On Saturday, we had 28 people here for lunch to celebrate Auntie Ruth’s 80th Birthday.  Auntie Ruth isn’t exactly related to us, but my mother lived with her when she left home after her own mother died and ended up getting married out of her house.  She proposed the Toast to the Bride at our wedding, and is like another grandmother to our kids.  She is very special to us.  So we invited family and some close friends and Mom & I made lunch for everyone.  

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The menu was Squash & Apple Soup, then a Pear, Carmelized Onion & Brie Strudel on a Bed of Greens, followed by a Shrimp & Scallop Casserole, and a nut & egg free chocolate birthday cake from Scanway – YUM!!  We debated with that number of people on how to seat everyone and ended up making one long table that extended into the hallway.  

 

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Our kids were really well-behaved and sat at the table nicely – until it was time for the speeches!  At that point, balloons & the laundry basket were much more entertaining for them!

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When it was time for the cake, they were back to being helpful and all four presented the cake to Auntie Ruth and helped her blow out the candles.

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 The four of them shuffled along, each with a hand on the cake plate, and we had to sing happy birthday twice because it took them so long to get around the table to her:

Her daughters who now live out West had both sent e-mail toasts to be read and her son Ron did a toast with a question period about what life was like in the 20’s!  My brother called to wish her well because he couldn’t be here and some of her friends told stories from back in their university days; it was really quite fun.  One interesting tidbit that came out during the conversation was that her grandaughter, Johanna, who is studying law at NYU, was invited to Barak Obama’s Inauguration and was sitting about 100 feet from him when he was sworn in!!  

The family helped out in the kitchen, washing dishes and helping us to serve, so it all went smoothly and we were able to relax and enjoy the party!  Now, we’d better start planning her 85th!

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Happy New Year!

January 2, 2009

It’s been quite a week and we had a wonderful New Year’s Eve Celebration withgreat friends and family.  We’ve done a lot of socializing this week.  Today’s plan is to run a few errands (bothSarah & Alex broke their glasses in the past couple days and we’re out of rice milk) and start to take down the decorations.  D’Arcy has cleared away most of the snow from yesterday’s blizzard, but still has a couple more hours to do outside this afternoon.  We’ll head for the city this afternoon with the boys and go to dinner at The Granite Brewery (where we met) and then to see the play “Plaid Tidings” at Neptune Theatre.  Olivia has been on amoxicillin since the 30thwhen I took her to the doctor and discovered she had both an ear & chest infection.  Yesterday, she started to develop a rash and today she is covered from head to toe, so no more penicillin for her!!  We’ll keep an eye on her today…

Every year on Boxing Day, there is a fundraiser in the name of Jamie Shephard, my friend Martha’s brother.  Jamie was killed in a car accident when we were in Grade 9 and he was in his early 20’s.  The monies raised go to a scholarship given out to a high school student who is well rounded each year and various other charities.  Over the past 20 years, they have raised over $100,000.  This year, we invited Martha & her husband as well as some of my other high school friends who were in town for the holidays to come over here for a drink before going out.  We had a great time getting caught up! 

In the afternoon, we had gone down to visit with Auntie Kay, Uncle Hug & the boys to exchange gifts and have our annual birthday party for Baby Jesus.  The cousins had a fun playing together outside & it was so relaxing for D’Arcy & I to have the chance to sit & just enjoy!

The cousins all together

The cousins all together

Olivia hadn’t napped, so she went to bed at 5:30.  Sarah asked for orange salad & broccoli at about that time and when I came down from putting Olivia to bed, this is how I found my second very tired girl – fast asleep on the floor!

Christmas tires a girl out!

Christmas tires a girl out!

 Our friends from Newfoundland, Sandy & Dave arrived with their son Nate that night because her mother’s house was filled with her siblings & kids.  We were so excited to have them with us, but Dave had a cyst in his cheek and was feeling miserable.  He was going back & forth to the hospital to receive IV antibiotics, so it wasn’t a normal visit. 

