Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I recently flew to Medicine Hat, Alberta to visit my mom in the hospital and to see my son and his family. My thirteen year old grandson returned with me to spend a couple of weeks on the west coast. Although his older brother and sisters have spent time with us, it was his very first visit. It’s been fun to watch him experience many firsts. It is his first time away from his parents and his first trip outside of Alberta. You can imagine how excited he was to fly on an airplane for the first time.

Waiting at the Medicine Hat airport

Waiting at the Medicine Hat airport

 

First time on an air plane

First time on an airplane

 

First time at a beach

First time at a beach

 

Helping Gramma sell books

Helping Gramma sell books at Fort Langley

 

Visiting Science World

Visiting Science World

 

Look what I built with Keva at Science World!

Look what I built with Keva at Science World!

 Making feathered friends at the Bird Sanctuary

Making feathered friends at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary

 

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Fish and Chips with the grandparents

Fish and Chips with the grandparents in Steveston Village

 

Trying things on at the Maritime Museum

Trying things on at the Maritime Museum

I delivered him to his aunt’s place which took a two hour ride on a large ferry, a twenty minute ride on a smaller ferry and a ten minute small motor boat ride to get there. For a prairie boy who has never seen the ocean before, this was quite an adventure.

First time on a ferry

First time on a ferry

Finding a huge pencil on Mudge Island

Finding a huge pencil on Gabriola Island

Finding a 1000 piece puzzle at the Book Nook with his aunty

Finding a 1000 piece puzzle at the Book Nook with his aunty

Aunt and nephew on her island; good buddies

Aunt and nephew on her island; good buddies

Last report from my daughter is that he went crabbing with his uncle, sampled crab for the first time and loved it! His adventure continues.

Do you remember the first time you went some place without your parents or tried something new?

In honour of Father’s Day I would like to share an article I wrote as a guest blogger on Karen Sanderson’s blog two years ago.

Cowboy Wisdom, By Darlene Foster

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My Dad was a cowboy. Not the Hollywood type, but a real cowboy – a man who tended cattle. A hard-working man of integrity, loyalty and determination, he almost always wore his signature cowboy hat and boots, jeans and western shirt.  He lived the code of the cowboy where a man’s word was a man’s word and you never broke a promise once made. He believed you should do what has to be done without complaint, take pride in your work and always finish what you start. He was a man of principle; tough but fair. I learned so much from him.

His education included grade seven. Responsibilities on his father’s farm in the spring and fall took him out of school, which put him behind.  By the time he turned fifteen he didn’t bother going back to school being so much older than the rest of the class. In spite of his limited schooling, he was the smartest man I have ever known.  A curious man, Dad believed in continuous learning.  His gift of the gab enabled him to start a conversation with almost anyone and he always came away wiser. “You can learn at least one thing from everyone you meet,” became a lesson I never forgot.

Dad read the newspapers and kept up to date on current events, but his busy schedule didn’t permit him to read much else.  At age seventy-five, he finally retired and moved into the city. His love of the outdoors and fresh air, took him on walks to the local library on a regular basis.  Once there, he chose about half a dozen books on a subject he had always wanted to learn more about.  He took the books home, read them front to back and returned with a new subject in mind.  At seventy-five he educated himself and expanded his world. I found this to be most admirable.

There wasn’t much I couldn’t discuss with him.  He taught me the art of conversation, negotiation and debate; valuable lessons that have served me well over the years.  He served as my confidant, financial advisor, political guru, mentor, and he was my hero.  He always had time to listen to my woes and to provide encouraging words.  I didn’t make many major decisions without discussing with him first.  But he wouldn’t tell me what to do; he just helped me look at all sides of the situation.  He encouraged me to be an independent thinker, creative problem solver and not to always look for the easy way.  He claimed, “You make your own luck in this world.” I believe that to be true for the most part, but I sure was lucky to get him for a Dad. His confidence in me and my abilities enabled me to reach higher and not give up on my dreams.

Always a perfect gentleman, he could also swear a blue streak if the occasion called for it.  Like the time he hit his thumb with a hammer while fixing a piece of farm machinery.  He forgot I was in hearing distance.

Life wasn’t always easy for a cowboy but Dad’s amazing sense of humour and positive attitude got him through the tough times.  He loved a good practical joke and April Fool’s was his favourite day.  I can still see the twinkle in his eyes when he knew he got one over on us.  He didn’t mind laughing at himself as well. There were many times he would tell a story and have everyone in stitches.  From him, I learned the value of a good laugh and how to look on the bright side.  He often said, “It could always be worse.”

