Did you ever ask your mom for advice in the dating department?  I never did! When I was 12 I thought my mother was ancient and knew nothing! I wonder how our boys perceive us.

Surprise, surprise – I was flattered when our nearly 11-year old sunshine asked me in a roundabout way on how to date a girl!  At least that’s what I believe was the question…

Here is what I told him:”Most of us girls don’t want a guy who is constantly away, working to earn a lot of money. We don’t want to get expensive presents, we rather have random hugs, kisses, a flower here and there, a few sweeties and attention. Instead of a big, fat diamond ring we want to go dancing instead.”

He gave me this wonderful, confused look, head tilted to the side, eyebrows raised. Yes I know, I just gave our 10 year old son full blown marital advice!  It’s official, I am my mothers daughter, I didnt get it, missed the point completely.

Cruz is still at the beginning phase of the game. He hasn’t even talked to his girl yet and time is running out for him:two more months and the big summer break is upon us! All he wants to know is how to talk to the most popular girl in his class – alone!  (He surely knows how to make his young life more challenging!)

cruz ascartoon

If I wanted to save my credibility as advisor, I had to come up with something better, fast. My next practical advice was: “Why don’t you invite her to our house, you guys can hang out here and play some mindcraft.”

I was still missing the point and Cruz rendered me useless. He did the next best thing, he asked his dad for tips and tricks.

Here is what Dominic came up with: “Make a plan, be on it, be patient and remember, whatever happens, happens.”

What kind of advice is that? Our son needs a blueprint for success, not some kind of philosophical, universal, fits-all approach.

The sad truth is, we failed our son on his quest to touch base with Mrs. Popular. We should stay out of it and let the boy come up with his own plan of action. And he did: Cruz and his friend Conner googled How to get a girl-friend. Based on the youtube advice they decided the buddy – , or better, wing-man -system.would work best. The finer details of when or how still needs to be decided on,- but at least they have a plan. Good luck boys!



Part of our European spring break was going skiing in Austria. We invested our time, energy (!) and money to make our boys fall in love with snow covered mountains and the equipment to get downhill safe and fast – or better, fast and furious!

During this spring break we decided to drive across the border for some serious skiing on the other side. Mt. Baker is only a skip and jump (110 km)  from our front door; which makes it even closer than driving to Whistler.

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Upon arrival we picked up the key to our rented condo.  Our friendly, local agent warned us about the coming weekend: “Tomorrow will be very busy, we are having our annual Easter egg hunt on the mountain, and everybody wants to find the golden egg!”

Yeah, great!


Skiing in Austria during school holidays can leave a somewhat bitter taste in your mouth. It goes something like this: 10 minutes to get down the hill, 25 minutes waiting time at the bottom of the lift to get back up again! It is crazy busy with anybody and everybody who can afford a lift ticket. If you find yourself stuck in the midst of other parents, there is only one thing to do,- in Germany we call it “huettenschwung”!

In good old English it translates to skiing from hut to hut to drown your frustration with a gluewein (mulled wine) or jagertea (tea plus rum) and hope for a clear run all the way home! You will never get where you want to ski without stopping. During your time on the slopes you are in active danger of being run into, or worse, run over by some random boarder who hasn’t discovered his break on his snowboard. yet. Yes, skiing in Austria during the height of the season can seriously damage your body!


Anyway, small, free standing refueling stations (huts) can be found everywhere, on every mountain, in every region across Austria.  They make part of the Austrian charm. They welcome you with loud brass music and a wide selection of hot and cold beverages. Their drinks make you forget your sorrows and most of all, your inhibitions. In regards to your skiing ability it translates into starting off as a beginner and makes you finish in a league of your own. Forget about looking good, after two gluewein all you want to do is ‘let it rip’.

With memories of crowds and massive queues to wait in line with, it was no wonder we were slightly peed off about the egg hunt.

Wonder oh wonder! The busiest day of the season is upon us and we had no problem finding a parking spot. Wait, it gets even better: No line in front of the ticket booth either! Believe it or not, the coast was clear all day long! The longest we had to wait for at the bottom of any lift were five guys in front of us. If this is what the locals call busy, I want to ski here during their  quiet days. No awkward turnstiles either to check your lift pass. It was wide, open slopes as far as the eye can see!

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The huts on American soil are function build, they are good for eating and drinking,not for cosiness. And, one beer allowed per ID only. I am not much of a beer drinker, and gluewein can’t be found anywhere.. But then, you don’t really need gluewein or schnaps here.

