Thursday, 30 June 2011

Connor's Grad

A fun advantage to raising children their whole lives in the same place is I can follow up a picture like this:

With a picture like this:



Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Golden Birthday

Chloe will be 10 on the 10th, which means it will be her golden birthday in a week and a half. Last weekend we had her golden birthday party before school ended so that all of her friends were still around to celebrate.

We made ruffled garlands from plastic golden table cloths. We covered the house in them and they were so cute, much to my relief - early on in the project they just looked like lasagna noodles, but that was  because of our colour choice I'm sure.

We had a golden pinata.

And we roasted marshmallows till they were golden.

We played Midas Touch (freeze tag) and Hatch the Golden Egg (sit on balloons till they pop). The big hit was that I rented an inflatable bouncer castle to try to make it "the best birthday party ever" that she hoped it would be. It was expensive, but so fabulous and easy.

Chloe was a little shocked to have 7 boyfriends! Carmen decorated the cake and made it golden with butterscotch icing (burn the butter/margarine before you make a normal buttercream icing) dusted with gold petal dust which somehow she knew to send me to buy at Michaels. The party guests were totally delighted with the sparkly/shiny golden cake.

Our Golden Girl.

Chloe got a really fun present:

I can tell you there are still a few in stock at the Deerfoot Meadows Walmart in the gardening section, but they are selling fast! I've bought a couple - in fact Carmen took one to a birthday party today, already pulled out of it's packaging and placed in a gift bag to maximize the effect. I think it will probably give the birthday girl a bit of a scare when she opens it!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Awards Night

If I can't take a good picture in gymnasium light, then I'll edit it any way I like.

Steven finished off junior high tonight alongside many kids he's gone to school with for ten years. He seems to run with an award-winning group of friends because many boys I know and love and feed on a regular basis walked up to the stage repeatedly. I was proud of all those boys (and the occasional girl that classifies as *in his group of friends*).

Steven received the Most Improved Award for Sr. Boys basketball along with his friend Truman. Steven was also recognized for his achievement in attaining honour roll and citizenship. He was a little surprised to get a tech award for the school play. Steven worked as head technician last year, but this year the school play fell on the same night as the city football championship game and even though he didn't know his team would  go to finals he had to decline the position on tech crew just in case. Well, somehow Steven still ended up missing classes and staying after school (until it was time for football practise anyways) to help train the new tech kids. It was nice of the drama teacher to acknowledge Steven's contribution.

As always, special awards were reserved for the end of the evening (Grandma and Grandpa were good sports to show up for the whole two hours when they maybe just needed to be there for the last ten minutes). We knew what was coming, but Steven didn't.

Mrs. C. began introducing the award by describing the boy it is in memorial of. Qualities like attention to detail, doing his best in everything, considerate and caring of others were mentioned. Oh, the look on Steven's face when he was named along with three other students to come up and receive the award - I'd have liked to have had my camera at the ready for that, but it would have been obvious I was jumping the gun.

So the certificate reads: To be considered for this award, students must demonstrate well-roundedness, master new challenges, show potential, contribute to peers, have a love of life, and not be self-centered. Nice, right?

The award itself is to attend a week long leadership camp on scholarship from the school. The teachers are basically saying we believe in you and we want to invest in you and your future.

I know some past recipients of this award, and Steven is certainly in good company. Congratulations, Steve!

Monday, 27 June 2011

A Winning Smile

Carmen and Chloe had soccer finals this past weekend. Chloe played at 11am on our home field, and Carmen played at 12 noon in Turner Valley which meant Ken and I had to flip a coin - Ken went to Chloe's game, I went to Carmen's.

That's right: two trophys. The 'Hooligans' earned the best record in the league and then went on to win the playoffs as well.

Chloe's team had a very different season. The lost all their games but one, which ended in a tie. She's in her last year of House League where everyone gets a medal at the end, but actually they won their 'final' on Saturday morning, so "if it had been a play off" she still would have walked away with a medal.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Family Temple Day

Last Saturday we had a ward temple day in Cardston.

I know, not the picture you were expecting to see with the title to this post, but we are lucky enough to have grandparents who are temple workers and have a ranch just outside of Cardston so we popped in on them before we met up with the rest of the ward. Carmen and Chloe found a dead snake. Yum.

Steven and Ken got in a little shooting. (Just pop cans Aunt Kelly.)

Grandma and Grandpa have a new swing in the trees.

We only spent an hour, but it was fun, then Ken and our youth age children went to the temple while I spent my afternoon with the primary children.

Chloe at the temple.

