Fun at the Military Museum

….who knew?

Last Friday when we went to Dundurn Castle in Hamilton we never dreamt that the Military Museum would hold the attention of our almost two year old granddaughter.

The staff at the ticket office encouraged us to go to the museum because there were a lot of hands-on artefacts that Winnie would enjoy. We were somewhat sceptical but admission was very reasonable so I bought the tickets and we started to walk towards our destination. Unfortunately we ended up going in a circle and I went back inside to get directions again. We went right when we should have gone left.

When we got to the small museum we were greeted by a very nice young woman who reassured us that the museum was definitely hands-on. In the first room there were military costumes and hats to try on. I think the adults had more fun in this room.

The second floor definitely was a big hit with Winnie. In fact my daughter, Gaelan thought that this floor was better than the Children’s Museum (also in Hamilton). Winnie immediately went to the musical instruments and then entertained herself by emptying the cook pot of it artificial food and then filling it up again. She also enjoyed exploring the tent with her Papa.

When we had exhausted the novelty of this interesting place the rain had stopped and we headed back outside where Winnie headed for her favourite part of the park, the ‘dinosaur’ playground. More about that in a day or so.

Cheers!

Reflecting on this Past Year

…..today I’m officially a senior citizen

There has to be a better designation than senior citizen when you turn 65. I know there are many perks when you reach this age but it also comes with labels such as golden oldie, old fart, grandma, oldster, senior, geezer, geriatric, old-timer and blue hair. Even though I’m a proud grandmother to Winnie I don’t feel old.

 

I look back on this past year and am proud of what I’ve done and happy to have such amazing friends and a wonderful family. I knew that this was the year to retire from teaching. I still loved the job but there were days when I was just plain tired and sometimes I didn’t feel that I fit in anymore. I didn’t want to be one of those crotchety old teachers that criticized younger teachers for doing things differently.  Sometimes I didn’t like what went on but I wanted to leave on a happy note so I kept quiet for the most part. The only people I would share my views with were people closer to my age and those who were also retiring. I have to admit that some of my favourite teachers were those much younger than me. I loved their humour and zest for life.

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Of course the students are what kept me going as a teacher. They weren’t always easy to teach and over the years the job grew increasingly more difficult but in the end the love and gratitude I received in the form of cards, art work, letters of appreciation and countless hugs made it all worthwhile.

This past year I’ve seen my own children continue to grow into responsible and amazing adults. They are all married now and our one and only grandchild is growing like a weed. She is my pride and joy.  Last night she kept saying Oma birthday, Oma birthday while rolling around in her crib. She clearly knows everyone in the family now and can say everyone’s name. She picks up at least 10 new words every day and we have to be so careful what we say in front of her.

My retirement is not quite working out the way I thought it would. I was hoping to do more travelling but it is still early days. Last May my father moved into our house. At 90 he’s still very independent but we’re a little worried about leaving him for too long. So far the longest we’ve left him alone is four days. We’re hoping to travel to London, England in November to visit with our son before he leaves to live in New York City in the coming year. Someone recently asked me if Dad was coming with us. We’ve tried to convince him to make at least one more trip to Germany to visit his brother. It looks like that won’t happen for at least another year, God willing, and I’m not sure if a trip to London would be in the cards for him as well. We’ll have to wait and see.

So as I turn 65 today I can honestly say that I’ve had a wonderful life. Now I look forward to my next adventure and hopefully I’ve inherited my father’s genes so that I can enjoy the next 30 years of my life with the same joie de vivre.

The First Time

….a trip to the cottage with the baby

I was so excited to be going to the cottage with my granddaughter for the first time. Gaelan and Winnie stayed overnight on Friday here at the house. They were in town for Josie’s birthday party and it made no sense to go back to Hamilton and then come back the next day to Toronto.

Saturday morning we took our time and explored the garden and took a short walk over to the park.

After we packed up the car we headed out and Winnie had her nap while I drove. We made one stop to grab some lunch and arrived at the dock in time to catch the ferry. Once we were at the cottage Winnie explored her new surroundings, a little cautious at first but it didn’t take long before we had to run after her to make sure she stayed out of the poison ivy. She loved being chased.

We took her to the beach but she was a little wary of the waves and didn’t want anything to do with the water. In fact she was more interested in all the inflatable toys on the beach that didn’t belong to us. Even the sand toys that I bought for her didn’t hold her attention for more than a few minutes.

The next day the sun was shining and the wind had died down somewhat so the waves weren’t as high. After breakfast we took a walk along the beach. The water levels are very high this year so there isn’t much of a beach to walk on. Luckily no one minded getting wet as we walked. Winnie loved the waves today and when we got to the rocks she loved climbing over them.

It was a very long walk so Gaelan carried Winnie on the way back to the cottage and it wasn’t long before Winnie fell sound asleep in her mother’s arms. Later in the afternoon we went back down to the beach and this time she didn’t want to get out of the water even though she was shivering.

Monday morning Winnie woke up with a tummy ache and didn’t eat much breakfast. We prepared to go home and we were only in the car a few minutes before Winnie fell sound asleep. We decided to drive until Winnie woke up. When she did wake we pulled into the closest restaurant but even then she didn’t eat much.  She drank some milk and ate a bit of yogurt. Once we were back on the road it didn’t take long before we had to pull over. I forgot how road trips and car sickness go hand in hand with young children. Needless to say Winnie felt much better after she threw up her lunch but her mom and I were not exactly thrilled to be cleaning up vomit in a parking lot with only paper towels and bottled water which were quickly purchased from the variety store across the street.