There is no immediate danger of being run over and I found my inner goddess on the wide, open slopes!

How amazing is skiing here in Washington State. No wonder the guy at Glaciers Ski Rental swore me to secrecy – I should keep my mouth shut about this gem!  But if I do,  how will he make money with his ski rentals? How will the condo owners rent out their homes if nobody knows about them?

But even with my post out there I don’t believe it would make a difference. Back at the apartment I found a guidebook, published in 1979. Everything written then still applies today- Mt. Baker, Washington’s best kept secret? A place where time stood still?

Sophisticated Morning Talk between Spouses

If you want to watch harmonious gender division, come and visit us on any given school day early in the morning.

What you will find is the wife in action  (aka, multi tasking to make sure the children will go to school on time, neatly dressed, their lunch boxes filled with nutritious, delicious goodies)  and the husband sitting on the couch, reading his TIME magazine.

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In his mind, there is no better time to strike up a meaningful conversation with his wife than between 7.15 and 8am. The wife loves his attempt of keeping her informed and educated about bigger things in life other than the stain on his shirt and a reminder for an oil change.

It goes something like this:

Husband: “Did you know there are more than 100 million sharks killed each year?” (Times, March 18, page 9)

Wife, thinking: Did Cruz feed his fish yesterday, need to go to pet store, we are running out of fish food.

Aloud: “Mmh?”

Husband: “Hey lovey, listen to this, this is funny,  ( quote) “We make the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone.(Times, same edition, page 8)  These delegates….”

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Wife has water running, concentrates to make orange juice out of concentrate. Is thinking to herself  “what was this all about?”

Aloud: “Mmh, interesting.”

Husband thinks this quote is hilarious, wonders why wife isn’t laughing and gives in to his desire to read it again. Still, no response from wife.

Somehow this reminds husband of an article in the PROVINCE from a few weeks back: “What about the story on gentrification in downtown Vancouver?”

Wife is thinking: I need to remember to write the cheque for school, how much was it again?

Husband rambles on, “Listen to this, this is quite interesting, “All you need to know about sequestration but were afraid to ask…”

Wife, aloud: “Boys, you need to give me your thermo containers back, hurry.”

Wife is cooking lunch, ravioli in pot is heating up, starting to boil and all she hears is this:

“….pulling out of Iran over next 22 months.”

Wife thinks “What is going on in Iran, who is pulling out? Is America pulling out?

Wife is brave (or dumb) enough to open her mouth to ask this question to her well informed, well read husband.

All he does is looking at her, shakes his head in slight desperation and thinks, Help, whom am I married to.? Aloud he says:

“Iran? I said Afghanistan – do you remember, it is the longest mission ever Americans were involved in?”

Wife thinks “Oops, need to get my ears checked, why is he talking to me now anyway, I am cooking lunch?”

This is the one that nearly killed her: “Lovey, can you get this, listen up  The record for continuous gum chewing is 135 sticks over 8 hours. Assuming he chewed one fewer stick during the final hour than each of the previous 7 hours, how many sticks did he chew each hour?” (Times, Feb.25, p.53)

Wife thinks,  He must be joking.   Aloud: “Mmh, clever question!”

Isn’t my husband a sweetheart? I consider myself a lucky woman, being married to this fine, young, well informed man! As I said earlier, he makes sure I am in the loop of what’s going on around the world. Unfortunately, most of the time I have no clue what he is talking about; and I mean literally. I have no clue what he is jabbering about, I have never heard of these words before! He is a native speaker and therefore comfortable with the TIMES vocabulary, not me!

Still, I appreciate his efforts and hopes that after all these years some of the more sophisticated words may have rubbed up on me – or not!

This reminds me of an incident from a long time ago.  I did my PADI diving course in Byron Bay, Australia. On the first day of the course we were discussing what you can’t do under water, wetsuit and all. One of the things you can’t do is fornicating! Did I know what that means? Of course not. I was the only foreigner amidst a group of Australians. They swore themselves to secrecy and kept me in the dark for the whole week – meanwhile my brain was working overtime about the action called fornication. What is it you can’t do under water with your wetsuit on….?



Only dairy farmers or bakers need to apply!

The successful candidate must be able to supply an endless amount of dairy products – preferable milk – and baked goods; staked high to satisfy the ongoing hunger of four teenage boys.

