Birdie Rescued and Died

The kids tried again.  After last springs commitment to saving a dove ended with a burial, and their experience at Hamilton Hobby Farm and the frequent death of chicks,  the kids were more prepared for the demise of this bird they saved from the teeth of Coco, a resident dog.  But still, burials are sad…it never gets easy.

The kids figured this was an Inca Dove, most likely an adult.  It lasted only a day with us.  There were no visible injuries but its feathers were falling out on its back and belly, probably from Coco toying with it.

The kids had taken it to a secluded area to see if it would fly away but the first attempts it could only flutter about a foot away, they think because it was startled by them.  The second attempt it walked a bit more, but shortly after that they found it drowned in its water dish.  


Full Circle in Mexico: Photo Collage Mega Overload

It’s been a GREAT year, this 2014.  And we anticipate that 2015 is going to be even better.  More adventures we haven’t even dreamed of, because after all, a lot of 2014 played out completely different than we had imagined at the beginning of the year.  Bigger and Better it turned out to be so that’s what I’m expecting for 2015.

With only hours left before we flip the calendar to the New Year here’s an overview of highlights from our past year.

JANUARY: The year started at Barra de Navidad where a few days later my mom and sister Joanne came to visit.  Though us Johnsons were all sick, we fit in crocodiles and cafe and markets.  After they left we camped on the beaches in Michoacan. Beautiful….

Collage January

and before the month was out we were ‘living’ at Ajijic, Jalisco but left shortly for the mountainous interior of Michoacan state where our eldest Layne came to visit us and we celebrated Maret’s 14th Birthday.Collage Layner

We  ventured up into the mountains to marvel at the Monarch butterflies, and visited wonderful Mexican artistic communities famous for copper, furniture making, etc.  We loved this area of Mexico.

FEBRUARY: This is the highest concentration of family celebrations with 3 of our birthdays and Everette’s and my wedding anniversary.  We had a Tigger celebration for Gaelyn’s birthday, and went to the zoo in Guadalajara for Anders’.  That sweet little family, the Sampson’s….their little girl’s birthday is also in February, and we’re hoping they’ll join us this February so we can all celebrate together when their precious K will be turning magical 2!

Collage Feb

MARCH: Toveli turned Twelve.  The kids spent loads of time all spring volunteering with the dog rescue, and for near two weeks they attempted to rescue this mourning dove but sadly it died.  But what a huge learning experience that was.

A highlight of the month was helping prep and celebrate their friend E’s 13th ‘Doctor Who’ birthday.Collage March

Collage April

APRIL: We had to temporarily ‘move’ into a couple of apartments in April which helped us prep for our drive north to Canada.  (We thought we were going to be moving to Puerto Rico, but that never transpired.)

MAY: End of April we received a Petition from our children, insisting that we hurry north to surprise their sister Rauchelle for her birthday.  So, we headed to Portland, OR.  Inspite of van troubles & sandstorms we covered coastal northern Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California (& here) lickety split and arrived in Oregon in plenty of time.

Collage Heading NorthCollage Rauchelle May

When we got back to British Columbia, a friend we knew from previous years thru homeschooling, invited us to share her house with her and her 3 kids.  Just that gesture helped shape our entire summer, which has become one of our children’s FAVOURED SUMMERS OF ALL TIME!!  Thanks, Shelley!Collage Yaremcio's

Shelley introduced us to the Hamilton’s (Chris and Shelly).  We had showed up to volunteer at their Hobby Farm, but what I discovered later was that Shelly H was initially overwhelmed with our crew and worried that we would be ‘too much’ for her to use.  But, we filled in a need (she desperately wanted help with preschool groups during the week while regular school-aged volunteers were still in school) and that turned in to the kids volunteering full time for the summer, and the family moved onto the farm.Collage Hamilton Farm

JUNE: We enjoyed the summer being at the beaches in Parksville and Qualicum Beach, or stomping grounds for near 20 years of married bliss.  Fun to see our kids enjoy their time here, too.  We left here when Laars was just 2.5 months old.  This summer he turned 7 as we celebrated with our Ortwein friends on the beach at Qualicum.Collage JUNE

JULY: Danaka and Everette spent 2 weeks in Puerto Rico, a few days of which was taking a certification course on Aquaponics, in anticipation of our family settling on the island in the Caribbean sun (wasn’t to be).  While they sweltered in the heat there, we enjoyed a Canada Day and summer days at the Hamilton Hobby Farm.Collage July
Collage July MWAUGUST: Throughout the summer we visited with family and friends.  We shaved heads as we dealt with lice for the very first time, and took excursions to Cathedral Grove, Englishmen River Falls, Lake Cowichan, Duncan, Bramberton, Sooke and (local) Coombs.

