Thursday, June 23, 2011


Strawberry season has finally arrived.  Our spring was exceptionally cold, and our summer is slow to come - i.e. no bumper crop this year.  We hit our favourite berry farm in Ladner, Emma-Lea Farms, as soon as the fields were open.  We've been going there since Serena was 2.  We worked hard for almost an hour and a half and yielded 28 pounds of strawberries!  How could we not treat ourselves to a nice fresh strawberry sundae after such hard work?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Psalm 19

She beat me again!  Serena memorized Psalm 19 before I did - it was a challenge we posed to each other about a month ago.  We like to play memory verse duel at breakfast which already puts me at a disadvantage since I'm not a morning person.  Plus I've got 33 more years of junk in my brain than she does, not exactly a level playing field...

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Rocha

A Rocha Canada, a Christian nature conservation organization, just celebrated their 10th anniversary this past weekend at their new home base - the Brooksdale Environmental Centre in Surrey. The founders of A Rocha International, Peter and Miranda Harris, were there to share with us their inspirational journey which started in Portugal almost 30 years ago.

We've always enjoyed spending time at A Rocha as a family, either volunteering in the garden or just hanging out. Serena never seems to run out of things to do there. The field centre gives us city folks a tiny glimpse of life on a farm, and it reminds us of our often neglected responsibility to be good stewards of God's creation.

The 10th anniversary celebration was an absolute blast. Some highlights:

Hay rides! The kids just couldn't get enough of it:

On this special occasion, the kids were treated to releasing some coho salmon fry into the Little Campbell Watershed:

The woodworking table was a magnet for kids. Serena could've spent hours there just hammering nails on pieces of scrap wood:

And finally, what's a farm without animals?

"for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know every bird in the mountains
and the creatures of the field are mine."
Psalm 50:10-11

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Endangered Animals

What are the rarest mammal, rarest bird, and rarest amphibian in British Columbia?
Mammal - Vancouver Island Marmots
Bird - Northern Spotted Owl
Amphibian - Oregon Spotted Frog

How many Northern Spotted Owls are left in the wild?
10. (Yes, TEN!)

What's another name for a Marmot?
Whistle pig. (Whistler, B.C. is named after that!)

Which of our Olympic mascots is a marmot?
Muk Muk.

The Mountain View Conservation Centre in Fort Langley is doing a wonderful job in captive breeding and rehabilitation for many endangered animals. We got to meet the Vicunas, their fine and expensive wool makes them sought-after targets for poachers. We saw the wild Kulans, another animal endangered because of poaching and habitat loss. We had front row seats at the feeding frenzy of the pack of African Cape Hunting Dogs (also called painted dogs). They are great hunters in the wild with an 80% success rate in getting their prey. (Average rate is 30%.)

Our favourites are the wild cats - we saw the Siberian Amur Leopard Cat, the Indian Desert Cat, and the huge India Temminck's Cat who crunched up little chicks like candies in front of us. The feeder couldn't coax the African Serval Cat to come out for viewing. And that's quite alright, given that we have driven all of these animals close to extinction as we take over more and more of their habitats. They're more than entitled to being a bit grumpy at us!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


"I'm not ready, Mommy."

That was Serena's response when I told her I signed her up for swimming lessons in October last year. She loves the water and we've been swimming regularly at the Ladner pool since she was 2. I figured it's time for her to learn some proper techniques from a more qualified swimmer than her mother.

Serena was assessed and put into Swim Kids 2 classes. That was a good start for it gave her special bragging rights - "I skipped level 1!" She passed with ease and got her level 2 badge in December. Level 3 badge followed in March. Two days ago, she got her level 4 badge. She was over the moon because I told her early on that it's not uncommon for kids to have to take level 4 more than once to pass. Well, silly me!

That's the challenge of parenting I find - the delicate balance of holding her when she's not ready and letting her go when she is. The tricky part is recognizing when she is ready, especially when she thinks she's not. I don't always get the timing right, but I think I got it this time.

Swim Kids 5, here she comes!