Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mum's 88th Birthday - May 28, 2009

Lloyd and I went to Winnipeg this weekend to celebrate Mum's 88th birthday with her, my sister Wendy and her husband Randy. It was important for us to be there at this birthday because Mum's Alzheimer's is progressing quite rapidly and it'll probably be the last birthday she has when she remembers who we are.

She was excited to see us, although she introduced Lloyd to her friends as 'my dad' and I was 'my sister'. Sometimes though she remembered that I was her daughter. She seems to have a hard time with relationships and what the terms sister, mother, father, etc. mean. We took it in stride and didn't give her a hard time about it, laughing a lot with her. She phoned Wendy each morning we were there and asked if "those people" were still there!

One benefit of Alzheimer's is that everything is always new. Every time I visited with her she would ask me if I had any children. I would always reply, "Yes, I have 7 and 17 grandchildren" and she would always laugh and say "Oh that's wonderful".

She seemed to enjoy all the attention of being the birthday girl, but she'd occasionally forget who's birthday it was. In the video I'm attaching, she wishes me a happy birthday! Wendy made the delicious hazelnut torte birthday cake for her.

She loved the quilt Wendy made for her, but she forgot that she had made the rose squares years ago and was going to make a quilt herself with them but never got around to it. It is now on her bed in her assisted living home. She was so excited about it that she made everyone who walked by her room come in and see it.

For some reason after she opened her gifts she decided she needed to give her sons-in-law a kiss - something I've never seen her do before. We all got a kick out of her antics. This is Randy she's kissing.

And Lloyd, who she hasn't been able to remember for a year or so...she just knew he was special to us.

It's nice that she can still be happy and have fun. We have to cherish these times with her.

She enjoyed reading her birthday cards, and read every word out loud before allowing herself to open the gifts...something she's always done.

But still, she had her moments of puzzlement

and confusion

But we'll remember best the fun time we had on her 88th birthday.
The following video clip is her Birthday Speech. When she looks to her right, she's looking at Wendy and Randy. Lloyd and I are on her left, out of the picture. I'm sorry, I took it sideways so you'll have to bend your neck to see it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Weekend in Lethbridge

We got home from Lethbridge at midnight last night. It seemed like a long drive though it's only about 5 hours south of us here in Edmonton. We picked Rob up from work on Friday afternoon and headed out. It was time, finally, to finish painting our house down there.

Of course any trip down there involves golf for the men. On Saturday Rob and Lloyd met up with our nephew, Mark and his friend Corey to play a 'quick' game before getting down to the job of painting. While they were out on the golf course, SIL Cheryl and I drove out to Picture Butte to visit Mike, Avril and the boys in their new home.

I always worry that these little grandsons will forget me between visits since we only see them three or four times a year, but Kenny has a good memory and I could see him in the window as we pulled up saying "Grammie, Grammie."

We had a fun time with them. Kenny showed us around his new house that had a fresh coat of paint throughout. "We colored it" according to Kenny. He was allowed to choose the color for his own room - purple - which his Mom toned town from the super bright one he wanted to a nice pastel purple with a deep plum feature wall. Very nice. Avril has a good sense of color and her house reflects it.

Kenny showed me his favorite tickle book - a very interactive book that he and Alex really enjoy. Then, of course, I had to go upstairs to play with Kenny's Thomas trains. A fun visit.

Meanwhile, back at the house, the golf game over, the men got down to business.

Mark rebuilt the portion of the living room floor where the fireplace used to be, and added some ceramic tile.

Rob was our painting expert. He helped finance his university education by painting houses, and he does know his stuff. Here he is using a brush extender (who even knew such a thing existed??). He has a very steady hand and was able to do the 'cutting in' without needing to tape it. We couldn't have had a better painting partner.

Lloyd worked hard in the kitchen and dining room, which ended up a lovely light butter yellow.

My job in this whole enterprize was 'gofer'. The man at Home Depot and I became good friends! I spent a lot of time - and money - there. At least it kept me out of the actual painting action! Rob gave me the job of cleaning up spilled paint drops with Goof Off, so I guess you could say my job was 'goofing off' which I'm pretty good at.

Mike also came over and helped paint but I didn't think to get my camera out until after he had left. Sorry Mike. It was nice having my boys together working on a project.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Baby's Birthday

Today is Emily's 23rd birthday. She's the baby of the family, coming six years after the second last baby. Hers was an exciting arrival - the six older kids were so excited to have a new baby in the house. She was born by emergency C-Section seven days past her due date. My mother always said that C-Section babies were the prettiest because their heads weren't misshapen from the birth process. Of course she might have been biased since both of her kids were born by C-section. I had a lot of 'help' with her. It was nice that the older six kids were all in school so that I had some alone time with her during the days.

