Summer Days — TBT

These lazy days of summer are flying by in a blur of sunny afternoon skies and long warm evenings sipping sangria on the patio. As I sit sipping my cold, fruity wine, I listen to the sounds of the neighbourhood — children laughing, adults chatting and families eating dinner outside, steaks and hotdogs sizzling on barbeques.

This cacophony of summer sent me into a reverie of seasons past and my thoughts drifted to days when my daughters were still at home. The fun days at the beach — with a picnic lunch and and drippy ice-cream cones melting in the sun. I remember days that turned to night as we sat on the sand and waited for the sun to set so we could ooh and ahh at stunning firework displays.

TBT to the Summer of 2010

I miss those days for sure — but I am also enjoying these times that are spent with alone with my husband. Blues and jazz playing on the stereo, quiet talks about books, life and watching movies on Netflix. Life is quieter now, slower, simpler — until the girls burst in the door for pizza night!!



Number 347 Out of 1384 — TBT

Blog Post #194

I love to look through old photographs — we have lots of albums filled with pictures of our daughters when they were little, snaps of when we were young — images of many family events — holidays, birthdays and weddings. It is funny and sweet to take a little walk down memory lane and think about the past and wonder at how much we have all changed.

In this digital age, we don’t have photographs tucked into albums, stacked up in the cupboards like we used to. Instead, we have them on our SD disks and posted on our social media, or just saved on our phones, tablets and laptops.

Today, I was looking for a particular photo — I had a memory of a day spent at one of our favourite family haunts — Fort Langley. It wasn’t in a photo album, I remembered taking the picture with my trusty point and shoot digital camera, which meant it wasn’t a “hard copy.” So I searched through all the folders on our desktop, the laptop and then turned to the camera itself. I finally located the image on the memory disk — number 347 out of 1384! It shows my daughters walking on the railway tracks of Fort Langley’s historical CN Station.


This photograph brings to my mind, a sweet memory of a lovely afternoon spent wandering the streets and shops of the quaint historical village of Fort Langley. It was a gorgeous afternoon and we had strolled along the main street, shopping, antique hunting and enjoying each other’s company. We stopped at the train station — something we hadn’t done before — peered in the windows of the station building, hopped on a train and took pictures and generally goofed around. Later, as we strolled along, the girls sauntered on ahead of us, engrossed in a sisterly conversation, as Bruce and I ambled behind them. I remember how touched I felt by their camaraderie — I’m happy that they have a close relationship. I felt wistful, too, as I had longed for a sister when I was younger.

As I gazed fondly at the image, I realized that photographs are the physical documentations of the moments in our lives — moments that encase our memories of events, big and small throughout the years. This made me think and if you know me at all, you know that means I will be embarking upon my next big project. That’s right — I will be sifting through all our digital images and choosing the best ones to print and put into photo albums as tangible records of our family history. Expect results in a year or two!!



A Stroll Down Memory Lane — TBT

Blog Post #167

I was leafing through some old photo albums the other day. Looking at pictures of my girls when they were babies, toddlers and school children.

That brought back so many lovely memories — moments of joy, laughter and yes, even, tears. They are both young adults now, so there are a lot of family stories and favourite events that come to mind.

I was reminded of the  Christmas when Bailey got Ernie and Bert dolls from Santa. They were her favourite characters from the kids’ show Sesame Street. She loved them both, but Bert was definitely Number One, She would happily share Ernie with anyone — but no one was allowed to play with Bert — he was hers alone.


I had almost forgotten how much Brynne loved the swings in the playground — she would grin from ear to ear when she was swinging back and forth, but the tears would start the minute we tried to take her out of the seat — that kid LOVED the swings (still does as far as I know!)


I was deep into nostalgia as I peered over every photo in the book — it was pleasant way to spend a bit of time remembering my daughters when they were young. I miss those days a little.

Just as I picked up one last album, a photo slipped out from between the pages. It was an old, grainy, black and white photo of me! I looked to be around 2 years old and I’m laughing at the funny antics of a puppy that I see in the distance. I’m holding a ball in my hand. Of course, I don’t remember that at all, but I recall my mother telling me the story. When I look at this photo, I can almost envision that silly puppy!


My daughters love to go through our family photographs. Every so often, when we are all together, we drag out all  albums and look at them while remembering and retelling the stories. We each add our remembrances and fill in the blanks as we point out where we were at that moment — describing the scene in detail. These are the stories of our lives, who we are and what we mean to each other. Every photo has a tale to tell and we never tire of hearing them over again.

Those albums — they are a testament to our family— to love, laughter and life.






Baba Turns 80!

HPIM2842My mom (Baba to her grandchildren) turned 80 last week and to celebrate this milestone, my brother, Ken, arranged a birthday party!  We all showed up at his house on Sunday afternoon for a backyard barbeque — seventeen of us including me, my two brothers, our significant others, our children and one adorable toddler, Baba’s only great grandchild. This was the very first time that we were all together in many years. My mom was overjoyed, she was actually beaming and didn’t stop smiling the entire time.

The weather couldn’t have been better, blue skies — not a cloud in the sky, the sun warming the backyard. My brother, Ken and his wife, Dawne sure know how to throw a party. The picnic table on the deck was laden groaning with enough food to feed an army. Pulled pork sandwiches, deep-fried turkey, deep-fried perogies, and at least three salads were piled high on everyone’s plates. The champagne flowed.

