Saturday, December 6, 2014

Finding our bearings

We've been here for a week now, and I feel like we're finally all getting settled. It's hard on the little ones, with travel by air and car, different beds, new faces, a totally different climate...and it's hard on the big ones, too! 

Our house is perched on a high hillside at the edge of a wildlife preserve: our view is of a jungled river valley, and mountains behind that. We can watch big black birds of prey surfing on air currents, and smaller, brightly coloured birds flitting from tree to tree. This morning we had a group of about 10 howler monkeys pass through the trees directly over our back porch. It was our first time seeing them, though we hear them each morning just before sunrise. Theirs is a chilling sound, deep and gutteral, like something out of a zombie movie. But to see them in full daylight, they're not very big, dark in colour. They studied us curiously, passing quite close to us. One of them had a baby clinging to her front. It's hard to reconcile that frightening call with the docile faces we saw today!

Being essentially in the jungle, there are a lot of bugs, too. We've dealt with our fourth scorpion (in the house!) tonight. They're not deadly, and apparently the sting is more like that of a wasp. Only dangerous if you have an anaphylactic reaction. I really hope none of us gets stung, though. I'm constantly scanning the ground ahead of me, I check the bed before we get in at night, pull back the shower curtain every time I'm in the bathroom...

It's the end of the rainy season, but it's still so green. There are flowers blooming in the trees, on bushes and vines, it's lush and beautiful. A few nights ago we had some very strong winds, and we've been told the winds signal the beginning of the dry season. I'm curious to see how things will change over the next 7 weeks.

We're in the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, staying near a village called Nosara. There are 3 small beach towns around Nosara: Pelada, Guiones and Garza. These are all connected by winding, extremely rutted dirt roads quite literally carved out of the jungle. We are closest to Playa Pelada. It's a quiet beach, often we're the only ones there. The waves are not too huge, and there are these big rocks that extend out into the ocean. There are lots of little tide pools amoung the rocks, which Aedan loves to explore. He and Colm both love to get right into them, they're perfect for kids to play in. We've seen lots of crabs, some little fish in the pools, and in one pool in particular, there are some sea urchins. The sunsets are stunning, but once the sun goes down, it's very dark. There aren't any street lights in our area. 

The fruit is so amazing, fresh and ripe and so full of flavour; we've all been gorging ourselves. Well, all except Colm, who wouldn't eat a piece of fruit to save his life...though he was curious about the watermelon today, finally! 

Unfortunately I can't share pictures with you...because although I replaced the connection cable I need to get them from my camera to my iPad before leaving Ontario, I forgot the cable at my parents' house. I hope my words will suffice, until we get back, when you'll get a huge photo update! 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Not done yet, and other things

Well, friends, I've been keeping a secret from you. In May 2015 we will be adding one more to our family! I'm almost 16 weeks pregnant now. My appetite is returning, my regular pants are uncomfortable, and I'm carefully trying to seperate the first stirrings of life from gas. Ah, pregnancy. 

I'm excited that I get to experience it all one more time. I remember taking in Colm as a newborn, thinking he'd be the last. But he'll be a middle child! I'm also nervous. The last year has been difficult for me; the adjustment from one to two kids felt anything but smooth. But I feel like I know what to expect, and can better prepare myself. I'd like to wean Colm before this baby is born, because while tandem nursing certainly made the transition easier for Aedan, it was hell for me. And I will be watching myself carefully for signs of post partum depression. I won't be afraid to ask for help this time. 

So, there you go. I am incapable of going to Central America without a bun in the oven.

In other news, we leave on Saturday! I'm really looking forward to settling in and finding a routine for all of us.

I apologize for the lack of photos lately. I'm traveling with my iPad only and had lost the connector for uploading photos. I've replaced it. So you'll get to see Costa Rica, promise!

I guess I'll check in once we're settled!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Variations of Home

(I wrote this post a few days ago, and was waiting until I got a photo of the door, or something, to post. But I've had a sick baby in my arms for the past couple of days. The words are more important, anyway.)

I remember visiting my parents, not long after moving to the Yukon, and referring to their house as "home". My mom told me that it made her happy to hear that I still thought of it that way.

From then on, I made a concious effort not to refer to it as home. I'd decided that the Yukon would be my new home; I could not have more than one.

I am home now, in my parents' house. It is always a comfortable feeling, as we drive from the airport through the familiar streets of the city in which I grew up. It is a deep exhale as I step through the side door and drop my bags. Everything is familiar: the smell, clean and sweet; the creak of the stairs; the way I immediately begin opening the refridgerator and the cupboards, like my teenaged self looking for something to eat; the way my sister and I fall into the rhythm of setting and clearing the table; the dinner-table conversation. All of the things I fought hard in my twenties, I embrace now. This will always be home.

But home is also a log cabin on the other side of the country, blanketed in snow. Home is the woodstove softly ticking, it is the generator humming through the dark night, it is the complete silence that accompanies a 3 am trip to the outhouse. Each time we drive the long highway between Whitehorse and Dawson, I am awed by the vastness of the territory, the wildness of it; where the only thing moving is the wind through the trees, the only sound the beat of a raven's wings. It is something I treasure but will never possess. It is a darkly beautiful jewel. It is terrifying and comforting at once.

And as we begin this journey of uprootedness, of travel, of not-knowing, home is here, in this bed where I write, my two little boys sleeping spread-eagled, arms flung across one another. Home is any bed that holds the four of us, anywhere, in any country. The familiar sounds of our shared sleep, the particular scent of our skin. 

Home is any place in which we all lay down to sleep; home is any place we all wake up, together.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Leaving on a jet plane

I used to think that a true Yukoner had to "stay the winter". And I've done that. I've lost it at 40 below when the sun doesn't begin to rise til 10 a.m. Those days included lots of Bailey's, pot, and pierogies. T.V. marathons, dinner parties, wine, long bundled up walks on the frozen river. Going back to bed whenever I felt like it, buried under the covers with a space heater cranked up high.

Now that I've got kids, very young kids to be exact, those days feel housebound and crazy-making. Already I feel myself breaking. It's a battle to get Aedan outside for 15 minutes of running around the yard. I know that when he's a bit older, it may be different, but for now, it's really hard. And I am prone to seasonal depression; it's gotten much worse in the last two years. I could take pills. Or, I could leave.

That's what we're doing. We're headed out for almost 4 months, our longest stretch out of the territory yet. And I no longer feel like that makes me less of a Yukoner. Actually I'm over the whole "big tough Yukoner" thing. I want to be healthy and happy for my kids, for my husband, for myself. So we'll be spending 3 weeks in Ontario visiting with family, and then we'll be spending December and January in Costa Rica. We've rented a house there, and we're so excited to be trying out the snowbird lifestyle. It's something a lot of people around here do, and something that P especially wants to explore. 

