McFadden Family

Family Pictures

Recently we had our family pictures taken by our good friend and photographer Cheryl Fields.

Cheryl did a great job. I love being able to capture our family all together every so often. It makes it fun to look back and see how much we have all changed over the years.

So little time, so much work

Currently I’m in my third week of working two jobs and so far things are going pretty well, but I don’t think it’s anything I could handle long term. Working all day then going home and working some more makes for long days. Throw in working close to full days on the weekends as well and it hasn’t left me much of the Life side of the Life Work Balance.

My family is amazing and they are all making sacrifices to allow me to do this. The most of course being my amazing wife. While I ensure I have had some time to go out on family outings when it comes to the day to day running of the house, including chores etc, she is doing even more than her usual large piece. But we know this is for the best so we’re all willing to do what it takes for the short term.

Luckily both my full time job and the part time are very flexible when it comes to me needing to make adjustments. Of course working in the Library I need to be here in case something goes wrong that I have to physically go and look at or deal with, but if I need to take a vacation day or work a little extra here and take some time off there, it’s not a big deal. The part time job I get to do from my home and choose my own hours so this part just works.

Someday I’ll write more and talk about he part time stuff I’m doing as it’s really great and has actually caused me to step up my game in other aspects of my life. They say if you need something done to ask a busy person and I believe this is absolutely true. Being busy forces you to plan better and I actually feel sometimes like I’m more productive in the other parts of my life. Maybe because you know you don’t have extra time so procrastination just can’t happen. You hustle and get the things done that need to be done.

Because of this it’s been a bit since I’ve written here. Let’s give a bit of an update.

  • My last post was about pumpkin pie. We ate it, it was delicious.
  • As part of my health transformation I’ve taken up running. On Oct. 12, 2014 I ran my first 10K race in the local Valley Harvest Marathon. I did it in 55 minutes. Not my best time, but with a knee injury I was happy with it.
  • I talked about our rabbits before. This morning we discovered one of them had past away. I had some very sad kids, especially my oldest as she is the one who looks after them and found it this morning. :-(

I think these are the main points of interest. I’m going to try to keep writing more and make time for this in my schedule as well.

Pumpkin Pie

Today is my Mother’s Birthday. One of her, and my, favourite things is pumpkin pie, so that is what she is getting today instead of a birthday cake.

I’ve made the pie before but this is the first time I’m doing it while making my own pie crust. Previously I’ve always used store bought crusts and just made the filling.

Here was the result last night.

If you’re interested in the recipe, here is the one for the pie filling and below it the one for the crust.

Pumpkin Pie

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 1hour 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 large (28 oz) can pumpkin
  • 2 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp ginger
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 6 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 2 cups whole milk

Directions

  • Beat together
  • Pour into unbaked pie shells
  • Bake 1 hour @ 325. Makes 2 large pies

Pie Crust

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 lb lard
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • < 1 cup milk

Directions

  • Cut lard into flour & salt. Add:
  • vinegar
  • egg
  • enough milk to make 1 cup
  • Mix just until blended & forms a dough that will stick together
  • Makes 6 crusts
  • Freezes well

Turning Around A Bad Mood

For the last few days I’ve been letting little things, unimportant things, build up and let them get me down. I know full well these things are temporary and are dwarfed by all the great positive things in my life but for some reason let them get to me anyway.

Not today! I let them go today and start again. Today is my oldest’s birthday. She is turning 15 and we are going to celebrate with her friends and our family. It’s a beautiful fall day and we are going to do it outside at my parents house in the country.

While the rest of the family went out to get things ready there, me and my little guy ran some errands and finished up the last bit here at the house.

We did so good for time that we took a little break to relax in the sun with a little treat. It’s easy to turn around a bad mood with days like this.

Beginning of Autumn

Autumn is my favourite time of the year.

September starts out as what I call Birthday Month in my house. Three of my children have birthdays this month and so does my Father-in-law. So we get to start off the best season by celebrating for the whole last of the month.

