Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Annie and her three very different boys

Almost seven weeks ago, Julie's parent's farm cat, Annie, had kittens. Annie has a pretty good life. She has a house on the deck, food and water, and is in close proximity to the treats. But she lived on her own for a while before being adopted and hasn't lost her killer instinct. She can bring down birds and gophers. 

So when it came time to deliver, Annie did not choose the safe confines of her deck house. She secretly burrowed in under an old mower. After much searching (and Annie diverting), the den was eventually found. But it was tough to see how many kittens were back in there. After careful observation, it was believed there were three babies. But then they were gone! Annie had moved them. Again, she didn't want to give up the location, but the new nest was discovered under a pile of fence posts. They made a couple more pit stops before all arriving on the deck one morning. Annie was ready to share her family (and some of the feeding duty!).  

Somewhere along the way, Julie's parents decided that since there were three cats, each grandchild should get to name one. That takes some ... courage? The kids couldn't blindly name them though, they needed to know the sex. Papa determined all were boys. 

After seeing pictures, the girls all decided on names, but the news had to be delivered in person. So we made the trip to the farm and after six weeks and six homes, the kittens were named. 

Biggest chose one that was all black. Black from head to toe. Like one certain Sith Lord you may or may not have heard about. Yes, the first kitten is...Darth Vader. 


He looks pretty menacing. 

Middlest chose the kitten that was black and white. She, being interested in unicorns and rainbows and everything cuddly, chose a slightly softer name. Meet...Fluffy. 


Littlest had a kitten that was mostly black but has two white spots on its underside. And in typical Littlest fashion, she picked something totally random. Meet...Justin. 


There was one brief moment of panic when I heard, 'Justin is a girl! He has boobs!'  All cats have boobs, I replied. Whew. Crisis averted. 

So there you have it. One mother. Three sons. Three very different names. Thanks Nanny and Papa. Later. 


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Sarah, Johnny, 1D, Corey and sugar bugs

Over the past month or so, I've started listening to songs with the girls before bed.  We'll say our prayers, get snuggled in and then listen to a relaxing song or two, depending on the time.  If it's two songs, we each get to pick one.  This actually started with Littlest.  One day she wanted to listen to a Sarah McLachlan song.  If you knew me in the '90's when I was going to the Lilith Fair festivals, you would know that this is a weak spot for me.  So we spent the next several nights drifting off to sleep while Sarah sang about being in the arms of an angel.  Pretty relaxing.

Eventually the other girls caught wind of this and they wanted in on the action.  I was filled with shock and awe and pride when the first song Middlest ever wanted to listen to was 'Boy named Sue.'  Maybe not the most relaxing, but she asked for Johnny Cash!  How could I refuse that.  It all worked out when I played her some Sarah after.  A few days later she asked to hear 'Perfect.'  Without missing a beat, I said, 'One Direction?'  Why do I know that?!

As time goes on, I'm having to dig a bit deeper into my musical vaults to find calm and soothing songs.  My sister would be happy to know that there has been some Corey Hart lately and that he has been pleasantly received.  Except for a few years of teenage denial, I've always liked Corey Hart.  I even owned Boy in the Box.  After that, my sister bought all his albums, so there was no reason for me to.  But I do have his greatest hits on CD and now on iTunes.

After Littlest and I listened to 'Chase the Sun' one night, she wanted to know what he looked like.  So I showed her the album cover.  Then she wanted to know what he looked like when he smiled (she felt it was a very serious picture).  So we did a quick google image search.  As it turns out, I don't believe Corey Hart smiled during the eighties.  He was too busy perfecting the brooding look I guess.  We did find a picture from 2011 with a slight smile, but definitely no teeth.  Littlest then decided that he must be a very serious person.  She said, 'I wonder why he doesn't smile more.  He should.  I smile all the time.'  I replied, 'Yes, yes you do.  And I love it.  Goodnight.'

I don't want to name any names for this next story, just so I don't embarrass anyone.  This way they can all deny it.  We were laying there listening to the smooth sounds of 'Never Surrender', the child with her eyes closed and me rubbing her back.  Then a hand came up to her face, a finger came out, gave a little poke in her nose and then went into her mouth.  I snickered.  'Having a little night lunch?' I asked.  She wondered what I was talking about and I told her what I witnessed.  Then she giggled a bit and closed her eyes again.  We laid there a few more minutes and then she asked, 'Dad, do boogers have sugar bugs?'  There's a question I didn't ever anticipate answering.  Looking back, maybe I should have answered yes, it might have been a deterrent.  But then it probably would have meant a trip back to the bathroom to brush teeth again.  I simply giggled to myself, said no and kissed her forehead goodnight.  Later.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

I sure miss saying goodbye to you

There are a lot of songs out there, especially country ones, that deal with death and losing someone. Until you are faced with that situation, they don't stand out as much. 'Over you', 'I drive your truck', 'Drink a beer', were all just good songs until we lost Dad. Since then there have been many nights walking the dog that I have cried a bit while listening to these and other songs. 