I can't wait for fresh, ripe fruit juices running down my chin, seafood, ocean breezes, salt water swims, and walks on the beach. Aedan is in love with sea creatures, and for months now he's been talking about seeing dolphins and fish. I'm excited to explore tidal pools with him, play in the sand and the shallows with him. 

I'm going to try my best to update regularly during our travels, and I hope you'll enjoy following along with us on this new adventure!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Thoughts on Halloween

It is Halloween today, the turning of the wheel of the year into the cold, fallow season. This time of year makes me think of hurrying home in the gathering dark, walking along the edges of the sidewalks so that I might kick through fallen leaves, and hear their papery rustle beneath my feet. It makes me think of potted mums, dried corn stalks and bales of straw, of carving pumpkins and eating their seeds, toasted. It makes me think of candles glowing in darkness, of mystery and magic.

I remember Mrs. Cosman, who lived behind the school, giving out candy apples, and my mom driving us over to Nana and Poppa's so they could see our costumes. I remember the last time I went trick or treating with my friends, no parents, and getting lost in an unfamiliar neighbourhood as wet snow began to fall, and, a little older, watching Halloween over and over on Pay Per View, in the dark. I remember how my mom always had two bowls of candy: in one, the good stuff reserved for the little kids; in the other, packages of gum for the older kids.

Hay rides, haunted houses, heavy wool sweaters: all these memories come from Ontario, from my childhood and teenage years. Here in the Yukon, the rustle of fallen leaves underfoot has long been replaced by the crunch of snow: there is a foot of snow outside now. All of the things that I associate with this time of year are buried, muffled by snow. This is not the descent into winter: we are already well into that season. Even after almost 10 years here, I still struggle to incorporate these wildly unbalanced seasons into my psyche. 

I don't feel particularly festive today. My kids are not dressing up. The logistics of going to town just to collect candy I don't want them to eat are too great for me. I worry I'm depriving them of some essential part of childhood, but then again, they're young still. Perhaps a bonfire tonight in the yard, if we can uncover the fire pit.

Do any of you mark this day with something other than costumes and candy? I'd love to hear what this time of year means to you!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mama, are you happy?

I get asked this question every day, several times a day. By my three year old. It is unnerving, but it also serves as an interesting check-in.

He asks it if he senses anger or irritation or sadness in me. Rarely does he ask it when I am actually in a moment of joy. It makes me pause every time he asks, because I'm never quite sure how to answer. I don't think he means it in a general sense. He means it in the moment, the only thing that exists for a three year old. And usually when he asks, I am not particularly happy in that moment. I hate to tell him that: "No, I'm not happy" because he seems to take it personally. He's told me, tearfully: "Mama, I just want you to be happy!"

That absolutely breaks my heart.  It is too much for a three year old to be concerned with his mother's happiness. I start to worry that this last year, which has been such a struggle for me mentally and emotionally, has somehow had an effect on him. And really, how could it not? We spend all of our time together. He's seen me at my absolute lowest. I just hope I can minimize the damage, or at least give him some perspective.

So, when he asks me "Mama, are you happy?" I try to let him know that what I'm feeling is my own, and not his, burden to carry. I tell him that I'm tired, or that I'm frustrated because or that I just need to get out of the house. Aedan constantly asking me to examine my mental state helps me to not completely lose it. It reminds me to examine what's going on in my head, to look at the reason behind why I am reacting the way that I am. It holds me accountable.

I do love the times when I can tell him, honestly, that yes, I am happy. And when I ask him the same question, his standard answer always makes me laugh:

"Aedan, are you happy?"
"I am just a little bit sad because I lost my t-rex."

(It's taking him a long time to get over that one.)

Some days it drives me crazy, the constant asking of that question, but at the same time, I've come to be so grateful for it. He really is my little guru.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The woodpile

If "getting your moose" defines fall in the Klondike, then "getting in your wood" certainly defines winter. Whether you have your own woodlot and cut it yourself, or (like us) you order it from one of the commercial woodcutters in the area; whether you prefer birch or spruce, fire-kill or clean, bucked or bucking it yourself, getting in a few cords of wood is hugely important around here. So many of us at least partially heat our homes with wood heat. Here on the Dempster, it's our only source of heat, and our woodpile is looking mighty fine these days.

We order our wood from a guy named Doug. We've spent the last couple of days bucking (cutting the logs to stove length with a chainsaw), splitting and stacking several cords of wood. It feels good to see all those neatly stacked logs: it is a warm, secure feeling. 


Saturday, October 18, 2014

A moment's peace

It's not been the best of days for me. Full of self-doubt and self-loathing. 

But now, as darkness begins to fall, I sit in a pool of lamplight listening to Chopin while Colm sleeps in my lap. Outside, it has started to snow. P and Aedan have made a bonfire and I can hear the wood popping. Soon, they'll come inside, and we'll have a simple dinner of pea soup and toast. And then it will be bedtime, and tomorrow will be different again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Colm is 1!

My sweet little Collie-saur,

I can't believe you've already been with us for a year, and yet it feels like you've been with us forever. 

With your sparkling blue-grey eyes and your silly little laugh, you bring so much joy to our family. You are such a good-natured little boy; through the very worst of your eczema, through all the rough times with your big brother, you still smile so easy. You wake up smiling every morning (unless you've been woken up too soon) and that smile carries you through the day.

You can be quite serious, too, watching me or Aedan with your curious gaze, your mouth drawn into a pout of concentration. You take the work of packing and unpacking things very seriously indeed, putting all the blocks you can fit into your little shape-sorter. You like to pack and unpack yourself, too, into baskets and boxes.

I think you're going to be a little dare-devil, like your Auntie Brea was, only because you seem to want to do whatever it is that your big brother is doing. Leaping over the back of the couch? Sliding down rocky slopes to the pond's edge? You are all too eager for these things, and you're not even walking yet!

In the last couple of months you are finally taking more than a passing interest in food. You don't seem to be much of a breakfast man, but you love chicken and turkey and tofu, hummus, noodles, rice and beans. You seem mildly interested in vegetables but you won't give fruit the time of day. Except for that one time, when you ate three blueberries. You love drinking water, especially from Mama's cup, and you're fast learning how to handle a cup by yourself. 

You like turning the pages of books but don't seem to care about hearing the story. The dogs make you laugh. You love crawling and tumbling all over our big bed, and you're even starting to rough-house with your brother--or at least, you seem to be a willing participant in his rough play. It scares the crap out of me, but I try to follow your lead. 

You clap and you wave and you're just a delight. We love you so much, Colm Ferguson, and I can't imagine our family without you.

Happy 1st birthday, little love!