My wife enjoys birthdays more than the average person so she goes all out. Most people we celebrate with have at least two parties. One on their actual birthday which is more for family and a dinner, but then the bigger party celebrating with all their friends in some fashion. This causes the month to be busy between the planning and running around associated with this, but we always have a good time.

We live in a beautiful agricultural area so Autumn is also harvest season. So many agricultural tourism based attractions have popped up over the years. From corn mazes to apple picking, there’s always something going on to get out in the fresh crisp fall air. The temperatures are about perfect for my liking and the scenery with the leaves changing colors makes an excellent backdrop for our adventures.

We have a couple really cool events. The Annual Giant Pumpkin Regatta is, just as the name sounds, an event built around giant pumpkins. Competitors will actually carve them out into huge boats and paddle them across the water in a race. Before that they have a big parade so you can see all the fancy designs and costumes they’ve prepared to stand out in the race.

My town also holds an annual Pumpkin People Festival. All over town displays of pumpkin people show up to celebrate the harvest season. It draws lots of visitors to the area and is a favourite activity of my kids to go around and see all the people.

Each year in October there is the Valley Harvest Marathon, this year I’ve registered to run my first race ever. I’ve done a few 10k runs in preparation so hopefully it will go well and hopefully it will become a new Autumn tradition for me.

There are a few down sides to Autumn though. For one the days get a lot shorter. Early morning runs have been pushed back which makes it harder to fit in to our busy morning schedules. It is also a clear reminder that as beautiful as this time of year is, it won’t be long before winter is here.

Why Didn’t I Say Something?

I was in a great mood, a friend wanted to get together to have coffee so I left work a little early on a Friday afternoon. I went to pick up my oldest from school before heading off to meet and while I was waiting in the parking lot I received a very exciting email which put me in an even better mood.

That changed very shortly after, and even though I’ve been thinking a lot about that email, I also keep coming back to what happened between getting the email and leaving the parking lot.

As I’ve mentioned before, this year is my daughters first year at high school so this is really my first time spending even a little bit of time near a high school since I graduated, and that is getting to be a longer and longer time ago.

It really shouldn’t have shocked me, especially after the things in even our local news, but it still did.

Here was this young man walking with what appeared to be his girl friend and another guy. As they got close to his car the other guy continued on. I didn’t hear any of the conversation before this, but as they separated the guy with his girl friend yelled to the other guy something about how he was going to rape his mother. All three of them laughed.

How in their right minds can anyone think this is an appropriate thing to say or joke about.

I wanted to say something to him, to all of them, but I didn’t. Someone needs to give them a reality check that this is simply not a joking matter, why didn’t I do it?

I’ve regretted it ever since the situation passed.

My first reaction was to get out and yell about respecting women and what an awful thing to joke about, especially a friends mother, but any woman. Immediately I thought of my daughter and how it might affect her if I did this. It could cause her to be labeled the girl with the crazy dad and make her start of school harder than it is already going to be for her.

She didn’t hear the comments at all thankfully, but my internal dilemma was still focused around her. I try to show her through actions how women need to be treated so that when she picks a boyfriend she will choose someone who will show her that respect, but by letting that pass I didn’t help anything. Even if she wasn’t there to see or hear, what if she had been, would I have reacted different?

When I was a teenager “Yo Momma” jokes were a big thing. Looking back those were horrible things to joke about, but I don’t recall any of them being a vulgar or as offensive as talking about raping someones mother.

My hope is that my children grow up to be stronger than what I displayed yesterday. I want them to feel secure enough to stand up for what’s right and let someone know, in an appropriate manner, when they say something that is simply not right. How can I expect them to do that if I don’t demonstrate it myself.

For now I am going to mention it to the Principal of the school so that he can at least be aware and pay attention for this in the future. I’m also going to make a firm resolve with myself to not let anything like that just slip by again.

