Saturday, October 22, 2011

Time really flies!

Another marching band season has come and gone- and thus explains one of the reasons I have been remiss in posting here...

The Columbine Rebel Marching Band finished its season yesterday up in Fort Collins at CSU; they competed in the state quarter-finals and though they had the best performance of their year, they didn't make it to the semi-finals. No one was disappointed though. They have a largely young band and so they really did well overall.

This year was especially fun for me, since both girls were in it together for this one and only year. Chloe entered Columbine this fall as a freshman and Heidi is a senior, off to college next year. Both girls have been really involved in music since their school days at Toniata, in Brockville, Ontario.

Heidi started in marching band playing the flute. She played flute for the remainder of the year in band class. In her sophomore year, she played mellophone (the marching version of the French horn) in marching band, then went back to flute for band class. Last year, her junior year, Heidi played mellophone in marching band, but switched to tuba for band class. This year, she marched with the sousaphone (the marching version of the tuba) and will play tuba for band class. From the smallest instrument to the biggest!  Heidi is so tiny- just a little over 5'2" and 100 lbs- carrying an instrument that is half her weight!

She had a little solo in the show this year where she played and danced around a little- it was a huge crowd pleaser!

I'm a little sad that she is done with it all. Marching band really saved her when we moved here. She knew no one, had to start high school all alone- but joining marching band gave her a community, friends, and instant belonging. It's been great.

Here are some photos of Heidi:

Tucked inside the sousaphone

Playing flute at the mall during a Christmas fundraiser for the band

Marching with the sousaphone during the Western Welcome Week parade here in Littleton

Heidi performing her solo in the field show (she is the one on the right)

Playing mellophone, Heidi is right under the One Way sign

Playing tuba during a band concert- she is the tuba on the right

Chloe has been active in music too, since moving here. At Normandy Elementary, Chloe played clarinet, tried her hand at oboe, and also was a member of the bell choir, which was very cool.

At Ken Caryl Middle School, she started off on clarinet, but switched to French horn soon after. She seems to like playing French horn, so maybe she will stay with that...

Looking all serious as the band prepares to start in the Western Welcome Week parade (Chloe is right out front)

Warming up before the Arapahoe Invitational at Littleton High School

Playing the field show (Chloe is directly behind the blocks)

Marching in the Grand Junction parade. In this competition, they had a full inspection, and they were being judged during the parade and the field show. So, full-on serious! (Chloe is on the right)

A little break from the sombre... (Chloe is in the middle)


Warming up before the field show at Grand Junction.

This is the first Saturday that the girls haven't given up the whole day for either a band practice or competition since the beginning of August. And they were forced to get up mid-morning to help with leaf raking and cleaning.... ahhh, gotta love autumn!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Kids' Visit

I say kids, but they really aren't anymore, at 22 and 20.

Holly and Ben spent ten days here, after we got back from our trip to Sweden and Denmark. We had a lot of fun shopping, hanging out, and just talking.

No visit would be complete without the obligatory photo shoot, so here are some photos for you to enjoy. Click on any photo to view it larger.

This time, the location was the trampoline. Which apparently Heidi doesn't like. Who knew? lol

Love those mid-air shots!

And everyone having fun! 

A pretty good photo of all four, no small feat!

Holly, 22

Ben, 20

Heidi, 17

Chloe, 13

At the end- and Heidi's face pretty much sums up how she feels about being on the trampoline... lol

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oh boy.

Has it really been THAT long since I posted something????

I don't even know where the time has gone. But I DO know that next week, I am catching up!

I actually have lots of fun things to share, and lots of updates to post.

Next week, my time is back to (mostly) my own and I will be here! :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My BIG day!

If you visit my blog on any kind of a regular basis, you will have noticed that I have not been posting much. 

I do have some pretty good reasons, though- the new baby in our family and the trips involved with that, spring- and the work that our lawns and gardens demand, kids (need I say more?), a daughter having oral surgery, and of course the event I have been working towards and preparing for for months:

I became an American citizen yesterday!!!

I am very fortunate that being married to an American meant that my wait was shorter than some others have to go through.