He was cleared to fly on the 28th and they left around noon.  My grandmother’s funeral was scheduled for the next day at 11:00 past Digby, about a four hour drive from here.  We talked and thought that it would be torturous to drive there, sit through Mass, and back again with the kids, so I got on the phone and called the coordinator for the International Student Program and asked her to find alternate accommodations for Danny for that night.  I then contacted the manager of White Point Beach Resort in Liverpool who is the Chair of the Provincial Tourism Association.  We had never taken Olivia to a hotel before, so I wasn’t sure about feeding her or keeping her safe.  I was assured that they could accommodate her so we booked a two-room cottage on the ocean and set out at about 3:30.

The drive was a bit hairy because we had fog all the way and Olivia had developed a cough.  About half-way there, she coughed until she threw up, so we stripped her off and wrapped her in a blanket in her carseat.  We arrived at about 6:30, checked in and made dinner reservations for 7:30.  We weren’t sure if we were setting ourselves up for disaster because it was normal bedtime, but the dinner was wonderful!!  I had ricotta ravioli with a maple curry cream sauce and D’Arcy had Planko Scallops.  The food was amazing, the children were well behaved, and Olivia had no problems!!  Her first meal in a restaurant was grilled chicken breast, plain baby carrots, cranberry juice & a banana in the peel for dessert!  She wolfed it down!

Dinner at White Point Beach Resort - Olivia's first restaurant meal!

Dinner at White Point Beach Resort - Olivia's first restaurant meal!

We went back to the cottage and D’Arcy lit a fire.  We were all so tired that instead of playing a game like we had intended to do, we all watched a movie then went to bed.

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The kids set their alarm for 6:20 so that they could get up and have a swim before breakfast when the pool opened.

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We had breakfast and got on the road to cross the province by 9:15.  The weather was beautiful and we arrived at the church with about five minutes to spare.  The funeral Mass was in a beautiful old church overlooking the water.  The kids were well behaved, although Olivia had a hard time sitting still – thank goodness for skittles!  The burial was immediately following in the adjoining cemetery.  We all went into McDonald’s for lunch and, feeling brave, I ordered Olivia a hamburger patty with ketchup and apple juice!  Again, she was just fine – what a relief! 

We drove home through the Annapolis Valley and and all went to my parents’ house for dinner.  The kids were happy to play and be free of their carseats and put on a little show for us. 

Dancers

Dancers

Alex, singing

Alex, singing

For New Year’s Eve, we got together with Auntie Kay, Uncle Hug & the boys and went bowling.  (Olivia stayed with my parents – I wasn’t quite ready to take her to the bowling alley!!)

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Sarah bowled a 71!

Sarah bowled a 71!

D'Arcy wearing his shirt Alex got him at the flea market and Sarah's prize

D'Arcy wearing his shirt Alex got him at the flea market and Sarah's prize

We came back here to our place and were joined by the MacNeills and the Faulkners.  We fed the kids pizzas and then set them up with movies & games so that we could visit and have a nice dinner.

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The grownups had borscht, then lasagna (Mexican & vegetarian) salad & rolls for dinner. 

New Year's Crackers

New Year's Crackers

We moved into the living room by midnight and had fruit tarts for dessert.  We had confetti poppers for the kids, but by that time, the blizzard had already started.  I announced that we would just set them off inside and suspect we will still be picking it up by summer…

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Luke, covered in confetti

Luke, covered in confetti

We let everyone who is awake at midnight have some champagne.  The kids were so excited, but I don’t think any of them actually liked it!

Mira with her champagne at midnight

Mira with her champagne at midnight

We sat up and watched the ball drop in New York before they all set out in the snow to go home.  What better way to start 2009 than spending a fun night with family & friends!!

Christmas at our house

January 1, 2009

The boys woke up around 6:30 Christmas morning.  We have a rule that everyone has to be awake before they are allowed in to open their stockings. It was driving Alex crazy that the girls were still sleeping, but he sat at the table as patiently as possible while we got breakfast ready.  The girls woke up at around 7:30 when D’Arcy got into the shower.  They got dressed and raced down to see what Santa had brought – Nerf Cosmic Catch & Nerf Cosmic Keepaway for the boys and Hungry Hungry Hippos and Elefun for the girls – just what they asked for!!  The whole family received tickets to go see the Doodlebops in February.
Olivia with her Skittles - a totally safe candy!

