Friday, December 12, 2014

CP Holiday Train

Now this was awesome.
 Thanks CP Railway for the Holiday Train.
 The show was a little late for us so we ducked out after walking the length of the train but that was perfect.
This was a great event, can't wait to see it again in 2016.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gram's Memorial

We jump at any chance to head to Ontario where the majority of our family is from.
This trip was not for the most joyous of occasions but was still welcome.
There was some talk of my Gram's memorial service being held in the spring since the usual haste to prepare the remains was not an issue.
She donated her body to education and science at the university, just as my Grandad before her.
Yet another example of the commitment they felt to their life long careers.

In the end a closer date was chosen just in time to beat the Christmas rush.
Christmas had, of course, already rushed all over the place.
The service was held at a hotel since Gram would not have chosen a church for, well, anything.
The memorabilia revealed a full and accomplished life.
I even discovered that Gram was the valedictorian of her high school graduating class.
My cousin read her address which spoke of their responsibility, as the first post-war graduating class, to shape the country.
Fiona was especially taken with her University scribbler full of perfectly penned lessons on teaching kindergarten.
A far cry from my own chicken scratch pharmacy notes which would most certainly not look as nice on display.
One of many {I'm sure} cottage journals was also set out.
Gram was always encouraging us to write in it at each visit to Elizabeth Island.
What a treasure to have now.
So many family members spoke which highlighted the differences {and similarities} in the role Gram played in each of our lives.
Two of Gram's dear friends also wrote tributes.
The first was read by my Mom as the writer could not attend.
She knew her when they were both "freshies" at University and spent their first days sleeping on cots in a tea room while waiting for the girls dorm to be finished.
She told tales of sock hops, including the dance where my grandparents met.

The second also spoke of the distant past but what stuck with me were her more recent memories.
To hear her recollect the moment that she knew she "was losing her friend" was heart wrenching but her words were so beautiful and you felt her anguish in that moment.
The above photo depicts exactly how I remember my Gram.
Thoughtful, attentive, intelligent, proud and kind.

The photo below I took from our hotel room since it also evoked memories of Gram.
The shadows of the trees through the curtains felt like a view I had seen more than once from each of Gram's properties.
Though the memorial was what took us to Ontario, the highlight was the family.
I got fewer pictures than I had hoped so am only sharing the one of the newest addition.
Great to meet you Beau.
During the memorial, about halfway through the speakers, Fiona leaned towards me and said "Mommy, I don't know what I will say about GG."
My initial reaction was to say "Oh Fiona you don't have to say anything babe."
However, when my turn came to speak and she followed me up I thought again and kneeled down to ask if she would like to say something.
She replied no, not surprising given the large crowd, but stayed by my side while I spoke.
The next day my Dad was entertaining the kids while I visited with my aunts.
They went exploring and found the memorial room empty save for the seats and podium.
Fiona took that opportunity to stand up and say how she missed and loved her GG.
I didn't hear exactly what she said.
It doesn't matter what she said.
I was just so happy that she had a chance to say her own goodbye, on her own time.

We all miss you Gram.
This will be the first year I don't send a Christmas greeting your way.
At least not on paper.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

...Christmas!
I have a weekend trip to Toronto to share but that task seems a little daunting for a Sunday night.
Instead I am posting some pictures of the weekend.
We started it off right with a Friday night swim with our youngest friend Olivia.

Saturday began with Fiona's ballet dress rehearsal.
Her third dance recital is taking place next week and they are cute cute cute.
Ballet recital
 In the afternoon we took in the Festival of Frozen Trees with our besties.
{There may have been a few Elsa, Anna and Olafs.}
Festival of the Trees Edmonton 2014
 The new story corner was a welcome addition.
Festival of the Trees Edmonton 2014
 And of course cookie decorating is a must.
Festival of the Trees Edmonton 2014
 Cedric needed a little decorating help but had no problem completing the eating portion solo.
Festival of the Trees Edmonton 2014
 We took in what we could of the decorations while running between children events.
Festival of the Trees Edmonton 2014
 This was our first year sending Fiona in to the "secret kids only shopping".
In the whirlwind of figuring out how much money she needed and accidentally letting Cedric slip in behind her we failed to explain that this was her chance to buy Christmas gifts for others.
That's ok I thought, there are elf helpers in there, they'll explain it to her.
When she came out with that cheeky smile on her face, however, I just knew she had found some treasures for her own collection.
I know her so well.
In that moment I felt a mixture of emotions.
She was so happy and excited so I wanted to share that with her.
At the same time I felt like I had failed her.
I hadn't equipped her properly, not only for that shopping spree but for life.
Had I created a materialistic, selfish child?
Hadn't we discussed at length what the true spirit of Christmas was?
I expressed this to Jeff on our way to dinner.  He didn't disagree but kept fairly quiet.
After a lovely dinner my sweet child, who had behaved so well in the restaurant, said out of the blue "Mommy, I just love you."
I wanted to cry that I had doubted for even a split second the character of this wonderful little person.
I had forgotten that she is 4. 
{Four and a HALF she would say.}
I leaned to Jeff and said that I thought I had been too harsh in my initial reaction.
He said "no, not at all" of course {smart guy} but chuckled a little and I knew that he knew that I knew he had known that all along {smart guy}.
Festival of the Trees Edmonton 2014
 This is one of the best shots I could get of Charlie all night.
The kid just does not stay still!

