Dykstra Lake

I am a fan of summer — I’ve always been a fan of summer — but this summer is starting to wear on me. We live in a desert climate, and water restrictions always happen in the summer because we get so very little rain. June is usually our “rainy” month (in quotes, because it’s nothing like you’ll see at the Coast), but this June was sunny and warm. The sunshine and warmth have been continuous since then, with a day or two of rain, and it’s hot and dry and dusty.

These conditions are conducive to wildfires and we’ve had a number of them in our area. Two large ones surrounded Apex last month, and there have been many others in our area. Another one flared up yesterday in Penticton. The smoke in the air today is thick — so thick that it looks apocalyptic — and we’re all feeling it in our throats. We’re drinking more water than we usually do (We drink a lot of water) in the hops that we can wash the dryness away. The forecast is hopeful in that thundershowers are supposed to happen, but a little frightening in that the rainfall predicted is minimal and we really don’t need any more lightning strikes.

Fires aside, the heat has gotten to me — US — because there hasn’t been any reprieve. While I like 28 degrees Celsius (82 F), we’ve been hovering in the high 30s (100F) and at one point hit 42 C (108 F).

Surface of the sun

(Greetings from the surface of the sun.)

I was on my own with the kids, it was too hot to do anything other than sit in the lake, and I made an executive decision.

We were going to the cabin.

We packed up the dogs, enough food for two days and one night, and drove up the mountain. We parked in the driveway and it was 24 degrees. TWENTY FOUR DEGREES. I opened all of the cabin windows and breathed in the cool air and felt like my melted brain was cooling off and coming back together. We went for a drive so the kids could show me a mountain lake they’d found with Matthew when I was in L.A. It was so shallow, it was the same temperature as our lake down below, but without the searing heat from the sun.

Swimming!

The break from the heat was exactly what we all needed, and if the predicted rain doesn’t materialize (It often doesn’t in desert country — I think they like to give false hope) we’ll have to make another drive up there soon. I can’t take the heat, and I’m staying out of the kitchen. (Here. Up there, I can turn the oven on and it’s such a novelty right now.)

 

IMG_0262Summer is always quiet around here, but this summer I’ve been quieter than normal. It’s not that I don’t have any stories — I do! So many stories! — it’s that I literally have had no time to spend on the computer to do anything than paid work. The main reason stems back to the beginning of July, and it’s something that I haven’t written about here yet.

Matthew has started a two-year Masters program in Leadership.

He spent the entire month of July living with his sister and her family while getting up at 6 a.m. and falling into bed at midnight. (He finished his courses with a 92 average. Go, Honey!) With him being gone, that meant that I was flying solo here at home for a month, balancing work and the kids without him to be here to help keep that balance. I wanted to write about the solo-parenting thing, but I didn’t feel like broadcasting to the Internet that I was Home Alone. That left me with little to say, because it was a big part of my daily life, and so even if I had the time, I felt backed up, so to speak.

Parenting solo (In person — Matthew was always available to talk if he wasn’t in class) was hard, but doable, especially now that kids are older. Him being away helped them to see how much it takes to run this place and they really stepped up around here. Graham discovered that he loves cleaning the bathrooms (I don’t know either) and even gave himself a super-hero name: Bathroom Man. He’s also really good at folding laundry and enjoys doing it. (I have no problem keeping on top of washing and drying the clothes. It’s getting them put away that I’m horrible at.)

The other two stepped up as well. Nathan took over collecting and washing the chicken eggs, and vacuuming the house. Emily loves vacuuming as well, and also loves to clean windows and counters. All three of them now unload and load the dishwasher and help with dinner clean up more than they used to. Running a home is a lot of work and they made it less overwhelming.

All was not completely rosy, though. After we returned from our trip to Vancouver, all three kids got ear infections. Nathan’s was an outer ear infection and the other two had an inner ear infection. Then the next week, Graham got an outer ear infection. As I was waiting for his ear drops prescription, a friends walked up and asked me how I was doing. I burst into tears. (If I hadn’t been asked that, I would have held it together.) Balancing everything on my own was exhausting, and sick kids on top of it was my final straw.

Then one thing I haven’t mentioned (here — FB friends are in the loop) is that the week Matthew left for school, something happened that threw things into hyperdrive.

We decided to put our house up for sale. That’s a story for another day (It’s a good one), but purging and cleaning (and purging and cleaning) until 11:00 every night on top of everything else made for a very tired Angella and when the kids got sick (Twice!) I lost it.

That all said, Matthew is home now (Yay!) and we’re still busy purging and cleaning (and purging and cleaning) and hosting a revolving door of friends and family. The last batch arrives tonight and once they’ve moved on, I’ll start catching up and sharing my stories.

So that’s where I’ve been, and that’s a bit of what’s going on, and I miss reading your stories. Did I miss anything important while I’ve been vanquishing dust bunnies?

Well, hello there. We’re still in the midst of the #deepcleanof2014 and while a lot has been done, there is so much more to still be done. Our friends came last Saturday and conquered so much. So, so much. I’ve fallen into a daily routine of running/boot camp, followed by work, followed by cleaning, followed by beach time (We’re on our second heat wave of the summer), followed by more cleaning when the sun sets and our house has cooled off.

