Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year-in-Review.

I held off writing our annual Christmas family update letter until New Year's Eve this year. Okay, I didn't exactly "hold off" like I had a great urge that was hard to restrain or something. It was more like I procrastinated a long as I could and if I don't do it today, it won't get done.

I'm fairly certain all our family and friend's lives would carry on quite smoothly without this annual onslaught of information, and truth be told, I do it for myself as much as anything.  It's sort of a forced inventory checklist in which one can't help but count their blessings. And it's interesting to go back a few years later and read them.

The early part of 2010 felt sort of like a "getting back to normal" period. I was back to work after a number of months off having a hysterectomy, which declared my ovaries cancer free. (Yay God) And Jason, our boarder moved into his own place. This left us once again as cat-free empty nesters. Of course, Jed and his cat are still living in the basement suite, but there is a handy deadbolt at the top of the stairs.

In March we had to say goodbye to Sergeant, our beloved little dog who was just shy of turning 15. She truly was the best little dog ever. A blessing to be counted, for sure.

"Normal" can only last so long, so in April we began another renovation project: turning the small bedroom that backs onto the master bedroom into an ensuite with a walk-in closet. Albert puttered away at this while working his regular job and doing a few side reno/wiring jobs as well.

Meanwhile, my focus was Relay for Life. Our Pink Panters (not to be confused with Panthers) team participates as a crazy, tacky, extremely fun-loving sea of pinkness that managed to raise well over $5000 for the Canadian Cancer Society. Yay team. Brandi, Diana, Michaela and my Mom all knocked on my door at midnight as surprise participants! 

The week following Relay for Life in the beginning of May, Jed was quite sick. He'd lost a lot of weight in the previous weeks and he couldn't stop coughing and throwing up. On May 15th I took him to the ER as I was sure he was dehydrated. He was immediately admitted with pneumonia and a collapsed lung. As they hooked him up to his monitors and IVs he turned to me and said, "Mom, I sure hope I don't have lung cancer."

Of course my reaction was to give him the typical eyeball roll and tell him he was a bit over dramatic. Long story short, he ended up in Kelowna having a cancerous tumour removed from his left lung. He was in hospital for a total of 5 1/2 weeks. While he avoided needing chemo or radiation, he will still need to have the lower lobe of his lung removed. The doctors are hoping to give him a year to heal before they go back in, and this will depend on if he can make it through the winter without getting pneumonia. He's been coughing this past week, so I'll continue to monitor that.

This meant my "back to workness", bathroom renovations, and all of life, got put on hold once again.

We had planned a Goldwing trip to Vancouver Island in June. As it turned out, Betty the black bike didn't even venture out of the garage even once this year. We're hopin' 2011 makes up for that.

In August Jed got to go on his 10 day fishing trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands. He had a fantastic time and can't wait to do it again. This was good timing as it meant he, and his one lung, was out of PG during the worst of the provincial fires that had us socked in with smoke.

In September Albert and I got our 2-week vacation on Vancouver Island. It was a fabulous getaway, although too late in the year to take the bike.

Xander has been the light of our lives. We are so enjoying watching him grow and learn and develop his own little personality. We are proud of Ken and Jade's parenting skills and oh so glad they live nearby, allowing us to be so much a part of their lives.

Brandi and Kore were able to spend Christmas with us this year. It was such a blessing to have our family all together - we had so much fun, food and frenzy. They had just gotten back from Mexico and plan to spend February in Thailand. In August, they are buying the denture clinic they work at in Kamloops and know there won't be much time off for a while after that, so are getting in as much travelling as possible while they can.

Albert is currently finishing off the master ensuite, and I must say it's really quite spectacular - worth the wait.

January and February are always slower months at work for me and the store is a bit over staffed this year, so I volunteered to get laid off. I'm looking forward to some down time and will watch Xander a couple of days a week while Jade is at work.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll sit at my keyboard and plunk away at my book that has not been looked at in over a year. It is still my intention to see my name on a cover one day.

Once again as I review the year I can't help but be grateful for the life God has given me. I'm glad I can't see the future and thankful for God's track record that allows me to know that, no matter what 2011 brings, I'll be able to sit here next year and ramble off yet another thousand words of blessings.

Hoping all our family and friends are able to count their blessings of 2010 and are looking forward with eager anticipation to all that 2011 has to offer.

Happy New Year!
Love Albert & Liana

Monday, December 13, 2010

Is this normal?

I know I gave birth 4 times plus I raised my nephew for most of his young childhood, I should know what's average for achievement and growth milestones. But still, I find myself watching Xander and frequently asking, "Is this normal?"

Yesterday I brought him home for an hour after church, before I had to head off to work. I pulled his boots off and one of his socks stayed inside a boot. I set him down and chased him off to find PaPa - one sock on, one sock off - he was only here for a short while, what did it matter. He got to the living room and decided that this one sock business was just too wierd so he pulled the other one off. Nothing too abnormal about that. Except that he didn't just throw his sock on the floor and climb up on PaPa like I would assume a "normal" child would, he carried it back to the door and tucked it into the boot that didn't have a sock stuck in it. Is this normal? (OCD comes to mind)

Then there is the nativity set. Last year I bought the Fisher Price nativity set for him so I could teach him to leave mine porcelain set alone. I have my set on display exactly at his eye level. There are horses, cows, donkeys and people figurines - not once has he even attempted to touch it. Is this normal?

He played with his FP nativity set last year when he was 10 months old, but I put it away with the Christmas decorations - he hadn't seen it since. I set it up last week. Before Xander had come over to see it, while cleaning the spare room I found a Fisher Price "little people" on the floor. I thought to myself, "This kinda looks like the nativity set." And I brought it out and set it with the wise men.

Cute eh? And he has gifts - I thought it appropriate for the nativity scene.

I set the scene up with the fence off to the left and the wise men and "gift boy" on the right and the animals sort of scattered around. The first time Xander came into the room and saw the nativity set he gathered all the animals and put them inside the fence and took the "gift boy" and threw him across the living room and continued to play with the others. I was shocked! At first I thought maybe we were raising a prejudice child because the "gift boy" was black. But then I realized that one of the wise men figurines also has a black face. How did he know this particular one didn't belong?