Olivia with her Skittles - a totally safe candy!

 

Alex's slinky from Santa

Alex's slinky from Santa

I called my parents at 7:55 to ask if we could borrow their colored Advent Candles and woke them up!  (They were due at our place for breakfast, along with Jonathan & Moushka at 8:00!!)  Luckily, the kids could amuse themselves with their new games while we waited and made our traditional Christmas morning breakfast – pancakes with strawberry butter, fruit, yogurt, turkey bacon, muffins, and sausages with cranberry sauce, wrapped in puffed pastry.

Playing Elefun

Playing Elefun

Hungry Hippos - not a quiet game!!

Hungry Hippos - not a quiet game!!

It turned out to be just us and my parents for breakfast – Jonathan & Moushka decided to sleep in and “Danny” our Korean guest didn’t surface until we were cleaning up.  We kept a plate out for him, but we were on a schedule and had to head out early to ten o’clock Mass as we were booked to be the greeters.  The kids took up the gifts and Olivia was very serious about taking up her basket with the offering in it!  They were very well behaved at Mass, especially considering there was a tree full of untouched gifts waiting at home! 

We tidied up a bit while we waited for my parents & Uncle Jon & Moushka to arrive.  The turducken had gone into the oven at 9:00, so the house was starting to smell really good.  We started opening gifts shortly after noon and the kids were spoiled.  We try not to go overboard at Christmas so they receive a family gift and that’s it from us.  This year it was the news that we have rented an RV and will go on vacation – somewhere – again this summer!  We all received tickets to go see High School Musical at Neptune Theatre in May.  Our kids are huge HSM fans, so those were a huge hit!  The boys also received the old-fashioned kind of alarm clocks for when they have to start waking up early for the bus next week. 

Sarah eyes her new shirt from her "Fairly Odd Mother"

Sarah eyes her new shirt from her "Fairly Odd Mother"

 

Dad's new shirt from the boys

Dad's new shirt from the boys

Evan opens his new-to-him alarm clock

Evan opens his new-to-him alarm clock

Olivia was spoiled by her godparents!  The quilt on Ginna's lap was from them too!

Olivia was spoiled by her godparents! The quilt on Ginna's lap was from them too!

We spent a quiet afternoon, the kids playing with Uncle Jon & Moushka while we set the table and prepared for Dinner. 

Sarah and Moushka coloring

Sarah and Moushka coloring

Uncle Jon jamming with the boys

Uncle Jon jamming with the boys

 We expected 18 for Christmas Dinner and told people to arrive at five.  Sarah decided she was ready for bed so ended up missing Dinner.  My parents were late and arrived with the news that my grandmother had died Christmas Morning.  She was 90 and had a cold she just couldn’t fight.  I was sad, but so glad that I had gone to see her in October and had that wonderful visit with her when she knew whom I was.  As sad as it was that she died and we found out at Christmas, it was actually good timing because we were all together and my cousins were home from Ontario. 

Dinner was slightly later than I had hoped, but everything was hot and D’Arcy said a lovely grace:

“For food in a world where many walk in hunger, for faith in a world where many walk in fear, for friends in a world where many walk alone and for our family gathered here, we give thanks.  Amen.”

followed by a toast to my grandmother.

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After dinner, we lit the German carousel and retired to the living room where we ended up talking and playing Family Feud, the DVD game that the boys had received.  Claire, my cousin’s new (to us!) baby got passed around and D’Arcy did LOTS of dishes.  I managed to stay awake after supper and it turned out to be one of the nicest Christmases we’ve had in a long time!

My cousin Troy with Olivia

My sweet Alex

My sweet Alex

Evan with Olivia and Claire

Evan with Olivia and Claire

Alex and Beanah light the Carousel

Alex and Beanah light the Carousel

Alex loves this!