There is something about family when everyone is together — it is kind of magical. The day was filled with laughter, nostalgia, hugs, tears and smiles from ear to ear. We ate, drank, told stories (new ones and old ones) and dabbed tears from our eyes throughout the afternoon and evening. It was a wonderful time, and I hope that we have another opportunity to get together again, soon.

It is at times like these, that I realize how important family is — how essential it is to maintain the strong ties that bind us to our family. As I reflect upon the gathering, I remember the feeling of joy, love and harmony that permeated the evening.  In the words of my mother: “this is pure bliss…”

It was an amazing time and I’m looking forward to celebrating her 81st birthday with another fabulous family gathering.


This is What I Read Last Week

CelonaMarjorie Celona’s debut novel Y is a beautifully written story about love, loss and belonging. The tale opens in the early hours of the morning as a young woman abandons her newborn daughter on the steps of the Victoria YMCA.

The book is written in two narratives with Shannon, in alternating chapters, tracing her life from birth through her adolescence and sharing the story of her mother, Yula, beginning a few days before her daughters birth and the tragedy leading up to the scene at the YMCA, where she set down her baby, wrapped in an old, grey sweatshirt, and walks swiftly away without looking back.

Shannon’s story is a typical tale of a child thrust into the social services system, constantly moving from foster home to foster home all the while feeling lost, alone — a misfit everywhere she lands. Her wildly curly white-blond hair, her one blind eye and small stature only serve to emphasize her difference from those around her.

Eventually, Shannon is taken in by Miranda a single mother with a daughter, Lydia-Rose.  As Shannon strives to find a way to fit into this little family, she is hindered by an overwhelming desire to discover the answers to her many questions — “Where did I come from? Who are my parents and especially — Why did my mother abandon me? ”

Shannon’s longing to find her place in the world pushes her to embark upon a search for identity and belonging and along the way she finds that the answers to her big questions sometimes leads to surprising endings.

Ms. Celona’s writing creates a compelling, bittersweet picture of the age-old desire to be a part of something, to know where we come from and why life unfolds as it does. Her characters, in this novel, are very real and their emotions and actions feel familiar. The novel is eminently readable and while the story is very sad, there is a sense of hope that permeates throughout, notwithstanding the book’s darkest moments.


O, Christmas Tree!

Our TreeAll the boxes of Christmas decorations had been carted into the house from the storage room — they were stacked around the living room (and dining room!) waiting to be unpacked. Bruce put the tree up and wound the lights around it, wrapped the garland through the branches. That was it — for almost a week!

I’m not sure what happened. It’s not as if we don’t like Christmas and we aren’t grinches by any stretch, I guess we just got busy with other stuff, made excuses and well, the boxes just sat there, waiting to be opened…

Then our oldest daughter came over for a visit.

Now, you have to know our daughter… we call her the Queen of Christmas — she LOVES the holiday — she gets into the Yuletide Spirit at the end of November. She starts the countdown to December 25 on September 1st— “It’s 116 days until Christmas!” She sings Christmas carols and songs, “aloud so all hear”, beginning the day after Halloween. Well, you get the picture…

She walked in the door, and immediately began chastising us for leaving the tree standing naked for a week. Before we knew it, she and her sister had us all exclaiming over the ornaments, laughing and singing while we hung each bauble carefully on the tree’s branches. We oohed and awed as each ornament was unwrapped as we recalled the stories behind each one. In no time at all, the tree was adorned with all our shiny, whimsical and beautiful decorations. Bailey handed Bruce the Christmas star and he placed on the topmost branch. We all stood back and enjoyed our handiwork.

O, Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches!

(18 sleeps until Dec. 25th!)


Shirley and Leona

I just found out that I have two sisters!

When I was younger, I always dreamed of having a sister. I admired my friends’ relationships with their sisters, especially those with a close bond that some (most?) sisters have. I longed for a connection that was both friend and blood. I look at my two daughters and see the deep attachment and love that they have between them. They know each other better than any friend could, they share everything with each other — even more than they share with me. They are sisters and they are best friends.

The story is a familiar one — a story of love, loss, sadness, broken hearts and broken families. My brother, Ken, after countless hours of research, discovered the whereabouts of our biological father and bravely took a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet him. While there, Ken was contacted by our sisters, Shirley and Leona, who unbeknownst to us, had been looking for us for many years.

It is a little strange to think of myself, now, as having and being a sister. I feel a twinge of sadness that Shirley, Leona and I did not have the chance to grow up together, know each other, or share sisterly secrets, but I am overwhelmed with happiness to know that they are as excited to welcome me into their lives as I am to welcome them into mine. I am thrilled to have my dream come true and to embark upon this journey to get acquainted with my sisters!

One would think that it would be difficult, or awkward to connect with two strangers, but to me, it seems as if it will be an easy transition. Shirley and Leona have made it feel so simple and comfortable — they both exude kindness and acceptance. My heart was filled with joy and tears flowed down my face, when at the end of her first letter, Shirley wrote: “Love you, Cathy! I have carried you in my heart.”

Welcome to my heart, Shirley and Leona!