Thinking it was a bit of a fluke, after Xander left I set the scene back up again - with the gift boy standing proudly beside the 3 wise men. The next time, after X had been here and left, I found gift boy inside the toy bucket while the rest of the nativity scene was neatly ordered. Is this normal?

Barbee came over one day and I was telling her about my OCD grandson. She purposely set all the animals outside the plastic fence and asked me to video Xander coming in to the room the next time. He was here for about two minutes the next day when I thought, "Oh crap! I forgot to have the camera ready." I went to grab the camera and glanced over at the nativity scene and all the animals were already neatly ordered inside their pen. He hadn't been in the room for 60 seconds. Is this normal?

Tonight Xander and his parents stopped by to bring a plate of cookies they had baked and decorated. After they left here is the scene in my living room:

Animals and wise men neatly ordered. "Gift boy" discarded and laying on the nearby ottoman. Is this normal?

Like, seriously! How does he know this? And why does he care??? He's 21 months old!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

When you are a boy, you are a boy.

Potty training is never fun, however sometimes it's funny.

To aid in keeping the wee child occupied while sitting waiting for "the big poop" to appear or for him to "put the pee-pee in the potty" our bathroom has become a bit of an entertainment centre. There is a stack of books on the back of the toilet. There is a bucket full of rolls of dollar store stickers. My bathroom wall/cabinet/floor/toilet are dotted with stickers. There is a duck shaped flashlight on the vanity that Xander will shine on various things and name them as he sits doing his business. (Kind of a more high tech game of I Spy)

The other day he got off the potty to get a new book from the back of the toilet. In doing so, he knocked some stickers onto the floor between the toilet and tub. Xander goes around to the far side of the toilet and crouches to get the stickers - his bare butt sticks up in the air as he lowers his head towards the floor.

He immediately stands up and runs towards me, excitedly yelling, "Flashlight, Granny! Flashlight Granny!"

Thinking it's kinda dark between the toilet and tub and he can't see his stickers, I hand him his duck flashlight. He immediately shines it on his penis, which he had discovered hanging there when he bent over, and proudly says to me, "My winky, Granny! My winky!"

Boys will be boys, at any age.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Whose idea was it anyway??

Don't get me wrong. I could not be more thankful that Jed receives a disability pension and that we received a grant to turn our basement into a suite for him. And I take responsibility for designing the layout of the suite. And I had a vision of the front entrance addition before I had even viewed the inside of this house we live in. However, I question the sanity of the decisions that made the front entrance Jed's entrance.

You would not believe the number of times the voices in my head repeat the words of his social worker Beth Q, when the plans were in the works for his suite and consequential semi-independence. "It's his home and if he chooses to paper the walls with Disney posters and live with waist deep laundry, and have cats ruling the roost and eat hot dogs 6 days a week, so be it. He's an adult. It's his home." Looking back, it's like she was freakishly prophetic. And the concept is right. However...

I don't think she was thinking about Christmas.

He is so proud of his Christmas decorations. I have pictures of the exterior display of artistry.

At least the lights aren't blinking. (Mother always taught me to say something positive)

I'm not sure which Life Skills Worker took him shopping last year to purchase this metallic blue wreath, but may their Christmas be merry.

Let's get a closer look:

Metallic blue wreath. Red bow. Plastic candies. Scraps of red and gold garland. 
 And yes, this is my front door that faces the street.

Okay, I don't have pictures but let me describe his tree: It's in the middle of his very small living room - you have to sit tall to see the tv beyond it. It stands about 5 feet tall. The decorations are all in the upper 3 feet because the cat truly does rule the roost. The decorations consist of multicolored lights, soft pink & purple glass balls (from Kerri's tree she left behind a few years ago. And now that she is back in Canada, Jed asked me the other day if she is gonna want her decorations back. We can only hope.) His ornaments range from a wooden cross to santa to the donkey from Shrek to retail tags from his mittens that have a snowflake on them. And once again, "So be it. He's an adult. It's his home," rings through my mind.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Remember when Sunday was called "A day of rest?"

At 7:52AM  I glance at the clock. I groan but then console myself with "I can lay here for another 20 minutes, church doesn't start until 9:15"   Then at 8:16  "Enough already!" I firmly reprimand myself. "Just get your butt outta bed- you've got 35 minutes to shower, get dressed and out the door."

I roll over and grab my iPhone, and with bleary eyes I check Facebook to see if the kids are online - if Xander's up and ready I'll skip the shower and go pick him up for church instead. No kids online.
I glimpse out the window at the -25 weather as I head to the shower. I groan again and think, "I should just crawl back into bed - I could get almost 3 more hours before I work at noon."

But I press on, thankful there is always coffee ready at church before the service because I don't have time to make any.

By the time I get dressed and paint my eyelashes and other important stuff like that, it's 8:55- the time I normally am walking out the door, except today I'm still standing with wet hair. And I can't find my blow dryer. What the!??! Oh yeah, I remember Ken borrowed it to shrink wrap their windows and forgot to return it. I groan again. "I should just head back to bed."

But I seem to recall Jed might have a blow dryer downstairs in his suite. I rummage through his bathroom and come up empty handed. I groan, "I should just go back to bed," but instead I call to confirm the kids are up (being secretly disappointed when they pick up the phone) - I'll just stop by and dry my hair on the way.

I throw a few hair products in my purse, grab a headband and my bible and trudge out into the -25 with wet hair.

I arrive to find the kids bathroom occupied. I summon my last scrap of patience and stand there waiting to get in. I suppressed a groan and think, "I should just stay and visit the kids this morning."

It turns out the blow dryer was in the kitchen so I didn't need to wait for the bathroom after all. Finding a plug-in was another matter.

By the time I finished my rush job drying my hair I can hear Jade offering Xander a choice of eggs or waffles for breakfast. I am tempted once to give up on church and just stay indoors with the kids. But off I go.