There are some songs that aren't specifically about dying that strike a chord too. 'Hasn't hit me yet' comes to mind. There is another one by an east coast Canadian singer that goes like this:

'Winter came a bit too soon, 
I sure miss saying goodbye to you.'
- Seasons by Andy Brown

It seems like a weird thing to miss, but I do. Whenever anyone of us would leave mom and dad's, he would always come outside to see us off. Weather didn't matter. Middle of winter, he would get dressed up, come outside, wave and stand there till we were out of sight.  Even near the end when it obviously wasn't easy to manage the stairs, he still came out. It was something that was important to him.  I don't think I'll ever stop missing that. 

Today is Dad's first birthday that he's not here to celebrate. Last year we were still able to enjoy a big party with him. This year we're left with the many memories we have. Waffles. Music. Stories. A good beer. The way he put everything in God's hands. The way I would call him and ask what he was doing today and he would always say 'nothing.'  Then we would talk for twenty minutes or half an hour about nothing. 

I made waffles on the weekend and Biggest helped me. We dirtied three bowls, folded in egg whites and listened to Johnny Cash and Johnny Horton on vinyl. Making new memories and keeping old ones alive. 


Happy birthday Dad. I miss you. I'll see you again. Later. 

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Saskatoon, fools and fun dad

Last weekend we had the opportunity to go to Saskatoon. We had some appointments scheduled for Friday and then stayed over till Saturday. It's always nice to go back and reconnect with friends. We went and hung out by the river for a while. Walked on the train bridge. Watched the pelicans. Saw a beaver. Posed for a picture. 


We came home Saturday evening and went to church Sunday morning. Now most of my funny stories here involve the girls but I have to tell one from Sunday school. I teach grade 5 and 6 boys so it is often interesting. The story talked about a man storing up stuff here on earth and God called him a fool. I asked why God called the man a fool. The first response I had was, 'Because it's nicer than calling him an idiot.'  True. Not quite what I was looking for, but true nonetheless. 

This came in the mail this week too:


My awesome wife ordered it as soon as she saw 'chewbacca mom's' video online. It is pretty awesome. I surprised a couple of coworkers with it as well. 

This weekend Julie is in Phoenix with her cousin, so it's just me, the dog, two cats and three girls. I'm doing my best to make it a fun weekend to they don't miss mom too much. We started by getting slurpies after school yesterday. That was followed by hotdogs, chips and pop for supper. Yum yum. 

This morning we went swimming. There is only one indoor pool in Lloydminster for about 30000 people. It has a water slide and a wave pool that goes off once every hour. I checked last night and the Saturday hours are 9-9. Perfect. Everyone was up well before 7, so we had no problem making it there by 9:30. We were the only ones in the pool! We left around 10:30 and still the only ones! 30000 people and not one other person at the pool except us (and a couple geriatric people swimming lanes).  It was strange indeed. 

From there we headed outside to a family fun day in the park. 


There were horse carriage rides. Here is the view from the cockpit. I sat beside a nice old fellow who told me about his 14 miniature horses (and two babies) and the nice weather this year. Last year's ride was incredibly hot and the yer before that it snowed!  Early June in Canada I guess. 


There was also a petting zoo. I use the word zoo loosely. A bunch of animals and kids crammed under a tent would be a more accurate description but I don't think it would look as good on the sign. And who can resist a good goat? 


There was also a train ride. And by train ride I mean a bunch of barrels on wheels pulled by an atv. But again, doesn't sound quite as good. Nevertheless, it was one of the highlights of the day.  The older two said they were happy to ditch me for 5 minutes. I didn't have the heart to tell them that the feeling may have been mutual. 


And did I mention there was free cake?!


We rounded off the day with a movie and fairly early bed time. Now it's just me and the hound dog, chilling on the bed. It's hard work being fun dad all day long. One more day to go though, so I guess I better rest up. Later. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Victoria Day

Today is back to work after a nice, relaxing long weekend. We've been celebrating Victoria Day for quite a while now, and it's fairly routine. Unless you're six of course. Then you have all sorts of questions about why we get the day off, who queen Victoria was, when her birthday is, when she lived and died. 

