Category Archives: Potpourri

Consider this our family Christmas card 7

The Kadane-Ford family Christmas card: 2018

Family Antelope Canyon

Family photo in Antelope Canyon during a trip to Arizona.

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.

Lisa & Blake Wadi Rum.JPG

Blake and Lisa of Arabia at Wadi Rum in Jordan.

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 excavator

Blake spreads dirt.

Japanese Garden.JPG

For some reason we have no pictures of the completed garden.

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.


The YLW Flock.jpg

Avery has grown @theylwflock to 1,600 followers and counting in just four months!

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.


Bennett riding his trike around the neighbourhood.

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 bitch ‘buddy.’


This is the life!

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.


At Red Rooster Winery.

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!

Consider this our family Christmas card 6

The Kadane-Ford family Christmas card: 2017

Family photo on Coronado Beach during a spring break trip to San Diego.

It’s been a year of change for the Fordanes, as we uprooted from the Wood of Ingle and moved west to Kelowna, land of lakes, wine and labradoodles. Prior to the move we said goodbye to Fernie, and enjoyed a family vacation to California in March and then a couples trip to Croatia in May to celebrate 20 years of marriage.

Since relocating mid-July we have spent a lot of time swimming, hiking, mountain biking (Blake), cherry eating, killing black widows and learning the difference between un-oaked Chardonnay and Viognier (which is pronounced the French way, not Vogue-ner. Duh!). We are acclimatizing to green grass in December, a dearth of snow and the quiet solitude of no trains, planes or Deerfoot Trail truckers laying on the jake brake at 3 a.m. When people ask us what we like best about Kelowna, we always say, “No wind.” But enough about how Kelowna kicks on Calgary — here’s what each member of our crazy quintet got up to in 2017.

Blake got his big acting break when he landed the recurring role of “office worker” on season three of Fargo. This involved sitting around for hours hoping to get called for a scene, or to bump into Ewan McGregor in the makeup trailer. His over-100 set hours culminated in about three seconds of screen time and rumour has it he’ll get a nod for Best Extra at the Oscars Lisa’s Choice Awards.

That’s Blake walking by the office door in a Fargo episode!

Taking a break on the mountain bike trail. It’s hard to know which trail as there have been so very many trails ridden. Possibly Superflow.

Since moving west Blake has upped his mountain biking game and recently beat that showoff Ben Smit’s Superflow time of 1:18 on Strava. He’s also practically fluent in Spanish at 55 per cent, according to Duolingo, but I think it’s from watching Family Guy‘s Best of Consuela compilations on YouTube. When not tending our bonsais or brainstorming hilarious jokes (“What was the three donkeys’ favourite geological period?” … “TriASSic!”), Blake spends his time at Okanagan College hanging out on the quad studying horticulture and landscape design, and thinking of new ways to embarrass Avery on the way to the bus stop (talking loudly in a Scottish accent seems to work best).

Speaking of Avery, she nurtured her love of living things by raising 30 frog eggs into lots of tadpoles, which turned into fewer froglets and then a final four frogs before they eventually all died. It was a very sad circle-of-life experience, but the tragedy only renewed her resolve to pester us relentlessly lobby us for MORE amphibians and reptiles. She created a PowerPoint presentation extolling the many virtues and selling points things that make ball pythons not totally despicable, including the fact they only eat one mouse a week (um, yay?!). In the end she inherited an Australian tree frog named Yoda from a new friend and is now busy farming crickets and meal worms to feed it so it doesn’t croak all night long.

Avery cuddles a joey during a visit to Kangaroo Creek Farm in Lake Country last summer.

She has begun volunteering with the local SPCA to pad her resume for vet school applications and started at a new karate dojo. Avery also enjoyed her first overnight summer camp near Peachland and completed her first adventure obstacle race, the Freak’n Farmer, in bare feet while suffering from hypothermia, thus proving that she’s a toughie who can accomplish pretty much anything she puts her mind to. She’s making lots of friends at her new school and loving grade 7!

Bennett struggled with the move and the break from his routine. Whenever he wasn’t smooshing black widow spiders with his bare hands (yes this actually happened!), or swimming in the pool until algae began to grow between his toes, we had to listen to him talk about the Calgary Zoo, Bow building, Calgary Tower, Children’s Hospital and Calaway Park for, like, ever.

Since moving to Kelowna Bennett has learned to tell the difference between wine grapes, apple trees, corn fields and pear trees.

