Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hallowe'en in Kindergarten

In the midst of our week-long scrapbooking marathon, Mickey and I took a break this morning to go to Kindergarten.  We each have a grandson in the same Kindergarten class so it was a fun break for us to go visit them.

The teacher dressed as a tree.
Aidan was so surprised to see me there.  He made sure I followed them as the class paraded through the whole school.  Which was a good thing because he told me when they got to each of his sisters' classrooms so I was able to take pictures of Kenzie and Sydney too, although their classes didn't dress in costumes until after lunch.

Aidan, the skeleton


Aidan and Me

Aidan in his Class


Neither Mickey nor I were able to find orrecognize her grandson, William.  Finally, when Mickey asked the teacher where William was, she indicated the boy beside her.  Usually pale, blond haired William had completely transformed into a dark-haired, green skinned Hulk.

Mickey's grandson, William

Mickey and William
So that's our Hallowe'en so far and it's only noon.  Hope you're having a fun day too.  Now, back to my scrapbooking.....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Another Birthday for the Old Guy

When you're a kid you want a big birthday bash with all your friends there to help you celebrate the change in your age (and bring presents!). 

When you reach a 'certain age' all you want is a peaceful, low stress day and a quiet dinner with whatever family members are within reach.  Unless it's your 100th birthday of course - that calls for a whopping big party...but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

The other day we celebrated Lloyd's 60something birthday in a way that made him call it 'the best birthday ever'.  How did we do that?  Easy.  By staying home all day, just the two of us puttering and getting some work done,  and then going out to dinner with three daughters, a son-in-law, and four grandkids.  Then back to Amy's place for cake where we were joined by three more grandkids.  Not a full house by any means but a nice little celebration.

Emily, Lloyd, Sara and Amy

Papa's grandkids (some of them)...Sydney, Kenzie (making a face), Charlie and Max

Blowing out three candles representing past, present and future.

Lloyd and his 'baby', Emily

Amy, Tate and Curtis. 

In two years when Lloyd becomes 65 we'll try to get all 36 family members together for a really big bash, but for now, this was a lovely way for him to celebrate a non-milestone birthday.

Happy birthday Old Man!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lime Squares and Periodic Tables

This past week I had the pleasure of staying with Jenny and Anders' five boys while their parents went away for a couple days R & R.

Now you might think taking care of five grandsons would be a hugely busy job.  Not so with these boys.  It was a real treat to spend time with them...five of them ranging in age from almost 5 to 16 years old. Feed them pizza and hamburgers, do a few activities, send them off to school, take them to Scouts, etc.  Easy-peasy.  For 2 days anyway.

As I usually do, I took my iPad with me.  I love my iPad.  So, it turns out, do my grandsons - the younger three anyway.  While I had planned to read a book I had downloaded to the iPad, James   and Micah had other plans.  Games!  Talking cats! Peggle! James even figured out how to buy new accessories for the talking cats!  So, with my main activity usurped by these little guys, I looked around for something else to read. 

Not to brag, but these are really smart boys - and they're all interested in science and the world around them.  They gave me a huge, book written by a science writer and beautifully illustrated with gorgeous photographs.  The topic - Elements and the Periodic Table.  They insisted I'd love it, and I did.  Not having taken the science/math stream in high school, I missed learning about elements and the periodic table.  Although I had heard of them of course, I had never seen the periodic table laid out like this book had it.  Each element was explained and demonstrated in a two page spread and the periodic table was explained in all it's parts so that even a non-science person could understand it.  I found it fascinating and learned a lot that I had never known before and which, by the way, these boys were totally familiar with.  Jonah told me that he credits that book, written by Theo Grey, for his 97% mark in grade 10 science.  So now I'm smart too ;)

James (4) helped me squeeze limes for the delicious lime squares we made.


Micah (7), James (4) and Nathan (11) had fun doing experiments
featuring baking soda and vinegar, food coloring and sparkles

(Sorry about the baking soda Jenn.  You're just about out of it now.)

Sam (14)


Jonah (16)

spent a lot of their after-school time on their computers...
doing homework, of course!

Thanks, guys, for a fun couple of days.  Now someone ask me how many elements there are, and ask me what a half life is too.  You're never too old to learn new things from your grandchildren.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ready to Scrap - at last!

Last night, with the help of Lloyd, I finally got my new scrapbooking room finished.  Just a few last minute tidying up things to do.  Since I spend (or would like to spend) a large part of my spare time creating layouts of family photos, this has been a very important project for me to complete. Here are some pictures of the finished project.