Saturday, September 20, 2014


Something I've really been enjoying lately is watching the connection grow between Aedan and Colm. They just love each other so completely, without reserve or qualification. Though Aedan can sometimes get a bit carried away, he's generally full of kisses and pats. He'll tell Colm when he's getting into something he shouldn't ("No, Collie! Get out of there!") or offer random toys to him. He just can't wait for Colm to wake up in the mornings, and usually speeds the process along by climbing over me and bestowing kisses all over Colm's face and arms. And then sounds really surprised when he wakes up. "Oh! I think he's waking up now!" It's so sweet.

Colm clearly loves his big brother, too. He can dissolve into a fit of giggles just by looking at Aedan. He crawls after him where ever he goes, and lately I've noticed him trying to do what Aedan does. We were at the pond the other day, Aedan throwing rocks (of course) and I watched Colm edge as close as he could get to the water, pick up a little rock, and drop it in. He did this multiple times, watching his brother carefully. I've noticed him do the same with sticks, at the river. He also tries to stand up on the arm of the couch, and launch over the back of the loveseat beside it, something Aedan does a million times a day. I'm beginning to realize that I'm going to have to watch this little one very carefully!


Parenting two kids is often exhausting. I have little time for myself (which is partly my own fault, I'm terrible at making time for myself, but that's another post.)  Watching these two grow together, though, is immensely rewarding. I wonder if they'll make up their own secret language, hiding out in a fort in the woods around our house. I picture them wrestling on the living room floor, or skipping stones at the river. I see so many shared adventures ahead of them, and I hope they'll always be friends.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


3rd Birthday
Little Aedan,

Yesterday was your third birthday. We had your first ever real birthday party, with your friends and Yukon family coming out to the house for a bonfire in the afternoon. You were so excited to have your friends visit! Every time a car pulled into the driveway, you ran alongside the dogs to greet them, barking just like Cilla barks. You had fun playing dinosaurs with Tristan and visiting with Tante Cat and Megan. We sang to you, and you blew out your candle.

I can't believe how much you've changed in the last year. You speak so well, and you are fearless when it comes to trying new and multi-syllable words (especially dinosaur names, like euoplocephalus and brachiosaurus). You run, and jump, and go up and down the steep stairs to our loft with no problem. You finally like the bath, but you still hate having your teeth brushed.  You're not so obsessed with diggers anymore, but you sure love your dinos and your sea creatures.

This year, we ended our breastfeeding relationship. You weren't very happy about it at first, but things are so much better between us now. You sleep the whole night through, and when you do need comfort in the night, you tuck your little hand inside my shirt, against my skin, and that seems to be enough.

One thing that has stayed constant in the last year: your love of throwing sticks and rocks into water. Forget slides and swings...give you a river and a rocky beach and you're occupied for hours.

You love a little touch of maple syrup on your oatmeal in the morning, and soy sauce on just about everything else. You love french fries, and tofu, and peanut butter sandwiches and frozen peas. Berries of any kind seem to be your favourite fruit these days.

You are really asserting your independence, and I try so hard to respect that and to give you space to be you. But sometimes I think you disagree with me just because you can. If I'm sitting in a certain chair, you will insist that I am not sitting in that chair, that it is your chair. I could observe that it is a beautiful sunny day and you will assure me that the sun is not shining. It's hilarious and maddening at the same time.

Perhaps the biggest change in your life this year has been becoming a big brother.  You have welcomed Colm into our family whole-heartedly. You've never seemed jealous. You love him (a little too hard sometimes) and I'm so excited to watch you grow together.

You delight me, you frustrate me, you amaze me. I feel so lucky to be sharing this life with you.

Love, Mama


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Our Home in the Forest

Welcome to the September 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Home Tour

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have opened up their doors and given us a photo-rich glimpse into how they arrange their living spaces.


Our home in the forest
When I look out of any window in our house, I see only trees: birch, poplar, aspen, and spruce. Mostly spruce. Our home is made of spruce: big logs peeled clean by my husband's hands form the high-ceiling'd family room, and smaller squared logs make up the kitchen and loft, the original building on these five acres. We heat our home with spruce, and birch, too, There is birch in the woodstove now; it smells faintly sweet.

We live off-grid: our house runs off a deck of 10 deep-cycle batteries. During our short summer, we get a boost from our solar panels, and run the generator every 3 or 4 days to fully charge the batteries. In the darker months, we run the gen-set more like every 2 days. We've got some running water now, too. We fill a 250 gallon storage tank in our house with water we transport from town in another tank on the back of an old pick-up truck. So far we've only got the kitchen sink plumbed, but the propane on-demand water heater makes doing the dishes or bathing the babies that much easier (before, we heated water in a big kettle on the stove). We shower in town. And we use an outhouse. Even at forty below. I grumble about it but I've seen some awesome displays of the northern lights while stumbling outside to pee in the night. It is a reminder to be thankful for the little things.


Our house is cluttered and usually messy. P and I both have a love of books, so the book shelves are filled until they break with the weight. There are books in stacks on the floor, books lining kitchen shelves, books in the windowsills, books balanced on the side tables. We try to cull every once in a while, but very few seem to make the cut. I tend to be more ruthless, but only by a little bit.


The kitchen counters are crowded with jars of oatmeal, beans, lentils, spices, and jars of wildcrafted herbs: raspberry leaf, rose hips, plantain, labrador tea, and yarrow. There are boxes of tea, a tin of coffee, bottles of oils and vinegars and hot sauces. There is a bowl of fruit, a copper tea kettle, a loaf of bread, a jar of fermenting water kefir. There are glasses of water half-drunk, and always, always a stack of dishes: it seems to cycle from one side of the sink to the other, dirty then clean then dirtied again: rarely do they find their way back to the dish cupboard. 

Our loft, where we all share a Fraken-bed, is reminiscent of my teenaged bedroom, which is to say: the bed is never made and there are clothes everywhere. It's embarrassing. No one gets to see it but us.

Our home is unfinished, cluttered, dusty, a mine-field of blocks and dinosaurs and dropped bits of food. I've struggled with this off-grid life; it wasn't my choosing in the beginning. Even recently, I've posted about wanting to move to town. But these days, I see the beauty in where we live. I see the unique opportunities it provides our boys. I've come to love the wide open space: 5 titled acres, and nothing but forest, river and mountain all around. I love the total silence, and the complete dark of the nights.  I love the possibilities.