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I honestly thought buying nappies, formula milk or baby food in jars was bad enough. Years later comes the rude awakening: Our children changed from the cute, chubby, helpless little creatures into independent, strong willed, still cute (but different cute) young men, with a huge appetite!

Our new house came with one fridge and skinny freezer only. The boys empty them at a faster rate than I can restock them!

Yesterday it was full, today it is empty!

These days you can find me either on the way to the grocery store, in the grocery store or on my way home. Once at home I get ready to bake muffins, cookies, brownies or pancakes. I even took up yoghurt making.

Joey, our Korean exchange student, can eat for three! Furthermore, he literally drinks our ketchup bottles empty; he fears Heinz will stop producing them shortly.  At first I thought he doesn’t like my cooking because he puts the sauce on everything. But even I have to admit,  my cooking isn’t that bad either;  Joey simply loves the taste of ketchup.

The two most common questions I have to answer on a regular basis are: “When are we eating dinner?” and “What are we eating later on?”  Of course, there is nothing wrong with being asked these questions, it’s just very frustrating to answer them right after the boys wolved down their afternoon meal of French toast or toasties (melted cheese).

If Dominic agrees to change our marital status from ‘couple’ to ‘quadruple’, I will search for a legitimate religious order which allows women to have three men. If the google search will be unsuccessful I need to settle this matter once and for all: I am sure there will be another mid-term sale coming up soon and I will get myself a bread maker, a waffle iron, an ice-cream maker, a second fridge and freezer, big sacks of flour and a cow for the backyard.

Right now a song pops into my head. The one where Marilyn Monroe sings about “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”. Easy for her to sing, she never had children….


In a far away country, a very long time ago, I promissed our boys “to get a dog when you are older, when mom isn’t working any more, when we have a big backyard, when we have lots of nature around us and, when we move to Canada.”  All these things happened and I am running out of excuses. But still, no dog yet. But our friend Jaci bought one recently.   Here is her  written attempt to lure me into the –extra-ordinary- world of (crazy) dog people:

My husband and I swore we would not get a dog with three young kids already in tow. Yet here we are, with our zoo (ages 3,6 and 8) and a 5 month old girl puppy-dog whom we adore. We are still keeping it real in our household. She doesn’t sleep in our bed and I don’t let her lick me on the lips, but I must admit that she is a worthy addition to our family. I like to think the reasons were simple, but the truth is, we discussed it, researched it and tried to talk ourselves out of it all summer. What really inspired me was meeting a dog in the neighbourhood that I really liked; it was this particular breed that drew us in.

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I like most dogs, but I wouldn’t want to own many of them. Drooly, shedding, stinky, yappy ones do not really appeal to me. That is why we got ourselves a designer dog. She is none of those things, so she fits in perfectly! We found a great Goldendoodle breeder on Vancouver Island, dropped some ridiculous, but so worth it – money and never looked back!

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The week the kids went back to school I went with my 3 year old daughter to pick her up at the airport and we started our journey as a family of 6. It was a special day for all of us. My husband ended up feeling as though the void he always felt over the missing (undetermined) fourth baby was finally filled. He crawled in her crate and fall in love right away. As for myself, I have vowed to never be a crazy dog lady. Instead, I resisted the urge to swaddle her in a blankie and focused on crate training. I fell quickly into the usual mom routine – eat-sleep-poop- repeat. It felt like I had another baby, but only for a week or so.

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Aside from the expected puppy antics, Sparrow (named after Jack Sparrow, not the bird) is a good dog. We think. She rarely gets into mischief aside from attacking the recycling bin in the pantry, stealing ham out of the kid’s sandwiches, or knocking over the odd menstruated garbage bin. House training was kind of a breeze, considering this is what scared me the most.

Now that we are five months in, life with a dog couldn’t be better.We are all outside more and much more active as a family. We don’t expect our kids to do all that much for the dog, but we hope they learn this over time as they become older and more capable. The work part is up to us and we have to love it. For parents, it is natural to want to satisfy our children’s burning desires to have a dog and to then expect them to carry a large part of the responsibility.

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My kids are pretty smitten with their dog but that doesn’t mean they are ready to hit the backyard with a pooper scooper in tow. Sometimes my son walks her for 4 minutes, but they both come back with a smile, so that is enough in itself. The poop piles in the back yard are multiplying rapidly, and I am not going to lie, it is a chore that none of us have really owned as of yet. I think it is a man job, yes?