As I back out of the driveway I take a nanosecond to decide it might be just as fast to take Vance Rd rather than my usual drive down Westwood. I arrive at the red light and wait to turn left onto the highway. And wait. And wait. For some reason the light will not change to green. I groan (numerous times) and think to myself, "I should just go shopping, the mall is open earlier on Sundays now for Christmas Commercialism."

But alas I choose to drive through a red light and make the trek to church. I happen to glance in the mirror as I am driving down the highway. I groan. "Thank God I brought a headband," I mutter to myself as I realize my hair was still damp and is now flat-but-yet-frizzy as only permed hair can do. I onehandedly try to work my headband into my hair as I drive towards the church thinking this has got to be more unsafe than texting-and-driving.

"I should just go shopping," I think to myself as I turn into the church driveway. But I perservere. And somehow I managed to grab a coffee and slide into my seat just before the opening strum of the guitar.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Avalina, Jesus, Elliott, Zeke & Quinn - Ahhh, baby fest!

Yesterday was a busy day. It started off with a family breakfast with Granny, PaPa and Xander and his parents. I was puttering in the kitchen getting the coffee on when I heard a wee knock at the back door at 8:45am.

"Hell-oooo. Hell-ooo-ooo." I call out in a not-quite-singing-not-quite-baby-talk kinda voice as I head towards the door. Of course my eyes are pointing down to about 25 inches up from the floor, where I expect to see Xander's chubby little cheeks, as I open the door with a big smile on my face. Which was immediately replaced with a sheepish grin as I gaze into the knees of Troy, our drywaller, who has arrived to work on our new bathroom. I slammed the door in his face.

Poor guy didn't quite know how to respond as I reopened the door with a, "Hmmmmpft! You're not Xander!"

After breakfast I was off to the church to decorate and set up for our fundraiser-dessert night-silent auction. My afternoon was filled with a baby shower for little Avalina.

Later, I was in the middle of assembling Mary, Joe and the Holy Babe with yards of muslin fabric and a gallon of white glue when I got a text message informing me that Zeke and Quinn were visiting little Elliott and it was the perfect opportunity for this great Aunty to get her first snuggles with the matching little cutie-patooties.

I finished up with the Holy Family and washed up. I momentarily considered changing my clothes before heading up to Ray & Jesse's house where the baby fest was going on, but I glanced down and a quick assessment told me I didn't look too bad.

Of course I should have realized that glue dries clear. I was half way up the Hart Highway when I rested one hand in my lap while the other one drove. What the?!? It was then I realized that the glue I soaked my craft fabric in to stiffen it, could also stiffen denim and t-shirt knit. By the time I arrived I was fairly stiffened into a driving position.

But alas I managed to break free enough to snuggle in with the most amazing little matching human beings. I'm so glad they invited me to get my first visit in the calm serene surroundings of Jesse's home rather than having to fight off the crowds that are sure to assemble tomorrow night at the public meet-and-greet.


Then as a little PS to this story, I have to share how blessed my heart feels when I drive home from the Hart, which is beautiful under it's fresh blanket of white, to have my lovely little still partially green birch tree greet me in the front yard. Oh green-ness, how I love thee!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I am not afraid of spiders.

Public speaking is an irrational fear for me - like a spider fear for many others. Imagine someone with a spider fear knowing there is a tarantula running free on the table but sitting down to eat anyway. It takes that kinda guts and fortitude for me to stand up before a room full of people and make a speech.

But alas, I did it and I survived to tell the story.

I was asked to share my story of baby Ben's death at a community memorial service for people who have lost a baby - whether prebirth, during birth or in infancy. It was held in the small chapel on the cemetery grounds. (I have lived here for 34 years and did not know there was a chapel on the cemetery grounds.)

Of course I cannot share my story of Ben's death without including my story of Jed who was conceived on very same day - Remembrance Day November 11, 1985. And of how we unknowingly let God name Jedediah because it means Beloved of God. We didn't know the story of 2 Samuel 12 until Jed was a few months old.

But here I go getting off track again. I did not sit down to blog about my story. I sat down to blog about sitting in the quiet little chapel amongst lots of candles and a trio softly playing their instruments in the corner (flute, cello and violin) and moments of silence and reflection. Yes, moments of silence and reflection and the sound of my iPhone vibrating nonstop as Jed repeatedly tried to phone me to ask what time I'd be  home.

I did have the ringer shut off and the vibration is supposed to be a silent notification of an incoming event, but in a silent solemn room the vibration may as well have been a gong. I knew there must be a way of completely shutting the phone off and I discreetly tried to figure it out but alas I could not. But as I was playing with buttons and sliders I managed to set off the ringer and there amongst the grieving parents were the Veggie Tales singing Where is my cellphone. Comic relief, I believe they call it.

I finally decided to send a text to landline message to Jed. Obviously the computer generated voice that read my text to him was not very stern sounding "Do NOT phone me again. I am at a funeral!" Which of course only prompted him to immediately call back and leave voicemails asking whose funeral, where was it and what time was it over. (All information I had, for obvious reasons, purposely not disclosed over the previous couple of weeks)

And so my pocket vibrated for most of the evening distracting me from the fact that my personal tarantula awaited me at the pulpit. Ah, there's a silver lining in every cloud.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The show must go on...

I'm not a cliche fan. But some just ring true. Take for example "People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime". And some people fit all three - my friend Patti is one. I could list a number of reasons why we just clicked. And for a season I would have listed her as my closest friend. We've drifted a bit, but I know that I can always count on her being a lifetime friend.

Our husband's were born within weeks of each other. We've talked for years about doing something incredible for their 50th birthdays - travelling to Newfoundland, taking a tropical vacation, having a big bash etc etc.

And then 50 closes in. And reality sets in. They had a quiet family celebration for Ken while we were away on Vancouver Island. I described Alb's simple party in a previous post.

But we did use their respective birthdays as an excuse to go for dinner and attend a CD release concert for our good friend Maureen. Maureen and I have always joked that the more famous she becomes with her music, the more people want to refer to themselves being "close personal friends". But I am a close personal friend of Maureen Washington. Just ask me.