Alex loves this!

We ate peanuts tonight

December 21, 2008

We received an invitation to a party tonight from Evan’s godmother’s sister. Evan’s godparents are in town for the weekend from Montreal, so figured it was easiest to just gather everyone in one spot rather than them having to travel around to see everyone else. The invitation said to bring the kids along, so I replied that we would love to come, but would there be peanuts or nuts around because if so, we would find a babysitter for Olivia.

She replied, much chagrined, that she hadn’t even thought about that and yes, there would be some around. No problem; I don’t expect everyone else to change because of us, I just like to know what we’re dealing with. I called my mom and asked her if they would be home and could I drop Olivia off for a couple hours while we went to visit.

D’Arcy took the girls with him this morning when he went to the recycling depot and the workers there always give Sarah a sucker when they’re through dropping things off. D’Arcy told her this morning that she wouldn’t be able to have one today because Olivia can’t and she didn’t even complain! Then it hit me! I called my mom again and asked if she would mind if Olivia stayed overnight with them and we could eat whatever we wanted at the party without worrying about giving her a reaction. She didn’t mind at all.

So we went to the party and we ate and ate and ate. We had all kinds of different things, including peanuts – and they were yummy! I do feel somewhat guilty as I eat them, but I’ve also read that if the other siblings go too long without eating peanuts, they can develop an allergy as well.

When we got home, the five of us stripped off immediately and put our clothes in the washer off our kitchen, which (thankfully) was finally fixed yesterday, and did the naked run upstairs to wash up and get our pj’s on. (Nice visual, I’m sure!) I was so touched by how well the kids washed then brushed their teeth & flossed & rinsed with mouthwash – without being asked! They really seem to understand that it was a treat tonight, but we’re back to being careful now.

The next time she goes away overnight with her grandparents, I think we’ll have Chinese food & lemon meringue pie…

Meeting a Star!

November 28, 2008

Yesterday was D’Arcy’s 45th Birthday.  We managed to fit in a small celebration at suppertime.  I had spent the day at the school; it was the final Library Day for the kids, so we let every child in the school take home ten books to keep.  They were SO excited!!  One child even told us that it was the “best day of (his) whole life”!   After school, we decorated for the School Closing Ceremony tonight.  The school looks beautiful!  I’ll go back this afternoon to finish up all the last minute details. 

We had my parents here for Ruben’s at D’Arcy’s request and I made him a pumpkin gingerbread trifle for a cake and it was a hit!!

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D’Arcy left the table to head to Cubs and the boys went with my parents to a Jaydee Bixby concert.  He was the Canadian Idol runner-up in 2007.   They had second row seats and were so excited when they arrived home.  They were actually able to meet him and talk to him and the whole band signed their tickets.  Jaydee even took the time to have his photo taken with them.  Now that’s a real star in my books!

Evan, Alex & Jaydee Bixby

Evan, Alex & Jaydee Bixby

Monday!

October 20, 2008

Mondays around here usually mean recovering from the weekend – the laundry and the mess are always piled up after everyone has been home for two days!  Today is no different, but last week was unusually busy around here.

I haven’t forgotten about the blog, but so many exciting things happened last week that are going to take some time & thought to put into words!  My cousins were here from Portland, OR, I got to go away overnight to a Board meeting and went on a graveyard tour, I had a visit with my grandmother for the first time in years and she knew me (!), we had a great-nephew born, and I started planning Sarah’s birthday party.  That on top of basketball registration, skating registration, two birthday parties, guests, and normal activities meant I was not at the computer very often!!

We were so happy to have Phil & Susan here, and glad that they brought along their friends Mark & Pam from North Carolina.  They are so easy to have around and the kids love them!  The last time they were here, I was expecting Sarah and they had to leave just shortly before she was born.  Phil’s daughter Lori & I are traveling eerily similar journeys through life with our four children.  Phil tells me he teases Lori by asking what she’ll do if we have another baby!  (Don’t worry, it’s not going to happen – although their story of adopting their youngest daughter from Russia is so compelling!)  We had one last dinner together here on Saturday night (lobster!) before they headed back to the States early Sunday morning. 