Thank you for visiting our home up the Dempster!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon September 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Being Barlow Home Tour — Follow along as Jessica at Being Barlow gives you the tour of her family's home.
  • A Tour Of My Hybrid Rasta Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes you on a tour of her kitchen complete with a Kombucha Corner, a large turtle, her tea stash, and of course, all her must-have kitchen gadgets. Check out Hybrid Rasta Mama's most favorite space!
  • Dreaming of a Sisters Room — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, dreams, schemes and pins ideas for when her younger daughter is ready to move out of the family bed and share a room with her older sister.
  • Building a life — Constructing a dream — Survivor at Surviving Mexico-Adventures and Disasters shows you a glimpse inside the home her family built and talks about adaptions they made in constructing their lives in Mexico.
  • Why I'm Sleeping in the Dining Room — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook welcomed a new baby but didn't have a spare bedroom. She explains how her family rearranged the house to create Lydia's nursing nest and changed room in spaces they already had.
  • The Gratitude Tour — Inspired by Momastry's recent "home tour," That Mama Gretchen is highlighting imperfect snapshots of things she's thankful for around her home. Don't plan to pin anything!
  • Our Home in the Forest — Tara from Up the Dempster gives you a peek into life lived off-grid in Canada's Yukon Territory.
  • natural bedding for kids — Emma at Your Fonder Heart shows you how her family of 3 (soon to be 4) manages to keep their two cotton & wool beds clean and dry (plus a little on the end of cosleeping — for now).
  • I love our home — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings explains how lucky she feels to have the home she does, and why she strives so hard to keep it tidy.
  • Not-So-Extreme Makeover: Sunshine and Rainbows Edition — Dionna at Code Name: Mama was tired of her dark, outdated house, so she brightened it up and added some color.
  • Our little outdoor space — Tat at Mum in search invites you to visit her balcony, where her children make friends with wildlife.
  • Our Funky, Bright, Eclectic, Montessori Home — Rachel at Bread and Roses shows you her family's newly renovated home and how it's set up with Montessori principles in mind for her 15-month-old to have independence.
  • Beach cottage in progress — Ever tried to turn a 1980s condo into a 1920s beach bungalow? Lauren at Hobo Mama is giving it a try!
  • Conjuring home: intention in renovation — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama explains why she and her husband took on a huge renovation with two little kids and shares the downsides and the ups, too.
  • Learning At Home — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling helps us to re-imagine the ordinary spaces of our homes to ignite natural learning.
  • My Dining Room Table — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves her dining room table — and everything surrounding it!
  • Sight words and life lessons — The room that seemed to fit the least in Laura from Pug in the Kitchen's life is now host to her family's homeschool adventures and a room they couldn't imagine life without!
  • A Tour of Our Church — Garry at Postilius invites you virtually visit him in the 19th-century, one-room church where he lives with his spouse and two kids.
  • Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the Montessori baby-toddler space she's created in the main living area of her home along with a variety of resources for creating a Montessori-friendly home.
  • The Old Bailey House — Come peek through the window of The Old Bailey House where Erica at ChildOrganics resides with her little ones.
  • My New House Not-Monday: The Stairs — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shows you her new laminate stairs in her not-so-new-anymore house.
  • To Minimalist and Back Again — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went to the extreme as a minimalist and bounced right back. Read how she finds it difficult to maintain the minimalist lifestyle when upsizing living space.
  • Our Life As Modern-Day Nomads — This family of five lives in 194 square feet of space — with the whole of North America as a back yard. Paige of Our Road Less Traveled guest posts at Natural Parents Network.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fall in the Klondike Valley


While it is fall in name only in many parts of Canada, here in the North, we are most definitely in the thick of it.

Fall is birch and aspen shimmering gold; it is the leaves of the fireweed and wild rose turning yellow, orange, deep purple, scarlet. It is a breathtaking display of colours on the tundra. It makes me think of a richly woven carpet, spread out over the mountains. We take drives out to Tombstone Territorial Park, just up the highway from our house, to drink it all in.

It is a time of dark nights filled with stars and undulating aurora borealis. It is sometimes damp. It is morning frosts laying the tall wild grasses low, and sweetening the cranberries that hang ripe on the bush. 

Fall here is guys in checkered flannel jackets asking "Got your moose?" over cups of coffee in the Eldo. We head to the hills on warm afternoons, plunk our babies down in the soft moss and lichen, and fill our buckets with wild blueberries, keeping the conversation up so the bears know we're there. We hurry to get the garden in, chopping, blanching, freezing and canning, listening for the soft "plink" of the jars sealing. We work on the woodpile, bucking up logs into stove-lengths, splitting, stacking. 

Fall is the final push to get it all done before cold weather and dark nights settle in. The miners pull the last bit of gold from the ground, and the bartenders and blackjack dealers pull the last bit of gold from the miners. The seasonal businesses run down their stock, close up hotel rooms one by one for the winter; the boards are nailed up over the windows and doors. The town is quieter, now.

More than anything, fall up here feels to me like leaving. Maybe I haven't been here long enough yet to feel settled. Maybe I've just got leaving in my heart.  It is a tightness in the throat as we watch the cranes fly overhead and the seasonal workers hitch their way out of town, back to Toronto or Vancouver or Montreal.

For those of us left behind, it is a time of drawing in, and of reconnecting with friends after a busy summer. There is a scramble to find someone to shack up with, making high rent and long cold nights more tolerable. We hunker down as winter approaches, we speculate on what kind of a winter it might be, sizing it up with more than a little apprehension.

Fall here is brief and beautiful; it is hurrying up and slowing down all at once.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Barry's Memorial

(Barry and me, on the right)

I've been trying to write this post all week, but busy days and changing nap schedules have left me little time to do it.

Last Monday was our friend Barry's memorial service. We gathered at the Commissioner's Residence, a beautifully restored historic building in Dawson City. The flowers in the garden were still blooming, and the red of the poppies gently waving in the wind and the yellow of the building served as a bright counterpoint to the grey clouds that were crowding into the Klondike valley. 

Barry was no ordinary man, and this was no ordinary memorial. The organizers decided to apply for a liquor license, because it was assumed that people would be bringing alcohol anyway. Since it was being held on Parks Canada property, that fact made some nervous. So the local fastball team ran the bar. There was a table with photos of Barry from his time here in the North, and some of his more iconic shirts, hats and beer cozies were on display. There were also buttons made with his picture and his favourite sayings (like "groovy" and "Dave's not here, man") and there were t-shirts for sale, too. It was pretty wild. After the service, we shot some shirts out of a t-shirt canon. 

The service was short, with friends speaking about Barry and a few beautiful poems read. After that, we placed feathers in a basket, to send our loving thoughts on with our friend. He was a naturalist, and loved birds. He kept a record of their comings and goings each year at his place on Strickland Lake. 

