Friday, November 26, 2010

Back to Kindergarten

My granddaughter, Sydney, has the best kindergarten teacher in the world. I first met Mrs. Schalin when Syd's older sister, Kenzie, was in kindergarten three years ago. She has a magical way with kids.

Each year in November Mrs. Schalin organizes a Grandparent's Day when all of the kids' grandparents are invited to spend the morning in class with their grandchild. I went three years ago with Kenzie and again today with Sydney. We did crafts, had snacks, and listened to a mini-concert by the kids. It was a lovely, fun, one-on-one time with the grandkids.

We made a wreath ornament for my Christmas tree with Syd's picture in the center.

We shared snacks at recess time.

We traced our hands and cut out the shapes and decorated them with glitter glue for classroom Christmas decorations.

We made a beautiful wreath which will be used to decorate the gymnasium for the school's Christmas program.

And we listened to original, fun songs by the entire class. I videoed a couple of the songs and tried to put one here but it didn't come across very well. It was a lovely song about how everyone needs a minimum, not a maximum, of four hugs a day.
I hope you all get your four hugs, and have a fun time with your children and/or grandchildren now that the holidays are just about upon us.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Frosty Winter Morning

I drive a couple of my grandkids to school every morning. With the days getting much shorter the light at that time is spectacular. As we were coming out of the house, I had this exchange with 6-year old Max.

Max: "There's going to be a full moon tonight".

Me: "What makes you say that Max?"

Max: (pointing) "Cause there it is".

And he was right. So I took a picture of the moon this morning, turned around and took a picture of the sunrise at the school yard.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Favorite Things A-Z

It's American Thanksgiving this week and although we in Canada celebrated Thanksgiving in October, I figure it's still not too late for me to do a blog about things I'm thankful for/my favorite things - alphabetically.

A - Arizona. In my high school yearbook it says that I want to travel, especially to Arizona. Finally, over 40 years later, I've become a regular Arizona visitor. It's everything I imagined it to be, and then some. (Also Alberta, Asparagus and Antipasto)

B - Babies. For as long as I can remember I've loved babies. When I was a teenager I used to knit baby sweaters - I had a dozen of them ready before I had any babies of my own. My life is full of babies - from the 7 I gave birth to to the 20 beautiful babies my babies have had. (Also Beaches, Books, Birthdays, Bunnies and Blogging)

C - Cats. When I was a child our family was never without a cat. Back then noone bothered to have their cats spayed and/or neutered so we always (it seemed) had mama cats and kittens, which we gave to good homes. I haven't had a cat of my own in years because of our frequent relocations and a couple of kids with allergies, but now I am able to enjoy my daughter's cats. (Also Cameras, Computers, Chocolate and Christmas)

D - Driving. As a teenager I never had the desire to get my driver's license. It wasn't until I was 9 months pregnant with my third baby that I finally got my license. I'm so glad I did. Driving gives me a sense of freedom and adventure. (Also Diamonds, Daisies, and Diet Pepsi)

E - Edmonton, Alberta. I've lived here off and on since 1968. It's a beautiful city with lots of parks and a wonderful river valley. With a metro population of one million it's small enough not to be intimidating, but large enough to have everything I need or want. It'd be nice if the winters were a bit milder, but that just makes us appreciate the 7 snow-free months even more. And a bunch of my kids and grandkids live here. (Also Emeralds)

F - Friends. With all the moving around I've done as a result of my father's and then my husband's careers, its been difficult to maintain long term friends (except for my sisters-in-law who were my friends before I knew their brother). About 6 years ago I was fortunate enough to meet, through scrapbooking, a friend who makes up for my earlier lack. Mickey and I clicked immediately when we both attended a scrapbooking convention in Edmonton. She lives just a few blocks from me and over the years have come to know one another's families as we continue to find similarities in our lives. She enriches my life and I'm so thankful for her. (Also Family, Flowers and Fireplace Fires)

G - Grandchildren. I remember how exciting it was to attend the birth of my first grandchild, Jonah. How exhausting, and how helpless I felt in the face of my daughter's struggles. He's now 14 years old and towers over his mother and grandmother. He's been followed by 4 brothers and 15 cousins and each birth is as exciting and as welcome as the first. My life is enriched by these children and the unconditional love they bring with them. They are my treasures. (Also Giraffes and Gumdrops)

