Sunday, February 28, 2010

a moment....

....that I'm thankful a friend tried to save for me ! I've been missing have my girlfriends around to help capture my mothering. Ana was starting to hit her wall & needing a little mom we danced. Lately Ana has been having a hard time with being so petite. I remind her regularly that there are perks to being being almost 8 & still being able to be packed by her Momma !!

( Thanks Penny for the pic & Vanessa for the editing )

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thinking Day 2010

Today the Scout/Guide/Beaver's/Brownies celebrated " Thinking Day". Thinking Day is the whole wide celebration of Mr. & Mrs. Baten Powel's(the founders) birthdays. This year the troops from Port Alice & Sointula joined us.

Each group took turns performing skits, telling jokes & singing songs. After the fireside we all sat down together for Spaghitti Dinner. We brought along Gf pasta & Gf marble cupcakes for all those non-gluton eating folks.

dancing feet.....

Last night was the Cheslakeese friendship dance. We had such a good time. We all danced our little feet off !! Well except Anthony...." He does not Dance !!". He does however " hang" with his friends. Ana mastered the free style dance competition. Who knew Liam had such moves....all the ladies were asking him to dance.....he was good as long as they didn't attempt to hold his hands. According to him - " I only hold my Momma's hand" It was fun to party as a family. Keish was in her eliment...she danced non stop for the whole 2 hours. It was so nice to socialize with the "Ladies" & all their families. We're making friends & setting roots.....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Summer already?

Yesterday we played in the yard. This winter has been more like Fall/Spring. No snow to speak of. I've only needed to scrape the windshield maybe a handful of times. The temp as barely dipped below freezing. We haven't really even had the "normal" amount of rain for these parts. It's nice, but I'm a little worried about how dry it's going to be this summer.

(Piper's 10wks old - she found a carrot in the garden to snack on !!)

( Keisha's LOVES to sit in the sun & make "things"- today it's a painted bead necklace)

(These 3 are " build-in stuff ". Did you know that it works better to dig like Piper than to use shovels? Way faster according to Liam.)

Here's hoping you'll get some sun & a little vitamin D in your part of the world today !

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Some food lovin for you....

Now who doesn't LOVE some fresh from the oven biscuits !! I made a double batch of these lovelies last night. We had a little stew to round out the meal.

Ms. Shepley's Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup sq. marg. or butter
3/4 cup milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Combine dry ingredients, using a pastry blender cut in marg. until marg. resembles small peas in size.

Measure milk, add egg to milk & mix

Add wet ingredients to dry. Mix with a fork. Carefull not to over mix. Form into a ball. Turn out onto a floured service. Kneed 4/5 times.

Roll to about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut out biscuits.

Bake on ungreased cookies sheet for approx. 10 to 14 minutes just until they start to brown on the top. Remove from pan onto a cooling rack or into a basket.

Come on... I dare you ! I bet you can't just eat one....

Friday, February 19, 2010


I was asked by our PAC to be the contact for the media for our campaign for better education funding in B.C. I have to admit I was a little daunted. Writing is not something that has come easy to me. It takes time & a whole lots of editing. I left a very quick msg for the news director at CHEK News today. They returned my msg with in minutes & asked me to email then my thoughts & details. This is what I came up with under pressure & a quick time line:

" Dear Mr. Germain & Mr. Kirkpatrick,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Cheslakees Pac and the town of Port McNeill. Our school is facing closure as a result of the impending budget cuts by our current government. We are one of three schools in District #85 slated for closure. Port Hardy is slated to loose an elementary school & the town of Woss is slated to loose it's only remaining school. The children of Woss will be required to bus into Pt. McNeill to attend school ( Which means several hours on a bus each day).

Over the last several years our school district has been forced to close many of our school and to make cuts to programming. Currently Pt. McNeill has two elementary school & one high school that services our community along with three out lying towns. Our high school is only able to offer the basic courses with very few electives. We have rooms full of musical instruments. We even have a tacher who is qualified to teach music & band. However we have no funding. One teacher could work with all three schools if there was funding available.