Our love, our hope, and our sorrow placed with our feathers, we proceeded across Front St. to the banks of the river. It started to rain as we gathered on the rocky exposed river bed. Two of his dearest friends got into a boat with our feathers and a jar of his ashes, and then they were taken out past the dark waters of the Klondike, to where the sand-coloured Yukon mixes in. It was in these waters that Barry wanted his ashes scattered. On the count of eleven (another of his sayings) Barry's ashes were released, along with the feathers. Watching those ashes scatter in the wind, settling into the fast-flowing waters, and our little bundle of feathers spread out across the surface, was incredibly peaceful. It made me think of the lyrics of a John Prine song:

"When I die let my ashes float down the Green River,
and my soul roll on up to the Rochester Dam.
I'll be halfway to heaven, with Paradise waitin'
just 5 miles away from where ever I am."

It was like we'd been holding our collective breath after we learned of Barry's suicide, and with this, we all let it go. The sun started to come out as we crossed the road back to the Commissioner's Residence for a barbeque. It was really beautiful, and I think Barry would have approved.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about depression and suicide. It is such a complex issue, not easy to understand. But I no longer feel angry with my friend. The anger has been replaced by a deep sadness, for those of us left behind and for him, too. I'm so sad that none of us saw the signs, or if we did, we didn't know how to act. I'm so sad that a man who had such an incredible love of life and all of its weirdness, in the end became so lost in the darkness of his depression that suicide seemed like the only way to some relief. It makes me sob even now, writing this. Such a wonderful human being, so full of love, and so happy just to be. That is what I want to remember about him.

I feel like, for Barry, we must do two things. First, we must be vigilant with ourselves and with each other. If we feel ourselves slipping into that darkness, or see someone else lost there, we must do everything we can to help, and to fight for this life. Because it is a beautiful gift. And that brings me to the second thing we must do for Barry. We must love this life and all of its oddities, treasuring each moment, delighting in where it takes us, and being unapologetic about who we are.

(the photo taken at the river was taken by Heidi Bliedung. Used with permission.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Happy birthday, Hunter-bear!

My nephew celebrates his first birthday today! It's hard to believe that a year has passed already. I am so grateful that I was there when he was born, and that I've been able to spend some time with him over the last year!

Little Hunter-bear, I love the funny faces you make. I love your big brown eyes and your soft hair.

You'd just started walking when I saw you in June, and I imagine now your mom and dad can hardly keep up. You are curious and easy-going and you love love love the water!

I'm so excited for all this next year holds for you. Love you little bear!

Friday, August 15, 2014


With your wispy white curls fluffing out from under your ballcap, your ruddy face and your bright blue eyes.

Your's was a loving, gentle, fun-loving soul.

You gave wonderful, full-body hugs. I'll always remember your particular scent.

You were one of the few people to drop by for a visit, and I am forever grateful for that. I hope you knew how much that meant to me.

You loved live music, and theatre. You loved to dance in your own groovy way. You loved baseball, and I think everyone loved watching the Discovery Days tournament with you. You also loved watching sports on tv, in the bar. You'd come in to town after spending all your time at the lake, just because it was time for the World Cup. In fact, that was one of our lasts visits together. You stopped by on your way in.

You had a hard time remembering names, and called a lot of people Dave. You did things on the count of eleven. You often had food in your coat pockets: a banana, a steak, Babybel cheese. You loved Kokanee and Jack Daniels made you go into a sneezing fit. You made a mean silly chili.

You loved dogs, and mushing, and your friends--you made friends easy. You loved solitude, and bush life, and your lake. 

And you'd been so sad these past couple of years, and none of us knew quite what to do.

And then you chose to end your pain in the most violent and final way imaginable. In spite of all the people who loved you, and all of the things you loved on this earth, you didn't choose life.

Forgive me for being so fucking angry with you for that. 

I love you, Barry. We all do, and you will be sorely missed.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

All's well that ends well.

Yesterday was not a great day. I was tired, and Aedan was trying, so there was a lot of yelling and more than a few bouts of tears. This whole "terrible twos" business is terribly misleading...all of toddlerhood seems to be full of frustration and flexing of wills and also wonderful, burgeoning independence and personality. Aedan is almost three, and I'm beginning to suspect that things aren't going to magically change at the stroke of midnight on his birthday.

I guess it's me who must change, become even more patient and understanding. 

But I digress. Yesterday I was neither patient nor understanding. And then P got home from work and he wasn't much better. When bedtime (finally, thankfully) rolled around, Aedan said he wanted to sleep with Daddy. So P came up to bed with us.

I lay on my side in our bed with Colm, nursing him to sleep, drifting myself in that in-between place, while P snuggled Aedan up. After a few minutes, Aedan asked, in his tiny voice: "Want Daddy to sing to you?"

"Okay," P replied. And softly, he began, "Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed."

I perked up a little.

"A poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed.
And then one day out shooting some food,
up from the ground came a bubbling crude."

Fully awake now, I joined in:

"Oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea."

(is this familiar to you, too?)

Then we started laughing, and Aedan thought it was time to get up and play. We settled him back down, and P finished singing him the theme song from The Beverley Hillbillies ("it's the only song I can think of!" he told me) and we all drifted off to sleep, the day's hurts forgotten.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Of rain and raspberries

We've had an abundace of these two things around here lately. The rain is taking its toll. With such a short summer, we tend to feel cheated if it's less than perfect. And though this rain has only been a thing of the last two weeks or so, it's taken over our telling of this summer's story. We'll remember it as the rainy one, even though it started early and crept on slow and lovely. We'll only recall that it ended abruptly, with lots of puddles.

The raspberries are in season, rain or not, and the clearing around our house has been overtaken a bit more each summer. In another year or two I think we'll be hacking back the canes just to get into the front door.  Usually I pick all that I can, and make jam or freeze them. But this year I am feeling decidedly unmotivated. Aedan and I venture out every day, grazing along the little hillside like a mama bear and her cub, combing the small red fruits into our mouths without discrimination for under- or over-ripeness. We store what we can in our bodies and leave the rest for the birds. 

The rosehips blush scarlet, the ground is wet and mushrooms silently explode out of the forest floor. It feels like autumn is here, but I'd never say that out loud for fear of being run out of town.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Long Haul

I realize that there are many women who do this alone, either some or all of the time. Around here, their partners work at remote mine sites. They fight wildfires, stationed in the bush in the territory or flown out to help in other provinces, sometimes gone for weeks. 

Women's partners are long-haul truckers, or in the military, or just not there at all, ever. So many women do this all alone, all of the time.

After a day like yesterday, where P is out the door at 7:30 a.m. and doesn't pull into the driveway until 7 p.m., I find myself wondering how these women do it. How do they go for days, or weeks, or years as the primary caregiver? As the only adult in the house, all day long? How do they make time for that mythical beast called self-care? How do they fill the well? How do they not lose their minds? 

Or maybe they do. 