Still, we have been at this since January 2007- four and half years! I have been fingerprinted and photographed (passport-style) more often in that time, than most people are in their entire lifetimes!

Mountains of paperwork, many interviews, lawyer's meetings, and endless submitting documents- it's all done!

And being in the Denver area means that everything is done the same day- I had my test and interview yesterday morning and was sworn in after lunch!

This is a very happy event for my me and my DH- who can now stop worrying that I will be deported. 
What he thought I might be deported FOR- well, that's never actually been clear...

I learned a lesson a long time ago from my Grama- and I was thinking of her too, yesterday when I took my Oath of Allegiance to my newly adopted country.

My grandparents emigrated to Canada from Holland in 1952. They had six sons and Europe was still war-torn and struggling to get back on it's feet. They wanted their sons to have opportunities and lives that they knew wouldn't be possible in their home country.

They left all of their family behind, they were not able to speak English, and literally had almost nothing when they arrived in Ontario.

What they did have was love, a desire for a better life, and a determination to learn what it meant to be a Canadian.

Grama said they believed right down to their soul that choosing a different country to live in meant you had to truly love your new country and make it your own- that the "old country" ways were meant for the old country.

Both of my grandparents learned read, write, and speak English in a relatively short time, and they didn't spend any time sitting around saying "things aren't done this way in Holland...".  They became Canadians in every sense of the word.

They were required to renounce their Dutch citizenship to become Canadians and they did. I bet it wasn't easy, but they wanted to be true Canadians and were willing to do whatever it took.

I am fortunate in that I am able to retain both Canadian and US citizenship. On the way to my test and interview yesterday morning, I thought about what I would say if I was asked to give up my Canadian citizenship.

I moved here for a better life- a life filled with love and joy and peace and contentment, shared with the man I want to be with for the rest of our lives.

I have always been proud to be a Canadian girl, and that won't ever change. But I am thrilled to be an American now, to be able to fully enjoy- and give back- to a country has been lovely and welcoming to me since I crossed the border!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day Without Hate

It bears repeating- we need less hate and violence and much more love in our world.

Today is the Day Without Hate here in Littleton, Colorado. The kids are all wearing white t-shirts to show solidarity and remembrance for the victims of school shootings. This is a county-wide project now, started a few years back by Standley Lake HS in Westminster, CO. It was then adopted by Columbine HS and the rest of the county.

Here are some past photos, to show you an example of what the high school looks like leading up to today. I am hoping to have a chance to get up to the high school today to take some photos of this year's event.

You can- and should- click on any photo to see it larger- then you can read what it says. This first one is a list of school shootings. There are so many... it just makes me cry.

But the kids and this whole community- and communities across this country and Canada- are all working at stopping this madness. Raising awareness, focusing on being a little kinder to each other- just small changes in everyone's attitude and behaviour can make a huge difference.

So today, why don't we all share a smile, do a random act of kindness for someone, be extra nice to someone who seems to need it.
And while we're at it, why don't we keep this attitude going not only today, but every day.

Let's make EVERY day, a Day Without Hate!

Friday, April 15, 2011

She's here!!!

Look who's here!

Aria (Ar'-ree-ah) was born this past Wednesday morning (April 13) at 10:01, weighed in at 5 lbs 4 oz and is just the sweetest little bundle of joy! She has been officially voted the cutest member of our family!

She and mommy are doing just great. We are all very excited to go and meet her as soon as she and mommy have a little time to rest and gear up for company.

Here she is, just a few hours old. Isn't she a sweetie?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

All of a sudden...

Just a little over a week ago, I was looking at snow and ice on the newly formed blossoms of my plum tree and my tulips out front.

I was worried that the cold and ice might harm or kill them- but it seems that the moisture has just been enough for things to start bursting forth in my gardens and yard!

I have an herb garden out back and already have usable chives and thyme. Parsley is poking up through the ground, as is another herb I planted and can't identify... I need to check my chart from last year! lol

My plum tree is full of blossoms and the bees have been quite busy there. It always makes me laugh a little that the full blossoms are out before you can really see the buds of the leaves- that seems backwards to me! It kind of looks like little tufts of snow on an otherwise bare tree.