I’ve been meaning to post finished rooms as I go, and now that the bulk of the purging is done, I thought I’d log in and share our master bedroom. The craft room is just off of our bedroom, and here are a few photos to show you my (inside) happy place.

Bed

(Matthew built our bed and side tables. He also built the floor and did all of the renovations in our house. He’s good with wood. (Ha.))

French doors

(There’s the vanity that Miss Emily the Enabler encouraged me to buy on our girls’ trip two years ago.)

The Vanity

Ensuite bathroom, on the right.

View of the craft room

There’s that (immaculate) craft room in the background.

Ensuite

I love our bathroom.

The bath

A little blurry, but so am I right now. Late nights and early mornings and I don’t really stop moving until I hit the pillow at the end of the day. But it feels so great. And freeing.

 

Summer is usually pretty quiet around these parts, because summer. We spend a lot of time at the beach, and we take trips to see family down at the Coast and do fun things like go to the Vancouver Aquarium. This summer is even busier, because I’ve decided to completely purge and clean our house. I even created my own hashtag for it:

#deepcleanof2014

(It rhymes!)

Back in June, I walked into the craft room off of our bedroom and was smacked with how far it had fallen from when I first renovated it back in 2006. Then, everywhere I looked, I saw what needed to be done in every room of our house. We have a great house — nay, an AMAZING house — but my eyes were opened to all of the little things that needed to be completed, and all of the big cupboards and closets we have that are filled with stuff, stuff, and more stuff. Stuff we don’t use, stuff that’s expired, stuff that our kids have outgrown.

(There was a playpen in Emily’s closet. My baby turns eight in a few months.)

I tackled my bedroom first, and now when I walk into it it feels like my haven, as opposed to a pit of despair it had become. I finished the craft room a week ago, and it makes me happy to look at.

Before:

Before!

Before!

After:
After!

After!

We’ve done the kids’ rooms, and last night Graham (He loves to clean!) helped me with my walk-in closet. Here he is, folding his Dad’s clothes:

G Force

He is REALLY GOOD at folding. Who knew?

I have a huge pile of clothes for my friends to go through, and what they don’t take will be dropped off at the thrift store. I also cleaned out the large closet in my en suite bathroom, and now my entire space upstairs makes me so very happy.

We hired a group of friends and family (Payment is a case of beer each, plus lunch and snacks) to come tomorrow and do a bunch of finishing touches that just never ever happened.

I feel lighter and lighter with each room that is conquered and it’s the best feeling ever.

(This post is not sponsored in any way. Blissdom Canada is having a #ThisIsBliss contest and the first thing that came to mind was how I’m feeling about my home, so it prompted me to sit down and finally start documenting what’s happening over here with the #deepcleanof2014.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a cold room in the basement that needs to be purged and scoured clean.

 

Living in the Okanagan, I don’t get to be a part of the many blogger events that happen in larger centres. Vancouver blogger have events they attend, as do the Toronto bloggers, and I often feel like I’m missing out on a lot of the connections that are happening.

(I have many, many personal connections daily, but bloggers are a different breed. Sometimes it’s nice to be a part of that circle not just online, but in the flesh.)

This past February, I received an email about a big event at the Vancouver Aquarium that I was invited to. I wrote back explaining that I was in the Okanagan, but I would have loved to attend if we lived in Vancouver. Linda then wrote back to tell me that any time my family and I were in Vancouver, they would love to host us for the day.

Fast forward to two weeks ago where my trip to the Residence Inn at L.A. Live turned into an invitation to check out the Vancouver Residence Inn (and explore Granville Market), and I had every reason to spend the day at the Vancouver Aquarium. Linda left us tickets at the front desk and my kids were so excited that we arrived approximately two minutes after they opened the doors. The kids ran from exhibit to exhibit and I finally told them to slow down. This wasn’t a race.

We saw a lot of cool stuff and took 296 photos (give or take three hundred).

Jelly!

 

Master Turtle

Penguins!

VanAqua

Dolphins

My friend Hillary showed up with Sir Grady and that made the day even better.

Morans!

Dude was so shy at first and my kids kept asking him if he wanted to see the crocodiles/butterflies/MASSIVE TURTLE and I think they finally won him over.

It was such a great day, and my kids cannot wait to go back. If you go, I have a few pointers for you, based on our last two visits.

1. Get there right when it opens. It was pretty quiet for the first two hours, and then ALL OF THE CROWDS arrived. Less people = less stress.

2. Make a game plan. What does everyone rank as their most important thing to see? Hit those before the crowds arrive.

3. Take your time. When we were parking, an older German man needed my help buying his parking pass (I’m a hit with the retired set). He only purchased two hours of parking. While my kids were tired after four hours of walking, trying to cram all of the awesome into two hours would have been impossible.

4. Check out the show times when you get there. Be there early, or miss them entirely. Well, you’ll be there, but the crowd is thick. For good reason.

5. Pack water. Whether you are inside with the A/C or outside in the sunshine, you need water. Air dries you out, as does the sun. Plus, there is a whole lot of walking that happens.

We’re huge fans of the Vancouver Aquarium over here, and wish we lived close enough to visit it often. Have you been? What do you love about it?

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