Tag Archives: keeping it real Christmas card

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!

Advertisements

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.

 

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