Just a few of them

H - Home baked bread. When my children were younger I used to bake bread, from scratch, in 7-loaf batches. Those were the best days - the house would smell so good - the bread, still warm, with butter and jam or molasses. Nothing beats that. The first loaf would disappear within an hour. (Also HDTV and Helicopter rides)

I - Internet. What an amazing piece of technology. Whole worlds of information are opened up to us...Facebook and Blogging are two of my favorites...and email and all the photo storing and editing websites. It's great. (Also Ice Cream)

J - Junk Drawer. Every kitchen needs one - so many treasures can be found there, from batteries to gum, elastic bands to chopsticks. (Also Jewellery, Jelly Beans and Ju Jubes)

K - Kites. I love seeing kites flying in the spring and fall. Although I've only gone kite flying a couple of times, it's fun to feel the power of the wind as it takes the kite aloft and knowing that I can control where it goes and how it comes down even if it crashes. (Also Kaliedoscopes, Kids and Kittens)

L - Lloyd Allan MacKenzie. Love of my Life. Father of my children. My first boyfriend back when we were teenagers. The reason my life has been so happy. (Also Lemons and Limes and Laughing)

M - Mothers. The mothers in my life are M people - my mother Meta, and my grandmothers Mary Ellen and Millicent. And me, Millicent Patricia. I was lucky to have loving, caring mothers in my life. They set the example for me to follow. It's a joy to see my own daughters and daughters-in-law as they become mothers and raise their children in love and joy. (Also Movies, Mountains and Music)

My mother, my daughter, my grandson

N - Nova Scotia. Canada's Ocean Playground. I've always considered Nova Scotia home. Although we didn't actually live there till I was 18, every summer we'd go there on vacation and stayed with Mum's and Dad's families in Upper Musquodoboit and Jollimore, visiting both sets of grandparents and cousins. I love it there, the family, the beaches, the salt air. My roots are there. Lloyd and I were able to move back there from Alberta when our children were young and stayed for 8 years, having our 7th baby born in Halifax. We all loved Nova Scotia and I was glad to give my kids a sense of their roots. Although small, it is, in my opinion, Canada's most beautiful province. (Also Nuts)

Peggy's Cove, NS

O - Owls. When I was 19 I started my owl collection with a 2-ft. tall ceramic owl. Over the next few years my collection continued to grow. Then it started disappearing as children entered my life, combined with frequent moves, until I had just one left, in the shape of a napkin holder that was given to me as a bridal shower gift 40 years ago and has always and still holds mail. I love the look of owls with their big eyes and sturdy bodies. One of my little granddaughters found out that I used to collect owls and has given me several small owl figurines, note pads and ornaments in the past couple of years, so my owl collection lives on. (Also oranges and omelettes)

P - Photographs. My love of taking pictures started when I was a teenager and Mum gave me her old Brownie box camera (now found in antique stores!). I've been taking pictures ever since. As the only scrapbooker in my family I have become the recepient of all of Mum's photo albums and any other pictures that turn up. Now I face the challenge of identifying them, organizing and hopefully getting them into scrapbooks. I love having pictures of my family from so long ago...and the recent ones too. (Also Penguins, Princess Bride, Pretty Woman, and Pirates of Penzance)

Q - Quilts. Not so much the making of them (although I have done that too), but the having of quilts. My grandmother and mother were quilters and I have at least one quilt made by each of them, as well as by my sister. Wendy quilts the way I scrapbook. Her work is beautiful. She gave me a quilt a few years ago that is made up of squares Mum made many years ago and forgot about. Wendy pieced them together and did the quilting and now I have a beautiful quilt that showcases both my mother's and my sister's handiwork.