Nice day.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Jaclyn did something amazing this week

When Jaclyn was 3 years old she asked for piano lessons. It wasn't out of the blue - I was teaching at the time, but I wasn't teaching to that age group. We found a Suzuki piano teacher nearby and away we went. By first grade Jaclyn was practising 45 hard minutes a day before school in the mornings. That was also the year she learned about RCM Examinations - I specifically remember her asking me what was the highest level that could be achieved. She locked in on her goal, and in junior high school she was practising up to 2 hours a day.
This Monday Jaclyn performed her ARCT Performers Examination before 2 adjudicators. We'll get her mark in a few weeks, but the smile on her face when she left the hall said it all.
Congratulations, Jaclyn. It is a major achievement.

Friday, 24 June 2011

At least it's just milk

Chloe's had stomach troubles for quite awhile. Like long enough that they were just part of life and it almost became invisible. She's also suffered nasal congestion in a chronic way. Turns out they were connected. We finally got serious about getting to the bottom of her trouble which involved eliminating food groups for periods of time, urine tests, and a blood test. We figured out before we left for Europe that Chloe really can't do milk, which isn't so bad. There are many good substitutes (she's having sherbet in the picture) and Chloe has decided she prefers soy milk over rice milk or almond milk. I'm not noticing any difference using soy milk in baking, though the pancakes on Father's Day didn't brown up like cow's milk pancakes.
I'm really proud of how disciplined Chloe has been with her new diet, if anyone in our house can exercise that kind of self control it is Chloe.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Hit the ground running

We planned our trip to fit between Jaclyn's high school grad and Steven's jr. high grad. We got home Thursday late afternoon and Steven's grad was the next day. I don't know if we were running on adrenaline or what, but we weren't too tired and we had a great time. First dance is reserved for parents.

A couple of days later was Jaclyn's seminary grad. She came downstairs in this dress and I swear all I said was 'OH' to which she responded, 'It's not a wedding dress Mom, he can see me in it before his grad.' It turned out the boy she was referring to wore his grad get-up to seminary grad as well. 

We got right back into soccer. (This one is of Chloe.)

And when Carmen missed a YW camp certification night for soccer we made up for it at home.

All in the first 5 days back. It's good to be home!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

As if the trip hadn't been indulgent enough

Ken's parents stayed longer in Ireland, but after nine fabulous days we headed home with a two day lay-over in London - neither of us had ever been. We were staying for free in a flat owned by a company that someone Ken works with sits on the board of directors for, yada, yada, yada. I, for one, was nervous to find it because it wasn't like finding the Holiday Inn, so we took a cab from the airport rather than trying the train. Two days later we were confident Londoners and took the train a couple of times including back to the airport.

Here we are.

I should pan out a bit to give you the full effect.
That's right, totally spoiled.
Our patio in our flat one block off Hyde Park.
Such a charming neighbourhood!
The school looked just like our building only it had a little plaque next to the door with the school name. The school uniform was a gingham dress with the red sweater and socks and a straw hat. Adorable!

London Slideshow
I can't seem to embed the slideshow. If you want to see 32 more pictures (with captions) click "London Slideshow" above. If you don't, well, I'll never know.

Our first day in London we did a hop-on, hop-off tour bus and saw the sights, but by evening I was starting to surrender to a head cold I'd been fighting for a day or two, so we came home early and enjoyed our kitchen stocked with strawberries, eggs, milk, chocolate, sparkling water, yogurt, cheese, and more, I kid you not.

The next day we did more walking and shopping, which almost did me in, but somehow I bounced back and we took in a play in Coventry: Pygmalion at the Garrick Theatre starring Rupert Everett. (My Fair Lady was adapted from this play by George Bernard Shaw.) It was the perfect way to finish off London with all the references to the city we'd been exploring for the previous two days. I would totally go back.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

This & That

Just wrapping up the Ireland leg of our trip before moving on to London:

A gas station with a funny name. Do you think Emo has the same meaning there as here?

We had amazing weather - only one afternoon of rain, but I've put the raincoat I purchased to good use here at home.

A door knocker in Killarney - the bottom of the knocker reads ERIN in Celtic font, and I'm disappointed it doesn't show up because I was going to make stationary for my friend (Erin).

These services were available everywhere to exchange currencies, but it reminded us of the SNL skit for First Citywide Change Bank.

Street signs were often a challenge. Instead of posting them on poles at corners they were (sometimes) (hopefully there at all) on the sides of buildings. The gaelic always on top with english underneath. 

This one reads Meat Shambles Lane - I'm sure it is lovelier in gaelic.

I really couldn't get enough of the little pink roses, can you tell?