Emily was a sweet little baby, not a lot of trouble at all. We all enjoyed her so much. The first few days we were home from the hospital there was a steady stream of the kids' friends coming in to see the new baby.

She grew quickly as all babies seem to do and by Christmas was sitting under the tree grabbing whatever ornaments she could reach.

We had a bay window that she liked to sit in on sunny days. This must have been around hallowe'en because I didn't make a habit of having big pumpkins in the window.

Even as she grew older she liked pumpkins, only now she was old enough to carve them - sometimes we'd carve four or five pumpkins using simple and ornate designs.

She's dabbled in a lot of different hobbies, activities in her short life, starting with ballet.

Her interest in playing bass guitar began when she was around 14 and has continued off and on ever since.

By the time Emily was 11 she was Auntie Em. Here she is with her first nephew, Jonah Quist, Jenny's son.

Whoops! Just tilt your head sideways. She's quite a computer whiz and has helped me out of quite a few computer snags over the past few years.

From the time she was 14 she has worked for her sister Sara in the Photo Gift business. She's an expert on making photo gifts, taking portraits, and manipulating photos with Photoshop, among other things.

Emily started golfing in her mid teens when her dad was becoming so enthused about the sport. Although not her favorite activity, she willingly joins in the annual family golf tournament, and plays best ball with Lloyd, Allan and I on occasion.

Emily at 5 years old.

While at work at Photo Gift World one day Emily took a baby picture of herself and manipulated it into this artsy picture.

Emily was the most adventurous of our children. When she was in Grade 11 she went to Germany as an exchange student for 3 months. While there she attended a german school, lived with a German family, and was totally immersed in the German culture. We were nervous to have her away, but through the magic of instant messaging we were able to be in touch with her the whole time.
Then, when she graduated from High School, she worked until she had saved enough to go to Scotland on a work abroad program and spent a year there, working mostly as a temp. She had time between assignments to travel around the British Isles a bit. Again, we were glad to have her home when it was over.
This is Emily in Dundee, Scotland.

Shortly after coming home from Scotland she met Allan Taylor, fell in love with him, and in February of 2008 they got engaged.
On August 23, 2008 she and Allan were married in a lovely garden wedding in Sara's yard.

And here she is at her birthday party last night. Happy birthday Kiddo. Love you lots.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Roommates Reunited

About 40 years ago six of us young single girls were close friends and roommates. Twice since I've been married we all got together again.

We weren't all roommates at the same time. It started out with Cheryl and me. Then Cheryl, Joyce and me. Cheryl and Joyce are sisters, and for the past 38 years have been my sisters-in-law because I had the great good fortune to marry their brother Lloyd.

Joyce moved out of our apartment to move in with her mother and Dorothy. Ann moved in with Cheryl and me.

Then I got married and left. Then Dorothy got married and left. So Cheryl, Joyce and their mother moved to a small house where they were joined by Karen, who has become an honorary member of our family. Then they all got married and set up their own homes. And life goes on.

Fast forward 38 years...Cheryl, Joyce and Karen, who all live in the same small town, came up to Edmonton for the May long weekend and we arranged to get together for brunch while they were here...Ann and I live in Edmonton and Dorothy lives just a few miles outside of town.

Here we are today...

Dorothy, Cheryl, Ann, Joyce, Karen

Joyce, Dorothy and Me

Ann, Cheryl and Karen
We had a fun time getting caught up with each other's lives. We went to Buffet Royale and spent three hours there relaxing, and eating and laughing. It's nice to have friends with history. Lloyd and I have moved around so much in our life together that it's really easy to lose touch with friends. It also helps that I'm married to the brother of two of them.
Maybe we'll get together again in a few years.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kenzie's Scrapping Day

Kenzie has been wanting me to help her make a scrapbook for a long time now. We finally decided that today would be the day. Bright and early at 9:00 she came down to get started. I had printed the pictures I took of her riding her bike for the first time so we were going to put them in a scrapbook.

As usual when I'm scrapping at home, I have my stash spread out all over the place. Kenzie found a cleared space and got to work.

By supper time she had completed four pages - we're both slow scrappers, but the results were worth it. She got such a kick out of choosing embellishments and papers to use. I made sure that she knew the first rule of scrapbooking: 'there are no rules in scrapbooking'.

