Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grandma Win

On the 17th of this month, we lost our Grandma Win. It's hard to write a tribute to her because of all the new things I was always learning about her in her later years. From the time I was a child I had one impression of her, but in the last 10 years my opinion of her has changed drastically. She was athletic, spunky, sassy, a fantastic pie maker, a willing listener, an indulgent story letter, a saviour to small children who hate fish, a game/game show lover ... Dawn, of all the grandchildren, was the closest to her I think. So she took the news particularly hard. I was a lot more introspective, having not spent the last 3 years the next town over from her. For me, it was a sad blow, simply because I realize the last of my natural grandparents are no longer living on this plane of existence. Knowing all the questions I had lined up to ask grandma so I could write down and never forget and pass on to the next generation ... will never be answered. That I waited too long. That I took for granted that she'd be there, as she always was.
Grandma's memorial service was just as Grumpa Jones' was. An open service with all invited to stand up and give a tribute and share a memory of her. There were a lot of tears, but so many more laughs. That, in itself, said so much to me. She has passed on a sense of humor to all of us. Something to cherish and celebrate.
Having so many of the cousins here was such a treat. Getting to know the younger ones, who are no longer so young. Renewing friendships with those that we were "tight" with when we were children. I just wish it didn't take such tragic circumstances to bring us all together.

Oh My ...

How the great have fallen. I am sorry, my dear reader (s?) by this time I am sure you have despaired of ever hearing from me again. Fear not, oh faithful ones - I am still alive and kicking; just not writing. I'll do a lengthy recap:

On the Tuesday after Michael and Jenie returned from Ireland he was called to be the Branch President up in Whitecourt. So our sister Dawn and her family, our mom, dad and his wife Sandy all trouped up to be witness to his setting apart and ordination (did I say that right?) While everyone was there, we finally had a nice day and took all 11 grandkids to Whitecourt's Rotary River Slide. A ton of fun for free. What more can a girl ask?

On the 17th we all headed over to Alberta Beach where the Jones Cousin Reunion was scheduled to take place. It was a nice private campground with little traffic and even less dirt, which was nice. After throwing up both tents we attempted to light a fire with wet wood. Seriously, it was so wet it sizzled. I was mighty unimpressed. We ended up tossing the kids "campfire pita pizza's" onto the camp stove Jenie's dad had lent us. I waited till the fire had died down some and tried my luck with the coals. Actually turned out rather tasty.
A storm rolled in shortly after we put the kids to bed so Jenie and I just crawled into our tents to read hoping to wait out the storm. The kids and I fell asleep rather quickly, as big storms in Texas are common place ... so it was practically a lullaby. I was rudely awakened by water splattering my face ... and soaked from the chest on down. Much to my dismay and disgust, the tent I had bought only the day before was "leaking" like there was no fly on it. I raced out of the tent, ripped the tarp I'd draped over the remaining firewood/toys/coolers off of those items and strapped it down over my tent. Miserable night.
I woke the next morning to find out Michael and Jenie's tent had also leaked ... and Michael had come late bearing very sad tidings. Our Grandma Winnie Jones had passed away the night before. Though she was 83 years old and had been sick off and on for the past few years it was still a hard reality. I love that she still had vanity. When this picture was taken last summer, she quickly removed her oxygen tube that she wore 24/7 ... because heaven knows she didn't want to be remembered wearing that infernal thing. Or at least let anyone have proof that she did.

With the reunion canceled, I look my time getting down to southern Alberta. I headed over to Jasper National Park to introduce my little Texans to the Canadian Rockies. As we slowed our approach into the park B-Man poked his head out the window and was swiveling all around until he paused, let out an audible gasp and exclaimed, "Oh mommy; look at the mountains!" From there on in, it was all gravy.

We stopped at the Jasper Tram Way, because I figured going up a mountain in a rickety basket would be fun ... (?) Alright, it was fun. Ms. R had SO MANY questions about how things were formed and where they came from and WHY and WHEN and ... oy! I should have been a geologist. Or at least had one with me. As we were discussing where we were going to be camping that night she became rather concerned when I told her we'd be on the mountain. Ms. R "Ahhh ... mom?" looooooong pause.
Me "Yes, Ms. R?" another looooong pause.
Ms. R "Won't the mountains hurt our head?"
Whhhhhhaaaaat? Okay, I should have expected it after explaining to her what mountains were made of and how they were formed (or so I theorize). But no. I was blind sided. After a lengthy conversation about the camping gear we had with us, blow up mattresses included, she was convinced I wasn't putting her head in jeopardy. Phew!
However, when we go to our campsite on the side of Whistlers Mountain these signs were posted EVERY WHERE. Rhiannon's anxiety level jumped 83 degrees. She was SURE that these signs meant that there was a bear just waiting to pounce on her. I am still not sure how she came to that conclusion. But there it is. However, after I read her the sign, reassured her of where our food was stored, she felt much reassured. Thank heaven for responsible parents. Or something.
The next day we kept on driving down the Ice fields Parkway or highway or something of that significant sort. The views were breathtaking. I had quite forgotten how magnificent the Rockies are when you are in them. After living in Banff, you'd think I would have acclimated to the splendor and beauty ... but no. We stopped by a particularly beautiful part of the river that Mt. Christie over looks so I could let the kids experience how frickin' freezing the water from the mountains and glaciers is. They were of course (haha) duly impressed. Or just cold. Either way, a copious amounts of pictures were taken in that area.

