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.

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. ...