Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Did you say vegans?

Our food journey has been an interesting one for sure. Those who have followed me for a long time remember that we had a dream, a farm that made us happy for a few years, but probably happier once we sold it. Needless to say, my girls were raised eating meat (first, wild meat in the Yukon, then our meat from the farm) because at the time, while I was searching for a cure for my migraines and simply a healthier diet, I found that Nourishing Traditions (NT) fit the bill.

You see, I have always been interested in healthy eating. When I grew up, my mom was probably among the first one to buy tofu dog and starfruit at the grocery store and I was teased at school for my brown bread tuna sandwich, 100% orange juice and oat cookies, instead of white bread-mustard-baloney sandwiches, fruit punch and Joe louis in my lunch box.

When I moved out, I kept experimenting with food and one of my lovely roommate was as crunchy as me and we made carrot-juice with wheat-germ in it and very healthy stuff like that... I was 19.

Fast forward to when we moved to the Yukon and we ate a lot of meat because by then what mattered the most to us was to eat as local a diet as possible and that meant moose meat, salmon, potatoes and root veggies, lots of greens, berries, sauerkraut, lots of sprouts and Brian's goat's milk that we turned into kefir. I wish I had access to my old photos, because I have one of little Mathilde (she must have been 2) eating moose ribs with gusto. She looks like Obelix! This is that same little girl that, at 4 month old, grabbed a hold of a cube of beef curry in my plate and started sucking avidly!
Great vegetarian restaurant in St.Pete's center: Meze. My mom had a salad trio that was really good (a falafel salad, an amazing faux-chicken curry salad and a carrot and golden raisins salad).

The desire to produce our own meat and have access to raw milk (which is illegal to buy in Canada) led us to have the farm. Lots of dead animals later and one traumatizing morning when we had to pack our lamb friends in the truck to bring them to the butcher and I had made up my mind to become vegan, by principle (the typical: if I cannot raise my own meat, I will not eat it). I must also say that by that time, we all had become intolerant to the raw milk (no more than to regular milk, but we felt mucousy, just like on pasteurized milk) and after over 4 years on the NT diet, and the GAPS diet (a more restricted NT diet), the migraines and my other health issues had not improved a iota, and I was now convinced after much reading that meat and animal products were not necessary to health and were rather detrimental. They sure were pleasurable food, but not essential to our health.

When I went into raw food, I was hoping for a smooth transition, but it was demanding and frustrating to cook 2 meals to keep everybody happy, but I wanted to give this a try, because my health was a big priority. Five months into a strict low-fat raw vegan diet, I unfortunately did not reap much benefits (if any) and we were all quite unhappy, so I loosened up. Now, my priority is that each and every one of us feels free to listen to her body and make her own decision. I figure it is not my job to expose my kids to vegan-propaganda videos. I eat what feels right to me and try to let go of control. JF cooks the meat outside of the trailer when possible and I don't  comments on what people in my family chose to eat...

Delicious juicy mangoes and homemade green juice (kale, apples and key limes) are still the best choice when it's 36 degrees outside!

The other night we camped in a WalMart parking lot and as soon as they woke up, the girls had a craft project in mind that required some felt, so in we go (see how much I am letting go?! Go me!) and Mathilde spotted the warm ready-to-go chicken (with a very long list of ingredients...) and asked for one (for second breakfast, my little hobbit...). I did not even cringe inside and said yes, sure! She was happy as a clam! 

Don't get me wrong: I still think that the world would be a better place if there were more vegans and no Walmarts, but I do not make those beliefs more important than my relationship with my family. Freeing myself of all those beliefs brings more connexion and love into my life. Because, utimately, this is my top priority. This smile. This happiness. This spontaneity.

It feels so good to be invited somewhere and happily eat what we are being served (and digest it well, because when you eat only raw and eat a regular cooked meal, you sure pay the price...). I love to say we are opportunivores now! A great thing we like to do on the road is go to Whole Foods Market (a health food store), do our shopping and go to the salad/hot food bar after. The girls can see and pick the food they want. Mathilde usually goes for the meat and kale salad, while Mara goes for the cesar salad (or rather croutons with a bit of salad and Aïsha likes to sample different things). Good food for a good price.

