Sunday, 6 December 2015

Catching up...June-July

I have not written anything since June.  Why?  There could be a lot of reasons or excuses, but I'll just leave it.  Every year I print out all my blog posts in a book so we have them as a record/journal of our lives.  So in an effort to get this year's up to date, I am going to attempt to get caught up.  I looked back to some of the pictures that I took for inspiration.

Let's begin with Littlest.  She 'graduated' from preschool last spring.  They had a whole cap and gown ceremony and everything.  Here she is with her teacher getting her diploma.

And here she is wondering what the heck she is getting herself into.

Her she was posing before the big ceremony.  Yes, that was me doing her hair.  I learned how to French braid from youtube.  It turned out fairly well, but made the cap fit a little too snugly.

We had some crazy thunder storms and I happened to be looking out the window when this one rolled over our park.  I grabbed my camera a snapped a few pics.  After I put them on Facebook, a reporter from the local TV station contacted me and asked if he could use the pics on the newscast that night.  Naturally I said yes!  So here are the shots from my 5 minutes of fame.  More like 30 seconds and not even really sure it was me.  I told him they were taken over Wallacefield park, so the caption on TV said they were sent in by Dave Wallacefield.  So close, yet so far.

On to Middlest.  She had a track and field day at the end of Grade 1.  So littlest and I went and hung out for the afternoon.  The weather was good and the sporting events top-notch.  Here is the photo finish of the sack race.

And an action shot of the long jump.

We were also able to head to Tofield for a weekend to celebrate Dad's 73rd birthday.  All his kids and all his grandkids were there for one last celebration before he lost his battle with cancer.  (There's a separate post for that as well as some good memories.)

Littlest went to 'real' school for a morning of kindergarten orientation.  She made a craft, met the teachers and even got a ride on a school bus.  (I got to go on the bus too.  Good times.)

Biggest and two of her buddies took part in the local triathlon.  They each did one leg, and our little cross country runner did the running leg.  She had to run two kilometers, which is the same distance she ran in cross country.  We did a fair bit of training and it took a bit to get some competitive spirit into her.  She ran for a bit and walked for a bit and ran some more.  I told her that it wasn't just her, but she had to try hard for the rest of her team.  I told her that she had to really give'er at the end and finish hard.  She wasn't convinced at first.  By the time race day came, things changed.  In the final stretch, there was a boy right behind her, hot on her heels.  She buckled down and sprinted for all she was worth.  She may have even put her elbow out to make sure she stayed in the lead.  And she did!  She finished in front of him.  I'm not sure where they placed overall, but they all had fun and tried their hardest.

We went to Saskatoon for a weekend and had the super talented Sasha take their pictures (like she has for the past several years).  The theme this year was s'mores and as their hairdresser coined it, 'campfire chic.'

I thought that is was time for Biggest to learn to mow the lawn.  She was having no part of it however.  So then I asked Middlest and she stepped up to the challenge.  She did a decent job and caused her older sister to pout quite a bit.  A double win for her.

This was a picture of breakfast at the island, one year after their first breakfast at the island.  Yes, our one year anniversary of moving to Lloydminster came and went.

We made a trip out to Golden Prairie where the girls got to ride the quad that Papa had bought for them.

Then they had to pose while chewing on grass, because 'that's what farm girls do.'  According to Middlest anyway.

Here they are snuggling with Papa and reading some old Childcraft books from when their mom was little.

This year Littlest learned to ride a two wheeler.  She did pretty amazing.  She is the only child that we bought a balance bike for first.  She tore around on that thing for a long time and really had her balance down.  It sure made the transition a lot easier.  I basically gave her a little push and she was gone.  The hardest part was just making her keep pedaling.  She thought she should just be able to coast.  But she figured it out and was tearing around the block for the rest of the summer.

Before our trip to Nashville, (yes, we went to Nashville!  But that will be a post to itself too.) the girls got to pick raspberries with Papa one more time.  They have really enjoyed doing this over the past several years.

I think Nanny even let them pick one or two of her flowers.