Out front, some tulips are blooming and some of the rose bushes are greening up and budding leaves.

Things I didn't plant, like grape hyacinths and daffodils are out too, though the daffodils are pretty nearly finished.

I recognize the iris leaves and the thick stalks of peonies. And daisies, I believe, but I will have to see what blooms there to see if I am right or not! lol

Unfortunately, with this nice warm, spring weather also come the snakes. I am sure it won't be long before I see the little writhing mass in my front garden, and I have to say, I am dreading it.

My garden plans for this year are less than in previous years, as I have done plenty of work with little payoff and decided I need to be realistic for the time being. My soil needs a lot more amending before it will support a garden that sustains us throughout the summer.

Right behind the garage, I will again plant lettuce, spinach, and peas- they grow well there and require very little from me.

In the small raised bed, I will again plant my herbs, moving things around a little.

In the small fenced area, I will plant some tomatoes and beans, both of those do well here. Maybe some cucumbers, I am not sure. I do LOVE cucumbers and could eat many of them a day!

I will not be planting much- or anything in the large garden area that I have previously used. The soil is nowhere near soft enough for root vegetables, and other things I have tried just didn't grow well. I may put some melons or squash out there though, there is lots of room for them to grow. I will think about that.

It's much too windy to plant today, but the next nice morning we have will find me out there in my garden hat and boots, trowel and seeds in hand, getting ready to enjoy a new season of fresh food!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

About my sister

Just as this new year was getting underway, I got the sad news that my sister, Heather, passed away. She was just 43 years old.

My sisters and I are all spread out: I am here in Colorado, my youngest sister Becky is in Saskatchewan, my middle sister Sandy is in Quebec, and Heather was in our hometown in Ontario. Life circumstances and geography kept us from spending a lot of time together as adults, but we were the four musketeers when we were little.

I was fortunate to be able to travel to her service, and more fortunate that my thoughtful husband was able to come with me. Becky and her husband were able to come too, and we descended on Sandy and her family- though she took it all in stride like she has a houseful every day.

It was the first time I have been back in Canada since I moved here. I still didn't feel ready to go, I didn't want to have to think about the past life that I left behind. And I wish more than anything that I had been making the trip to see Heather while she was still with us.

Heather was born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, and through her whole life dealt with a myriad of impediments and health issues as a result. She had excellent doctors at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, and other than a few operations in her childhood, was able to live a pretty normal life until her mid-twenties. Adulthood brought out a host of new physical challenges and seemingly random illnesses.

She married as a young adult and had a wonderful little boy, Dan, who was her pride and joy. That marriage didn't work out as she had hoped and she later married another man who loved her dearly and was a good helpmate to her. They were still married at the time of her death.

Her son Dan, is now a strapping 20 year old man, and a proud member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons. It was such a relief to us, his aunts, to know that he is not only in charge of his life, but is happy.

We were just in Ottawa for two days (the other two days were traveling back and forth), and it was busy so I, like many of us when trying to manage our way through a difficult situation, focused on the things that had to be done and the people we had to see, etc. I didn't let myself think too much about what we had lost.

But now I am back at home and normal life resumes. Only it resumes with a little piece missing and that hurts.

I decided to go through my measly pile of old photos (I used to have a lot more, long story) and scan what I have to share with my sisters. I wish I had done it sooner so I could be making Heather a copy too. Years ago I did make her a little scrapbook with photos of the four of us sisters, and her husband told me at her funeral that it was one of her most prized possessions. I don't even remember what photos I used in it- and who knows, if I was making her one of these now, she might be laughing her head off at me for getting old and forgetting that I had already given her those photos... lol

Heather loved to laugh and always had a smile for those she cared about, no matter what she was struggling with at the time. She loved to visit with family, and she loved to sing. 

She and I were less than a year apart in age and so only a grade apart. We both sang in the school choir (she was a soprano and I was an alto) and we would come home and teach the younger two sisters the songs and we would sing in harmony. We must have been pretty good, at least for our ages, because my father used to have us sing for visiting family members. Heather is the only one who kept singing in her adult life, she was an enthusiastic member of her church choir.