And it is so freeing to be able to enjoy a nice italian restaurant dinner without the guilt that comes with it, because, yes, when you stick to a diet plan, there is quite a bit of guilt that comes with it if you go off track, especially if you do it for health reason like I did... If I had migraines, I had no clue if it was because of that one time I went off track and would beat myself off for it... Verducci's restaurant in St. Pete's beach has amazing lasagna, margherita pizza and tiramisù, don't miss it! And The Macaroon in St. Petersburgh center has great gelato (try the espresso, the dark chocolate or the raspberry ones).

Another key to our family happiness is to have what Sandra Dodd calls Monkey Platters available pretty much at all time. It makes such a huge difference. The girls are not asking for food, they are not hungry (no low-blood sugar) and everybody is happy! 

Food is such a big part of our life. Let's not turn this into a power struggle or into something that we are so focused on that we take the joy out of it and then, we create long-lasting problems in our children's relationship with food. And believe me, with 3 girls, this is the last thing I want.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

St. Pete's Farmer's Market


Mathilde was whistling pretty loudly as only Mathilde can and a woman came to her and told her: You keep whistling! I am a whistler and it really annoys people, but it is a lost art. You always keep whistling! And off she went, and Mathilde kept on whistling, a tad bit louder...

Mathilde sifflait fort comme juste Mathilde sait le fait quand une dame s'est approchée et lui a dit : continue de sifflet! Je siffle moi aussi et ça dérange les gens, mais c'est un art qui se perd. N'arrête jamais de sifflet! Et elle est repartie, et Mathilde a continué de siffler, un peu plus fort...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Loving the water!

Since my mom's and Paul's arrival, we have been hanging either at the pool or at the beach to the joy of the youngest and oldest among us!

Depuis l'arrivée de ma mère et de Paul, nous sommes la plupart du temps au bord de la mer ou de la piscine, au grand plaisir des plus petits parmi nous et des plus grands!

Since everything interesting was already booked when we reserved in December (lesson learned!), we ended up in a RV resort which had, at first glance, everything you could blame a RV park to be. It was big, crowded and loud (with some airplanes flying over us and even a firing range next door and a hell of a lot of kick dogs barking...), but for some strange reason it felt homey. It might be because there were quite a bit of francophones, but we grew to like this place! 

Étant donné que tout ce qui était intéressant était déjà réservé en décembre (nous avons appris notre leçon!), nous avons fini dans un RV resort qui avait, au premier coup d’œil, tout ce qu'on peut reprocher à un RV park. C'était gros, cordé les uns sur les autres et bruyant (avec des avions qui nous passent au-dessus de la tête et un champ de tir juste à côté, et bien sûr, tout un lot de chiens-rats qui jappent tout le temps), mais pour une raison que j'ignore, on s'y sentait bien. C'était peut-être à cause de tous les francophones qu'on y rencontrait, mais nous nous y sommes bien plu!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Another day in paradise: Fort DeSoto beach

If you want to camp at Fort DeSoto on the Florida West Coast just South of St. Petersburgh, you better reserve long in advance... This place is known for its first-class beaches and it deserves its reputation!

However, there are lots of birds and they are almost as agressive as the ones from Popham beach, where Aïsha had her almond butter sandwich snatched from her hand by a seagull!
My mom and her partner are here for two weeks and we are enjoying their company immensely! So, there might be more photos than words here for the next 10 days while I take long walks along the beach with my mom while we catch up on the last 8 months...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How did I get to be so lucky?

I could tell you that I knew from the beginning that I would be my own boss and have this awesome lifestyle. But I would be lying. When I wrote my autobiography at 19, I saw myself work from home in the country with a cat on my lap with 3 kids playing in the garden sipping a cappuccino, a pretty fascinating picture given I was pretty much there 2 years ago, at 32! But the idea of being a digital nomad was not even a concept when I was studying in translation. God, we were handing our translations written by hand!! We carried our big and heavy dictionaries with us... How could I have ever dreamed of working on a laptop from Costa Rica or a Mongolian yurt in the Yukon wilderness? 