We made room for about 20 minutes for 3-year old Sydney when she wanted to do a page too.

A closer view of Kenzie's first four layouts.

After taking a lunch break at McDonalds, we came home and made the world's best coconut banana bread - Kenzie mashed the bananas.

Then we had another afternoon break when Jenn and 4 of her boys, and Sara and her three kids came over (Jenn was visiting from out-of-town). There were 10 of my grandkids here this afternoon - a fun bunch of little people.

When Charlie saw what Kenzie was doing, she sat down and created a page as well. She's trying hard not to smile in this picture.

By bedtime Kenzie had completed 5 layouts and we put them in an album for her. I think she had more fun learning to use my new Slice die-cut machine to make labels and words.

And here's her last page. She was able to program the letters in the Slice and cut her title for this page herself.
Kenzie made sure I was going to leave my stuff out because she wants to come down again tomorrow and/or Monday to finish her album. She's very proud of herself tonight. I am too.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Long Weekend - Day 1

The first day of my 4-day weekend was a busy, fun day. It started with a 10:00 hair appointment - My hair was a couple of months past due for a cut. My regular hairdresser moved away so I had a new one today - always a chancy thing. She cut it shorter than I like and really thinned it out a lot, but my hair grows fast enough so that in a couple of weeks it'll look more like the hair I'm used to.

Next thing on the agenda was to pick up my car from the body shop. Remember this picture from two months ago?

After two months of driving a rental car (covered by our insurance), it sure was nice to get my Acura back, good as new.

Then I picked up Mickey and we went to Costco to pick up some pictures I had developed for a scrapbooking project tomorrow. For our Friday lunch outing today we each bought a salad at Costco and ate it there. Have you ever had one of Costco's shrimp and lobster salads? They are absolutely delicious and fresh with loads of lobster and tasty shrimp. For dessert we went to the Marble Slab and designed our own ice cream treat. And of course, we checked out the scrapbooking section of Michael's while we were in the area.

This evening I went to my baby girl Emily's place for dinner with her and Allan and their cat, Hero. It was the first time I had seen their new home - it's a really cute little house. Emily is a great cook and her meal of proscutto wrapped steak, tortellini and salad was great.

Emily and Allan


Tomorrow should be a fun day too - a scrapping date with a 6-year old granddaughter, and a visit from Jenn, Anders and the 5 grandsons.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Weekend Fun

Mother's Day weekend is usually a double-decker deal for me. Every few years my birthday and Mother's Day are actually on the same day. This was one of those years. I had a very pleasant weekend, but unfortunately there weren't many pictures taken.

On Friday Mickey and I finally got together for lunch. We were so good - we each had large salads followed by equally large desserts. Then of course we went to a scrapbook store to buy ourselves a Mother's Day gift to ourselves from ourselves.

Carrot cake

White chocolate raspberry lava cake.

On Friday night Lloyd and I went to Rob and Cindy's for dinner. It had been awhile since we had been to their place so it was nice to visit with the grandkids and their parents. They gave me a lovely porcelain music box for my birthday.

Saturday was a nice relaxing day (my favorite kind). While Lloyd was out playing 9 holes of golf I got caught up on the shows I had PVRd while we were in Arizona. He and I went out shopping and he told me to let him know if I saw anything I wanted and we'd get it. Honestly, at this stage in my life there's really nothing I need that I don't already have. It's so hard when the kids ask me what I want for my birthday because usually if I want something I just go get it myself. I did get some shirts though.

Sunday was my birthday. We have a tradition in our family where I call the kids on their birthday and sing the birthday song to them. They've come to expect it. Now they reciprocate. The three who live out of town and some of the in-town ones called early to sing me happy birthday. It's really neat.

We had a barbeque with Amy and her family for supper, and the four families who live in town all came over for cake afterwards. It was a nice low-key birthday/mother's day celebration.

Amy made the most amazing cheesecake for dessert (with cupcakes for the kids). It was delicious.

My sister and I have developed a birthday tradition of our own. I don't know when it started but at the end of April I start getting funny birthday cards from her. By the time my birthday rolls around on May 10 I usually have at least half a dozen cards from her. This year there were 9 of them. Since her birthday is eight days after mine I wait till early in May to start sending cards to her. Between the two of us we're keeping Hallmark (and others) in business. I always look forward to getting all those funny cards.'s over for another year. It's been fun. Hope all your mothers out there had happy days with your family.