I got to leave and go away on a retreat overnight with one of the Boards I sit on mid-week.  The retreat was held at the beautiful Hillsdale House in Annapolis Royal.  The setting was beautiful and the leaves on the drive were absolutely gorgeous.  I drove down on Wednesday, a perfect, sunny, Fall day.  That night we met at Fort Anne and went on the last Graveyard Tour of the year.  I have heard our guests rave about it for years and it was everything I had expected and more!  I loved it! It wasn’t the least bit creepy or scary but I have to admit that when I got back to Room 5, the two ladies on the wall did creep me out a bit!  Everybody made out just fine without me, and the boys were thrilled that I arrived home just as they were getting home from school so that they could see my rental car – a white Jetta!

Our meeting had ended early on Thursday morning, so I took the time to visit my grandmother who is in a nursing home in the area before I went home.  I hadn’t seen her in about eight years, shortly after she had broken her hip.  At that time, she had dementia and thought I was my mother.  I do have a happy memory of her insisting on giving Evan some ice cream from that visit, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to replace it with a memory of her in the state she is in now.  Love won out though, and I decided that even if she didn’t know me, I would never forgive myself if I were that close and didn’t go…

As luck would have it, the director of the nursing home where she lives has stayed with us as a guest a few times, so I sought her out and said, “I know it’s close to lunchtime and she probably won’t know me, but do you think I could visit my grandmother?”  She told me that it didn’t matter if she knew me or not, she would love a visit!  We started out in search of her, and I knew her the instant I saw her!  She was in a wheelchair, outside the dining hall and she looked wonderful, not at all what I had expected to find!  (The last time my parents were there, she was curled up in a ball in bed & unresponsive.)  I said, “Hi Gram!  It’s me, your grandaughter.” She beamed at me and repeated, “Yeah…yeah…yeah…yeah”.  I started to remind her of some of the things we used to do together and she said, “Oh.  My.  God!”  The nurses couldn’t believe that she recognized me, let alone spoke!  I started to cry and she moved her hand slightly, so I took it and held it while I kept talking & talking to her.  She was so nicely dressed in a pretty red cotton sweater, with a cheery yellow blanket over her lap.  Her hair was nicely brushed back and she even had on a string of pearls and clip-on earrings.  When I leaned in to kiss her, she smelled clean and well cared for.  This meant so much to me, especially because my visit was unannounced!  She didn’t ever break eye-contact with me and kept trying to tell me things, but I couldn’t understand her.  I told her over and over that I loved her and got her caught up on all the family news.  One of the other nurses called her “Princess” and another stopped and said – “Look at that – she knows you!”  I realized I was holding up her lunch, so I left her reluctantly with promises of sending more photos of the kids.  Needless to say, I am thrilled that I made the effort to go.  She’s 92, so this may very well have been my last visit.  Funnily enough, on my last visit before she died with my other grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s, she recognized me and called me by name after not knowing me for years.  Funny how the brain works!

Yesterday, we had a meeting of our local B&B association.  We are part of a larger organization which is becoming dysfunctional so over the next few weeks, I will be busy preparing some presentations to make at our upcoming AGM.  These presentations involve going over the Constitution & by-laws with a fine tooth comb, not something I enjoy doing! 

This week involves Curling Registration, PTG, the beginning of skating for the season, planning a birthday party and the debut of Highschool Musical 3.  I have been told that you can buy advance tickets at the movie theatre so that is on my “to do” list…  I’d better go get at some of these things!

Alex: What’s for supper?
Mom: Chicken Pie.
Alex: (Disappointed.) Oh.
Mom: I put in extra chicken, potatoes & carrots because you like those.
Alex: I only like potatoes when they’re pan fries.
Mom: (Exasparated) No matter what I make, I can’t please all of you at every meal.
Alex: Except when you make pizza! Oh. Right. Dad’s the one who makes pizza…