Je pourrais vous dire que je savais depuis le début que je serais à mon compte et que j’aurais ce style de vie incroyable. Mais je mentirais. Quand j'ai écrit mon autobiographie à 19 ans, je me voyais travailler à domicile en campagne en sirotant un cappuccino avec un chat sur les genoux, et avec 3 enfants qui jouent dans le jardin. Un tableau assez fascinant étant donné que j'étais à peu près là il y a 2 ans, à 32 ans! Mais l'idée d'être un nomade numérique n'était même pas un concept quand je faisais mes études en traduction. Nous remettions nos traductions écrites à la main! Nous nous promenions avec nos gros dictionnaires avec nous... Comment aurais-je pu rêver de travailler sur un ordinateur portable du Costa Rica ou une yourte mongole dans la nature sauvage du Yukon?

Big part of it is pure luck. Luck to have chosen a profession that allows us to be location independent. Luck to have been able to build our business while JF had a good secure job. Luck to have great reliable clients. Heck, for a while I wondered if I even liked translation. 

Une grande partie est de la pure chance. La chance d'avoir choisi un métier qui nous permet de ne pas être rattachés à un lieu de travail fixe. La chance d'avoir pu bâtir notre entreprise pendant que JF avait un bon travail stable. La chance d'avoir de bons clients fiables. C’est bien pour dire, pendant un certain temps, je me demandais même si j’aimais encore la traduction.

My first job (that started as an intern, then as an assistant and quickly – too quickly – as an editor in chief of a magazine) was a very exciting, very diversified and stimulating job. I had lots of freedom and there was lots of room for creativity. I thought I had found my dream job. But the job atmosphere was deleterious and I had to save my skin... After that, I went from typical translation jobs to more exciting ones (I thought I had found the jackpot with a young ad agency in Old Montreal but I was mainly paid to be available and I was so bored...), but when I ended up in a big Pharma company in Toronto sipping bad coffee and eating greasy cookies at incredibly boring team-building HR meetings, I knew I had hit rock bottom.

Mon premier emploi (qui a commencé en tant que stagiaire, puis comme assistante et rapidement - trop rapidement - comme rédactrice en chef d’un magazine) a été un travail très passionnant, très diversifié et vraiment stimulant. J’avais beaucoup de liberté et il y avait beaucoup de place pour la créativité. Je pensais avoir trouvé mon emploi de rêve. Mais le climat de travail était délétère et je devais sauver ma peau... Après cela, je suis allée de postes de traduction typiques à d’autres emplois plus passionnants (je pensais avoir trouvé le jackpot avec une jeune agence de publicité dans le Vieux-Montréal, mais j'étais surtout payée pour être disponible et je m'ennuyais tellement...), mais quand j’ai fini dans une grosse compagnie pharmaceutique à Toronto en sirotant du mauvais café et à manger des biscuits trop gras lors de très ennuyeuses réunions des ressources humaines pour encourager l’esprit d’équipe, je savais que j'avais touché le fond.

Fortunately, JF got a call from the Yukon government soon after and got offered the job he was waiting for. At this point, I wondered if it was time to consider a career change (after my phenomenal 2 week college flop in organic agriculture a year prior...).Maybe my connexion junkie nature would make me a good psychologist, like my dad?

Heureusement, JF a reçu un appel du gouvernement du Yukon peu de temps après et s’est fait offrir le poste qu’il attendait. À ce stade, je me demandais s'il était temps d'envisager un changement de carrière (après mon échec phénoménal de 2 semaines en agriculture biologique au collège d'un an avant...). Peut-être que ma nature de connexion junkie ferait de moi une bonne psychologue, comme mon père?

I quickly got a job as an employment counsellor at the Yukon French Association (AFY) in Whitehorse and thought that would be a good test to see if a relation oriented career was my cup of tea... I soon realized that if I did not feel a heart connexion with the person in front of me (and I did with many of my clients since half of them are still good friends to mine to this day...), I really wasn’t into it... So long for that career change... 