Collage SUmmer

And we made a special trip back down to Portland to share in our Precious Marin’s Second Birthday.Collage Aug Marin

SEPTEMBER: In anticipation of the Farm closing for the winter the kids put in more hours of riding.  Danaka enjoyed ground work but got herself up in the saddle a few times….just can’t find any photos to prove it!  Shelly Hamilton, you got any???

Collage Riding

There was a Year End Party for the farm, the kids helped with final chores before we headed south for another winter.  It was sad Goodbye’s to give, having spent four and a half months getting to know and then loving these people that let us become part of their family.  Kudos to the Hamilton’s.Collage Hamiltons

OCTOBER: We’ve only got one son-in-law at present so he’s high on our priority list so we drove internationally (!!) to be there for his 4oth Birthday.  Well, ok, so they were on our route south….but we would certainly go out of the way for those Burkes anyways.  They are some of our very favourite people, even if we don’t see eye to eye on things.  We still enjoy spending time with them, and celebrating some of the big days of the year with them.  Any day would be nice to spend with them….we’ll take all the days we can get.Collage Seth

And just before we were going to celebrate Halloween and Where the Wild Things Are our second granddaughter showed up.

Elita BurkeNOVEMBER: I had stayed behind in Portland to witness the birth of Elita and provide support for Rauchelle, along with Maret and Mitchell while Everette and the other kids headed to warmer (except at night) climes in anticipation of heading to Mexico.  Finally we were reunited in early November and we made a quick trip south.  We were blessed to be invited to camp at Squire and Cami’s yard in Alamos, a town in the hills of Sonora state where we had never gone before.  It was a delightful weekend with new drinks (Cami started me on gin and tonic) and new friendships and a wonderful time of music.  We arrived at our Mexican destination near the town of Ajijic by the 18th….in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.Collage Nov

DECEMBER: This is month of festivities all around the world, and certainly here in Mexico.  The children helped Tina decorate for every event there is here at Hotel Perico, and they enjoy attending each festive event, too.  The boys are becoming real dancers (the style is hard to decipher).  We could all do with more practise.

Danaka turned 18 on Boxing Day.

Collage DecemberAnd today….what have we done today?  Nice enough for a swim in the outdoor pool, and I worked on this here post reminiscing over pictures.

DSCF0017 The kids are watching a movie, eating chips trying to stay awake in anticipation of champagne at midnight when Everette will blow the shofar and we’ll probably be hearing Mexican music to blaring and the fireworks going off.  All to wish each other…..New Years

Saying Goodbye Yet Again

Traveling, like all things, has its perks and its negative aspects.  One of our favourite things about traveling is meeting the fantastic people that cross our path.  But that means that one of the downsides to traveling is the friends and family we seldom see.

It’s good to RECONNECT.  But then we have to say SEE YA LATER again.Collage friends

The Schwartz family lived across the street from us in Sooke.  We met up with them @ Bramberton.

Christine and I’ve been friends for about 20 yrs. She used to cut my hair, now she’s just written a nursing exam so maybe she can take care of me in my older years!

My nephew Emerson came out from Montreal, and he and his dad stopped in to visit on their way back from Tofino.


Collage O'sLayne came up island one more time and we all went over to the Ortweins for a final visit.  When we first met the O’s, we had 2 children and they had 1.  Since then we’ve gone thru 14 pregnancies (and a few miscarriages) all together and ended up raising 15 kids who virtually know no life without the other family.

Lisa Ortwein treated me to a hydropath and I treated her to decadent desserts at the Kingfisher Resort.