He seemed to finally accept his new life once the big yellow school bus showed up to cart him off to public school. He has an amazing, kind and patient aide whom he keeps on her toes by picking up mini iogo yogurt containers and random cigarette butts from the schoolyard and then running away with them held up over his head like a prize. Accomplishments this past year included learning to hold his breath underwater while swimming, attending his first Easter Seals overnight camp, and riding the Mighty Moose poma lift at Fernie by himself — we have him signed up for adaptive ski lessons at Big White this winter.

Piper is wowing K-towners with her new muscular physique, achieved from regularly running 15+ km with Blake on mountain bike trails and hunting deer when we have her off leash in nature parks. She loves her new giant yard and immediately chased off a wolverine marmot that had been living under the shed. With fewer ugly black squirrels roaming our new neighbourhood, she has developed an unhealthy Chuckit! ball obsession and will stand over the ball like a dingo till someone throws it for her.

Another 2017 highlight for Piper was gnawing on her Donald Trump chew toy till his stuffing brains came out.

We went all B.C.-boho and experimented with a raw food diet for her this summer, but decided it was unsanitary when Bennett started hand-feeding her the uncooked morsels. The biggest Piper news is we have reached the limits of being able to tolerate her raunchy rot breach and have scheduled her for a dental cleaning for Christmas. Yeah, we really know how to say I love you!

The move nearly cost Lisa (that’s me!) her sanity as our moving company — Premier Van Lines, don’t hire them — turned out to suck balls. Needless to say, I have vowed to never move again. And anyway, I can’t go through the neurosis that has overtaken me since moving into a new house. I am forever tidying and cleaning, much to everyone’s annoyance. I also became hyper-vigilant with the swimming pool, which evidently you need a chemistry degree to keep clear. By the end of the summer it looked like a duck pond and the pool guy was dumping chemicals into it daily in exchange for beer. At least there’s lots of wine in the valley to help me cope stay hydrated and the Feds can’t legalize pot fast enough!

Walking the walls in Dubrovnik, a.k.a. King’s Landing.

Speaking of booze, I was really planning to give my liver a break until I landed the spirits column in Just for Canadian Dentists/Doctors magazines for 2018. Other writing opportunities have taken me to Croatia to sit on the Iron Throne and have my picture taken with Jon Snow’s mannequin likeness for a Game of Thrones story, and I even won an award for my Globe and Mail piece about travelling with Bennett

We’re looking forward to a busy winter break that includes skiing and a holiday to Cuba with friends, and more travel and adventures in 2018!

Looking forward to some beach time to ring in 2018!

Consider this our family Christmas card 5

The Kadane-Ford family Christmas card: 2016

After five years, we had professional family photos taken by the talented Jess Harcombe Fleming at the Sandy Cross Conservation Area in September.

Happy holidays from the Fordanes! We finally had professional family photos taken again by the talented Jess Harcombe Fleming at the Sandy Cross Conservation Area.

December marks the end of another year of adventures that included lots of skiing, hiking, scootering (Avery), swimming (Bennett), mountain biking (Blake) and writing (Lisa), and also subjecting other countries to our travelling circus. Our children wowed the Belizeans with their imperviousness to bug bites and jellyfish stings, Blake and I astonished the Argentinians and Uruguayans with our ability to drink excessive amounts of Malbec and eat nearly the whole cow, and the whole family impressed the Americans with our dedication to still shopping at Target during day trips across the border. In between outdoor adventures and trips there was life. Here’s what it looked like for each family member.

Blake continues to learn Spanish from his Duolingo app and is on a 251-day streak. I don’t want to brag, but he’s now 15 percent fluent. This came in handy in Argentina because he could not only order an empanada, he could ask where the baño was after eating too much carne asada.

Blake moves it like Jagger on a mountain bike in Sedona, Ariz.

Blake out-bikes the road runner in Sedona, Ariz.

He upped his mountain biking game with rides in Mendoza and Palm Springs, and with an entire weekend dedicated to riding, farting and beer drinking on a guys trip to Sedona. Blake took up fat biking, which is basically mountain biking on snow with really fat tires. And at the risk of making him sound obsessive overly enthusiastic about mountain biking, he also helped build some bike trails in Bragg Creek in the spring, which earned him a cool bumper sticker and also a frozen shoulder (at least he crossed off an item on his bucket list at the same time). On Blake’s radar for 2017: crossing off another bucket list item by hopefully getting called in as an extra for Fargo, a TV show filming its third season in Calgary this winter. So if you’re watching it and see a hottie driving a Honda Ridgeline, it just might be my famous husband!

Avery earned her yellow belt in karate this fall, so don’t mess with her in a dark alley unless you want a brown stripe in your underpants! She was elected premier of her grade six class after running on the platform, “Strong economy. Safe environment.” On her first day in office she voted herself a pay raise and raised everyone’s taxes lobbied the teacher (who really holds all the power) for more body breaks during class. Avery has also started babysitting, and though I wouldn’t have trusted an 11-year-old to look after my kids, her cheap hourly rate and willingness to clean dishes has helped to grow her client list.