Biggest went to camp this summer all by herself (for a week!).  It was a little strange only having two girls around, but everyone had fun.  Biggest had an amazing experience and amid all the crazy camp shananigans, really seemed to mature in her faith.  Here she is saying goodbye to her sisters before we left her.

Here is some of the fun the other had.  We took a trip up Jaycee hill for the first time and ran down.

We had a little fashion show...naturally.

And checked out a new park in town.  (I just love this pic.)

There was some crazy curly hair and their own shopping carts at the Co-op.

Our poor little Rosie sliced open the pad of one of her paws.  It wasn't healing, so we took her to the vet.  She was glued together, and wrapped in a pretty pink bandage.  She was not a big fan though, so she was forced to wear the dreaded cone of shame.  She was not a fan, and neither were her human sisters.  Everyone felt pretty sorry for her.

When Biggest came home, we went to the spray park and had some slurpies at the concession there.  Turns out there is a fair bit of color in the blue raspberry and the cherry.  Probably all natural though.

Biggest celebrated her tenth birthday.  Yup, double digits!  It really is hard to believe how fast time goes by.  I still remember it was like it was yesterday.  She has grown into an amazing kid though.  She loves school and her teachers, loves church and Sunday school, loves and really looks out for her sisters.  She is strong willed (which can be great or not so great, depending on the day) and knows who she is and what she stands for.  She is mature beyond her years, yet still has a goofy side so you know she's still a kid.

Our summer was kind of crazy though and we kind of missed the boat on organizing her a birthday party.  So she ended up having a pedicure with her sisters in the end, which was fun too.

I think that sort of sums up a lot of what was happening for June and July.  I'm sure writing about it five months after the fact has made me a little foggy on some of the detail.  But there it is in a nutshell.  Later.  

Monday, 21 September 2015

My Dad...

My dad celebrated his last birthday here on earth on June 8, 2015.  He celebrated his first birthday in heaven on August 30, 2015.  He believed this was where he was going and I believe it is where he is.  Someday I will see him again.

The months in between his birthdays saw the gradual decline of Dad's health.  Walks got shorter and were aided by a cane and then a walker.  Finally they stopped all together.  Pain increased as the cancer overtook his body.  But he never let it get to him.  Every time someone would come by and ask how he was he would say good.  I think it's because he knew where he was heading.  One of the last things Dad said to me was, 'Before I was dying and the cancer got real bad, I decided to hand everything over to God.  And that's worked really well for me.  I never did get my big miracle, but I got little miracles every day along the way.'  If I take one thing away from Dad's life, I want it to be this.  An unwavering faith and the knowledge that burdens are a whole lot lighter when you let God carry them. 

These months also showed me a new side of Mom and a strength I  didn't know she had.  As Dad got weaker, she got stronger.  She was determined to give him his final wish of being able to die at home.  And she did it.  Love looks a lot different in the final stages of life than in the honeymoon phase.  Holding a cup with a straw in it so Dad could have a swallow of water.  Begging him to have just one sip.  Injecting morphine into a port in his belly every couple hours so the pain stayed at bay.  Holding his hand and singing him to sleep when he was too scared to face the night alone.  And finally, holding his hand as he took his final breath and passed away.  Now that is true love.

I want to share a few of my favorite memories of Dad now.  Some are new and some I have written about before. You'll have to bear with me. Some days I still can't believe he's really gone.  But here goes:

One of my favourite memories of my Dad growing up was him making waffles.  These were no Eggo in the toaster kind of waffles.  This was a whole morning experience.  Egg whites were mixed separately and folded into batter, this bowl was added to that, oil was brushed onto the waffle iron.  He took it very seriously, and the result showed.  I think the amount of dishes generated drove Mom nuts, but that's a different story.