Lots of storage space for my scrapbooking supplies.
The door on the left is to the guest bedroom, the one on the right is the hall.

My worktable - big enough for two - and some framed layouts on the wall above it.

My paper rack holding my 12 x 12 cardstock and specialty papers,
sitting on a do-it-yourself shelf unit that I put together myself last night.
That's an owl shaped glass vase in the middle opening.

A corner view showing my lime green feature wall, worktable, paper
rack and my two comfy retro lime green chairs.

Another corner view including the work table, storage units, the window (one of two)
and half of the built-in cupboards that line the far wall of the room.  The
cupboards are full of my scrapbooking stuff.

So, that's where I'm planning on spending much of my time.  I'm hoping to entice Mickey to spend time down there with me - I even have a green chair with her name on it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ford??? NOT!

I hope this blog doesn't offend any dyed-in-the-wool Ford fans, but I have a need to vent today and the Ford Motor Company is my target.  My blog, my opinion.  Feel free to express your own.

For years Lloyd and I have owned, and loved, Japanese cars.  It all started with a Honda Civic which we drove for years, finally giving it to our oldest son who celebrated over 400,000 km in it.  We've had Toyotas, a Honda Accord and currently have a 2003 Acura and a 2012 Mazda.  These cars have been gems.  With  regular oil changes and maintenance checks they have served us for many years with a minimum - a very minimum - of service needed.

Then, somehow in the past few years, we've had the pleasure (?) of owning and/or using some  POC Ford products.  We bought a used Windstar van to take to Arizona for our use down there.  It seems that every time we go down there, we've been putting between $500 - $1000 in work on it...everything from tires (expected) to replacing engine parts that melt in the hot Arizona sun!...and everything else in between. 

We decided to replace it with a 2006 POC Ford Expedition, top of the line, Eddie Bower edition, with fairly low mileage.  I blogged extensively about this lemon vehicle back in the summer.

You may recall that I took it in to be serviced before making the trip and was told that it was in good shape and shouldn't have any trouble.  Five hours into the trip, in the wilds of southern Montana, it died a horrible death.  After being rescued by Lloyd and the Mazda, we continued on the trip in the Mazda while a new motor was ordered and installed in the POC Ford.  Two weeks and $5000 later, we got it back.  It's had more work done on it since then but eventually we'll try again to get it to Arizona and swap it out for the POC Ford Windstar.  Incidentally, a friend of ours in Arizona has the same vehicle, a year newer, and it had the same problem.  Apparently the engines are programmed to die at 150,000 miles!  Nice.

For his job, which involves a lot of travel, Lloyd uses the company's brand new 2012 POC Ford F150 Pickup - fully loaded.  A beautiful vehicle whose only misfortune is being a POC Ford.  It has 24,000km  on it and has already had major engine repairs done and now, as soon as the ordered parts come in, it needs major transmission work.  Luckily it's under warranty still, but what a nuisance.  You certainly don't expect that from a brand new truck, unless, of course, it's a POC Ford.

I realize that there are lemons in every kind of vehicle.  It's just been our misfortune that any we've encountered have been POC Fords.

So I think I'm justified in saying that NEVER again will we get a POC Ford, new, used or otherwise.  It's just not worth the hassel.  Henry Ford should be rolling over in his grave.

By the way, in case you're wondering, the POC designation is just the way Lloyd and I refer to any Ford products now - Piece Of Crap.

That's my say for today. I'm going to get in my Acura now and go out driving in the lovely(!) snow that's falling today.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Home Again

No matter how much we love going to Arizona and enjoying the sunshine, pool, people and places there, it always feels so goood to be back home again.  As soon as we set foot on Canadian soil again we heave a sigh of relief, knowing that we're home. Nevertheless, we'll keep making these lovely trips south of the border as long as we're able. 

We left for the airport before the crack of dawn this morning.  The shuttle came to take us to the airport in Mesa - an hour and a half east.  We drove into the rising sun...incredibly beautiful.

Once the sun was up and we were on our way, it turned out to be a remarkably clear day and the view from the plane was amazing.

This is the city of Flagstaff, Arizona, a place we've driven to many times.  From this angle you don't get the sense that it's quite high up in the mountains.

This picture is of part of Salt Lake City.  The body of water in the upper right is the Great Salt Lake.


This is a better shot of the Great Salt Lake.  Only a portion of it fits in the picture.  It's huge but you can still see how much it's shrunk over the years.

