Cruising Highway 2

I love cruise control! I like to set it at about 115/117 and motor down the highway with my ipod blaring tunes through our stereo. Okay, I really don't blare the tunes because I have two young kids in the backseat who seem to like to hear their dvd player or leapster game. Nonetheless, I like driving, I like road trips that are under 2-3 hours and I like seeing the countryside.

Lately I have become quite adept at using the cruise function on the RAV4. J's grama passed away last week and the funeral/celebration of life ceremony was this week. It was a sad time for the family but we feel so fortunate to be close enough to really help his folks through the process. This family occassion meant we travelled back and forth from Claresholm twice in the last 7 days. The kids handled the confinement well and the mountains were a spectacular sight yesterday afternoon.

On top of these trips to the farm, I also threw in a quick trip to Red Deer this past week. My darling sister arranged for me to finally get my haircut with her hairdresser (I think she was getting sick of looking at my mass of overgrown thick fuzzy hair which hadn't been cut in over 3 months). In exchange for taking care of my kids while I had my haircut, I took care of her youngest so she could parent volunteer (I think I came out ahead in this exchange of services). Our less than 48 hour trip was great as the kids wore each other out and I now sport a fabulous new hairstyle.

So as you can see I have been on the road alot. In total I have travelled 895 kilometres. Pretty impressive hey?! I am now ready for a few days of staying off the highway but I know the call of family and the desire for a cruise will beckon soon.

Bonafide Slurpee Lover

As a child and teenager, I was known to purchase and drink a slurpee, froster or slushee. They were good on a hot day. It was always fun to mix flavours. Yet I did not fully appreciate the delights of this frozen carbonated beverage until I started dating J back in 91. My young long-haired boyfriend would actually stop at a 7 Eleven on a cold winter drive home from college in order to pick up a slurpee to tide him through the long drive. He swore the best slurpees were made in his hometown. The rationale behind his bias rested on the fact that there were two machines (holding 4 flavours a piece) in the store and a high volume of customers stopping to fill up with gas and grab a beverage. These two elements combined allowed for a variety of flavours, insured the slurpees did not sit for long in the machines and that consistency problems were quickly resolved.

J will seek out a slurpee in almost every North American town or city we need to stop in. Our 1995 road trip to move me from Calgary to live in sin with him in Ottawa meant seeking out 7 Eleven's with gas stations so we could have a slurpee fix to sustain us through the next few hundred kilometres. J is able to critic a slurpee with proficiency. His favourite flavour is Dr. Pepper. The delight on his face when a Dr. Pepper is on tap, its consistency is not watery and the flavour is true and untainted by a previous flavour is truly priceless to see. Yet J will resort to filling a 28 oz cup with Root Beer, Coca Cola, or Mountain Dew. I cannot mock his traditionalist tendencies as my flavour choice is limited to Sprite, 7-Up or grape. Plus the freaky flavours they come up with are so sugary sweet and artificial that you can't even work your way through my preferred 16 oz sized cup.

His slurpee addiction reached its height during the intense studying period for his Ph.D. comprehensive exams. Coincidently, the 7 Eleven was offering a two for one deal on slurpee at this time. I would often find one slurpee in his hand and another deligiently waiting for him in the freezer. Intervention became necessary and he weaned himself down to one or two a week in the height of summer.

We forever bemoan the state of slurpees in Ontario. They just don't measure up to our Alberta experiences. This weekend past, J and I had a chance to escape to Lethbridge without the children for 48 hours. J was giving a couple of presentations and my parents kindly took over the responsibility of our children's welfare and entertainment. It was a great trip to re-connect and remind ourselves about the importance of working on us as a couple. It was also a great trip for savouring in the delights of a slurpee. We stopped in his old hometown for a gas top up and a lovely slurpee beverage. He was of course delighted as Dr. Pepper was on tap. For our return trip we stopped at a Mac's Convenience Store for a cold beverage fix. Now Mac's does not sell Slurpees, they sell Frosters. Frosters are good and a close kissing cousin of a slurpee. The Mac's we stopped at in Lethbridge had 4 machines running, that means 16 flavours. As a result, I was able to obtain my favourite flavour, Sprite mixed with grape.

I will forever smile when I see him repeatedly tap a slurpee cup against his leg to mix it up (heaven forbid if you compromise a slurpee by stirring it with a straw or moving the straw to a different spot). I secretly delight at seeing him introduce the beverage to our young son. I have grown to enjoy this frozen beverage almost as much as I have grown to love my husband, my bonafide slurpee fanatic.

My baby is two!