Lisa Ortwein treated me to a hydropath and I treated her to decadent desserts at the Kingfisher Resort.

That was quite a lot of chocolate!  and lavender ice cream.

That was quite a lot of chocolate! and lavender ice cream.  (To make up for all the fudge we don’t eat when we don’t go away to BnB’s for the weekend like we used to do!)

Collage Hurst

Beth and Kaitlin were homeschoolers we met volunteering at Hamilton’s Hobby Farm.  Originally from the UK, Beth has embraced the outdoorsy life of beautiful British Columbia and blows the ‘uppity English air’ to kingdom come.  Love this beautiful woman!!

Final See You Later with the Yaremcio's as they move to Salt Spring Island and we hit the road.   It was a great summer getting to know them better.

Final See You Later with the Yaremcio’s as they move to Salt Spring Island and we hit the road. It was a great summer getting to know them better.

Collage farewell

Shelly and Danaka....just one more hug.

Shelly and Danaka….just one more hug.

And we're off for the mainland.

And we’re off for the mainland via BC Ferries


‘Year’ End Party for Volunteers

Open to the public May to September (& by reservations for parties/field trips the rest of the year) the Hamilton Hobby Farm couldn’t make it without the (wo)man power of its volunteers.  So the Hamilton’s throw a party at the end of their ultra busy season to say THANKS for all the hours the volunteers have given.

Collage Hamiltons cakeCollage party

Egg toss; won by Maret and Annalee

Egg toss; won by Maret and Annalee

Collage quads

Week in Review 10/8/14

I remember as a child the days of summer seemed endless.

We frolicked barefoot in the cool grass;

jumped through nondescript sprinklers…a sprinkler was a sprinkler, not a crocodile or mammoth or anything but a sprinkler;

rode our bikes tirelessly to the neighbourhood corner store that was neither on the street corner nor in our neighbourhood;

ate Sweet Tarts and got Double-Bubble for 2 cents;

pulled wings off of leather jackets (that’s what we called those things that look like mosquitoes on steroids but don’t suck your blood);

hid under scratchy junipers or climbed inside the laurels to hide until the opportune time to Kick the Can.

Nearly every Saturday our family of 7 would head south across the international border to plunge the boat and our bodies into the waters of Whatcom Lake where Dad considered learning to water ski mandatory for all of us.  I loved the water, thinking I’d like to be reincarnated as a dolphin one day (or that maybe I had already been one in a former life) but I resented being forced to learn to water ski.

I wonder what my kids will remember about their own childhood summers?

Layne and Rauchelle remember plunging their heads into the ice cold waters of Englishmen River every Saturday night in preparation for going to church the next morning.  We were building houses, and there were no bathing facilities on the property so we would trek down to the river to clean.   Clearing salal and roasting banana slugs.  Building forts and throwing sticks for Jake.

I’m sure Layne and Rauchelle also remember going to Long Beach with various cousins, sleeping under lean-tos & having snake races.

The younger bunch, I’m not sure what their summer memories will be.  Countless BC evenings at Spider Lake or Sunny Beach, geocaching in the Jeep, building sandcastles and digging up the sandy backyard until hitting pipes in the septic field.  Heritage Days and Canada Days, creating S’mores and memories with the Schwartz while adults compared their gardens.  Playing ‘Pretty Underwear’.

Nova Scotia days learning to sail, celebrating Acadia Days, touring mainland NS and PEI, walking Pt Michaud one more time.  Anders taking his Uncle’s car for a spin (oops!) and the family trip to Niagara Falls.

A Colorado summer of building houses and boats, driving to Denver and the Great Sand Dunes and down to Albuquerque to pick up Marin (and her mommy) for six glorious weeks.  River swimming, gondolas, hot springs and wild horses.

And here we are again back in beautiful British Columbia.

This IS the  summer of 2014:  The Traveling Family on the Hamilton Hobby Farm.





Anders on another hay ride

Anders on another hay ride



Keisha helping Gaelyn get the saddle up and over

Keisha helping Gaelyn get the saddle up and over



This weeks posts….slim pickin’s

Gaelyn masters the golf cart

Parenting Roles Get Flipped

Barrier to Learning