Julie and I weren't that familiar with all these stats either, but a quick Google search showed she died in 1901 and was queen of England and also empress of India for a while. Wikipedia also shows a nice portrait of her. It was generally concluded by the girls that the queen was not the best looking individual to ever grace the throne. 


That didn't stop Littlest from celebrating the day though. 'We celebrate her birthday even though she wasn't very good looking,' may or may not have been overheard. She also made everyone a picture for the occasion complete with the funny crown piece on her head. 


Keep in mind, Littlest is just learning to read and came up with this all on her own. So if you need some translation from her phonetic spelling, it's Victoria died queen birthday. Pretty impressive I thought. 

So there you have it. It's always a good idea to know what you're are celebrating if kids are involved. And also important to celebrate the less attractive monarchs too. Later. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Biggest gets Baptized

Deciding to move from Saskatoon to Lloydminster almost two years ago was one of the hardest things we have done as a family.  We really had no intention of leaving until an opportunity presented itself.  We prayed about it a lot and door after door kept opening for us.  We really felt like God was telling us this is what we were supposed to do.  It was hard on all of us to leave our jobs, schools, church and friends behind.  

One of the first things we did after moving was find a church.  We felt an immediate connection to FBC here and have been going there ever since.  We are all growing in our faith here, but the blossoming of the girls has been amazing.  They all love to go to church.  I started teaching Sunday School during the first service of the morning this year, so Biggest comes with me for that and then attends the second service with Julie and me.  I'm pretty sure I didn't pay that much attention when I was ten, and I'm definitely sure I never took notes during sermons.  But she has a journal that she brings every week and diligently listens and takes notes.  It is pretty amazing.

About a month ago, Biggest came to us with some questions about baptism.  She talked with Julie and then with me and we found places in the Bible where it talked about it.  Then she decided that she would like to be baptized.  My initial thought was that she was too young, but listening to her talk, we knew she was ready.  We asked our pastors, she took a baptism class and she was ready to go.  

Julie's parents, my mom, my brother and his family as well as Biggest's best friend from school were all there to celebrate the occasion.  Then, just before the service started, two couples from Saskatoon showed up to surprise us.  It was pretty awesome.

While waiting to go in, Biggest told Julie that she couldn't stop smiling:


Talking with Pastor Ryan and still all smiles:


Getting ready:


Taking the plunge:


Still smiling:


A big hug:


There are still plenty of days we all miss Saskatoon.  But then there are days like this when you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be.  The theme for Sunday School this month is contentment:  learning to be happy no matter what you have.  Today's lesson was about focussing on what God has given you today.  If we spend too much time looking back at what we used to have and how things were, we will miss what God has given us now.  And I don't want to miss the gifts He's giving us now, because He is doing some pretty amazing things.

And there was cake too, which is always a reason to be thankful:

 Later.


Star Wars and Mother's Day

I have a friend at work who is a bigger Star Wars fan than me.  Crazy, I know.  It just so happens that his birthday is on May 3.  How could the biggest Star Wars fan I know miss having his birthday on May the fourth by one day?!  It really is a cruel world.  (Just to clarify for any non-geek types out there - May the fourth has become Star Wars day because is sounds like 'may the force' as in 'may the force be with you.')  It also happens that this friend loves tacos and his birthday is two days away from Cinco de Mayo.  So we decided to celebrate these three days with one big Star Wars/taco/birthday party at work.  It was pretty awesome.

Here is the Star Wars shaped snack mix:


The taco bar all set up:


And the birthday boy showing us how it is done.  A taco inside of a taco:


Julie decided to celebrate Mother's Day this year by getting two wisdom teeth carved out two days before.  Needless to say, there were no big brunch plans.  The girls were still able to shower her with their gifts that they made at school.  Their home-made gifts really are special.  Biggest had a picture frame with four holes in it that she filled with pictures and sayings.  One said, 'together, we can do hard things,' which is one of Julie's mantras.  Middlest's card even said, 'I hope your mouth isn't too sore,' and she had some very stunning portraits drawn.  It must have felt like looking in the mirror for Julie.  Littlest had a canvas with a handprint on it so we would always remember how small she was.  Pretty awesome stuff.  

The day before Julie had her oral surgery, she took the time to paint all the girls' toes:


With this being the long weekend and us not being the camper-type, we decided to have a movie night this evening.  We finally got around to watching 'The Force Awakens' with the girls.  Julie and I had seen it in the theatre, but the girls still hadn't seen it.  As I was getting ready and putting the movie in, Littlest asked if Yoda was in this one.  I said that no, he wasn't and that he had died in the last movie.  Then she said, 'That's too bad.  I miss the old days with Yoda.'  Yeah, me too.  Later.