On Sunday we headed to our favourite tree lot at the U of A to visit those trusty Forest Society students.
We browsed the trees and I thought of picking a pine with those nice long needles or a sparse Charlie-Brown-looking douglas fir but we just kept coming back to our tried and true Balsam.
And the students approved, saying that it gives off the best smell and lasts the longest.
They're the experts you know.
Cedric was a big help carrying the tree.
U of A Foresty Students Tree Lot
 Fiona helped by cheesing up the lot.
U of A Foresty Students Tree Lot
 But the real smiles came when the candy canes were busted out.
I'm telling you, we just love those forestry students.
U of A Foresty Students Tree Lot
 They sawed the bottom and even offered to load it on the car.
U of A Foresty Students Tree Lot
 We declined since we were all prepared-like with bungee cords this year.
Fancy, I know.
U of A Foresty Students Tree Lot
  I forgot to get the shot of the tree loaded up at the lot which gave me the perfect excuse to get our lights in the background.
Christmas is officially in full swing over here.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Halloween 2014 Recap

Just wanted to share a few pictures of our Halloween this year.
I did some stamping on the kids treat bags...
 ...then let them go to town on the other side.
 We also let Fiona go to town on the pumpkin design.
Just look at that concentration, this is bound to be a masterpiece right?
 Well, art is subjective.
Mama, for one, thought it was great but may have taken a little artistic license when doing the carving.
Cedric was uninterested in the face but thought gutting the pumpkin was too good to be true.
 We lucked out with a temperature of about 5 C.
 No snowsuit under the lion this year.
It was heartwarming to see Cedric wear this handmade costume that I, both my sisters and Fiona wore.
Good job making that one to last Mom.
 And no coat on this snow princess.
I raced behind her pestering "Fiona, are you cold? Fiona do you want your jacket?"
Each time the reply was a firm no.
The catch phrase of the night became "the cold never bothered her anyway."
Hope you had a great one too.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mary Margaret {Pearson} Horney

May 11, 1927 - Oct 30, 2014

Dear Gram,
I spent yesterday surrounded by children full of joy and life.
As they ran carelessly from door to door I could imagine you smiling and commenting how they were just "full of it".
It was Halloween, a day I can't recall ever spending with you.
But in a way it was a great day to remember your beautiful spirit.
My own kids love their GG and they are certainly not the first.
I saw you only once in your classroom of kindergarteners.
 I was Fiona's age and not yet in school but you let me participate with your kids.
I remember looking at you, my Gram the teacher, with even more awe.
You were one of the strongest, most confident and most intelligent women I knew.
And that was before I really knew you.
As a child you enriched my life in ways I couldn't understand and I often took that for granted.
You always wanted the best for us and you were anything but quiet about it.
As an adult I am so grateful to have had such a positive force in my life.
You were stylish.
I have few memories of you without a fabulous scarf, necklace, earrings or brooch.
But never too much, you were always accessorized to perfection.
You were sophisticated.
Literature, theatre, music, gardening, travel, you did it all.
We recently started visiting the public library again and the shelves of books make me think of you.
In my 20's I remember reading a book on your recommendation and being shocked at the racy content.
You never ceased to amaze me with your openness to experiences and change.
That Macbook that gave us so many face to face moments is just one of the many examples of how, even in your 80's, no skill was beyond you.
Not if it knew what was good for it.

I turned the radio to CBC2 to hear some classical music that you loved so.
The selection was gothic, meant to channel thoughts of the afterworld.
I laughed through the tears since I was sure that you would find some humour in the irony.
Thank you for those wonderful lazy days at the cottage, complete only when someone made a blueberry cobbler.
Thank you for those busy days in the city full of culture, falafel and lattes.

