Monday, March 31, 2014

Rockin the Slopes!

Fraser had his first experience on for-real skis in the actual honest-to-goodness mountains! Weeks ago when I was introducing our pending activity, I barely got the information out when Fraser excitedly interjected, "I LOVE SKIING!" When I continued to explain that we were going to the mountains, he again interrupted, "I LOVE MOUNTAINS!" And then, as if he wasn't thrilled enough, I broke the news that we were going with NICO. EEEEEEEEEE!

Lowell and Fraser were psyched... and so was I (although much more nervously so).

You see, It was also my first time on legitimate skis (as opposed to the odd snow blade excursion) since Junior High. Lowell was armed with a pocket full of Skittles to reinforce both Fraser and my skiing attempts... and we loved it. The skiing was pretty good too (hehe).

Lowell didn't even strap on his snowboard until after lunch. The morning was spent on the teeny tiny training hill. First Lowell guided Fraser with the harness, then I took over- trailing the wee one on my skis while controlling the harness.

This little tow-rope situation was a lesson in hanging-on-for-dear-life for Chels and me!
BFFs x 2

In the afternoon, we rode the chair lift to do the full bunny hill. On Fraser's second time down, he didn't fall at all (and neither did I... just for the record)!

Here's a wee video montage of Fraser's skiing. You'll have to excuse the ridiculous quality of the footage as it was taken by a blind guy snowboarding alongside us. I'm sorry- that was rude. It really is great footage... of the sky and random other skiers (haha)....

Fraser's first time on skis!

Fraser was a natural, and I'm convinced that observing his pro-star buddy Nico gave him a much-appreciated boost in skills and confidence.

the crew!
 Nick & Chelsea's presence was also invaluable. The experienced outdoorsy folks instructed us in all things skiing, and generously imparted their wisdom. For example, these sleds? Sheer. Genius.

Everything fit in our sled but Lowell's snowboard. And I mean everything... including Fraser. When we first arrived and Lowell was pulling Fraser (and our stuff) through the parking lot, Fraser was pretty pumped and I'm sure he was convinced that the main event was already happening: "THIS IS FUN!!"

Nick and Lowell even got a big boy run in... and could there be a cuter goggled-mommy-daughter pair?!

Baby Summer tagged along (like an ANGEL might I add) while Stefan stayed back with Papa. Love that Steffy-boy to bits, but we were soooo grateful that he was livin the good life in Papa's care while we were teaching Fraser (and ourselves) to rock the slopes. (Thanks Papa!!)

Nico, Summer, and Fraser weren't without Nana and Papa love for the day, though, as Papa Nicky & Nana Steph (Nick's parents) surprised us with a visit and goodies!

We love that these two selfless souls are an extra set of grandparents for our kids!

Also... Papa Nicky put his muscles to good use...

All in all, it was a beautifully successful day, and we plan to return very soon. As in, like, in 4 days.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Farewell Florence!

This week, a beautiful friend of mine was laid to rest. She was 96.

I first met Florence in 2001- about a year after her communication was robbed by a stroke. I had just begun to pursue Speech-Language Pathology as a career path, and a Speech Pathologist whom I had job-shadowed thought I could score some useful speechie experience helping Florence. Win-win. I began visiting Florence weekly to converse with her, complete activities to promote communication, and generally stimulate the ol language centre of the brain. Before long, Florence and I developed a bond. She had no grandchildren, and I had no grandparents in town, so we just... fit. When I returned to Lethbridge after completing my speech degree, we continued our regular visits, and my family would Christmas carol at her place every year.

Even though she was unable to put words together appropriately ("Today five, the kids five, and one and five... good knight!"), she seemed to understand others (although I'm sure she frequently thought I was bonkers as I would start jabbering about one of the completely random topics that I had logged away in my brain when I wasn't sure what she was attempting to communicate). Still, there was much laughter.

Her smile was contagious, and her mood was bright despite her situation.

Our friendship came naturally, and even though we didn't communicate well verbally, we still communicated... on a deeper level... ya know? Hugs, kisses, smiles.... we cared. I credit my parents for instilling in me a love and respect for the elderly. I could write post upon post about my fond memories of the local elderly population: Auntie Anne and the singing birthday cards, Mary and her to-die-for poppy seed rolls, Mr. Ray and his name a few.  My camaraderie with Florence was an extension of the many friendships I benefited from throughout my childhood and adolescence. I hope my kids grow up with similar memories... and I'm thankful they got to spend some time with Florence before she passed.

I was lucky enough to give Florence one last kiss on the day she slipped into heaven. She was suffering in her final days, and while it was devastating to say good bye to her on this earth, I was so grateful that her pain was taken away.

Believe it or not, I haven't always carried a camera with me 24/7 and taken pictures obsessively, so our visits remain mostly undocumented. I was, however, able to scrape up a few images from over the years...





Florence- months before she passed- rocking the ipod filled with her favourite tunes from the 30s, 40s, and 50s!

I will always love and cherish my unique relationship with this woman. See you on the other side, Florence!

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Finally. It happened. On March 1, 2014... CELINE HAPPENED! After this attempt, and this attempt, the third time was apparently the charm.

Carlynne and I invited Shareen and Kylie to join us for a sister trip to Vegas, and they heartily accepted.

On Friday morning, we packed and re-packed our combined luggage so we only had to check one bag (we're smart like that), and Lowell did the honours of weighing it to confirm that we were within our limit.

Shareen and I flew out of Great Falls together, and met Carlynne and Kylie there.

Now I will attempt to condense six potential posts into one...