Seven of us met at Moxies a couple of hours before the concert. We had a great meal, lotsa fun, a bit of wine and a good waitress.

Then we asked for the bill about 1/2 hour before showtime. It didn't come and didn't come and didn't come. Finally we just went up to the counter to pay. Our waitress informed us they were having trouble getting the bills to print - she had her supervisor working on it. But time was ticking.

"I don't need a receipt," I said. "But we have to leave right now - here's my visa, just find the total and take my money."

The girl greeter informed us she could "see your waitress, she won' be long."

Yeah, we can see her too. And it's been too long already. Waiting really wasn't the issue, if we didn't need to be somewhere on the other side of town in 4 minutes.

Patti speaks with authority, "Get me a manager."

"I'm sorry, I can't leave my post." the greeter girl says.

"Huh?" her dumbass comment takes us by surprise.

In a nice yet firm voice Patti says, "Get a manager, take our money or we are leaving."

No response from the girl beyond a blank stare.

So my friend Patti turned and walked out the door. She's my friend, what could I do but follow her.

Guilt and frustration consumed me as I walked into the parking lot, glad my husband had gone and brought the truck around so it was a short walk as I slunk to the truck half expecting to hear sirens or gunshot or something.

I'm sure the bill wasn't much more than three hundred bucks. They can suck it up. We had a show to attend. And we arrived just as the curtain opened.

PS - We went back at midnight and paid our bill. But if Patti wouldn't have, neither would have I. (We did get a 25% discount, a free drink and a $25 gift card to ensure we'd have to go back)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fifty years - Months to organize it. A minute to win it.

We been trying for over a year to organize a dinner party with a few guys (and their wives) who work with Albert. It gets complicated trying to fit it into all the different work shifts and complex life schedules. We did have it all planned out in May but Jed ended up in the hospital and that was the end of partying for a bit.

Finally last Thursday seemed an opportune time to try again.

Now, normally when Alb wants to have a BBQ or dinner party he simply says, "We should have so-and-so over for dinner." And voila! It all comes together. But this time he did the date-setting, confirming with guests, suggestion of menu items, etc. Yes, I still had to shop and cook but I'm okay with that - and trust me, so were the guests.
On October 25th, 1960 my mother-in-law gave birth to an amazing man. Well, he wasn't a man at the time and probably wasn't all that amazing in the moment, but he's turned into one over these fifty years of life. But one of his most endearing qualities that makes him amazing is his humility. Genuine humility - not just "aw,  you shouldn't have" humility. And as such, he really hates birthdays, and attention and things that focus on him personally. 

And so I decided to honour that and not plan a 50th birthday party for him - we'd just have our usual family dinner where we overeat good food and then force ourselves to stuff down a piece of cake that no one really enjoys, but we do for tradition's sake. Then he'd let Xander open his couple of gifts and we'd all smile and chuckle over what would be sure to be humorous birthday cards. That was my plan.

I had a few people subtly express disappointment and disbelief when they heard my plan. He is turning FIFTY after all! While on one hand, I knew that not making a fuss would be most honouring to him, on the other hand I began to feel a little guilty for not making a bigger deal out of it.

And so I compromised.

A few days before our dinner party I called the guests and let them know I was turning the party into a surprise birthday. I baked a cake (yes, from scratch! that's an event in itself) and called it a done deal.

A couple of days before the dinner I began to wonder if Albert knew what I was planning when he asked me if we could play some Minute To Win It games during the evening.

We had a great time with cookies in our eyes, men with pantyhose on, and shredded crepe paper all over the place. The winners of each event tried not to feel like losers when their scratch and win prizes didn't pay out.

I didn't decorate the house or make much fuss, and I don't think Alb even realized it was his birthday party until the end of the evening when the obligatory cake was served. So all-in-all it was a successful evening. It was fun. We quietly honoured my amazing man. (Okay we weren't that quiet, but the honouring part was subtle) My conscience is at ease knowing I didn't brush off my husband's 50th birthday. And he ended up with some really hilarious cards, a few bottles of wine and a gift card or two. Life is Good. Happy Birthday my amazing man! I luv yoe.

My mother doesn't have to worry about losing her title as the family cake decorator!

Alb with a cookie stuck in his ear.

Finally a good use for panyhose!

Dan with a cookie stuck in his eye.
Jimmy kicks butt at the Paper Dragon Dance.

Yank Me was a hit. Everyone continued after the game was over.
Connie got her 2 cents worth!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I was gonna blog a nice sentimental "Happy Thanksgiving" piece about living a life of thankfulness and all the things we have to be grateful for. But alas something funnier came up.  :)  Whew!

It amazes me how often during Sunday morning church someone's cellphone will ring. I love it when you get to hear a freakin' amazing ringtone like "Who Let the Dogs Out?" or "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" at the most inopportune time.

I was in a meeting one time where the speaker totally just humorously worked into the beginning of her speech a little exercise where she had everyone shut off their ringers ... this should be routine training in bible college.

But alas, just to cover my butt, I recently changed my ringtone to "Where is my Cell Phone?" a little ditty by the Veggie Tales (a nice Christian cartoon) originally called "Where is my hairbrush?" This morning, during Thanksgiving Service, I forgot to shut off my ringer. ... but seriously, this is not an issue because NO ONE calls me on a Sunday morning.

Enter the new world of texting....

"Ding da-ding" My phone vibrates and makes a relatively inconspicuous notification chime indicating I've received a new text message.

Now, way back in the 1990's if someone had something to say to you they could darn well wait until after church to talk to you. But here in the second decade of the new millennium, it's catastrophic if you don't respond immediately to the dinging of the electronic device in your pocket.

I pulled my iPhone outta my purse and read the screen.

"Ha!" I laughed louder than the ringtone. Then guiltily looked around and tried to inconspicuously respond to the text I just received.

It was Jed's new life skills worker.

He's young. Younger than Jed actually. But things seem to be going well and Jed seems to respond well to him so I've been happy so far.