Here are the current numbers:

- SD 85 budget 09/10 - approx. 19 million
- Salaries & Pensions - Approx. 17.1 million ( untouchable)
- remaining operating budget - 1.9 million

SD 85 is preparing to have to cut a min. of 1 million dollars from next years operating cost. It could be more. By closing Cheslakees they will only be able to save $ 80,000.00 in operating exspenses. The school board will be informed of it's budget on March 15th. We will be inform on March 22nd at are next school board mtg.

If our school was to close we would be down to just one option for our children. Cheslakees may be small in size but not in heart. Many of our student have special needs designation and will & have struggled in our larger school and maxed out classes. We are concerned for are children & our town. As parents and as a PAC we have invested thousands of hours into our school and children's education. We have saught out public funding and grants to be able to build our accessible playground, to cover the cost of topping up the cultural/ fine arts/ science/ physical education for our students.

Our town is deeply concerned with the effect these constant cuts are having on our children's education. We are also very concerned about what will happen next year? Will we loose our high school & have to ship are children off to Pt. Hardy to be educated? What will they take from our hard working community next?

Our Mayor Mr. Ferny is holding a town mtg this Tuesday at 7 pm at the town hall. I have attached a copy of the notice. We are also running a post card campaign directed at Victoria.

Will you please join us at our Town Mtg to help the government and the rest of our province understand the bigger picture. To understand the true impact of their decision. To help our voices to be heard !!

Sincerely, Shannon Shepley & the Cheslakees Pac"

Well I hope it works. I was trying to find the balance between heart & facts. I'll let you know if they show....

Thursday, February 18, 2010

a wish....

I met & fell in love with my first child in care when I was only 17 yrs old myself.

17 years have past since that beautiful little girl moved on to her forever family. At the time I thought the grief of saying good bye was too much to bare doing over & over. Little did I know the impact of knowing & loving her would have on my life & the direction it would take.

I have been asked to explain how it is that we who take in " other peoples" children can do it, more times than I care to remember. This is usually asked in a way that suggest that we must have an unnatural way of preserving our hearts. When in fact it's exactly the opposite.

I believe that every single one of my children deserves to experience unconditional love. None of us has any control over the circumstances we are born into. I love each of my babies like they were my first. I grieve differently depending on the circumstances. When the time comes for them to return or to move on it, I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt. If we are really fortunate, it ends with a happy ending & we get to stay connected in some way. In some cases they move on and that's that. No updates, No contact, no nothing !

Today I was given a gift......the gift of knowing.

A little boy with a piece of my heart has finally been given the gift of a forever family. I have been given the gift of knowing that he is & will forever have a place to call home. My heart is overflowing with joy for him. I am so thankful.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

B.C. Public Education is falling short?

Do you have a political voice? I'm in the process of finding mine.

As a parent with children in public school. I'm having a serious struggle with the impact our current governments budget hacking is having on my children's education.

I believe our school board has done it's best with the cards it has been dealt over the last several years. School District 85 is anticipating a budget short fall of a min. of a 1 million dollars, it could be more. Here are the current numbers:

- budget 09/10 - approx. 19 million.
- salaries/pension - approx. 17.1 million ( which can not be touched)
- operating budget - 1.9 million

So as you see there's not much room to move. Our current schools are running at bare minimum. We have no music programing at all. Our high schools offer only the basic programs. No band, no home-ex, very basic P.E. & minimal fine arts of any kind.

The PAC at our school works very hard. Much of our financial resource are spent on topping up our kids education. We fund raised for years & applied for several private sector grants to pay for that new accessible playground featured above. We pay for field trips, to bring in art presentations and workshops for our students. The " Healthy Schools Program" being offered at our school is basically run by the myself with the support of our teachers. The funding has come from community based grants.

Our totally dedicated teachers spend countless unpaid hours coaching teams and traveling with students to events so they can participate. Most of them are also topping up their classrooms supplies. Our principle Larry practically lives at the school ( not joking). If I had to guess I'd say he's only getting payed for 50 o/o of the hours he's putting in.