My african violet bloomed a couple of days ago and it prompted me to think of you.
Thank you for leaving us all with so many ways to remember your full and inspirational life.
Lots of love.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Elsa Costume {Oh Yes We Did}

I tried, I really did.
"Fiona" I said. 
"There will be so many Elsas this year" I said. 
"You don't want to be the same as everyone" I said.
I was wrong. 
She does in fact want, more than anything, to be Elsa.
And who am I to argue with this strong willed four and a half year old?
So I didn't.
 Instead I immediately started planning my very own inexpensive and relatively easy Elsa.
Elsa Costume
 Luckily I had 1.7m of blue stretch satin in a grab bag of craft supplies from my MIL so $0 for that.
I also had an old pair of white(ish, they were worn by a toddler after all) tights, $0 for those.
I bought:
  1 meter of snowflake organza = $6.
3 meters of elastic sequins = $9. 
Thread =$1
18cm closed-end zipper for $1.
{Gotta love that Fabricland membership.}
I started by making a little pattern for myself out of some spare fabric but this is not necessary.
Kid bodies are so easy to sew for since they are mostly curve-less.
For the bodice I measured Fiona's chest around {CA} and the distance from her underarm line to her high waist {UW}.
The bodice front was a rectangle w=CA x 0.5 {+3cm for seam allowance} h= UW {+3cm for seam allowance} with a little sweetheart shape freehanded in the top.
The bodice backs {you need 2 so just fold the fabric in half for this piece before cutting} were also rectangles w=CA x 0.25 (+3cm for seam allowance} h= UW {+3cm for seam allowance}.
 For the skirt I measured Fiona's high waist around {WA} and the distance from her high waist to the floor {WF}.
I cut one large piece w= WA x 2 {+3cm for seam allowance} h= WF {+3cm for seam allowance and hem}.
Then I marked a spot the distance of HW x 0.25 from each end of one side of the width and placed a straight line from the corner on the other end to this point. 
{Hopefully the pic makes that sentence a lot less confusing.}
The wider end will be the bottom hem and the more narrow end the waist.
{And yes that's a block in the last shot and I'm not even going back to edit it out.}
 Next I sewed each of the bodice backs to the front {right sides together}.
 Then I pinned the bodice to the waist at each end {yes they are different lengths}.
 To make these pieces fit I folded the whole thing in half and pinned as far as I could to the middle...
 ...then flattened it and made a pleat in the middle of the skirt.
 This pleat gives the skirt a bit of walking room in the front, preschoolers in pencil skirts could get ugly.
 The next step was a very lazy zipper installation.
I folded and ironed back 1.5cm on each side of the dress's back seam then sewed the zipper on one side with the top of the zipper about 1.5cm from top of the bodice.
I usually just tack the top of the zipper down so I don't have to sew it in when finishing the top.
 Next I pinned the other side of the zipper and sewed it {opening the zipper to sew the second side makes your life much easier}.
After getting the zipper in I sewed the back of the skirt together right up to the zipper bottom.
This is also when I finished the bottom hem {folded up twice 3/4cm each time}.
Then I folded the top of the bodice in twice {about 3/4cm each time as well}, ironed and pinned but did not sew yet.
 For the sleeves I cut the end of the feet off of the tights and cut right down the middle seam.
I attached each end of what was the tights' waistband at about the point where spaghetti straps would go then played with some pleating to fit the rest in.
 A cooperative kid helps to get the placement just right.
I mean look at this champ, all those pins and still smiling.
{Hopefully her smile has distracted you enough to not notice the mess in the background.}
 Now don't go sewing that seam just yet, first attach each salvage end of that meter of snowflake organza just outside the sleeve {I just did this one pin at a time so I didn't lose my sleeve pleating}.
Now you can finally sew all the way around that bodice top and finish the bodice, sleeves and part of the cape in one seam.
 You will have a big hoop of the cape material at the back which I simply pleated a couple of times and attached a small amount of elastic sequins to hold it together.
You obviously can't sew it tight since you need to be able to undo the zipper to get Elsa into her dress.
You can see how our back turned out in the very last picture.
I may still use a couple hook-and-eyes to bring to cape to the top of the bodice but I actually like the way it looks and the pleats give it a little billowy effect.
Finally the cape needs to be cut at floor length.
No matter how great it looked long, trains on preschoolers could also get ugly.
 Instead of sewing the bottom I simply saturated the cut edge with fray stop.
Love that stuff.
 I decided to sew on my own sequins since I couldn't find sequin material saturated enough for the bodice.
All I did was cut the elastic sequins in strips the length of the bodice front and sewed them on right next to each other with one line of stitches on the machine each.
I wanted to add some detail to the sleeves so used some silver fabric paint and a thin paint brush to add the lines Elsa has on her sleeves.
To paint these on I stuffed the top of the sleeves with potholders and propped them on top of some candles.
I also ended up gluing some stray sequins to the bottom of the skirt on Fiona's request.
 I would say the whole thing took me 2-3 hours and cost $17 {it would have been about $25 if I'd had to buy the stretch satin as well}.
Elsa Costume
 Fiona is thrilled and wears it any chance she gets.
Elsa Costume
Now I'm just praying that my construction holds up for another week plus of excessive wear.
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