Of course my initial reaction to seeing him message me on a Sunday morning of a long weekend was, "Shit. Maybe it's not going as well as I thought." ... yes, I thought "shit" while sitting in church.

Then I opened the message ....

"Hi my beautiful! I hope you slept well."

I responded "Ummm ... yes, I did thanks."

And then nearly peed myself waiting for him to realize he's texted his employer, not his girlfriend.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Size matters.

I was trying to impress upon my mother how amazing the iPhone is. You can get your email, do your facebooking, surf the internet, google an address etc etc (you can even make phone calls)  All with this 2x5 inch piece of wonder technology. She kinda burst my bubble a bit when she pointed out, "We have just finally gotten computer monitors to a decent 24" size - why on earth would you want to do all that stuff on a 2" screen."

Of course it's not the size that excites me, it's the mobility. As matter of fact the size of the screen and letters was a bit of an awakening for me. I was always proud of my top-notch vision in a family of glasses-wearers. But alas I  have come to realize my good vision was due in part to the large size of computers and TVs. Cuz trying to read my messages, especially in the morning, poses a bit of a challenge on the iPhone. 

I had to cave and get me some drugstore readers. WOW! I'm shocked at how failing my eyesight really is.  I can see!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

An App a day keeps the frustration at bay.

I used to love learning. I always loved school (not necessarily "going to school" but the learning part) and doing puzzles and things like that. But I have a fairly short stick-with-it-even-when-it-is-difficult-to-grasp attention span - hence I never went on to become a famous researcher able to save the world or anything like that. I tend to lean more to the creative side where you can just make stuff up as you go along and pretend that's what you intended.

I loved learning about computers and all that entailed back in the late 80's and the 90's. Besides actually learning about computers, I loved that they assisted you in learning other stuff - click a button to search or view and voila the information I required is at hand. Editing written stuff became a snap. I've long since given up reading books. On those occasions when I'm doing a group study or something I find it frustrating being unable to click on "find" and "search".

Even our TV watching has changed drastically with the invention of the PVR. We rarely watch commercials - you just press a button and zip to where you want to go. I even find myself occasionally in 'real life' subconsciously and momentarily wanting to press the back or forward button if I miss seeing or hearing something. - Someone should invent the ability to do that.

But I'm aging and my brain is slowing down as it gets crammed fuller and fuller with stuff. I no longer thrive on learning - I just wanna know it. I want to be able to plug my brain in and just download stuff. Take for example our new iPhones. I don't want to spend the time, effort and adventure of the process of learning it - I just wanna know how to use it. I want the destination without the journey.

My husband is forever reminding me that "life is a journey" hang on and enjoy the ride. Until our death, we will never arrive, there is always something else coming over the horizon. And so on that note, I shall resist frustration, enter the iPhone "Apps Store" and continue on my journey of learning.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Key events of a Tuesday.

Tuesdays are usually Gummy Bear Song day - Xander spends the day with Granny while Mommy goes to work.

I opened the door yesterday morning to his little knock and he stood there at his full 27 (or whatever) inches holding up Mommy's car key towards me saying, "Key. Key. Key." One syllable words are good. While his comprehension and understanding are great, verbally... let's just say he's a boy. He hasn't mastered too many 2 syllable words yet. Apple is "ap" and PaPa is "Pop" etc.

He did his usual routine - shoes off, run check out his guitar, pull a few books off the shelf, turn on the TV in the spare room, open the goldfish cracker cupboard, lift the lid and check out his potty... all while toting the car key. He was not keen on giving it up when Mommy had to leave so I grabbed my key off the counter and offered to trade him. He gladly accepted, kissed Mommy goodbye and set about his business.

It was a while later before I really paid attention to some sort of racket going on outside. It was my car. I'm sure the neighbours were impressed with the horn blaring incessantly. Oops. Keys with panic alarms aren't exactly kids toys I guess.

Friday, September 3, 2010

When I'm up I can't get down.

I've always been a bit of a Great Big Sea fan. And yesterday while I was out shopping I couldn't help but reminded of this song - one of their biggest hits:
"When I'm Up (I Can't Get Down)"
I am the fountain of affection

I'm the instrument of joy

And to keep the good times rolling

I'm the boy, I'm the boy,

You know the world could be our oyster,

You just put your trust in me,

Cause we'll keep the good times rolling

Wait and see, wait and see....oh wait and see!

His exhaltation, a sweet disintegration.

A few discolorations, then it comes along

up is why he chooses, the kisses and the bruises

There ain't nothing he refuses, then it comes along

It comes along, and I am lifted, I am lifted, I am lifted!

When I'm up I can't get down

Can't get down, can't get level

When I'm up I can't get down

Get my feet back on the ground

When I'm up I can't get down

Can't get down, can't get level

When I'm up I can't get down

Get my feet back on the ground

I was shopping in Liquidation World, which is on the upper floor of a furniture store. You can access it either from the top level of the parkade or from the antique escalators coming up from the furniture store.

I pushed my cart past two women, whom I assume were mother and adult daughter, fresh off the farm with their floral calf-length dresses and coiled up hair.

They had obviously entered the store via the "up" escalator and were preparing to leave with their bag of treasures. I couldn't help but be privvy to their conversation when they discovered the "down" escalator was not moving.

"Oh no! The escalator is not working," one of them exclaims as they both look around frantically like cornered tigers.

They mutter back and forth to each other wondering what to do.

The elder turns to me and asks, "How do you exit the store when the escalator is not working?"

"Um," I say, trying really hard not to let my sarcastic nature take over. "Why don't you try walking down the steps as if they are stairs."

"Oh. Yes, of course." If she was embarassed she did a good job of disguising it.

And I walked away humming Great Big Sea's "When I'm up, I can't get down...."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Xander Salamander.

Tomorrow Xander will be 18 months old. Being marginally biased, I have to say he is a very clever little boy. And cute. Definitely cute. And well behaved.

I credit God and good genes for all these attributes. Before he was even born, I prayed that the child would be born healthy, but my real request was that he would be kind and smart. God has honoured this and thrown in cute and well behaved as well.