J'ai rapidement trouvé un emploi comme conseillère en emploi à l'Association franco-yukonnaise (AFY) à Whitehorse et je me suis dit que ce serait un bon test pour voir si un emploi dans le domaine des relations personnelles serait ma tasse de thé... Je me suis vite rendu compte que si je n'avais pas envie d'une connexion de cœur avec la personne en face de moi (et je l'ai eue avec beaucoup de mes clients, puisque la moitié d'entre eux sont toujours de bons amis à ce jour...), mon cœur n’y était pas de la même façon... Tant pis pour ce changement de carrière...

This is when we heard that a friend of a friend, who was traveling to the Yukon, was a translator working for a big company in Europe, but she was working from wherever in the world she wanted. She worked from Monday to Saturday, from 7 am to 11 am. A seed was planted...

C'est alors que nous avons entendu parler d’une amie d'un ami, qui était de passage au Yukon, qui était une traductrice travaillant pour une grande entreprise en Europe, mais elle travaillait d’où elle voulait dans le monde. Elle travaillait du lundi au samedi, de 7 h à 11 h. Une graine venait d’être plantée...

When the girls were about six months and days and nights got back to their respective places in our life, a great translation contract fell on my lap that made me fall in love again with translation. During naps, I was translating articles on natural menopause treatments and the benefits of tea for a high-end health magazine... The self-employed adventure began and the rest, as they say, is history! 

Quand les filles ont eu environ six mois et que les jours et les nuits ont commencé à reprendre leurs places respectives dans notre vie, un contrat de traduction a atterri sur mon bureau et m'a fait retomber amoureuse de la traduction. Pendant les siestes, je traduisais des articles sur les traitements naturels de la ménopause et les bienfaits du thé pour un magazine de santé naturelle haut de gamme... L'aventure du travail à la pige a commencé et le reste, comme on dit, fait partie de l'histoire!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Who wants to swim with alligators AND venomous snakes?

When we arrived at Manatee Springs State Park, it was raining. They had tick warning signs everywhere, the showers were dirty and there were so many no see um bugs we were stuck inside our trailer with the windows closed for 24 hours. There was no laundry facility and we desperately needed clean clothes and towels. Oh, and there was no wifi and barely no cell signal for our Internet connexion... a major problem (needless to say, we had made a reservation and paid in advance or we would have left...). Before locking ourselves in, we walked the wooden boardwalk to go see the actual manatees, but to keep with the theme of the day, they were nowhere to be seen... We then went to explore the swimming area of the springs, a beautiful turquoise hole... surrounded by tons of thick moving seaweed (and floating chunks). Oh, and there were signs mentionning to be aware that there were snakes in the springs that can swim and bit, although only one is venomous... and further down, there is a sign with an alligator that says: Swim with caution, there are alligators in the area... Very, very inviting... The girls were pleading us to go in with them (the water is a pleasing 72 degrees F) and we were both very clear that we did not wanted to go in... I guess Costa Rica had turned us into a bit of turquoise water holes snobs...

Lorsque nous sommes arrivés à Manatee Springs State Park, il pleuvait. Il y avait des affiches partout pour aviser les campeurs de prendre garde aux tiques, les douches étaient sales et il y avait tellement de brulots que nous avons été coincés à l'intérieur de notre roulotte avec les fenêtres fermées pendant 24 heures. Il n'y avait pas de buanderie, et nous avions désespérément besoin de vêtements propres et de serviettes. Oh, et il n'y avait pas de wifi et un tr;s mauvais signal cellulaire pour notre connexion Internet... un problème majeur (inutile de dire que nous avions fait une réservation et payé à l'avance ou nous aurions quitté...). Avant de nous enfermer à l'intérieur, nous avons marché sur la passerelle en bois pour voir les lamantins (manatee, d'où le nom du parc), mais pour continuer avec le thème de la journée, ils n'étaient nulle part en vue... Nous sommes ensuite allés à la découverte de la zone de baignade des sources, un trou d'eau turquoise... entouré par des tonnes d'algues en mouvement et épaisses (et de morceaux d'algues flottantes). Oh, et il y avait des affiches mentionnant qu'il y avait des serpents dans les sources et qu'ils pouvaient nager et mordre, mais qu'un seul était venimeux... et plus bas, il y avait un panneau avec un alligator sur lequel était écrit : Nager avec prudence, il y a des alligators dans la région... Très, très accueillant... Les filles voulaient vraiment que nous allions dans les sources avec elles (l'eau est à 72 degrés F) et nous étions tous les deux très clairs que nous ne voulions pas y entrer... Je suppose que le Costa Rica nous a rendus un peu snobs des trous d'eau turquoise...