We eventually stopped at Lake Louise so we could ride to the top of another mountain. The ride up was great. The view at the top way out standing. The kids loved the snow patches we found there. The wild life interpretive center was very informative and hands on. Watching B-Man break out into a run as he came down a VERY steep mountain with terror bursting through his eyes, tearing up the mountain as fast as I could and catching him as he launched himself into orbit ... that was not so much fun. I also had an impression, before I rode on a ski lift chair with my children, that I hadn't a fear of heights. Turns out kids turn you into a blabbering, fearful idiot. I am proud to say nothing left my body out of either exit ... but good lordy my stomach was in my mouth the entire ride to the bottom. Out of fear for my children. Motherhood makes you such a sissy.

To end off the Rocky Mountain experience, we of course had to stop in Banff. I have to tell you, I have avoided going to Banff since I moved from there. I loved living in Banff. I loved my job, I loved where I lived, I loved the people I hung out with, I loved the experiences ... I knew if I looked back, I'd yearn for things that are best left where they are. In the past. As I walked around Banff with my kids, seeing the town as an "adult" (bah humbug on that term anyway!) I realized, yeah, I miss parts of who I was then. I miss parts of what was taken or left or forgotten. But that person doesn't entirely have to be left there. I can resurrect parts of me that I loved being, things I loved doing. There is nothing saying I cannot. The only person stopping me, is ME. I love Banff because of what I learned about me there. I made peace with Banff and had a HUGE salad at Tony Roma's ... where the service was CRAP.

B-Man had been begging to go to the zoo since we crossed the line into Canada so we headed over to Calgary. The Canadian exhibit there is fabulous. I'd have to say they even out did Fort Worth's Texas exhibit. As you know, that's saying a lot. The kids loved seeing all the babies and loved a full day of just wandering around seeing new animals.

As we were driving through Nanton I noticed a train store that I remembered my mom mentioning once. Since it'd already been a long day and I wanted a break I decided to stop in there. For adults, admission may seem a little steep unless you're like me and just looking for a break. The kids loved the Thomas the Train stuff and I haven't seen a miniature track put together like that since I was in Europe. So ... it was worth the $10 it cost me to just sit for a hour.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Round Up

To conclude ...
Haha, yeah, I know - I have done an AWFUL job of doing a day to day. But mostly, it's not my fault. Between Jenie and Michael's crappy internet service and me falling asleep with the kids - I just couldn't maintain. So blame Telus and 7 (sometimes 6) kids for me not keeping in touch.
A general summary of the week:
We went to the River Slide twice. Good times. The second time we got there before they had turned it on, so we just played in the pond it dumps into. The kids didn't seem to care either way. I couldn't find Baby L only once; she had wondered off to sit with another family with kids eating snacks. Shoulda known. Little mooch. Don't kill me for misplacing her, please Michael. It was only like two minutes. I swear.
H got a yeast infection on Tuesday, so her grandma Bobbie came over to help her take care of it. They decided to just take her with them that evening since they had planned on taking her the next day for her birthday anyway. She was gone till last night. Surprisingly, that made the dynamic around here A LOT easier to deal with. H is quite the manipulator and she and E have a VERY hard time dealing peacefully with each other. So without H running the show O, E and Ms. R played all three days without screaming, tears or me tearing my hair out in frustration.
All the kids besides H have taken the time Michael and Jenie have been gone relatively well. H ... not so much. One kid out of 5 isn't so bad though. Good odds, I'd say. The one I was the most worried about - Baby L had taken them being gone surprisingly well with no complaints. We (meaning Baby L and I) do butt heads frequently, but she's almost two and I don't take subordinance well. Don't tell me toddlers aren't subordinate and ornery.
So, in conclusion - the time has gone slowly simply because I am lonely not because the situation was overwhelming. I can do 7 kids without it being a big deal - mostly I think because I had nothing else on my plate. It has made me consider taking on a kid or two more myself. Kind of. Not seriously. Just ponder. You know, maybe in a couple/few years.