He loves computers. (He'll replay the Gummy Bear song 30 times in a row if you let him.)

He is definitely cute.

He loves rubber ducks. He has many, but there are two whose beaks are slightly different than the others, and he has always favoured them. We call them Fat Lips and Skinny Lips. He will gladly share his ducky collection with you, but Fat Lips and Skinny Lips, not so much.

He loves doing crafts. Here he's designing a mug for Daddy's birthday.

And did I mention he was cute. Definitely cute.

While he is a long way from being "potty trained" by sixteen months he was regularly peeing and pooping in the potty. (And yeah, regularly unrolling all the toilet paper.)

He loves books, and loves our library dates.

His favourite colouring books are puzzle books. (See, he is a smart boy .. I'm not making this stuff up.)

Yes, he's smart and kind, and cute and well behaved. But he's still a boy.

And thank you God, his musicality tends towards the Ziemer side. He loves, loves, loves his guitar.

His love for guitar probably stems in part from his love, love, love for his PaPa.

And a great PaPa he is. I kinda love, love, love them both.

Notice Fat Lips and Skinny Lips each in hand.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Weather, wasps and weeds.

As far as weather goes, we've had a record breaking fantastic summer here in PG. Even back in May and June when the rest of the province (including the Okanagan, where we were stationed while Jed was in hospital) got rain nearly every day.

Of course good weather leads to forest fires, smokey air, and campfire bans with million-dollar fines.
Thankfully our portable fire pit remained legal. Camping is just not the same when you sit in a circle and stare at nothing.

Then last week we got our first rain of the summer and the fire ban was lifted. This meant the wasp colony living under Jed's sidewalk could be dealt with. The had burrowed a huge tunnel right under the cement. This of course was my reason for not weeding the flower beds.

Jed dressed in combat gear and filled in the mouth to the tunnel with sand... only his father forgot to tell him to wait until AFTER dark so the wasps would all be inside. I looked out the window just before dusk and there was a massive cloud of wasps hanging over the sidewalk. It was then I realized Jed had blocked the opening and the little buggers were trying to go home for the night.

No stick is long enough for me to consider poking a hole through to a wasp nest. But Jed braved it. And once he got them all settled into bed, out came the gasoline and matches. Now that's how to make a fire!

And now to deal with the 3-foot weed jungle.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

165!! Holy Bleep, Batman!

Alb and I will be attending the wedding of Tineke and Len on September 23rd. Including the bride and groom, there will be 11 people in attendance. Not only are we attending, but Albert will be officiating the ceremony. This is very cool as he has never done such a thing before.

They were here last night going over the wedding details.

"Oh yeah," they casually mention. "Even though the location is called a park, it's really more like a hiking trail."

And then, as if it's a non-issue, she adds, "You may want to arrive a little bit early; there are one hundred and sixty five stairs leading up to the location."


Well that gives me three weeks to cram in some cardio. Not only do we have to be able to actually make it up the hill, each person there is required to make a speech. I fear I'll barely be upright, much less able to make an eloquent speech.

I stood at the top of my stairs to the basement and did the math: 11 steps. That means 15 times up them will be 165. I shall do this every day.

Somewhere about the 10th time up my basement stairs I was wheezing like I had whooping cough. I did manage to do full 15 flights, but the thought of saying anything more than my name made me want to puke.

I'm sure it'll be a short speech.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My upcoming tropical vacation.

I know I've had a lot of time off work in the past two years, but I told my husband I needed a tropical vacation on an island that has nothing to do with cancer clinics and operating rooms. The solution: I get a 2-week vacation away from Tropical Pool & Spa (my employer) on Vancouver Island. Technically that's a "Tropical vacation" and it's on an island. Hey, I'll take what I can get.

Our ocean side cabin is booked in Ucluelet and our hotel in Victoria is in place as is the Washington/Schultz B&B.  Jim and Barbee will be on Salt Spring Island about the same time and they are going to join us for 4 days in the cabin.

My first thoughts were that I just wanted to lounge around in the sand, drink wine and watch the waves crash in. And I still plan for that to consume much of my time. However I decided we should also do something active. Something out of the ordinary. Something show-stopper. Something to talk about when we get home.

I did some research and found out there's a recently opened Zipline Eco Tour on the island. ZipTrekking at Whistler is on my bucket list, so this piqued my interest. However, I'm not sure I am ready to start checking items off my bucket list just yet. Besides, Barbee is recovering from surgery and there is no way she'd be up for it.

My next option was the Sea to Sky adventure. You charter a whale watching boat to take you up to the north end of the island where you hike in a kilometer or so to natural hot springs whose rock pools overlook the ocean. Ahhh! And then your private float plane comes to pick you up for the return trip. Yes! This is the adventure I was looking for.

I sent an email brochure to Alb, Jim and Barbee saying Please, please, can we do it. Huh huh, can we, can we?

Barbee's response was short with lots of exclamation marks. I can only surmise that the 3-letter answer she gave stood for Who's This For?!!! She's not all that into boats nor planes.

I figure, what's the worst that can happen? They dump us in the ocean and we drown. At least we'd be together. We'd be happy. And a little bit scared. And then we'd go to heaven. It's all good.

But if they don't dump us in the ocean, I'm sure we'll have something to talk about.

Friday, August 27, 2010

iResisted. iPondered. iCaved.

Back in May I dragged my hubby off to the mall to check into getting iPhones. After spending rediculous amounts of time in line-ups and in discussions with both Bell and Telus reps I decided I really couldn't justify them. I really don't use the cellphone I have all that much, and I was off work at the time while Jed was in the hospital.

"We can't afford them. Who knows how long I'm gonna end up being off work." I told my husband as we left the mall. And in a totally unplanned act of impulse we drove directly from the phone store to the Kia dealer and bought my brand new Soul. Okay, I admit financial prowess was never one of my strengths.

Then over the course of the summer, everywhere I turned, something else was pointing to the usefulness of having a smart phone. I began to realize "phone" really has nothing to do with it - people don't TALK on these things! As a matter of fact they use them to AVOID talking ... now we're talkin' my language.