From there we flew on to Great Falls, Montana where we picked up our car from the airport parking lot and drove the remaining three hours home, joining a long line of cars at the border crossing, filled with happy Canadians returning home after their vacations in the sun.

Did I mention that it's Thanksgiving Day in Canada today?  We missed it.  Lloyd and I will have to have our Thanksgiving dinner later in the week.  Either that or go back to Arizona in November and share American Thanksgiving with the good people down there.  So much to be thankful for these days.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Family Ties

Back in 1970, a year before Lloyd and I were married, his parents, sisters and I met his older half-sister for the first time.  Marjorie lived in the US and had somehow 'found' the family she never knew and came up to Canada to visit them.  Lloyd was away in California at the time so missed this event.  With her, Marjorie brought three of her children, the oldest of whom was 11-year old Debbie.  I took pictures of this family group back then, but don't have it with me right now.

Fast forward almost 40 years.  Through the magic of facebook, most of us have connected with Debbie's  daughter, Mkenzie, who had been living in North Carolina.  She would be Lloyd's great-niece.  This past summer Mkenzie, her husband, Anthony, and three daughters moved to Arizona. When she heard Lloyd and I would be here, she contacted Lloyd and arranged to meet us. 

So yesterday, her little family came to our place in Surprise and we spent the afternoon getting to know this long-lost branch of the family.

Mkenzie and Lloyd

Anthony, Mkenzie, Lily and Zoe
 We had a lovely visit with them.  The little girls were a joy to have around, and Anthony is such a patient and thoughtful man.  Mkenzie brought some photo albums that we looked through, searching for family resemblances.  Lloyd had stored a lot of historical pictures in albums on facebook so he was able to show Mkenzie some pictures of their common ancestor - her great grandfather who was Lloyd's father. Lloyd and Mkenzie exchanged family stories and both came away with a clearer understanding of family members they hadn't met before.

Families are interesting entities.  Not all lines are direct.  There are many re-routing of family members with different paths and directions taken.  There's a common bond that blends us all together though.  Whether it's the need to connect with other people who share common DNA or a search for someplace we belong and someone we belong to, finding a link to our common ancestor is an exciting event.  There seems to be a need to connect to people.  We see it all the time.

When our family moved to southern Alberta from Nova Scotia back in 1989 people we'd meet in the small town there immediately tried to trace us back to someone they knew.  "You must be related to the Hillspring MacKenzies" is something we often heard.  "No", we'd say, "We're from Nova Scotia".  People still wanted to connect us with people they knew.

This reaching out is alive and well among our children as well.  One of our daughters has begun a dialog reaching back over 15 years now with one of Lloyd's cousins in Ontario - one none of us has ever met but who has become an important part of Jenny's on-line life over the years. She has learned a lot about our family through him.

There's nothing quite as comforting, or exasperating sometimes, as belonging to a large extended family, but we wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

We're happy to welcome Mkenzie to our portion of the Clan MacKenzie.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What We Discovered When We Paid Our Taxes

Lloyd and I went to the Maricopa County Treasurer's Office in downtown Phoenix today to pay our property taxes.  As we were trying to find out way out of Phoenix after completing our civic duty, we came across a beautiful monument plaza by the State Legislature buildings.

We discovered Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza - a park containing 29 monuments to fallen heros of wars, including WWI, WWII, the Korean War, The Vietnam Conflict, Desert Storm, as well as monuments honoring  police dogs, veterans injured in duty, police forces, families, workers, even one to the Ten Commandments, the controversy over which has yet to be settled. This plaza was established in 1976, incorporating several existing monuments, including the mast and anchor from the USS Arizona, one of the ships attacked at Pearl Harbour.

One of the legislature buildings - the Arizona House of Representatives Building
the Navaho Code Talker's monument

Monument to Arizona Veterans of the Viet Nam conflict 

Close up of the Viet Nam monument

Arizona Law Enforcement Canine Monument

World War II Monument

I don't remember what this one is

The Korean War Monument

Enduring Freedom Memorial - the fallen soldiers

I'm not sure what this one is either - certainly the most colorful in the Plaza

Part of the Korean War Memorial

The actual anchor from the USS Arizona from Pearl Harbour

Arizona Workers Memorial. The couple is holding a baby.

Those are just a few of the many monuments to historic people and events in America's history.  It really is a very beautiful, peaceful park to spend time in.  A must-do for anyone visiting Phoenix.