Vicarious Wanderings

salubrious jottings for those stuck at home

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hello all,
We're definitely sporadic with this blogging thing. Oh well - better than nothing right??

The first pictures are of a baby shower that my (Charlene's) previous co-workers from the lower mainland put on. We had such a good time. There were 8 of them and they came up on Saturday around lunch and then stayed until Sunday around noon. Tamy and Alice were the organizers of the games and we had lots of laughs. This first picture is of Ben trying to figure out what kind of chocolate bar is melted into the baby diaper. Good preparation for him as I think I remember that he has volunteered to change all the brown looking diapers (or nappies as he would call them). Well maybe my memory is failing but... I think there were about 8 to figure out and I won the game which tells you that I really like chocolate bars. Sometimes people ask if I have had any special craving during pregnancy and I definitely feel strong chocolate cravings and yet I have to admit that that is really not different than any other non-pregnant day.

From Pregnant

Another game where one person wore a garbage bag while their blind folded partner fed them applesauce. Here is Gary looking very classy.

From Pregnant

And here we all are. Not the best quality picture I know but you have to take what you get with timers. Thanks to our "Orion" friends for a very thoughtful shower and visit.

From Pregnant

SNOW, SNOW, SNOW, and more SNOW - mid December 2008
These pictures are self explanatory. It is good that Ben hasn't had too much experience with snow because the shovelling is still a bit of a novelty:) This amount of snow could be expected farther east but it is very rare to get this much in Nanaimo. It was truly a bit chaotic as the infrastructure (plows, salting) is just not adequate. Our Subaru was incredibly competent with it's all wheel drive and snow tires. There was more than one occassion when we were stopped at a stop light and everyone around us was spinning but the Subaru just powered right though.

From Pregnant

From Pregnant

From Pregnant

This gives a good idea of the amount of snow...our outdoor table and chairs buried!

From Pregnant

The snow view of our house. Our street was not plowed for a few weeks after the snow but when it was it ended up just making a big snow barrier beside all the cars so then people actually had to dig their cars out after the plow went through.

From Pregnant

And some just didn't dig theirs out:)

From Pregnant

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It is hard to believe that we are now 37 and a half weeks pregnant. It all became clearer to us last Friday when we went to our midwife and she said that the baby is now considered full term and so anyday is a good day for delivery at this point.

Pregnancy...what an incredible experience to have a human being growing within me without really doing anything except of course eating more which hasn't been much of a hardship:)

I guess you could say that we are in a season of waiting, anticipation and wondering. People ask if we are ready but honestly, we have no idea. How does one get ready for something they have never experienced before? Of course there are some obvious logistics but this life change we anticipate of becoming parents is outside of our realm of understanding right now.

Below are pictures of the growth of our baby. It is funny to me to look at the early pictures when I felt so pregnant and yet really it is hardly noticable when compared with now. Our doula (birth assistant) came over and did belly shots with us on Sunday and the last two are two of those shots.

September 6, 2008 16 weeks pregnant
From Pregnant

October 16, 2008 22 weeks pregnant

January 5, 2009 34 weeks pregnant
From 2009-01to03

February 2, 2009 37 weeks pregnant
From Roll 148

February 2, 2009 37 weeks pregnant
From Roll 148


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Test Riding the Recumbent

I just got my recumbent up and riding a few days ago. We went to a school parking lot yesterday to get used to the ride. One little crash there. I rode most the way to the hospital to ride home with Charlene today and it is feeling more comfy. I'm sticking to foot paths. It cruises along well, though I've found it doesn't stay upright when I leave pavement and get on grass. The slicks don't help. Here's a little video from the school parking lot.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quadra Island for Charlene's Birthday

For Charlene's birthday weekend we went to Quadra Island which is about an hour and a half north + a 10 min ferry ride (just across from Campbell River).

From Quadra Island Charlene's Birthday
We enjoyed a yummy birthday supper at Heriot Bay Restaurant... mmm mmm mmmm.