Friday evening: our flight was three hours delayed, so by the time we were all settled at Caesar's Palace and at a restaurant with food in front of us, it was 9pm.  I was so hungry I was ready to eat my arm, so I don't know if my meal was ACTUALLY the most delicious thing to ever grace my palate, but whatever... most scrumptious chicken sandwich and beet salad ever.

Carlynne and I did the ol pump-and-dump while away from our still-nursing children. Such a tragedy it was to pour that liquid gold down the drain!

Saturday: I woke up very happy because I knew it was going to be my day. Aka CELINE DION. Carlynne and I trekked down to the Caesar's Palace Starbucks to start our day off right. You think regular Starbucks is overpriced, you should see the prices at THIS place. Oh. my. word. For a grande REGULAR LATTE (like, nothing special about it)... $6.50... AMERICAN. Criminal. Anyhoo, it was OUR DAY so I still didn't really care. See how excited Carlynne is? Almost scary excited.

We then took a cab to Fremont Street to have breakfast at a place called Eat. Shareen had read about it in her Vegas research, and it was a 'must try'. It was yummy indeed! When we rolled out with our full tummies, we strolled through Fremont Street then hit up the Outlet shopping. I had big plans of scoring huge deals on cute things for ME, but I didn't get a single thing for myself. I was only thinking of Fraser and Stefan, and by the time I realized that I had NOTHING for myself, I was totally pooped and lost all motivation to even peruse the clothing let alone try anything on. (Don't feel too bad for me. I used the lack of purchases to justify a couple of lululemon purchases the next day. Hehe).

Oh boy- getting closer to CELINE!!

After taking a ride with perhaps the most entertaining cabbie in the history of cab drivers (and I quote, in a thick New York accent, "What if every time you burped with your mouth it smelled like a fart?!..... thaaaat... wooooould... suuuuck." Oh my word. Tears of laughter rolling down my face. Had to be there? Oookay then.), we got gussied up and ready for our 5:30 dinner reservations at the Mesa Grill which was conveniently located like 17 steps from the Colosseum.

Our meals were delicious, and I was particularly impressed with the very tiny and extremely delicious mini lobster tacos...

During dinner, we had an "Auntie Gender Reveal" party. Back story... Marc & Kylie found out the gender of their babe-on-the-way (due June 20!) and I didn't want to know, but Shareen and Carlynne did. After Kylie shared the news with them, I realized that the surprise would probably be ruined for me at some point during the weekend as all three of them knew.  But I didn't want to just be TOLD... I wanted it to be fun. Enter... Auntie Gender Reveal Cocktail. Very Vegas appropriate, yes? And also a way for me to live vicariously and have a fun gender reveal experience as I would have enjoyed such a thing had we discovered the gender of our babies whilst pregnant. So anyhoo, while I went to the loo, Kylie ordered a cocktail for me- green for a boy or pink for a girl. The waiter thought we were loonie, but I had my fun surprise...

Oh, sorry. I can't share the gender because a) it's not my news to share, and b) Kylie's Dad doesn't want to know so I can't just blurt it out willy nilly. But can't you just FEEL the excitement?!

And now for the main event.


No photos were allowed during the show, so the following shots taken before the concert began are the only photographic evidence we have... 

Directly after taking the initial sister selfie, I snapped another shot as Carlynne witnessed for the first time that you can indeed take a picture using the volume button of the iPhone. This is her surprised AND impressed. haha.
You must understand that I tend to become a blubbering emotional basket case where Celine is concerned. Her song "Fly" was part of an Olympic commercial- I teared up. She was a guest on Ellen- I straight up cried. I wasn't sure WHAT emotional mess I would display seeing and hearing her in real life. When the curtain opened and I caught my first glimpse of her, there were some waterworks, but after that I was so overwhelmed by her beauty and talent that I just stared and took it all in. Celine requires no embellishment. She. was. amazing. The lights, set, and other musicians were fantastic to be sure, but Celine didn't need them. She could have been wearing sweats and a hat SITTING ON A ROCK and still be amazing. Her voice is THAT good. Just so classy. I reeeeeeally didn't want it to end (and this is coming from ME who has the attention span of a two-year old), but alas... all good things must come to an end.

After the wondrous, magical event that was Celine, we hobbled (hobbling due to wearing heels for the second time in my life and not enjoying the blisters... no alcohol involved) to the Cheesecake Factory to finish our evening off with some deelish dessert.

Sunday: We had some dessert-breakfast at Serendipity, did some walking on the strip, perused Fashion Show Mall, and frolicked through some fancy hotels. And I do mean frolicked.

In the evening, my sisters gave themselves a limit and tried their hands at the slots while I cheered them on without abandon (again, no alcohol involved although I'm SURE witnesses would beg to differ). After all three of them came out on top, we pooled our extra (useless in Canada) change to give ME a shot at the big bucks. Ha! I may as well have flushed that $5 directly down the toilet. Or at LEAST put it towards an exorbitantly overpriced latte at the local Starbucks.


Vegas. Oh dirty stinky Vegas. A creepy Chilean business man boldly approached Carlynne and me- while we were donning sweats and toting luggage on our way to the airport- and I'm pretty sure he thought he'd be having sex with both of us. NO THANK YOU (barf). Anyhoo, Celine was my only pull to Sin City, and I foresee only returning to Vegas to attend another Celine concert.... or if she personally invited me to her home (ahem *cough cough*).

SO glad we had the opportunity to see Celine. Now we can finally acknowledge that we turned 30 (a year and a half ago)! If you ever get the chance to see Celine... DO IT!