Avery continues to embrace life.

Avery rides a giraffe on the carousel at Butchart Gardens this summer..

Avery skied in the Fernie Extreme Club again last winter and impressed Blake and me by skiing her first double black on Snake Ridge and only crashing four times! Speaking of snakes, she caught a few in Fernie this past summer and her love of all animals continues, be they scurrying crabs, sluggish sea stars or sea monkeys. She even picked up a Portuguese man-o-war in Belize, against her better judgement. On Avery’s radar for 2017: more skiing and earning enough money from babysitting to fund a return trip to Costa Rica.

Bennett climbed his first mountain, Castle Rocks, this past summer in Fernie, although he did go on strike in the middle of the trail and refused to budge until I bribed him with a Larabar. He swam with sharks and stingrays in Belize, went horseback riding, and we also dragged him on a boot-camp trek to a waterfall that provided the inspiration for a parenting-fail travel story.

Bennett continues to wow us with his willingness to go along with our crazy travel adventures.

Bennett continues to wow us with his willingness to go along with our crazy travel adventures. I wrote about travelling with a child with autism.

Other milestones Bennett achieved include ditching the car booster seat and buckling his own seatbelt, consistently sleeping through the night and even sleeping in on occasion (!), and nighttime potty training (although I jumped the gun reporting on this as he is now back in night diapers and we’ve doubled down with our Proctor & Gamble stock as we fear we will be diaper clients FOREVER). Finally, in an effort to help his speech and listening skills, we’ve made Bennett endure 52 hours of classical movements and singing monks as part of a music therapy program this fall. The downside? He now demands that all future playlists be compilations of Mozart and Gregorian chant. On Bennett’s radar for 2017: skiing with the Fernie Adaptive Ski Program and a return to his favourite place on Earth, the San Diego Zoo.

Piper continues to win over new human fans and we’re grateful to the friends and neighbours who have looked after her when we’ve been travelling. The only thing that might hurt her reputation is if people lean in too close and realize she suffers from simple chronic halitosis. Though she’s mostly given up snacking on her own turds, she occasionally eats rabbit poop, and her fishy-smelling salmon and sweet potato dog food isn’t doing her breath any favours.

Piper's head shot for Gun Dog Magazine.

Piper’s body shot for Gun Dog Magazine, shot on location in Fernie.

Blake still mountain bikes with Pipes wherever possible and he even started trail running with her this fall. Piper also enjoys a modicum of peace in her day-to-day life ever since we recorded Grandma Marianne saying, “Bennett, do not touch Piper! I repeat, do not touch Piper!” in a stern voice on Blake’s iPhone. Now, whenever Bennett bugs the dog, we put the recording on speaker and it’s like the voice of God helping to enforce good behaviour. On Piper’s radar for 2017: more opportunities to curl up on the couch with her human pack.

Lisa (that’s me) won’t shut up about Mars ever since she read a really long blog post about Elon Musk’s SpaceX initiative that aims to colonize the Red Planet. Forget travelling to 50 countries by the time I’m 50; I’ll settle for making it to another planet in my lifetime, even if it is freezing and has no atmosphere (not unlike Calgary) … surely there will be a market for travel stories from Mars?

Channeling my inner Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman on horseback in the Andes.

Channeling my inner Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman on horseback in the Andes near Mendoza, Argentina.

Speaking of travel and writing, I did a bit of each this past year. Highlights include a trip to Ottawa where my dream of taking a shirtless selfie with Justin was left unrealized, and a wine trip to Argentina, where I dressed up like a gaucho (see above photo), drank lots of juicy Malbec, was tricked into eating cow brain by Blake (he called it “a crispy ball of yummy”), and even witnessed professional sommeliers call every wine “youthful” as they competed for the title of World’s Biggest Wine Snob Best Sommelier. In addition to Argentina and a side trip to Uruguay, Blake and I managed to sneak in some couple time with a getaway to Palm Springs and a week-long Rockies road trip this summer. We finally hiked to Crypt Lake in Waterton Lakes National Park and reconnected over aches, pains and beautiful mountain scenery. On my radar for 2017: celebrating 20 years of marriage to Blake, and hopefully a trip somewhere awesome to mark the occasion.

We’ve truly had a great year, feel blessed by all the love and good times, and look forward to more adventures in 2017. Merry Christmas!

Our trip to Vancouver Island was a highlight. We love Butchart Gardens!

Our trip to Vancouver Island was another highlight.