Need a guitar tuner? A flashlight? A GPS? An automatic fart sound generator? Suddenly the six hundred dollar device that comes with a hundred-dollar-a-month user fee is starting to look a little more justifiable. It's no wonder when Apple announced the new 4G iPhone this summer they had 600,000 pre-ordered phones within 24 hours of the announcement. And when the phones hit the shelves in July they sold 1.7 million in the first three days.

It didn't take long once I began feeling flush with Jetta money burning a hole in my pocket for me to put my name on the 3-week waiting list for my very own fart sound generating guitar tuner.

...and I STILL haven't bought any new shoes.  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Here I am!

Here I am!

You probably would not believe the number of times I have logged into this site and sat and stared at a blank blog in the past 6 weeks thinking, "Nothing is funny," then closing the window and walking away.

I recall saying during past discussions centered around blogging that every event in life is a potential story - it's all in the telling. Even with my slack-ass blog entries in the last few months, I'm still getting an average of 25-30 hits per day on the site. This shocks, amazes and shames me.  And so here I go with yet another attempt to become consistent at exercising my exhibitionism while allowing you to practice your voyeurism...

The Jetta finally sold on Tuesday. I say "finally" like I'd been trying hard for months to get rid of it, when in fact I did nothing more than throw an ad in the free Buy-and-Sell and post an album on Facebook about a month ago.

I got enough for it to make me happy - although I sold it cheap enough that the buyer is even happier. My chequing account went into a state of shock when it posted a five-digit balance - however I managed to make short work of that. But I am doing pretty good. I've had the money for 48 hours and I still haven't bought a pair of shoes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Soul is Synced

I know I've mentioned it here before that drivers talking on phones, especially in parking lots, is one of my pet peeves. I was quite happy when I learned our province was going to be counted among those who outlaw such activity.

Enter Bluetooth.

As a side note, being somewhat of an etymologist, I had to find out where the heck the word bluetooth came from:
Bluetooth was named after Harald Bluetooth, the tenth century king of Denmark and Norway. He is known for uniting warring tribes of Denmark and Norway. Bluetooth technology was invented in Denmark and like the king, the technology is intended to unite several devices such as Mobiles, Computers.
My new Kia Soul came with built-in Bluetooth. This is a good thing, since even though drivers talking on the phone is one of my pet peeves, it's other drivers talking on the phone that bothers me and I'm occasionally guilty of such action.

My first encounter with having to answer an incoming call had me scrambling to find the 'receive call' button on my steering wheel amongst the stereo buttons, cruise control and horn which also adorn the wheel. I think I managed to stay within the lines of my lane of traffic, but I'll promise you more than one person would have suspected I was drunk as I yelled "Hello!" at the top of my lungs with my face pointed upwards towards the little speaker built in to the roof above my head.

How I managed to have that conversation and make it home safe I'll never know.

Then a few days later we headed out on our road trip to the Kelowna hospital with Suzy, Albert's GPS, securely mounted to the front windshield, and my phone all synced to my Soul.

An hour or so into the trip I got a phone call. Since Albert was driving the procedure went a little smoother and the two of us chatted with Jay, Jed's lifeskills worker. While we were chatting, Suzy declares there is an incoming call and I can see the hospital phone number on the screen. This sets me off scrambling once more (again, thank God Alb was driving) as I start telling Jay to hang up, just hang up, the hospital is trying to get through on the phone. He wasn't understanding me and kept on talking - to which I kept on freaking out.

Alb turns to me and calmly says, "That's Suzy, not the Soul, with an incoming call."


I'm fairly certain simply picking up a phone and saying, "Hello" would by far be the safe choice.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bringin' back the 80s.

It was one of those "what were you thinking" moments. I seem to be getting them with increasing regularity. I often blame it on the drugs. It's probably just the natural aging process. While I am not a "senior" like my husband, I am edging closer and I seem to be caught in that period where I'll do something that definitely qualifies me as old - but then I realize it.

Sometimes I can catch myself in time to rectify the situation. Take for example a while ago I was clothes shopping and I actually held in my hand a pair of elastic waist pants. I know! Thank God the senior moment passed before I followed through.

Other times I don't catch myself quite so quickly. Take for example last week when I got home and looked in the mirror after making a last minute appointment to get a perm. I know! What was I thinking?

I think I was thinking about the last time I had a perm, 20 years ago when my hair was all one length and half way down my back. But somehow when your hair barely covers your ears and you perm it, it just shrinks up and sits on your head like an SOS pad, it doesn't miraculously flow softly down your back.

She told me not to wash it for 2-3 days so the curl would last longer. I washed it immediately upon getting home hoping it would 'relax' a little. It didn't. I'm hoping it does while knowing it won't.

Meanwhile, I just tell people I'm single-handedly bringing back the 80s. Next year it'll be shoulder pads ... mark my words.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Funny. But hey, it's money.

I've always said age is just a number - however somehow it just seems funnier when it's someone elses number.

We received our home insurance renewal notice while we were away in Kelowna. It had gone up a bit and came with the usual explanation of inflation and the cost of doing business.

Then the other day I got a phone call from our insurance agent.

"Don't pay the invoice you received in the mail," she said. "I've just realized Albert qualifies for a senior's discount this year. Your premiums will be less."

After I caught my breath and changed my pants after peeing them I laughed so hard, I thanked her. "Fifty" doesn't sound all that funny to me, but "senior"? Now THATs funny!

But hey, it saved me nearly a hundred bucks.

Monday, June 28, 2010

We now return to our real life...

Ok, this is where we pick up and carry on like six weeks of my life didn't just vanish into thin air ...

I may or may not blog more about Jed's adventures with lung cancer. Truly there were moments of hilarity amongst the stress, shock and seriousness but for now I don't feel like recalling the details. But ask me about the catheter sometime...

Thursday, May 27, 2010


We had a video conference with Dr Humer from Kelowna this morning. There was talk of discharging Jed today however, Dr Humer has requested he stay in hospital here until Saturday when he will be flown to Kelowna.
Monday he will be put under general anesthetic for another bronchoscope. They will take a larger biopsy and try to inflate the lung a bit so they can get a better idea of how far into the lung tissue the tumour is. The bulb part of the tumour appears to be about an inch and half or so. It is located right where the bronchial tube enters the lung and is blocking air from entering.