I'm angry that our governments priority is not our children. This HAS to change !!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Our Mr. Bill

Many years ago my friend Denise referred to her handyman has her " rent a husband". I loved that ! He didn't seem to mind the nickname either. Over the years I have found my own local " rent a husbands". A few months ago we met Mr. Bill. He's a retired neighbor who has a bad case of boredom & a huge heart.

I had this idea to finish off the fencing around the deck at our front door and to add a gate. Bill said that that was a project he felt capable in helping me out with. He was available to start working on it before Piper came home. Great !

He's such a sweet patient man. I most likely could have hire a crew to come in and have it done in a day. However, I'm certain that they would not have taken the time to involve the kids. He's funny, always sharing old timer logging stories and repeating himself. The kids can't get enough of him. His wife Joan was telling me the other day how he comes home sharing the stories & conversations he's had with the kids. I love how he stops what he's doing every time to answer their questions or to see what Liam's made with the scraps.

I'm happy to have found a great handyman. I'm over the moon to have made new friends and to have founds some new elders for my kids.

My kids can never have too many elders in my opinion !!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

a little chip, cheese & sauce.....

I'm not one for making a small amount of anything. Mass efficient cooking is what works best for my crew. We tend to turn it into a couple different meals & sometimes some may make it to the freezer for a quick midweek meal. Tonight was an old favorite that comes with a little story. I started being the main cook when I was around 12 or 13.

One day I decided to have some left over sauce with shredded cheese & tortilla chips. My own version of salsa & chips ( I don't eat raw tomatoes). Well my sister Marina decided that she didn't mind eating it despite it containing vegetables ! Funny how we change
. This is the same sister who was a vegetarian for most of her twenties, well until she was pregnant and the graving for steak took over !!

So here's the set up: your will need 1 bowl homemade pasta sauce
1 bowl shredded cheese
1 bowl of your favorite tortilla chips
1 tall glass of ice water
1 full sized bib if your an enthusiastic eater

Having a family full of food restrictions and sensitivities sometime has it challenges. This meal is fun, healthy ( well if you ignore all that salt on the chips) & is totally inclusive ( GF chips & soy cheese make an easy substitute)

Here's a bonus shot. Look who's trying to get a little sauce for herself. Sorry little dairy, salt or sugar for you !!!

Tomorrow night we'll have pasta and steamed veggies a more traditional meal.

a first for Piper....

The other day Piper & I went for a good stroll along the boardwalk in Pt. Hardy. The tide was in and thrashing at the shore. Piper did Not want to have any part of that! She put her little brakes on when ever I may any type of an attempt to have a closer look.

Today however went a great deal better. The ocean was calmer, sun shining & those kids were with us.. She'd follow them any she experienced the fun of digging in the sand with Ana & hunting for mini crabs with her boy Liam.

I'm certain she'll have this being a coastal dog thing done before I know it !!

United against child abuse

Over the last several days our family has been trying to come to terms with how my nephew, my kids cousin, my little sisters son could have been treated so badly by his caregiver. As a family we have spent many hours connecting with each other, listening, crying, listening some more, feeling angry & protective. Now most of us have organized our thoughts and feeling. We have decided not to keep it private. I know first hand how the government likes to shift accountability when they have dropped the ball. Especially the Alberta Government !

How do you process stressful events in your life? What do you do when you brain won't slow down?

Well....I tend to keep myself busy !! Sometimes that means lots of long walks/hikes. Sometimes that means reorganizing the whole house. Yesterday....I baked !! 6 dozen muffins, 1 loaf & dinner to start.

Today I will talk more with my children & take that long walk with our happy little Piper. I'll check in with my sister and most likely do some more baking/cooking. I will remind myself to be Thankful that Jared will be okay and that my own children are safe.

And I will share his story everywhere and with anyone who is interested. If you'd like to read more on the situation check out my brother in laws Drew's blog.

Mostly I will say thank you for the best family because despite our differences we will always have each others back and rally when it counts !!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Some days I teach

When I was a little girl I was always drawn to organizing, nurturing, helping & care taking. It doesn't surprise me that apparently I wanted to be a " teacher, mommy & nurse" when I was little. It's funny how a persons strengths/talent/direction can make it self clear so early on.