Lose their minds, that is. I know I feel close to it on these particular days. I find myself resenting being stuck out here alone for such long stretches of time. I pace within these log walls, or without, in the clearing around the house, swatting at mosquitoes and wishing someone would pull into the driveway, anyone, and not just to turn around and drive back to the gas station at the corner. I'm armed with tea and a wild 3 year old and a sweet baby. I'll invite you in, I swear!

In the absence of (grown) human contact, I find myself spending too much time on the internet, never really making much of a connection there, either. I sing "Mr. Lonely" in my head and feel sorry for myself and then tell myself to cut it out, shake it off. I wash the dishes, I build a block tower and watch the baby knock it over. I count the minutes until. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Tiny Guru

I recently read somewhere on the internet that "mothering is the shortest and steepest path to enlightenment."

I've been trying to keep that in mind lately as I navigate this sometimes maddening world of life with an almost three year old. Because there is no sense to those little people.

For example, Aedan has recently decided that spitting is really hilarious. Especially spitting on me. And there is nothing that enrages me quite like that. The anger is instant, and intense, and I just don't know what to do with it sometimes.

Last night, on my own because P had to work late, I cycled through all of my "tools". I told him sternly that we don't spit at people, that it is disrespectful. He laughed gleefully and spat upon me again. 

I told him again, with the same result. 

I tried ignoring him for awhile (which is really hard to do). No dice. 

Then I wanted to smack him, but I'm pretty sure that's not allowed, so instead I put myself on time out. I told him that Mama was really angry, and she was going to sit upstairs for a minute.

As I sat on our bed in the loft--with Aedan crying and banging on the gate across the bottom of the stairs--I wondered: what would the Buddha do if his almost three year old wouldn't stop spitting on him? What would Jesus do? Would they be calm and peaceful? Would they not react at all? I started to calm down a bit.

And then I realized that if the Buddha or Jesus ever had a child, it was likely home spitting on its mother while the enlightened ones were out meditating under a tree somewhere.

In the end, I declared bed-time. As Aedan flopped around in the bed, not at all tired or ready to sleep, I lay beside him, thinking about enlightenment and hoping that that anonymous person on the internet is right, and that I am on that path right now, my little guru cracking the whip over my shoulder, and spitting on the back of my head for good measure.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Just doing something...

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Back to your regularly scheduled programming shortly!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

DCMF 2014

Oh, Music Fest. The weekend I've loved to hate since my first summer in Dawson, when my boss offered me a pass to the entire festival, and then asked me to work double shifts all weekend. Maybe my dislike of the festival is really just me being crabby that I can't just relax and enjoy it.


"Kid's Fest" happens on Saturday, from 11-2 or something like that, in the main tent. Tante Cat wanted to come with me and the boys this year. At 9 am Saturday morning, I receive the following message from her:

"I'm just going to bed now. Should be good to go for noon."

Tante Cat is a bartender at the Pit. She also loves to party. And she loves my boys.

After some back and forth about meeting at the tent vs picking her up at her house, she finally writes:

"Let's be honest here. Can you just pick me up at the Pit?"

So with that determined, I commence operation Prepare Aedan to Leave the House. It takes a lot of warning and discussion to get an almost 3 year old ready to leave. I had to make promises of balloons and a "treat" at the festival grounds. But it worked, and we were on the road by 11.

We hadn't been on the road for more than 5 minutes when Aedan said: "Uh oh. He's scratching his face!"  A moment later, Collie began to wail. I pulled over, jumped out of car to assess the damage, and began to wail myself. The whole side of Colm's face was covered in blood. His hand was covered in blood. His shirt collar: covered in blood.

We turned around, got him cleaned up at home, put on the sock mitts for the first time in a long time, and then got back into the car, headed to town for the second time. I was dreading the festival now, because taking a baby with a severe eczema flare out into public means you either get lots of unsolicited advice, or people awkwardly not mentioning it at all.

However. The balloons. And the treat.

After a quick stop at the farmer's market, I swung by the Pit, making my way past the gauntlet of drunk people from Whitehorse to find my friend and drag her out to the car. We headed over to the festival grounds.

As soon as we set foot in the tent, full of little kids and their parents and face paint and balloons and a woman playing a ukelele, I panicked. I froze.

"Okay," I said to Cat. "I'm good. Let's go."

But the balloons! The treat!

The look of joy on Aedan's face as he ran into the fray and stole a red balloon from some kid was enough to make me choke back my panic and relax and even enjoy myself a little bit.

I chatted with other moms (and eczema only came up twice, not bad) and nursed my baby and watched Tante Cat enjoy her buddy and then we got Aedan some mini pancakes all covered in maple syrup because he loves maple syrup. Then I took Cat home so she could sleep, and we all drove home again. Both boys passed out before we were even out of city limits.

Maybe after 9 years and 2 kids, I'm finally getting the hang of this music festival business. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Learning to accept where I'm at

While I was recently back in Ontario for a visit, I flipped through a few of my old journals. The ones from high school were just plain embarrassing. So much angst! But most interesting was the journal from 2005/06. That was the year I first came to Dawson--and then went back to Ontario with my tail between my legs.

That first summer was a confusion of emotion. I was exhilerated by making such a huge change in my life. I was also incredibly lonely. In reading through that journal, I was struck by how badly I wanted to go "home". I stuck it out because I felt like I had to. I was also under the infamous "spell of the Yukon". That fall, when I went back to London, all I wrote about was...wanting to be back in Dawson.

Since then, I've alternately felt completely at home here, and like I can't get out fast enough. And here I am again, dissatisfied with what I've got, yearning for something else. It seems to me I've spent much of the last 10 years in this mental state. What an exhausting waste of my energy!

I've said it once before here: I'm not happy on the Dempster. I know there are people who thrive on this kind of lifestyle, who would give anything to live exactly where I do. But it turns out I am not one of those people. I long to go for a walk and pass people on the street. To take the kids to the park when we're all losing it, without having to pack the car for a "town day". I miss friends dropping by for tea. It makes fir a great story to see a wolf in the yard, but I miss having human neighbours. I want to live in town again.

That being said, I don't live in town. Moving to town is not  going to happen any time soon. So, for myself and also for my kids, I must choose to accept what we've got here, and to thrive where I've been planted. It's okay to feel how I do, it's okay to want something different, but it's not okay to react with sadness and anger.. It's not okay to feel "stuck" here. This is where we are right now, but I need to remember that all things are in constant flux. Nothing is fixed; not one single thing about life is permanent and unchanging. Even the mountains around me are very slowly changing, worn by wind and rain and freezing and thawing, by the slow and subtle shifts we can't see. 

For now I must try to relish this unique life I'm living, these moments that will never exist again. To focus my energy on embracing each day, accepting it as it comes, no matter how it comes, and seeing the beauty in that. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Super powers

Some time ago, while trying to get Aedan moving, I said something like: "Do you want me to carry you or are you going to move under your own power?"