The top lobe of the lung looks pretty good but they cannot tell the condition of the lower portion because it is collapsed. They are still fairly certain it is benign but the official results have not come back from pathology yet.
Dr Humer thinks that he'll likely have the surgery close to the end of next week. however, they won't decide that for sure until after they do the bronchoscope. They may want to let the lung rest and heal from the pneumonia for a bit, which could be days or weeks.
For now it is just nice to have a bit of a confirmed schedule so we can make some plans. It has been a huge blessing to have Brandi here all week. She will fly out tomorrow morning to a previously planned conference in Whistler.

Thanks to all for your prayers, love and good wishes. ~ Jed, Albert & Liana

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

K-town here we come. Sometime. Maybe.

It's looking more and more like Jed's surgical destination will be Kelowna. However, they tell me that nothing is set in stone until his plane leaves the ground.

Tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 8:30 we have a video conference with a thoracic surgical team from Kelowna. This is essentially the doctor/patient office visit done 21st century style. Jed is not too thrilled that his mother and sister are going to attend the event. But as you know life isn't always a bucket of thrills.

Hopefully after this meeting we will have a few more details like the size of the tumour, the expected length of hospital stay, and most importantly a departure time. But for now we know he won't be leaving before tomorrow morning so I can relax a bit and quite worrying about missing a phone call.

Jed is doing pretty good. He has had his IV removed because he is no longer receiving intravenous antibiotics and he is staying hydrated. He was not too impressed with no longer having an IV pole to drag around the hallways. He has managed to convince the nursing staff that he is weak and has a sore back and needs a walker if they expect him to get his daily exercise.

He tottered along like an old man out to the parking lot yesterday to check out my new Grannymobile.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Size doesn't matter. Stat or fact?

Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say.
~William W. Watt

By Thursday morning, Jed had gotten over his flu symptoms (throwing up and diarrhea) but still had an uncontrollable fever and his daily chest x-rays showed that he was not responding to the IV antibiotics. They called in Dr Hamar who is an infection specialist. He figured there should have been a marked improvement in lung function after 4 days on IV and suspected maybe Jed had inhaled vomit or something so he ordered a bronchoscope be done.

Jed had to fast Friday morning and about noon he was wheeled to the ambulatory care unit where normal procedure is to receive a mild sedation that will have the patient sleep for about 5 minutes while they put a camera down the throat and into the lungs for a good visual inspection.

Staying true to form, Jed refused to go to sleep so they gave him a second sedation. He still refused to sleep. An anesthetist was called in to put him right out. As a result, after the little photo op inside his lungs, they could not get him to wake up. Then they lost control of his blood pressure and it plummeted. The procedure which would normally have the patient back in their room in an hour or so ended up being a 4 hour ordeal.

While the nurses were tending to Jed, Dr Smith, who did the bronchoscope, called me at home.

"Mrs Ziemer, I just finished the procedure and what I've found is a..." I fully anticipated he would end the sentence with the words "foreign body" or "piece of vomit" or "peanut ... found a peanut, found a peanut..."

What came out of his mouth hit me like a brick on the side of the head, "... a tumour."

A tumour?? No God, no! Oh and his lung has collapsed as well.

He went on to say that it appears to be benign, but one can never really tell until the results from the biopsy come back. He will require surgery in either Vancouver or Kelowna and because we were heading into a long weekend we probably would not hear from a surgeon until Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

He suspects Jed has had this tumour for a long time and repeatedly assured me that waiting a few more days to get it removed almost certainly wasn't going to make any difference. Looking back now, I wonder if he really has asthma which they have been treating him for for the last 2 or 3 years. Perhaps it was a tumour that has been interfering with his breathing all along.

Dr Smith described how there really was no option, the tumour has to come out or he will never regain use of his lung. Besides, even if it is currently benign the likelihood of becoming malignant is high.

After giving me the 30-second low-down he said, "You can expect a call from Dr Canne next week. I have him on another line and would really like to go and continue to speak with him."

"OK, thank you for calling," I sputter.

I quickly and in stunned motion called Albert, Brandi, Jade, Connie and Barb before racing back to the hospital.

Everyone wanted to know how big the tumour was. "I don't know. I didn't think to ask. Size doesn't matter." I've always said that. It's an effin' tumour and it has to come out.

Within 8 hours Brandi and Kore arrived. Oh what a blessing it was to have them make that spontaneous decision.

Of course Dr Smith left the hospital by the time I got there and no one else had access to any further information for me. And so we sit and play the waiting game over the long weekend. The nurses are all fairly confident that since Jed is already in a hospital bed, he will get a top priority and will very likely be flown out Tuesday or Wednesday, provided they can find him a bed.

We still don't know for sure whether he will go to Vancouver or Kelowna and we are trusting God will get him to the best surgeon in the best time. Kore's family has so very generously offered for us to use his Grandma's apartment which has been empty but furnished for the last couple of months since Grandma moved in to a seniors home. It's on Oak Street - straight down from Vancouver General. Another enormous blessing!

And what does one do while waiting...
.... one Googles.

And Google was not very optimistic. I had to stop reading the stats: only 2-5% of lung tumours are benign. Those with lung cancer have a less than 10% chance of seeing five years of life. And the best chances are for those who catch it in early stages, not those who've "had it for a long time."

But my husband helped me put it into perspective. Stats don't always tell the real story. Statistically, you would be correct to say that the average human has one breast and one testicle. The fact is the vast majority of lung tumour patients are smokers and they are significantly older than 23 years old. 

So, given Jed's demographics, his odds I'm sure are enormous by comparison. And the Dr did say it looked benign. And so for now, that's what I hang on to.

And Jed's being such a trooper. I am very proud of him.

Consider Yourself Reminded.

Ten years. It's been 10 years today since I was branded with that title that no-one ever wants to wear. That is until you receive it. ...