at kids was nominated for an award, probably because I have a lot of experience with that topic. I am just one country short of 50 after visiting Cuba, Morocco, Israel and Jordan in 2018. Not that it’s a competition
(it is), but I would have been winning if Blake hadn’t bagged four countries on his Eastern Europe boondoggle.
I continue to obsess over the pool, which can’t seem to stay clear for more than a week even though we hired a new pool guy who showed up with the same $10 Canadian Tire water-testing kit that we have. Everyone else in Kelowna has pools as clear at the Four Seasons spa, so we are the Alberta rubes with the tailings pond. WHY IS IT SO HARD? On a more positive note, I squelched our black widow problem once and for all by hiring a bug spray company in the spring, and I have taken up surfing rather late in life thanks to opportunities to
tentatively stand hang ten on press trips in Morocco and Tofino. I also enjoyed a girls weekend at Big White with some new friends whose kids also have autism. As you can imagine, we spent the weekend self-medicating with alcohol bonding over wine.
We’re looking forward to a busy winter break and more travel in 2018 including trips to Mexico and, possibly,
Uzbekistan South Africa. Life is good and our family wishes yours a happy holiday!