The waffle experience actually started long before the first egg was cracked.  It started in the living room at the record player.  We had one of those big console record players that was an entire piece of furniture unto itself.  You could take a whole stack of records and put them all on and they would just fall into place one after another.  Kind of the precursor to a CD changer I guess.  The record selection never varied that much from time to time - there were some alternates, but there were a few constants as well.  Johnny Horton was one.  Dad would always sing along, '..and when we touched the powder off the gater lost his mind...' and then he would chuckle.  Johnny Cash was also there.  And Waylon Jennings, Kenny Rogers, Petula Clark, Jeannie C. Ryley.  I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but those were some of the staples.  I hope someday my kids remember the music I play.

Then came the actual waffles.  We ate them a little differently too.  We put ice cream and warm butterscotch pudding on them.  They were/are awesome.  The entire morning's work was devoured in about 5 minutes, but it was worth it.  Looking back, the morning's work was where the memories were made.

He was always there for us.  We all played hockey, and when it was -30 outside, the temperature in some of those small town rinks was the same.  I remember coming off the ice almost in tears because my toes were so frozen.  He would take my skates off, blow in them, and put my feet in his armpits as he crouched down in front of me.  That was the warmest spot for cold feet, he said.

He had a couple of pieces of advice too.  One was, "Don't ever start a fight, but if you get into one, make sure you finish it."  I guess being a good Mennonite, I took the first part of that to heart pretty well, because I never have been in a fight.  Another was, "When you are at someone else's house, you eat what's on the table."  I've done a pretty good job of this over the years as well.  There was one time I remember I couldn't do it.  Dad used to do some custom bailing for some old bachelor farmers and I would help sometimes and occasionally we went in for a meal.  One day we went in and there were two large pieces of tomato on my plate.  (I HATE tomatoes.)  I looked at the plate with terror in my eyes.  I gave it a real effort.  I made it through the first chunk with a lot of whatever there was to drink and stuffing some other food in my mouth at the same time.  Eventually I couldn't take it anymore.  I gagged a little bit.  I didn't think I was going to make it.  It was at that point a fork came over, stabbed the remaining culprit on my plate and it disappeared into Dad's mouth.  You wouldn't believe the relief that came over me.

He used to recite random song lyrics at times too, and then chuckle.  I never knew the songs, but as I've gotten older, I think I've identified them all.  He used to say, "I drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry."  I didn't know what a levee was or what song it was from, but it always made him laugh when he said it.  Imagine my surprise the first time I heard American Pie.  Another was, "I Got Stripes - Stripes Around My Shoulders, I Got Chains - Chains Around My Feet."  Again, I had no idea that was Johnny Cash until much later in my life.  I find myself singing song lyrics from my youth to the kids too.  I hope that before they think I'm weird, they get some good memories out of it.

His work ethic always amazed me too.  From the barn to the field to the bush, he always led by example.  Growing up in the city, my kids will never have to experience the same kind of work I had to, but I hope I can still instill the same values in them.  Always give it your all.  If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right.  Finish what you start.  We spent a lot of hours together in the barn and cutting wood to burn in the wood stove.  I'd be lying if I said I enjoyed every minute of it at the time, but looking back, they were good times.  I also learned that certain language that was not acceptable in the house, was okay in the barn.

One of Dad's favourite ways to escape is to fish.  He used to get away once a year with my uncle and some friends.  I remember the first year I was old enough to come along.  We were in the boat and I went to cast.  The whole rod, reel and line came right out of my hand and went straight into the lake.  I was surprised how fast a fishing rod sinks.  I was devastated, but Dad just looked at me, smiled and said, "Don't worry about it.  We're fishing."  That was one place to just forget about everything and relax.  I got the chance to fish with him and my brother one weekend a few summers ago.  We didn't have a boat and we didn't catch anything, but it didn't matter.  We were fishing.

One evening, the girls and I were doing the dishes.  They wanted to listen to music while we were doing it, so we all took turns picking music.  I wasn’t a big fan of what they were listening to, but I let them play it anyway.  I remember coming home from school and watching Video Hits every day and Dad would play solitaire and listen too.  I can only imagine what he thought of most of the music.  But he let us watch.  We never started chores until it was over.  There was only the one time he couldn’t take it.  That’s when the infamous ‘This is sick!’ came out and he turned off the TV.  I still know which video it was too.  Then there were all the Friday evenings of Good Rockin’ Tonight.  Dad sat through all of those with me too, occasionally thowing in a ‘this is sick’ and chuckling.  But he played plenty of his own music too, and for that I am grateful.