From Quadra Island Charlene's Birthday
Charlene got a birthday present from me - not a plastic folding table though she was very happy when we got that too.

From Quadra Island Charlene's Birthday
Some oiled pieces of wood held together with screws and hinges... what could it be?

From Quadra Island Charlene's Birthday

From Quadra Island Charlene's Birthday
An easel! Charlene has always dreamed about being able to paint one day... now the dream is closer to reality.

From Quadra Island Charlene's Birthday
The cottage from outside.

From Quadra Island Charlene's Birthday
An outside bathtub surrounded by a forest.

From Quadra Island Charlene's Birthday
Inside our pine cottage.

From Quadra Island Charlene's Birthday
Out the kitchen window with big hairy green trees.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Meeting Baby Calah

Hello all,

There are things about this blog that still elude me like how to make a space before the first picture. Oh well. I (Charlene) just got back from the Philippines yesterday. On the Philippines end, it is always very sad to have to say goodbye to Crystal and company but it is a beautiful reunion to be able to meet back up with Ben on this end.

Mom and I left for the Philippines on October 18 because Crystal had her third baby - a girl this time. Her name is Calah Mary Tirrell Valdez and she was born on October 14. Most people who see her in the Philippines say she looks like her grandma. I can't say I have a strong opinion about her resemblance...she is very cute in her own way.

Joel loves holding Calah and had to "see baby Calah" at least 20 times per day just to know that she was okay. He tries very hard to be gentle but it is a struggle. It is beautiful to watch how much he loves her.

It runs in the family. Joshua loves liking the beaters after making chocolate cake too!!
Joel is kissing his expected baby cousin.
What a precious baby!! I can't say I've spent a lot of time with newborns in the past but I've decided it really is amazing to be able to hold a baby so tiny and yet so perfectly formed. Calah is VERY content. In fact I don't really know how it sounds when she cries because it was so infrequent.
Daddy Jerry with all three - he's brave!! Things started to shift quite soon after this picture was taken and requred a quick rescue by mommy!!
The expanded family.
Three generations. Calah, Crystal and my mom (Mary).
This is Joel and Joshua showing off their new bear towels that I made and took over for them. I was concerned that the presents might be a bit boring but the boys loved coming out the bath with them on and growling like bears.
Joshua is now able to take Joel (and me once) for rides on this big bike. Joel can move it too by just doing half pedals.
Joshua loves holding baby Calah and is very gentle with her. Calah is lucky to have two big brothers to look after her.

Kids are so much fun. It makes us feel sad that we don't live closer to all our neices and nephews in Australia and the Philippines. I was feeling this way as I was waiting for my plane in Manilla and a Filipino lady sat down beside me. She was well dressed and looked to be in her 20's. They started boarding the plane and calling out seat numbers starting at the back of the plane to board. She turned to me and asked me if it was her turn and I showed her where her seat number was and that it would be a little while before she was called. The announcer called the next set of numbers and she asked me again, obviously very nervous about flying. I asked her where she was going and she said Dubai to work as a receptionist. Her friend had got her a job there. I could tell that she was terrified and said "You must be sad having to leave your family behind." She said "Yes but especially my daughter who is 4." As she was saying that she seemed to become even more nervous and uncomfortable and went back to reading her papers in front of her, obviously unable to continue the conversation without bursting into tears. I said, "I'm sorry." And that was the end of the interaction. For us in Canada, it seems like a crazy decision for someone like her to leave her daughter behind and yet, she has no choice because her family has no money to survive. This is not an uncommon story. When I got on the plane, the sadness of this situation struck me deep within and tears flowed. It was raining outside and big drops of rain were coming down on the plane window which I imagined to be God's tears for this lady. I thank God for these reminders of the injustice in the world...may my heart never grow calloused and may I always be searching for ways to "love my neighbors as myself".