The symbol for road overpasses looked like Inuit sculpture to me, so in my mind this one reads: 
No Inukshuk Allowed.

Icecream seemed like a big thing in Ireland, but I never had one - luckily I saw the same plastic cones in London and finally got my soft serve.

In Ireland if you need to go, you're not looking for a bathroom or washroom, you're looking for a toilet. (Really, it's more accurate.) Also in Ireland you aren't looking to rent or lease, you are looking to let. I had trouble adjusting to the european ways or something because I couldn't read the signs right. I put myself into laughing hysterics at one point when I thought I read a sign that said SPACE TOILET.

The exit signs seemed very urgent.

Flavors of India or Relief Society of India?

Monday, 20 June 2011


The first thing I have to say about Dublin is they have a thing for marble statues. There was an island running down the middle of O'Connell Street with just statue after statue. You know the DIY Silhouette thing? If Dublin were in charge the craft blogs would be posting DIY marble statues. For real.

For me the highlight of Dublin, by far, was Trinity College - once again because of the family connection. 

Trinity College Library is a world famous library for two reasons: it is the largest single room library in the world (no photos allowed when we went inside) and because it houses The Book of Kells, a transcript from the 9th century of the first four books of the New Testament (also no photos allowed). The family connection to the library is that it was built from the personal book collection of two men, one of which is Ken's family: James Ussher. The broader family connection is that Adam Loftus, the first Provost of Trinity College is family, and the more personal connection is that Ken's Great-great-grandfather graduated from medical school there.

The cost of the tour of campus included the charge to see The Book of Kells, and was not much more money than just paying to see The Book of Kells, so we did a tour. It was awesome. I can't believe I've forgotten our tour guide's name! I'll have to just call him Bryce because he reminded us so much of our friend (Bryce).

These are residence buildings where once an unpopular professor who was living here got into a gun fight with disgruntled students (he gave them bad marks) and the professor was killed. Well, the sort of boys who went to college at that time were from the sorts of families the law went easy on, and the professor was found to be equally at fault and the boys were acquitted and went on to have spectacular careers in the church as well as in politics. Naturally.

I was glad to see that it wasn't just my college that was polluted with stupid pieces of modern art. The students here call this one The Death Star. 

Following our tour of Trinity College campus, we moved on to St. Patrick's Cathedral.

The clergy and volunteers there were very helpful in finding our family connections in the cathedral.

Ken has an ancestor buried here (name to follow when I look that one up or my mother in law gives me a helpful comment) below the cannon ball that killed him.

Handel played this organ (no, he's not a relative).

Once again marble statues.

A funny, but sad if I think about it too long, sight on a bridge over River Liffey. I'm grateful Ireland is enjoying more peaceful times.

And a more cheerful sight in Dublin to finish off the post.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

What might have been

Take a minute to Google Fota Island. Go on. 
The listing alone (wildlife park, house, gardens, resort, golf club) should at least give you some idea of the size.

Well, it was supposed to be ours.

According to Aunt Kitty's Diary (not sure how many 'greats' belong in front of Aunt Kitty's name), we were swindled out of it.

The house was built later, but never mind that - I'm sure 'we' would have built a house at least as impressive if not more.

Think of the ward parties we could have hosted. Or wedding receptions.

Or Easter Egg rolls.

Some time after my father-in-law was handed the purse to carry (c'mon, you knew I was going to include this picture) I started hearing about the way Sue's family had squandered away their wealth.

Ancestor (insert first name here) Smith put Fota Island up as collateral on a loan from his cousin and then the cousin disappeared ON PURPOSE when the loan came due, leaving ancestor Smith unable to repay the loan (no solicitors ???) and thereby defaulting on the loan, and once the said cousin reappeared he got the island.

Including the amazing Arboretum established on the Island - while the family was in the shipping business they brought in samples of trees from lands near and far.

Ken's dad seemed to think that an island might have been a better wedding present than two snow tires. If only the family had been better money managers . . . 

Maybe something was planted in my mind at Fota. The island I could live without, but Ballynatray, now that was cause to mourn.

I could have lived here.


I mean, I wouldn't be the one shovelling the long drive way! 
(Momentary mental lapse, I doubt any shovelling needs to be done here. Certainly not like at home in Canada.)

The groundskeeper's house just before the main house.

Ken and I in the newly planted kitchen herb garden.

The main entrance seems to be a back door. I'm comfortable with that.

Come on in.

More of my favourite fragrant miniature pink roses.

Okay, here I have to confess that though Temple Michael and Molana Abbey were part of the estate when it was in the family, the big house was built after we were gone.

But it would have been one heck of a wedding gift.