The last few summers, the girls all loved to pick raspberries with Papa. I hope this is a memory they will hold onto for their whole lives. Littlest referred to mom and dad as the raspberry nanny and papa. Dad got out to pick with the girls one last time this year and when he couldn't make it out, they brought some in for him. 

Now when I want to feel near to Dad, I put his music on. I've got most of his favourites on my phone (that's the amazing thing about Apple music now). I put my headphones on, take the dog for a walk and get lost in the songs. I may be in Luckenbach, Harper Valley or Alaska when it's forty below.  Some times I chuckle. Most times I cry. But that's ok. I miss you Dad. But I'll see you again. Later. 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Reality check

There are times when I think that a child's sole purpose is to keep ones self esteem in check.  There are times when I think, 'hey, I'm pretty awesome.'  And then Bam! Back to reality.

Case #1

We never used to eat much rice, but have been a bit more in the last year.  The girls all really like it.  One day I figured I would use the leftovers and make chicken fried rice.  When they first looked at it, they all turned up their noses.  When they did finally taste it, they all fell in love.  Now when we have chicken and rice, they look forward to the next day when I make chicken fried rice with the leftovers.  Score one for Dad!  So this has been going on for months now - everyone loves the chicken fried rice.  Then one day we did something crazy.  Brought home some Chinese take-out.  After eating the take-out, Biggest said to me, 'Dad, don't take this personally, but the Chinese professionals do it better.'  Bam!  Reality check.

Case #2

Biggest came home from school talking about politics.  We  were alone in the car and got to chatting.  The conversation led to voting and then to women voting and then to women's rights and some historical gender roles.  I then said how we are not a typical family because I stay home and Julie works.  Then Biggest said to me, 'Yeah Dad, you're like the woman of the house.'  Bam!  Reality check.  Not that there's anything wrong with being the woman of the house...provided you're a woman.  I'll just check my testicles at the door when I come in and put my apron on.

Case #3

You would like to think that as you age, your children will look after you.  In a perfect world anyway.  Biggest thinks that when she grows up she wants to be the prime minister.  Aim high, I always say.  I told her that when she is prime minister she will have to look after me because I'll be old.  That's when she said, 'I'm pretty sure you'll have a huge seniors home.'  Bam!  Reality check.  I guess we won't be moving in with her when we get old.

So there you have it, stay humble.  Later.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Cookie QC

Littlest and I decided to bake some cookies this morning.  I let her choose the kind and she picked the famous 'jam-in-the-hole' variety.  She rolled them into balls and poked her thumb in to make the hole and filled them up with jam.  She did this entire pan herself:

We made some with grape jam and some with strawberry jam.  Before we started I had told her we could sample one before lunch.  When the first couple of pans cooled, I told her she could have one.  She ate that, approved and then looked at the rest of the cooling cookies, taking note of the two different jam varieties.  'We should try these too,' she said.  I thought to myself, 'now that's some good QC thinking.'  Having spent nine years in a QC lab, this made me extremely proud.  She may have just been trying to get an extra cookie, but I'm choosing to believe it was about upholding the quality and integrity of our product.  We wouldn't want her sisters or mom to try something substandard.

So we each tried the strawberry ones and they were good too.  As she was leaving the kitchen, she noticed there were still more in the oven.  'We should try these too Dad,' she said.  My heart swelled with pride.  It is important to check each product run.