Monday, September 15, 2008


For those that haven't heard, Charlene and I are expecting a little one sometime in February. We went to the midwife a couple of weeks ago and heard the heart beating away and could pick up movement from the noises, very exciting. The baby is in week 18 and according to the books 5-1/2" from crown to rump and is pretty active. Anytime now Charlene should start feeling "gas bubble" feelings of it's movement. I've been feeling them all along, though that's not necessarily baby movements :)

Unfortunately for the heartbeat audio I couldn't figure out how to make it so you could just press it and it playback. Hopefully the computerly challenged of you can listen to it. You will have to save it to your computer somewhere (desktop is good), minimise your internet window and then double click the file. Sorry I couldn't figure out an easier way.

Charlene is doing well, with minimal morning sickness, a few headaches and lots of sleeping. Just this week people are starting to comment that they can notice she is showing (people that already know she is pregnant), and she is starting to wear comfy clothes with a bit of stretch to them.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


This weekend was a long weekend in BC for BC Day. We forgot it was BC day today but we sure enjoyed having an extra day tacked onto the weekend. On Saturday around noon (we're not too good at the early morning starts even though our intentions are always good) we caught a 20 minute ferry ride to Gabriola Island. Gabriola has about 4500 people living on it and it was great to be there for the weekend. As you can see from our tandem, we loaded up on a few extras such as lawn chairs for a bit of extra comfort. Fortunately we were able to drop our stuff off at the campsite pretty much right after getting off the ferry and then we were free to cycle around the island after that. It was 30Kms around the Island. Other than that we spent a lot of time reading and enjoying watching the ocean. We're both too wimpy to go for a swim because it is COLD!!

Below are pictures of our house in Nanaimo. We live in a 4-plex and our suite is on the right.

Take note of Ben's flourishing garden out front.

Our "dining" room.

This picture ended up misplaced in the blog and I really don't know how to move it but this Ben's creation. He is building a recumbent bike. He started working on it when I was in the Philippines last March and it has been on hold until just recently.

Our living room seemed huge to us so we decided to turn half into a bike storage area and computer area. It has always been Ben's dream to decorate the living room with bikes:)

Unlike our old place, we have light in our bedroom. It is nice to know what the weather is like before leaving the house! We also have a spare room but in order to make these pictures appear somewhat orderly, we had to do a lot of stashing of "things" in the spare room and it didn't get a photo. Anyway it is a nice space for anyone who would like to come and visit!! You are welcome anytime.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Cambodia Pictures....finally

Here are some pictures of Cambodia...finally. They ended up in a bit of a funny order but we'll just work with them the way they are.

Can't quite remember the name of this form of transportation but we think it is rototom. They have a specific route that they travel and are the cheapest form of transport. You can see the obvious disparity in wealth with the large van driving up beside.

In 1975, Cambodia came under the rule of the Khmer Rouge which was a very oppressive regime that lead a genocide. Between 1/4 to 1/3 of the entire population was killed. This is a picture taken in the Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh. This building (you can see it better in the picture below) was a school that was converted to a prison/interrogation center/torture center during the Khmer Rouge regime. People the Khmer Rouge thought were threats (ie. educated, government officials, etc) were brought here. Only 7 people got out alive. The museum was a difficult place to visit. It is horrible that something like this happened. The country continues to recover even to this day. It would be safe to say that every person in Cambodia is still effected in some way.