R - Reading. From the time I learned to read the Dick and Jane books in Grade 1, I've been an avid reader. Books have always been an important part of my life. I like fiction mostly - romance, mystery, supernatural, etc. Currently my favorite authors are Nora Roberts and her alter ego J. D. Robb, Dean Koontz, Jeffery Deaver, Kirstin Hannah, Elin Hilderbrand and Ken Follett. (Also Rainbows)

S - Scrapbooking. My all-consuming hobby for the past 8 years. I love creating layouts using photos, flowers, buttons, ribbons, embellishments of all kinds. It has been a source of great enjoyment for me, making me more aware of photo ops in my daily life (I'm never without my camera). It's also a hobby of collecting, and the papers and embellishments tend to take over whatever space they're allotted, but I think the resulting family scrapbooks will be treasures for the next generations to have. (Also Seashore, Sisters, Star Trek)

Granddaughter Kenzie likes to scrapbook with me

T - Thimbles. I started collecting thimbles in 1967 when our family went on a cross country road trip and I wanted to have small, portable souvenirs from all of the places we visited. I have over 100 thimbles now, including small silver ones used by my grandmothers and mother when they quilted. (Also Travelling and Television)

U - Universal Studios. This isn't necessarily a favorite but just something I'm thankful for. I love watching movies and Universal provides a lot of entertainment for me.

V - Vacations. We've had some fun vacations over the years - driving across Canada from BC to NS, driving across the US from Maine to Montana, and south from Alberta to Arizona. To Disneyland, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, South Dakota. Deadwood and Hollywood. Tombstone, Mt. Rushmore, Washington DC and Washington State. To Vancouver. Huntington Beach, CA and Cavendish Beach, PEI. Through the mountains, across Prairies, past the Great Lakes from both the Canadian and US sides, to Niagara Falls. It's been a lot of fun. Maybe someday we'll fulfill our dream of visiting Scotland and Ireland.

W - Wendy Lynn McCarthy Oler. My only sister...not quite a year older than me. We haven't lived within 700 miles of one another since I was 18 but through the years we've visited and called and made a point of having our kids get to know one another. Now we're both empty nesters, our husbands like golfing together, and we get together more often. She's a quilter and a great cook. She's an important part of my life. We're going to take up sky-diving together when we're 80!

X - X-Rays. and related medical technology that improves our quality of health care.

Y - Yarn. I used to knit a lot before cross-stitching and then scrapbooking took over. I'm still tempted whenever I pass the yarn section in a store, to get some and make sweaters, mitts, scarves, etc. Maybe I'll start again - something to keep my hands busy when I'm watching television with Lloyd in the evenings. (Also Young and the Restless)

Z - Zoo. We've visited the Phoenix Zoo and the Wilderness Park in AZ in the past couple of years. Always a fun place to take the kids. The first zoo I ever visited was the Wuppertal Zoo in Germany back in 1961. (Also Zebras)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Feeling Christmas

It was a lovely bright sunny day today, only -12C, so when my regular Friday outing with Mickey fell through because she has a bad cold, I decided to go out anyway.

The first store I went to had Christmas music playing. I love Christmas music, and with no holidays between now and Christmas, it felt right to be hearing it. I got several Christmas presents at that store and kept going to four other stores, where I was able to make a dent in my Christmas shopping, listen to Christmas music, and walk in the snowy parking lots in the cold sunny air.

Then, still feeling chipper, I stopped by Sara's house to see if she wanted me to stay with the kids while she went out shopping. She didn't need to go shopping, but I stayed anyway because she had told the two older kids that she'd have their Christmas tree up by the time they came home from school and they could decorate it as soon as they got home.

The kids were so excited - Sara put Christmas music on and brought up the huge box of Christmas decorations. Charlie, the oldest, especially enjoyed going through the stuff, remembering decorations from previous years and looking at their Santa pictures from her babyhood onward.

Charlie holding a photo ornament of her favorite people, Grammie and Papa.

Max had a few special ornamenets he had to play with for awhile before putting on the tree

Max with his favorite Frog King ornament.

And Elly was very serious about placing the ornaments just right. She put more ornaments on than Charlie and Max combined.

Even Quinn seemed to enjoy the activity, sitting with me through the whole process, checking out the tree with Charlie and finally falling asleep just as the decorating was completed.

Charlie and Quinn

Charlie and Elly continued to burn off energy by dancing to "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Dancing Around the Christmas Tree" over and over and over....