Are we good dog owners? Nah. We recently made a New Year’s resolution for 2013 that we will finally get that cream ‘on her parts’ as this is an area that can become irritated in furry dogs (the vet gave it to us 3 months ago). One of these days I will muster up the courage to do it. It has become a bit of a maritial dispute around here. Nobody really wants to touch it!

Jaci Botterman




A new year is about to start. Will it become a year to start a new life in a new country? If your goal is to immigrate to Canada, if your intention is to make a fresh, extra-ordinary start here in British Columbia and you want  to make this transition as smooth as possible, please take a minute to read through this compilation of character traits – you never know, it might helpI If you don’t want to immigrate, no harm in reading further either.

The successful candidate

– Must be loaded in order to participate in the great outdoors (e.g. skiing in winter, zip-lining, golfing or sailing in summer).

Born to board

– Should be a lover and admirer of casual wildlife found in their own backyard. We are talking bears, cougars, squirrels or deer. Needless to say, this doesn’t apply to you folks in downtown Vancouver.

– A Master’s degree in household economics and accountancy is required. Household and school excursion bills arrive on a regular, irregular basis. You need to stay on top of the situation and pay them on a regular, irregular basis.

– Can be deaf, or at least display a high threshold for beeping household appliances. I swear to you, every household item in our house beeps, rings or makes noise in one way or another. It beeps to let me know it’s time to get up, to let me know the coffee is ready, the laundry is done or dry, the oven has reached its temperature or the microwave popcorn is ready. One word of warning, stay away from the singing egg timer! You will never hear the end of it! This egg starts singing after 5 minutes in boiling water and doesn’t stop- even after you take it out of the water!

–  Can have a short attention span and a weak bladder when it comes to watching tv or going to the movies!  Leave it to program makers to interrupt any nail biting scenes to air commercials to tempt, educate, scare and annoy you! But of course, this is the perfect opportunity to hit the washroom (WC, toilet).

I have the sneaky suspicion movie theatres aren’t worried about our bladder. All they care about is how much popcorn and coke they can sell to us during a break in an 80 minute long movie!  I might be wrong, just saying…

– Needs to redefine the European definition of cosy (England), gemuetlich (Germany) or gezellig (.Holland). Here, a cosy pub is situated within a purpose built building, displays an open fire safely tucked behind a glass wall and has several tv screens(?) running! (Exceptions are the rule)

– Should know exactly what one needs and hold a tight grip on the wallet. Temptation is all around us: “Deal of the week, Specials of the day, Groups of 4 Deal, January clearance sale, pre-sale, end-of-line-sale, liquidation sale, stock clearance sale, pre-Christmas sale, Boxing Day sale, Boxing week sale, summer sale, midweek sale, pre-Easter bargain, Halloween specials…”

On the other hand, it is your choice to be part of the consumer driven society or not!

– Doesn’t necessarily need to speak fluent English. Mandarin or Punjabi will do just fine!

If you posses any of these characteristics, I highly recommend you pack your bags and come on over If you don’t,  pack your bags.anyway. Regardless of what you just read and how it sounds like, our whole family loves it here in Beautiful British Columbia and we are looking forward to our next, extra-ordinary chapter her.

Whoever you are, wherever you might be, – whatever your decisions will be for the NEW YEAR, I wish you a HEALTHY, adventurous and prosperous 2013!


I am looking forward to connect to many more of you wonderful blogging and reading individuals. Warm wishes,




Today, exactly one year ago, we arrived in Canada: Two adventurous parents and their three apprehensive children!

We had no job waiting for us, no network of friends to guide us, no family to support us, to colleagues to teach us. All we had was each other, five suitcases filled with clothes, five backpacks full of memories and the burning desire to make it ‘happen ‘in an English speaking country!
It was a year long effort to create our new life, to make new friends, to build a support network and to create our own job opportunity! Twelve months down the road I can raise my glass and say: “We made the transition, the first part of our mission is accomplished! All five of us are happy and settled. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!”

What are the extra-ordinary ingredients for a smooth transition from old to new?

For us it was / is a healthy dose of common sense, an open ear, being friendly, being open minded and most of all, the willingness to reach out and let everybody know we have arrived! Nobody will knock on your door! YOU have to go out there and knock on many different doors, to let everybody know the new girl / boy in town is here!
It is up to you to MAKE IT HAPPEN!
To stick to the Christmas theme, I let these two photos speak for themselves to demonstrate our transition from

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P.S. Vegetarians, please forgive me!