In his head, that has somehow become his "super powers".

So, for example, if we're crossing the street and I try to hold his hand, he'll exclaim: "I just want to do it under my super powers!" 

It's pretty funny. I didn't want to forget it, so now here it is, forever remembered on the internet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

9 months

Oh my little Collie-saur, you have been on this earth 9 months now.

You love to eat dirt and you try to eat rocks but I generally discourage you because your teeth! You have four, almost five, teeth. They all seemed to come in at once around 7 months, and it didn't seem to bother you at all.

You've started to crawl, inspired, I think, by spending time with your slightly older cousin, Hunter, who is a very adept crawler, indeed. When you crawl, you sort of have one leg up like you're going to walk on it, bent at the knee, foot on the floor. It's really cute. You love to stand and you're finally pulling yourself up on furniture. It gives my arms a break.

Your eyes are still blue, though sometimes they look green-grey. Your eyelashes are crazy long, and they curl! You're finally getting more hair, and it seems to be darkening a bit.

Your eczema is mostly under control these days, as long as I keep my diet clean. We've discovered that eggs, dairy and wheat all cause it to flare. I miss cheese the most, and milk chocolate...and bread. But I look at pictures of you at your worst, your whole head inflamed, skin weeping, and it's worth it. You're slowly exploring foods yourself: carrots, broccoli, sweet potato and blueberries so far. Mama's milk is still definitely your favourite.

You laugh easy, especially at your big brother.

You have dimples on the backs of your hands.

You love the water, and the swings.

We are so grateful to have you in our lives. Thanks for joining us!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

6 month old baby!

As of this week, Colm has been on this earth for 6 months! I can't believe half a year has gone by already.

These days, Colm is just beginning to sit up on his own. He's also got quite the set of lungs on him, and makes some pretty hilarious sounds. He loves to laugh at his brother's antics most of all, and that makes me so happy! His eyes are so bright, so alert; and blue! He likes to fall asleep in my arms or in the wrap on my chest. He also really enjoys being carried on my hip, in the wrap, while I do dishes or prepare a meal. I'm so glad we mastered that hip carry!

Colm is a very itchy little man, though, and that breaks my heart. The eczema on his face is a bit better these days, but definitely still something we deal with on a daily basis. He's got patches on his right elbow and behind both knees, as well as on the back of his shoulder. His back and his belly are covered in a rash that is almost gone some days, and all over on others. It's tiring trying to guess what is causing the flare ups. Is it something in my diet? Is it laundry detergent? Pet dander? Dust? Seasonal? We try to keep his skin moist and his hands either occupied or covered in socks. I feel awful that he's sitting up and ready to explore the world with his hands a bit more...and they're covered in socks. He'd tear his face up, though, if left un-socked and unattended.

In spite of the itch, he is an incredibly good natured little boy. He is a mama's boy, though, and bedtimes feel like a marathon to get Aedan ready to go before Colm completely loses it in P's arms. I hope that changes soon. 

It seems strange that I worry more about Colm than I ever did about Aedan, especially strange given that Aedan is my first and was diagnosed with diabetes at 7 weeks old. But Colm...I worry about his rash and what might be causing it. I worry about his head being oddly shaped and I wonder if his brains are suffering. I worry that he's not as strong as Aedan was at this age, or as strong as other babies the same age, even though I know you're not supposed to compare. It's exhausting! But I'm sure the rash will clear and his skull will straighten out (or at least he'll get hair and it won't be obvious) and then I guess I'll be worrying about scraped knees or broken bones or peanut allergies or something.

You're my little love, Colm. I just want you to be okay!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

These Days

If I actually sat down and wrote all of the blog posts that occurred to me, well, I guess I'd have a more active blog! Instead, I tend to pass out at 8 every night, wedged between a baby and a toddler. It's a thrilling existence, let me tell ya.

We've been having beautiful weather these past few weeks. It's still cold at night, -25 or so, but it warms up with the sun. It's usually around 0 by mid afternoon. We get outside then to soak up the day. The snow has come off  the roof completely in some places, and is taking its time in others. This past week I've noticed little flocks of snow buntings at the roadsides...they usually pass through this time of year. I've even seen the catkins beginning to grow on the willows! I'm hoping this gradual spring continues, because I'm really loving it.

We've been dealing with a very itchy-headed baby lately, and it's been at its worst this week. The doctor's keep calling it cradle cap, but I'm convinced it's eczema. The skin became infected, and after trying a few home remedies, I caved and Colm is now on a course of antibiotics. The infected skin is looking much better, but his head is still red, rashy, dry and itchy. I hope once winter passes and the woodstoves burn out for the last time, it will clear. It's hard for me to take pictures of Colm, but I don't want to miss documenting this time in his life, so I force myself to do it. Looking through photos from Ontario to now, I can really see it progressing. I hope we're on the downside!

Aside from itching a lot, Colm has started rolling over! He's also begun to babble, and he's just the cutest thing since Aedan! I love this rollie-pollie, pudgy-baby, not-yet-mobile stage!

Aedan is a real challenge. He "helps" me a lot, which is cute. But he's so physical. When he gets excited at our playgroup, he'll push kids down, hit them in the face, pull hair...the other moms reassure me it's developmentally normal,and I know it is, but it's hard to parent him right now. We're working on showing him appropriate ways to play. I try to focus on his sweeter times, when he's giving kisses or hugs or snuggling up to me in bed (though that last also drives me crazy!) I'm eager for this phase to pass.

Aedan and his whale "helping" me do dishes. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It Ain't Easy

Some days, I think to myself: "Yeah, I've got this."  These are the days when my patience and creativity seem limitless, when I am in total control of my thoughts and my actions, when I get the toddler moving smoothly from one moment to the next without tears, and the baby is content and unscathed. These are the days when we all get outside to play, the days that I make some quality time for myself, the days when everything seems to get done..and if it doesn't, I shrug my shoulders and think "oh, well".

But then those other days...those are the ones I need some help with. Those are days like today, where things go relatively smoothly, but beneath it all is a current of nasty, negative thoughts, causing ripples on the surface. Thoughts like "I am such an unnatural mother", "I can't do this", and "I hate this". I struggle to stay in control of myself if Aedan hits me or scratches his brother or pulls Cilla's fur. I find myself yelling. I find myself wanting to lose control, just to see how it feels. 

I don't, though. Somehow, I manage to (mostly) keep my shit wired tight. I do a lot of apologizing on these days. I also do a lot of contemplating leaving on these days. I'd like to scream "I QUIT!!" into the face of my tiny two and a half year old boss, throw the dish rag (or dirty diaper) in his face and storm out the front door. 