Despite the unpleasant turn of events on our trip home my first weekend trip to the cottage with my granddaughter was a wonderful experience. I hope there will be many more to come and I look forward to our next adventure together.

Cheers!

Stealing the Show

…..how toddlers and 90 year olds become the centre of attention

One of my fondest memories of my retirement party will be how my father hugged all the women and held court for much of  the evening and when he wasn’t the centre of attention my granddaughter took over by running throughout the restaurant with my retirement balloons flying behind her.

I’m glad that the evening had a very casual atmosphere. During the speeches my father came up behind some of the presenters and asked me, in his loud booming voice, if they were singing a song for me (they were actually reading from a story book). During one of the more serious moments Winnie made everyone laugh as she flew by with her balloons.

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Easter With the Family

This year we celebrated our Easter Sunday on Saturday. Our daughter and son-in-law in Hamilton invited us over for an Easter dinner of lamb ragu. We invited my niece who is working in Toronto and our oldest daughter and my daughter-in-law drove to our house, where we all jammed into one car and made the 40 minute drive to Hamilton. IMG_1668

The day started out very rainy but in the afternoon the sun came out and we experienced an early summer day. We spent a good deal of time outside without jackets and went for a nice walk to the park down the street. My niece had never been to G’s place and she enjoyed hearing stories of being pregnant and she saw first hand what it can be like raising a toddler. She’s due to have her first child in August.

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Our granddaughter is always a little shy around new people and even her grandparents who she hasn’t seen too much of this winter because of illness on both sides. It didn’t take long though before she warmed up to her cousin, once removed and they engaged in a game of peek-a-boo in the backyard.

For Easter this year I bought Winnie a garden set because she likes to help her father   clean and plant flowers in the the garden bed.  I knew she’d love the watering can because she loves anything to do with water. When I showed her how it worked she let out a shriek of joy and came running to her Oma. For the next hour or so she kept busy watering the garden and herself.

After spending some time in the garden and walking to the park we enjoyed a very nice dinner. Our son-in-law made the pasta from scratch and the ragu had cooked most of the day. We were in charge of dessert so my husband called up one of his favourite clients who works in an Italian bakery and asked her for advice on what dessert we should bring for an Easter dinner.

She quickly recommended a pastiera, a south Italian Easter tradition. It’s a wheat and ricotta pie flavoured with orange blossom water and adorned with a lattice top. Yum!IMG_1666

Today I’ll be spending time with a friend whose partner went into the hospital yesterday. He’ll be there for a few days as the doctors try to figure out what kind of treatment he will need.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Sunday. Lucky me, I get one more day off tomorrow. Time to get the snow tires off the car.

 

The Perfect Gift

…..besides being with family over tshe holidays

I know that in a previous post I declared that presents weren’t important to me and that family was everything. Despite that sincere sentiment I did have some very thoughtful and welcome gifts given to me this year.

Anything to do with art is always most appreciated. This Christmas my secret Santa gifted me a five drawer rolling organizer and a desktop marker organizer. Hopefully this will help me get my supplies neatly organized and free up my work table so that I can actually create some art. She also gave me a new set of Pigma pens and artist’s hand soap. My son in London sent me paper and a beautiful set of pencil crayons.

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Last year my husband gave me a very nice camera, a Panasonic Lumix, DMC-GF7 and for my birthday he gave me a macro lens to go with it. Unfortunately the camera has so many features that I frequently get lost trying to use it. My brother-in-law who  is very proficient with all types of cameras, confirmed that I had a very fine camera. When he was here in October he gave me a quick lesson on how to use some of the features. As soon as he left the camera malfunctioned. No one seemed to know what was wrong with the camera. When my brother-in-law returned in November he brought me one of his old zoom lenses that he no longer uses and that fit my camera. The problem with the camera, however, had not been resolved at that point so we couldn’t try it out.

Eventually we found someone who knew how to solve the problem. It turned out to be a quick fix.  Now I have a working camera with two amazing lenses and I still don’t know how to use them. Voila….the perfect present arrived. My husband enrolled me in two camera classes. The first class takes place in January and I will learn all about the ins and outs of my camera and the second class in February will teach me how to get the most out of my camera and how to use the camera in some creative ways. I can’t wait.

Since my husband and I are foodies the other gifts that are always most appreciated are items of food. This year I received homemade tomato sauce, chill sauce, relishes, jams and a variety of condiments and spices. Of course chocolates are always present in our stockings and under the tree. I love dark chocolate and anything filled with marzipan.p1020167

The last gift that was very special was a beautiful Pandora leather bracelet with a silver charm with our granddaughter’s initial. This was also from my husband.img_0793

As nice as all these things were I still find time with my loved ones the most precious gift of all. Today we travelled as a family to visit my father in Oshawa. Eleven of us went to his new apartment in the retirement home. His wife is very ill at the moment so he showed off his new place quickly and then gave us a tour of the facility. Everything is very new and beautifully decorated for the holidays. We ended up visiting in the library on the main floor. We were the only ones in there. It was the perfect spot where our granddaughter could run around, look at the fish tank and play with the soft decorations and remote controls. For the adults there were comfy chairs and a fire place where we could visit and talk. After opening a few gifts we headed over to the restaurant where we enjoyed a family meal together.

After describing all the fantastic gifts I received this Christmas I’d have to say that having  my granddaughter wiggle out of her mother’s arms to run over and hug me today was my most ‘perfect’ gift.

Did you have a perfect gift or a special moment to share this holiday season?