Popcorn For The Show

Earlier in the day my wife was trying to take down a borrowed folding play pen which was used to nap a visiting child. Apparently it didn’t go so well so it was still up when I arrived home from work.

I was coming up stairs just as my wife was starting on her second attempt to get this thing apart, I hear my nine year old daughter say.

“Hold on, I’m going to get some popcorn. This is going to be a good show.”

Four Year Old Burn

Yesterday I left work a bit early to meet up with the rest of my family for an ice cream after school.

My oldest, in a new school for grade nine this year, was proud to tell me she joined her first extra curricular club. She wanted me to guess what she had joined though.

While I was thinking my four year old son with the most sarcastic look on his face, tone in his voice and seeming very proud to burn his big sister.

“Was it grade one?”

Last First Day of School

Big mile stones in our home today. Like it was for many, this week is back to school week for us. My two middle girls were especially excited about going back to and see all their friends. For them this year will be much of the same, they’re entering grade five and three. They’re staying at the same school and being in the early french immersion program their class ends up staying almost entirely the same kids.

To me this is a wonderful thing, we may have to drive our kids to and from school each day but if things continue on as planned they will never have to change schools. This means they should hopefully be able to build long and lasting friendships that they can carry with them throughout life. When I was young we moved around a lot. For the first number of years I was in a different school each year and once transferred to another school during the year. I didn’t get to make those friendships. I’m envious of my wife who has a great friend that she’s had since they were two years old.

For my oldest daughter this is a big year, grade nine. That means in this school area she is moving on to the high school. Last year she was the oldest in the school and now she will be one of the youngest. She put on a brave face and had a great attitude. When she is nervous though she tends to talk a lot and fast, this was our drive to school this morning. It was like she was reassuring herself that things were going to be OK. I did my best to help reaffirm that for her as well. She does have some friends coming with her but there will be lots of new people merging together from other schools as well.

She’s blossoming into a smart, beautiful young woman whose self confidence is finally starting to grow. She actually took a kind of support role for her friend this morning who was admittedly apprehensive of moving to the big high school. It seemed like this helped her more secure herself knowing she could be there for her friend. It made me feel proud watching this on the drive.

The biggest adjustment has to be for my youngest, my boy. He is starting school for the first time today. After going through this with his three older siblings you’d think I’d have a better handle on it. Maybe it was worse because this is our last child. There will be no more first days of school for our children.  He is ready but of course has major butterflies.  I know there is nothing to worry about he has three of his best friends in his class with him. They were all kids who, at least at some point, my wife has cared for in our home. So they’ve basically grown up together.

Especially around his friends he has always been confident, likely over confident. When we pulled into the school yard today my little man turned into a turtle. This wasn’t a ninja turtle like the ones on his backpack, but a shy little turtle who, if he could, would have pulled himself inside his shell. Instead he stayed right by my side and held on tight. His sisters were all there with us and encouraging him on as we walked across the yard to find his class.

There in the line up were all his friends waiting with their parents, some of them looking nervous as well, but not like him. This seemed to be overwhelming for him and for the first time I was scared it might be a hard transition for him. He did let go long enough to pose for a couple pictures with his friends, but then right back to me. His cousins offered to take him over to go see his teacher who he has met a number of times before, but he wouldn’t budge unless I went too. Even then it was a reluctant venture.

Finally the bell rang so we went back to grab his backpack and follow the line inside. He was so out of place he could barely get his bag on his back. I followed him into his class and we found the hook outside the door with his name on it. We took out his new inside shoes and he put them on no problem and hung up his bag. As soon as we walked into the classroom things completely changed. He didn’t care if I was there or not. He ran over to a table with his friends and started playing with lego and colouring pictures. It felt like a big weight lifted off my shoulders as I knew he was going be fine like I originally thought. He was so comfortable he barely looked to to say good bye when I told him I was leaving.

So thankful that I was able to take all the kids to the school this morning, and now I can’t wait to pick them up at the end of the day to find out what an amazing time they’ve had.