When she was able to, Heather volunteered her time knitting and crocheting for the homeless, and baked anytime someone in her church lost a loved one. Maybe that is how she managed to stay cheerful despite her disabilities, staying focused on others when she could. 

It makes me really sad to see her smiling face in a high school photo and to know I won't see her smile in person again. But I will remember her smiling, and I will be thankful that we had her for the time we did. I will be grateful that she is no longer in pain or struggling with physical constraints.

I will remember her joy in some of my work and be comforted knowing she is now looking over us all.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas 2010, round two!

Holly and Ben finally arrived on January 2nd, to celebrate Christmas with us. This post covers their four day visit, so you might want to read it in pieces! lol And clicking on any photo will bring a bigger copy up for you to see.

When we got home from the airport, we went straight to opening presents:

Here is a painting of an octopus that Heidi did for Chloe:

 and hamburger earmuffs!

 Ben got his PS3 and was a happy guy!

Heidi got Holly some hot pink furry mittens!

And Holly got Rich a Canada trivia book. Just what I need: my husband to know more about my country than I do... lol

Chloe made her siblings tiny photo scrapbooks. They were so cute when they were little!

Holly also got Rich a Roots sweater- Rich loves to wear Canada things when we go out, and especially when we travel.

And the winner of our Christmas photo prize for this year is: Holly! 
We surprised her with the entire Little House on the Prairie TV series on DVD.

Holly made me this to hang in my studio. I love it! 

This is the inside cover of a lyrics book Ben gave to me- he is writing the lyrics and music for a CD.

We finished the day with a great turkey dinner and all the fixings! I would have liked to stretch out the Christmas stuff, but for such a short visit, we just didn't have the time.

Monday we did a little shopping, as another of Holly's gifts was a Macy's gift card. Ben and I dropped the girls off at the mall and went to a guitar shop so Ben could play me a couple of the songs that he has written. Here we are in one of the local shops:

We picked the girls up, went home for lunch, and headed in a different direction after that, we had a little more shopping to do.

Tuesday we took the light rail in and spent the day in Denver. What fun! We started the day at the Tattered Cover, we all love to read. The kids all had fun choosing something to buy and I was good, I didn't buy anything for myself- I have new magazines coming in the mail soon!

At the very end of the 16th Street Mall- I thought we could get somewhere walking but it was way further than I thought- so this is our turning around spot!

This sculpture is called "Cowboy Pajamas". I like it. I don't understand the pajamas part, but that's okay.

I HAD to order the Local Legendary Burger- which turned out to be a 13 oz. Bison burger, topped with mashed potatoes and gravy (hey, I AM Canadian!!!), cheese, and french fried onions. It was BIG. And yummy!

Our waiter took our picture before we left. The kids were very excited to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe! They did have some very cool memorabilia.

Another quickie picture before getting back on the light rail- we have more bags and stuff, everybody found something to buy.

Our last day was last minute shopping, and an eye appointment for Holly and Ben. Neither of them needed glasses and so were able to choose a good pair of sunglasses instead. Aren't they cool?

I should have gotten a few photos of Ben with his new guitar, but I forgot. Hopefully he will send me one.

Then we did the obligatory photo shoot. I try to remember each time the four of them are together, to take a whack of photos and I have to say, my kids are very obliging. Of course, the deal is, we get some serious photos, then they get to be goofy and I have to take those too. Easy trade off!

So here is one of the good ones- when there are four of them, it's hard to get them all looking good in one photo!

And here is one of the goofy ones. I don't listen, I just click... lol

And then, before we knew it, it was over. Already. Took the drive to the airport yesterday and Holly and Ben were home safe and sound by around 11 pm their time. 

Heidi and Chloe are back to school today, and the holidays are officially over now. 

I will take today to relax with Rich (his off Friday) and catch my breath from all of the cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, preparing, and running around I have been doing pretty much since Thanksgiving. Speed wobble, indeed. 

My new year will officially start on Monday. Just so you know.

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