And just in case you are wondering, they were good too.  Later.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015


Today's story is about biking, but first we need a little background information.  Here is what you need to know so things make sense later on:

Kids' TV characters come and go.  We've been through the Backyardigans, Little Einsteins, Dora, Handy Manny.  The list goes on.  One of Littlest's favourites right now is Doc McStuffins.  If your kids are older already, let me fill you in.  She is a little girl who is a vet for stuffed animals.  The animals can speak to her and she diagnoses all their ailments and her hippo nurse writes everything down in the 'big book of boo-boos.'  Some of her diagnoses include things like dried-out-atosis and can't-pop-itis and loose-tooth-eosis.

Now to the story:  the girls were out biking and Littlest is learning to ride her two wheeler.  She would have it down no problem if she could stop talking and stop stopping every few feet to tell me something.  Today one of her issues was that she kept getting a wedgie.  Only she didn't call it a wedgie.  She said she had wedgiosis.  She'd pedal a bit and then I would see her feet come off the pedals and I would ask why.  'I just had to stop Dad 'cause I've got the wedgiosis.'  Then she would rectify the problem and carry on.  A little while later it was the same thing.  The wedgiosis!

I think that judging by today, this problem can come in the acute and chronic varieties.  When it hits, it needs to be taken care of now.  But it does keep coming back over and over and over again.  The occasional acute case wouldn't be that big of an issue.  But the chronic...yowza.  So before you head out on the bicycle this summer, make sure you've got good pants or shorts and underwear that aren't prone to riding where they shouldn't.  Or the wedgiosis will strike you too.  And ain't nobody got time for that.  Later.

Life lesson #2

When first learning to bike, it's best to keep your eyes on the path and not the neighbour boys. 

ps:  this goes for more experienced riders too. The scenery will only get nicer as the weather warms up. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Easter weekend

We returned home last night after spending Easter weekend at Julie's parents' place.  Our original plan was to leave here Thursday night and be there Friday morning for the Good Friday breakfast and service.  That plan was shelved due to a stomach bug.  Littlest was hit Tuesday evening and Middlest Wednesday night.  The puking all happened during the night of course, but she was in no shape to go to school on Thursday.  She spent most of the day in her bed, dozing and reading.  At one point, she finished a book and asked me to get her another one.  The title she was after was 'Unicorn School.'  She then proceeded to tell me it was in the unicorn section of her bookshelf.  Wait, what?  You have a whole unicorn section?!  But sure enough, just past the crime solving mouse section and before the fairy section, there was a unicorn section.  Who knew?  And where did she get all these books?

So after a puke-free Thursday and no one else catching it, we ventured out Friday morning.  We had a great weekend.  Poppa treated us all to a ride in his semi (who knew that a sleeper seats six?) and the adults all took turns seeing if we could double-clutch.  It was tricky and there was some lurching, but no stalling.  Julie's brother and his wife each took a turn, then I did and here is Julie.  Like a boss.

The other big excitement on the weekend was that Poppa bought the girls their own quad for when they come visit.  A little 90 cc Arctic Cat with a governor on the throttle (thank goodness!).  It was a surprise and he and Julie's brother came up with quite the story to reveal it.  They said they had captured an Arctic Cat and were keeping it in a cage in the quonset.  They also had a coyote call which happened to have a cougar setting, which sounds like some sort of very angry cat.  So with great trepidation we all crept up to the door.  Uncle hit the remote and the cat screamed from inside the metal door.  Poppa had a baseball bat there to be safe and he banged the door to tell the beast to be quiet.  It screamed again and he slid the door open.  A blue tarp was draped over the cage, concealing the great beast.  It screamed again.  The girls weren't too keen on the big reveal.  I took Littlest by the hand and we crept up and each grabbed a corner.  We pulled with bated breath.  And the Arctic Cat was revealed!  Then there was excitement and lots of, 'I knew it wasn't real and I wasn't scared' by the older two.  Yeah, right.  That's why you were 20 feet outside the door.

Here's one picture of Littlest looking really cute, and then some shots of the girls taming the great beast.

Julie and her dad pulled up some chairs to watch the show and visit.

On Sunday morning, a certain bunny made an appearance and then we went to church in Golden Prairie where we were treated to the real meaning of Easter.

He is risen!  Later.