And on to what? If I wasn't doing this, what would I be doing?

Would I still be slinging drinks at the Pit? At least there, if you do your job well, people leave you money at the end of each service. Today, Aedan left me a bunch of chewed up Gala apple, spit all over the floor.

I'm trying hard to feel passionate about this job of parenting, because a) I don't have the option of quitting and walking out the door, and b) on an intellectual level, I think it's actually a pretty damn important job. I'm raising HUMANS. Future adults, future MALE adults, and that is a huge and frightening responsibility. It's just not the one I thought I'd have.

Let's be honest, though. It's not like I ever seriously envisioned myself as a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher or whatever. I think the only serious envisioning I ever did was to picture myself as a moody poet/novelist who lived in an apartment with a cat, chain smoking and drinking strong black tea and churning out masterpieces. I thought I'd be the next Margaret Atwood. Except I don't think she smokes. And neither do I.


Here we are. 

The boys are napping now, and I'm drinking green tea, the kind with the bits of toasted rice in it, and blogging about being a mom. Nap time is a chance for us to start over. Aedan will wake up in couple of hours and his hair will be all tousled and my heart will burst and it will all be okay.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Colm's Birth Story

A little background...while it's not illegal, women are very strongly discouraged from giving birth in Dawson City. There is no midwife here, there is no obstetrician, there is no labour and delivery ward in our shiny new health center. Women from Dawson, from all of the communities, must go to Whitehorse, usually around 38 weeks, to wait for their baby to be born at Whitehorse General Hospital. Some women and their families stay with friends or relatives, some are lucky to house sit, but most end up in a hotel room. After Aedan's exciting arrival, we decided to have a midwife assisted "home" birth. We were incredibly fortunate to be able to rent a small house at a beautiful place called Sundog Retreat (with two nights at the Westmark in the middle of our stay) to serve as our home away from home.

Colm's story begins the day before he was born, October 13th. 41 weeks pregnant, and tired of the waiting.  We were getting ready to leave the Westmark and move back into our home at Sundog. My dad was set to fly back to London without meeting his new grandbaby, and my mom was staying on another three days, with all of her fingers and toes crossed that this baby would come soon.

My parents checked out of the hotel, taking Aedan with them down to the river to throw rocks. P and I lay in bed together, dozing in the sunshine streaming in through the window, the white hotel sheets seeming to glow, the whole room, really, glowing. It was a beautiful moment that still stands out in my mind. I had stopped worrying about when labour would begin, had given myself over to letting it happen when it would. But all of these moments must end; we could hear the housekeepers in the room next to ours, so we got up and left to meet with my parents and Aedan.

I held back tears saying goodbye to my dad, but Aedan seemed to be taking it well, so I stayed strong as we headed back to Sundog to settle in for another week.

That afternoon, my mom and I took Aedan outside to play, and I chased him around, lifting him high in the air, kissing him and loving him up, enjoying what would be his last afternoon as an only child, my only child. Around dinnertime, I had some bloody show, and shortly after that, contractions started. Just like with Aedan's birth, they were short, not very strong, and spaced far apart. I went to bed  early that night, hoping tomorrow would be the day.

Monday, October 14th. We were all up fairly early, my contractions a little stronger. I ate a big breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, and called our midwife, Christina, around 7:30. We'd had an appointment scheduled for later that day, and I excitedly told her I didn't think we'd be able to keep it. She and our doula, Mufida, arrived a couple of hours later. My contractions continued, mild and regular, as we hung out, watching Aedan show off for our guests. I was sitting on a big exercise ball for a lot of this time, rocking and bouncing. I nursed Aedan through several contractions--uncomfortable, but I reminded myself that the oxytocin would strengthen labour. Mom took him out to play, and then I got him down for a nap, I think it must have been noon. This is when Chistina considers active labour to have begun. 

We blew up the birth pool and filled it, and soon after I climbed in. Everything was so relaxed...except P. I could tell he really wanted to be doing something. As I was settling into the pool, he was fiddling with the iPad we used to record the birth, and then he jumped up and announced he was going out to the truck to bring in a box of diapers. I ordered him to sit down in a chair beside me, hold my hands, and just be present with me. 

The warmth of the water was lovely, and it felt good to labour there. My contractions continued to increase in intensity and frequency; through each one I would turn my focus inward and downward, imagining my body slowly opening for this baby. In between contractions I was chatting with everyone, and stretching my legs out (I was labouring, kneeling, at the edge of the tub). I would tell Christina whenever I felt the baby move, but we never did an internal exam. 

At some point, I began to make low sounds through my contractions, and the room was mostly silent. As things became more intense, and I think I went through the trasition phase, I remember thinking "no way out but through" and also thinking that this was really gonna hurt! P leaned over and whispered that he loved me, and that I was amazing. Words a gal really needs to hear at a time like that!

Soon I was pushing just a little bit at the height of each contraction. I think this may have been when Aedan woke up from his nap. He was initially alarmed to see me in a big tub of water, but he got over it and was so awesome through the rest of the birth. I remember him patting my arm and telling me "s'okay"

Pushing seemed fast and very intense. I felt an internal "pop", which we assumed was the water bag breaking. There was no real gush of fluid. Maybe baby's head was in the way? I felt the baby coming down, the contractions were on top of each other. I reached down to feel, trying to apply some counter pressure as the baby crowned, hoping I wouldn't tear this time. It took some time to push him out; I would feel his head emerge and then slip back inside my body. I felt the "ring of fire", something I didn't notice with Aedan's birth. Eventually, I roared his head out, and oh! what sweet relief! I looked up at P and said "fuck that feels good!" 

My family all leaned in to see this little baby head, underwater, between my legs. What a trip! Christina guided me to take my time, to let my body stretch and to let baby's body turn. Then, with the next contraction, I pushed him out into the water, into my hands. How amazing a feeling! What relief! I feel like we all exclaimed, P had tears, or maybe it was silent. I don't know. My heart sang, though. It was over! Baby was finally here! 

I lifted him out of the water and held him to my chest. He took his sweet time taking a breath, instead just looking confused. Christina blew into his face a couple of times and finally he took his first breath. I peeked between his legs. A boy! I settled back into the tub, and we all marvelled at this new human with us. Afternoon sunshine filled the house. Everything was just as I'd pictured it. 

I was still having fairly strong contractions, and it wasn't long before I delivered the placenta. P cut the cord while baby latched on and nursed for the first time. Soon after that, Mufida and Christina helped me out of the tub and into bed, where Christina gave our boy his first exam. He weighed in at 7 lbs 12 ounces, a beautiful, healthy little guy. 

P, Aedan, proud Gramma and I were all enthralled. It is so amazing how life changes so completely with the arrival of a new baby!