It was a great way to spend the afternoon. I feel like I can get ready for Christmas now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Right Now

Right Now - 6:30 am, November 16, 2010

Outside my window... it's still dark. It still won't be completely light when I leave the house at 8:10 and will be twilight when I return at 4:40.

I am thinking... it's so nice to have family around - those visiting and those who live nearby. Our children who live farthest away are currently sleeping in the room just a blink away from this computer.

I am thankful for... technology and the way it allows us to stay current and in touch.

From the kitchen... my usual breakfast of oatmeal, cranberry/grape juice and a slice of toast.

I am wearing... jeans and navy shirt - dressing casual for my day with two of the smallest grandkids.

I am creating... visible memories in the form of scrapbook pages.

I am going... to start listening to Christmas music this week because I never get tired of it.

I am reading... a book a week this past year - so many books, so little time. Nora Roberts this week.

I am hoping... the snow holds off long enough for Mary and Greg to drive safely home through the mountains.

I am hearing... the quiet of a sleeping house and the gentle hum of my computer.

Around the house... is tidier than it's been in quite awhile. Hopefully it can stay that way.

One of my favorite things... is the smell of coconut lime verbena skin cream from the Bath and Body Shop - it transports me back to Arizona.

I don't understand... the technology that makes life so much easier, but that doesn't stop me from using it.

I wish... it was as easy to lose weight as it is to put it on in the first place.

A few plans for the rest of the week... work, relaxing evenings, Friday outing with Mickey.

A picture to share... a reminder of how beautiful our northern winters can be.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hockey Night in Canada!

In true Canadian custom, my 5-year old grandson, Max, is in his second winter of hockey. Last year when he started he could hardly stand up on his skates. He's a little better this year and can actually propel himself around the ice, swinging a hockey stick, a bit awkwardly since he's left-handed and using a right-handed stick. Today we went to watch one of his 'games'. There's no score keeping in the games with these little guys so everyone's a winner. Some of the 5-6 year olds are quite confident, easy skaters.

Our son-in-law (Max's Dad), Quincey, holding baby Quinn, and Max's Papa (Lloyd), both avid hockey players in their earlier years.

Max's baby sister, Dad, Papa, Mom (Sara), and Auntie Mary (blurred)

That's Max, skating toward us.

Max coming to check on us and say hi.

Checking out the action in the game in the other half of the arena.

That's Max in action - #2

Here he is with the puck on his stick winning the face-off.

Crouched down ready to win the face-off in the above picture

They rotate the boys through all the positions. Here he's trying his hand as goalie.

Waiting patiently for a puck to come at him for him to stop.

And, finally, as in the big leagues, the teams line up and congratulate one another before leaving the ice at the end of the game. Teaching them good sportsmanship as well as game skills.
It was a nice way to spend an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Whyte Avenue

There's a street in Edmonton called Whyte Avenue. It's near the University of Alberta and as such, is the center for arts and crafts, kitschy stores, all kinds of strange and weird people, high class shoppers, and, of course, panhandlers. Its a fun, eclectic place to go. Mickey and I spent our Friday break there yesterday.

All the utility boxes and whatever this is, are painted by random local artists.

The Army and Navy Store has been there forever - it's the store I bought my very first Christmas ornaments in back in 1968. Its the favorite store of poor students.

A utility box all painted up.

I love this building. When I was young and single and living in the Whyte Ave. area, this was the post office. Now it's home to a wonderful Italian restaurant.

Always one of my favorite stores to visit on Whyte. It carries a huge range of cards. I always buy several birthday cards for my sister there.

I loved these birds in When Pigs Fly

The first Christmas display of the year...non-traditional green and red.

My second favorite store - When Pigs Fly. It's chock full of fun things, bric-a-brack, ornaments, cards, ceramics...too many things to mention.

There are several of these posts...I don't know what their original use was, but they're used for posters for out-of-the-way movies, presentations, plays, musical entertainment, etc.

The gnomes in this window display were discovered in the attic of an old house and donated this year for use by the merchants on Whyte Ave. We just saw this one display but then we only 'did' one block of the avenue so there were probably many more.

This huge mural was painted on the side of one of the stores down there.

This is another view of the mural.

And that's one block of a very interesting Edmonton street.