On the second day, we risked ourselves outside only because we needed to find a laundromat (and oh, we did find one, a very *low-life* one, as per JF's exact words...). We went to the playground with the girls (more no see um bites), which was near the springs. This is when we notice two women gearing up to go snorkeling IN THE SPRINGS (there is also an underwater tunnel that leads to another basin that divers can explore). The girls watched them for over 45 minutes (LOTS of no see um bites) and wanted to go in (which was totally fine by me. I simply did not want to go myself. But they wanted one of us to go. No way.). We then went to lock ourselves up again for the rest of the day and do some work.

Le deuxième jour
, nous nous sommes risqués à l'extérieur seulement parce que nous avions besoin de trouver une buanderie (et oh, nous en avons trouvé un, très *low-life*, selon les mots exacts de JF...). Nous sommes allés au terrain de jeu du camping avec les filles (plus de piqûres de brulots), qui était près des sources. C'est alors que nous remarquons deux femmes qui se préparent pour aller faire du snorkeling dans les sources (il y a aussi un tunnel sous-marin qui mène à un autre bassin que les plongeurs peuvent explorer). Les filles les ont observés pendant plus de 45 minutes (BEAUCOUP plus de piqûres de brulots) et voulaient se baigner (ce qui était tout à fait correct pour moi. Je n'avais tout simplement pas envie d'y aller moi-même. Mais elles voulaient que nous y allions avec elles. Oh non.). Nous sommes donc allés nous enfermer à nouveau pour le reste de la journée pour travailler.

On the third day, the sun was out! Yeah! We went to see the springs in the sun to take some photos and... of course, you know how this is going to end... It seems like I was the only one who didn't... JF went for a run (he owes me big time!) and of course, I went for a swim in the snake-looking seaweeds and was scared by the floating blobs thinking there was an alligator looking at us under each one. Very relaxing, indeed. But, hey, I could only think of my dad who went to the Samantha Fox concert with me when I was 11. I could swim in algae infested waters for the love of my girls... We did some underwater filming with the GoPro for our next video (and I accidentally ended up in a big clump of seaweed and I start to freak out... very entertaining, you'll see...).

Le troisième jour, le soleil était sorti! Yé! Nous sommes allés voir les sources au soleil pour prendre quelques photos et... bien entendu, vous savez comment l'histoire va se terminer... je pense que j'étais la seule à ne pas le savoir... JF est allé courir (il m'en doit toute une celui-là!) Et bien sûr, je suis allée nager dans les algues qui ressemblaient toute à des serpents. J'avais peur de tous les amas d'algues flottants et pensais qu'il y avait un alligator qui nous regardait sous chacun d'eux. Très relaxant. Mais, bon, je ne pouvais que penser à mon père qui est allé au spectacle de Samantha Fox avec moi quand j'avais 11 ans. Je pouvais bien nager dans les eaux infestées d'algues pour l'amour de mes filles... Nous avons fait quelques tournages sous-marins avec la GoPro pour notre prochaine vidéo (et je me suis accidentellement retrouvée dans une grosse touffe d'algues et j'ai commencé à paniquer... très amusant, vous verrez...).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Florida beaches: sugary white sand and turquoise waters

Mathilde est en pleine croissance à l'heure actuelle et mange continuellement... Le hic, c'est que cette enfant a toujours eu besoin d'énormément de variété dans sa vie, à tous les niveaux... et la nourriture n'y échappe pas. C'est un vrai casse-tête d'essayer d'avoir dans un espace restreint suffisamment de variété pour répondre à ses besoins et aux nôtres... Les déjeuners, comme il s'agit d'un repas plutôt répétitif, posent un réel problème... Ce qui nous a mené à faire une recherche vraiment intéressante sur les différents déjeuners dans les autres pays... Puis, nous avons élaboré une liste de déjeuners qui lui plairaient et nous avons acheté ce dont nous aurons besoin pour les préparer. Plusieurs parents trancheraient ici en disant : chez nous, c'est ceci pour déjeuner ce matin et un point c'est tout, mais je comprends bien ce besoin de variété et de changement, la pomme ne tombe jamais très loin du pommier... Six apparts en 4 ans, 4 emplois différents en 3 ans, 3 ou 4 livres sur la table de chevet en même temps (ou à l'heure actuelle, un en format papier, un en format électronique et un en format audio...). 