Voila!! Meet our host family. From left to right: Naree (24 years old), Ming Kin (mom 46 years), Om Poan (dad 47 years), Vesna (19 years), Sopannut (17 years), Sopanni (16 years). This family has impacted our life forever and we are grateful for their welcome towards us.
Disparity. One side of the river is a gated community and the other side is a slum.
A slum community not far from the one we lived in.
Primary mode of transportation (along with bicycles and walking) for the poor. This is a motodop and was the way that we travelled around each day.
We often saw truck loads of people like this. Cambodia is primarily Buddist and it was common to see lots of monks around.
A new way of washing clothes.... After one load the Western softies (ourselves that is) ended up with sore arms and sometimes blisters from trying to squeeze out all the water.
Whenever Ben was around, the Khmer word "Tom tom" was said frequently. Tom Tom means big big. This picture can maybe help explain why:) This is Ben with our host family dad.
This was our cozy little room. We always tried to believe the mosquito net would keep out anything we didn't want in our bed until...the rat made it through. It was comforting for the first three weeks.
The downstairs area of the house. All of the cooking and eating happened down here. Actually most everything happened down here because it got really hot upstairs during the day with the corrugated iron combined with temperatures of 35 degrees +. The picture below is another perspective of the same. Notice three of the seven friendly puppies (each with their own large family of fleas) we lived with, with corresponding pee patches on the dirt floor.
Simplicity. Using what they have. This is one of the walls downstairs.
Dances were common. They were amused at the Western way of dancing. It is a bit scary that we were representing Western ways of dancing...sorry everyone:)
Supper (or Tea for the Aussies). For supper we would all get a bowl of rice and then the bowls in the middle had the part that we would put on the rice. In Cambodia it would be considered rude to spoon a whole bunch of the middle stuff onto your rice so we took one spoonful and put it on our rice and ate that and then when back for more. the West we call that double dipping. Took a few days and then we just didn't notice it anymore.
A market near our house.
Our showering facility. We were fortunate that this little stall had a door and was enclosed for privacy. The cistern at the back was full of water and then we just used the bucket to pour it over our heads. It's amazing how refreshing cold water can be in a climate such as Cambodia's.
The toilet room. Once again, we were fortunate that this was an enclosed space. We were a bit sad the day that we learned that we actually weren't supposed to be wearing shoes in there. We ended up buying a cheap pair of flip flops for use only in the bathroom.
This is a picture of Chenda, the physiotherapist in The Little Conquerors (TLC) program. TLC is a program of home visiting and a center stimulation/mother's group that runs through the organization we were working with. Here Chenda is visiting Ravi in his home to encourage his grandma (his main caregiver) and see if there are any other ways she can help him to reach his full potential. It was great to see the way the other kids help care for Ravi and play with them. Often in Cambodia disability is looked down upon and the kids are ostracized.
This is a picture of our neighborhood after a very heavy but quick rain.
Another picture of our community. We didn't get a picture of our house from the outside:(
The children were so welcoming. We had lots of fun with them and even learned a lot of language from them. We also learned about simplicity in play and the value of lots of relationships among the neighborhood kids.
Not quite sure the purpose of the talcum powder. Apparently it has something to do with leading up to Khmer New Year. Anyway, it was fun...and a bit burny on the face with time.
Simplicity. Our little friend Sra-na with her home-made toy.
We love this picture!! Our neighbours Hua and Kamal showing off their muscles for the camera :)
This is Om Koy. He works with the TLC program also, making adaptive equipment for the kids. This is a toy for the kids made out of PVC pipe and motor bike handles. Creative!
Om Koy's workshop. Sorry it's so blurry but the part Ben loves that there are so few tools and gadgets and yet he was able to make amazing adaptive equipment with his creative mind. Highlights the times we think we need more stuff - when really it is more thought and creativity required to be content.
These are two of the kids at Sunrise School. Sunrise School is a school where children with disabilities can go because the public schools will not accept them. The hope with these children is that they will eventually be able to integrate into the public system. Visiting here was a definite highlight for us.
Our friends...somehow, even though we are all so different in so many ways, our humanness unites us.
This is Sopanni a few days before we left. He gave us a little kids squeaky toy. Ben had seen his brother Sopannut get it out and play with it during our time there. They had it all wrapped up in the top drawer and was obviously a precious possession for them. We will cherish it.
Our host dad did a lot of home renovations. He was particularly proud of this painting. Beauty in the slum.
Simplicity. The picture speaks for itself.