November 7th, 2006. My darling daughter's birthday, my second birthing day. My lil bug was eight days late but once my labour started it flew by in a flurry. Thankfully the midwives arrived at my home 30 minutes before her arrival. I feel blessed to have delivered a healthy baby in the comfort of my home. Home birthing was a choice I made with determination, contentment and joy.

The first year of my girl's life was tough for me. We endured sleep problems, breastfeeding complications, sibling rivalry and post-partum depression. With the support of my spouse, family and friends plus a willingness to seek medical help, I struggled through the year and found special moments to revel in the development of my girl.

Today my lil bug is sweet, determined, dramatic and smart. She is energetic and always on the move. She is constantly surprising me with her new found knowledge and verbal communication. I love her enthusiasm for life. She loves books, puzzles, animals, and vehicles. She is fascinated by fire engines. When looking at a book of vehicles, she commented "I grow up be fire driver."

My girl can negotiate too. She is constantly countering my 2 minutes with "no...five more minutes." She looks up to her brother and imitates him in many ways but also knows how to push his buttons, stand her ground and be her own self. She likes to parrot us. I dropped some balsamic vinegar and hastily said 'oh crapper' which she kindly repeated for us (ad naseum).

She can test my patience as she has a very determined streak. She can work herself into a frenzy over an "injustice." Yet after the storm she likes to say "momma hug" and my heart melts and remembers the beauty of her soul.

She likes to make people laugh. For instance, one night when we were dining with my family, she sniffed and said "smell garbage." Well this caused all of us to just roar with laughter and to this day she likes to pull this phrase out to make us giggle. She finds it quite a hoot to flick her bedroom lights on and off when she wakes in the morning as she knows it will draw me from my bed so she can say "momma wake up now, shh daddy sleepin."

Despite the frustrations that come with parenting a two year old, I delight in the little person she is becoming.

Happy birthday my beautiful and strong girl!


Most families moan about each others quirks and puzzle their way through connecting but when push comes to shove we need our family. I'm fortunate enough to have a great family. Yah, I butt heads with my dad, mainly due to being cut from the same cloth but with different reference points and experience to colour my views. I probably test my mom's patience and her stamina for constantly bolstering my confidence. My sister most likely grows weary of my bossy tendencies and lofty ideals. Yet we all get along and not just the "put on a good face" get along. There is something so amazing about being loved for no other reason than just because.

Hence, the absolute best part about our sojourn in Alberta is being near our families. We now have regular opportunities to see each other. J's folks pop into town and we can meet up with them for a quick visit or lunch. I can run into my mom's house to steal cornflake crumbs for my dinner and leave with not only the bag of cornflake crumbs but a full belly since she has fed me and the wee people lunch. My sis can actually arrange a haircut appointment with her hairdresser for me. This appointment means she has found a way for me and the kids to visit her along with a time when I can let her volunteer in her son's classroom because I will be available to watch her daughter for a couple hours. It is so nice to have regular contact with family. We are enjoying the everyday without the intense commitment of a long visit. Long visits are necessary when we live far apart but sometimes the 7-10 days can wear all parties out. These long visits alter everyone's routine, there are always space issues and the pressure of making the trip memorable so that it will sustain us until the next visit.

Living close to family means we can participate in and share memorable events with family. My mom turned 65 on Sunday and we were there to share in the celebration. My sister had the great idea of throwing her a surprise party. She rounded up a large group of family and friends to attend. Jo and I were then able to work together in her kitchen to put out a decent spread of munchies and sweets for everyone. It was fun spending time with her. It was great being able to surprise my mom and to remind her how special she is to us and to alot of other people. Now my lil bug turns two tomorrow and I can have a family party for her. She is geniunely thrilled about having her bompa, grandma, grammie, grandad, auntie jo, unc brad and her cousins in her house.

I think I will miss my family even more upon our return to Ottawa this time. I am quickly adjusting to the knowledge that I have a grandparent practically always available to help in a pinch or for a break or because I want to do something with just my husband or just one child. I am growing accustomed to integrating family into not only the special holidays and events but the everyday.

Thankfully my friends in Ottawa are a form of family for me. I miss them and am desperately lonely for the inspiration, support and conversation they provide me. Yet like ourselves they are busy with work, activities and some with raising families. As a result, finding time to go out together is limited. We cannot just offer to babysit each other's kids on a whim as it requires logistical manuevering. It is too bad that our lifestyle choices have meant that our lives (children, friends, home, and jobs) are so physically far from where our relatives reside. I like Ottawa and at this moment I choose to make it home. I just wish I could reap the benefits of having nearby family as well.

So for the rest of our stay in Alberta, I will be reminding myself on the dark and dreary cold winter days that my restlessness and boredom can be alleviated by not only calling family but by entering their homes and allowing them to give me a break from parenting.