Early last year I was asked by our principle to help with developing the schools " Healthy School Program". I had know idea how much I was going to enjoy my new found job. I don't receive any pay or freebies. I do however get to cook, play and teach about something I enjoy very much !

One of the program we're doing is called " Tastes". Every couple of weeks each classroom receives a bowl of a certain fruit or veggie. We discuss how it's grown, where we get this food, what it does to our body and finally everyone get to try some. Today was all about " Broccoli" one of my personal fav's.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I Love my new little foot warmer !!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

How do you show friendship?

Today while making our " Friday Night" dessert I decided to make a second pan for a friend. My friend has had one of those l o n g mommy weeks. Nothing that would be considered an emergency. Just long & exhausting. I handed it to her at school pick up. She smiled & thanked me several times ( which was nice but not my motivation). As I was getting back into my van I was reminded how I find doing these kinds of things for my friends easy, it's almost second nature to me.

I believe that if you want to have strong long lasting relationships you need to invest in them. For me that looks like:

- taking notice of what is important to them, showing care for them and giving & remembering without having to be asked & without strings.

- that may look as simple as cooking for them, sharing veggies from my garden, photographing their children, maybe it's folding a load or 7 of laundry while being there for a friend who needs to vent or maybe it's traveling 3 day straight & rearranging our holiday to be by their side through an family crisis. For me there is not a big difference between these examples.

- trying my best to be a good listener & confidont.

- it's also understanding that relationship need to be fluid, that they need to evolve & grow to be able to last and that not every friendship is meant to last 40 yrs.

- taking the time to notice when dropping off a bowl of soup or a pan of dessert will let your friend take a big Sigh !

- that the " give & take" factor of relationships will most likely never be even at any one given moment, but should even it self out along the way !

I have been told by too many people that I have unreasonable expectation of the people in my life. In reflection those people were also the people in my life that more often than not would fall into the " taker" category. What those people said or more importantly how they said it clung to my soul. Like many things in my life it was turned inside. It made me second guess my natural instincts and what fundamentally feels right to me.

At almost 36yrs I'm tired of people criticizing me for what I consider my strengths. My "expectations" work for me.

I've decided to continue being the friend I want to be......I'm also going to try really hard not to let the neh sayers have so much influence on my soul and keep all my baking for the people who like me the way I am...expectations and all. Hah !!

So take that you Neh Sayer's !!!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Olyimpic Fever...small town style !

We have been in the throws of Olympic Torch Run mania here !!

There is so much political debate going on about the costs of the the whole affair. As a small town of mostly extremely hard working well payed residents the debate is over the cost of the games at the expense of our schools closing and industries dealing with severe budget cuts & layoffs. I think our small town is handling the whole Olympic thing pretty well. Most of our residents have decided to go with the flow. To except the Olympic/Provinces financial gifts to our sports programs, their cakes & flags with a smile. Yesterday our schools had mini Olympics days.

One of the perks to our small school is that we are able to take the time to celebrate each child dreams & successes. After a full morning of playing we had our own torch run in the gym. Each student had a turn at being a torch runner. While they made their circuit our Principle ( Mr. Burroughs) read out a small write up about each child.

Liam's -- " I am really good a doing clown tricks & lifting my feet up when hanging from the bar. My friends think I am playful & exciting ( sometimes). My special hobbies are playing ice cream shop. My dream is to be a scientist & discover dinosaur bones. Another special thing I want to say about myself is I dream about being a great superhero !!

Ana's -- " I am really good at running, gymnastics, singing & dancing. My friends think I am funny, really nice to them, cheerful & special. My special hobbies are drawing, making crafts & reading. My dream is to become a Queen !! Another special thing I want to say about myself is that I am so so nice to animals.

This morning we all dressed in Red & White, grabbed our flags & camera's and made our way out to the main street of Pt. McNeill. The whole thing was kind of crazy. 100 Olympic vehicles & 200 Olympic people, loud rocking music & media...all crammed into approx. 28 minutes !!!

Our kids had lots of fun & most of them enjoyed the excitement. Who knows maybe all this hoopla ignited a dream in one of our local athelete' never know.... maybe it will be my little athelete Ana Rose !!