Mathilde is growing now and she eats constantly... The problem is that this child has always needed a lot of variety in her life, on all levels... and food is no exception. It is a real puzzle to try to get enough variety to meet her needs and ours into a small space... Breakfasts, as they are a rather repetitive meal, are a real problem... This led us to make a really interesting research on the different breakfasts in other countries... Then we made a list of breakfasts that would please her and we bought what we needed to prepare them. Many parents would not do that and rather say: this is what we have for breakfast this morning and that's it, but I understand the need for variety and change, the apple does not fall far from the apple tree... Six appartments in 4 years, 4 different jobs in 3 years, 3 or 4 book on the bedside table at the same time (or currently a paper one, an electronic one and an audio one...).

D'ailleurs, il faut que je vous parle de mon expérience avec les livres audio. J'écrivais récemment qu'ils me sont bien utiles sur la route avec un introverti... mais je constate qu'il est pour moi difficile de garder le fil de l'histoire quand ce n'est pas moi qui lit (il faut dire aussi que j'écoute à l'heure actuelle The girl with a dragon tattoo, lu avec en anglais très british avec des tonnes de mots suédois dedans... rien pour aider). Je suis distraite par une pensée ou par JF qui veut me parler maintenant que j'ai des écouteurs sur les oreilles... ou je m'assoupis... et je me réveille en entendant : in the blue vulva... Quoi!? Je reviens en arrière, pour comprendre que mon Brit parle d'une Volvo de couleur bleue...
Actually, I wanna talk to you about my experience with audio books. I recently wrote that they are very useful on the road with an introvert... but I find it difficult to keep track of the story when I am not reading it (I should also say that I am currently listening to The girl with a dragon tattoo, read in English with a very brittish accent and tons of words in Swedish... nothing to help) I'm distracted by a thought or JF wants to talk to me now that I have headphones on... or... I drift asleep and wake up hearing: in the blue vulva ... What?! I go back to understand that my Brit is talking about a blue Volvo...

Nous avons campé dans un magnifique state park, sur une pointe de sable (le St. Joseph Peninsula State Park) où il suffisait d'emprunter une passerelle de bois de notre terrain pour traverser les dunes et arriver sur la plage...

We camped in a beautiful state park, on a sand point (St. Joseph Peninsula State Park) where we could just walk on a wooden boardwalk from our campsite to cross the dunes and reach the beach...
Je vois les filles grandir, changer. Je peux parfois avoir un petit avant-goût de ce qui s'en vient. Il y a une petite partie de moi qui voudrait les voir continuer à ne pas se soucier du regard des gens si elles n'ont pas leur maillot et qu'elles se baignent en sous-vêtement. J'aimerais qu'elles continuent de penser toute leur vie que les femmes en petite tenue que nous avons vues dans le quartier français vendredi dernier étaient belles comme des princesses, peu importe leur âge, leur peau flasque et leurs rondeurs... mais il y a aussi une grande partie de moi qui est heureuse et fière de les voir se métamorphoser sous mes yeux, devenir un peu plus qui elles sont, s'affirmer, s'exprimer...

I see the girls grow and change. I can sometimes get a glimpse of what is coming next. There is a small part of me that wants to see them continue to not worry about what other people think if they do not have their bathing suit with them and swim in their underwear. I wish they will always believe that the scantily clad women that we saw in the French Quarter last Friday were beautiful like princesses regardless of their age, sagging skin and curves... but there is also a big part of me that is happy and proud to see them transform before my eyes, becoming a little more who they are, to assert and express themselves...