A tough cowboy on the surface, he was really a big softy.  Dad always found the best in everyone, was a helpful neighbour and a good friend to many.  His love for his animals was evident as was his unfailing devotion to his family.  A generous, loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he made an impact on everyone. When I see traits of him in my children and grandchildren, I am comforted knowing his legacy lives on.

Dad and his family 1995

Dad and his family 1995

It’s been seven years since we lost Dad.  There isn’t a day I don’t think of him, quote him or seek his advice.  He was a true cowboy to the last.

Happy Father’s Dad!

 

Mom & Dad a few years ago

Mom & Dad 

Myself and my good friends, Jayne and Shannon, were recently invited to spend a weekend with my daughter and her partner on Mudge Island.  It takes two ferries and a small boat to get to her island, but it’s worth it. I’ve written about my daughter and her island previously here. It was a wonderful weekend, with much visiting, eating and wine consumption in their cosy, comfortable home.  We feasted on fresh crab caught the day before by our host, salad made with fresh greens from the garden and steamed kale (also from the garden) . Everyone brought food and we took turns making meals and snacks. We balanced the eating with long walks and fresh air. The island, green with moss at this time of the year, is great for walks and has many picturesque spots to visit. The sea lions kept us company with their barking.

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Mudge Island in the spring

One walk took us to Dodd’s Narrows were we watched sea lions, all the way from California, swim past in the swirling waters, happy to fill up  on herring. Such a lovely spot to sit and take in nature.

Dodd's Narrows

Dodd’s Narrows

Dodd's Narrows

Dodd’s Narrows

Another trip took us to Link Island, a small island that can be reached at low tide, linked to Mudge.  We enjoyed collecting seashells, exploring  the island and catching some sun on the rocks. Not warm enough to sun tan yet.

Link Island

Link Island

Comet, their amiable yellow lab, loved every minute. She was happy to go for long walks and explore with us.

Comet exploring Link Island

Comet exploring Link Island

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View from Link Island to Mudge

Unique rock formations on Link Island

Unique rock formations on Link Island

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Enjoying the sun on Link Island

Barnsworth, the 19 year old cat, enjoys looking at himself in the mirror when he's not sleeping

Barnsworth, the 19 year old cat, enjoys looking at himself in the mirror when he’s not sleeping, which is most of the time

The outhouse, clean and comfortable

The outhouse that sits among the trees, is clean and comfortable

 

What is under the outhouse??

But what is under the outhouse??

Mudge buddies

Mudge buddies

Our gracious hosts

Our gracious hosts

One last drink at the Skol pub on Gabriola before catching the ferry back to reality.

One last drink at the Skol pub on Gabriola Island before catching the ferry back to reality.

Yet another fabulous get-away. I’ve been having the best spring haven’t I? Soon I’m off to Taos, New Mexico to spend time with a special aunt. I’ll report back later.

I don’t like the idea of getting older. In fact I fight it tooth and nail. On the other hand, I also realize it is a privilege denied to many and am thankful I am able to continue to enjoy this wonderful life. On Friday I turned a year older, like it or not.

I was greeted in the morning with a lovely card and a bouquet of tulips, my favourite flowers, from my DH

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At work, the participants in my workshop, after learning it was my birthday, made me a sweet card. I was touched.

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At the end of the day I was surprised with a delicious birthday cake from my co-workers.

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Photo by Jean François Filion

The next day, DH booked us into The River Rock Casino Resort for an over night stay. This luxury hotel is only a thirty minute drive from our house but it felt like we were in Las Vegas.

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The well designed lobby contains waterfalls, totem poles  and even a friendly bear. We don’t gamble but the casino on site created a lively and exciting atmosphere. A theatre featuring many interesting and well known musicians is also part of the resort. A great place for people watching while sipping a caramel rockachino and nibbling on a white chocolate and cranberry sconce. Sorry, but I was too busy relaxing to take pictures of the food.

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Our suite was spacious enough for a party and overlooked the marina. A package of yummy chocolate macaroons was delivered to the room in honour of my birthday. The overnight stay included a relaxation massage. While I enjoyed my much needed massage at the Absolute spa, DH made use of the fitness centre over looking the pool area.

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The number of restaurants to choose from for our dinner, made it hard to decide. I had a Mojito and a fabulous spiced pear salad with goat cheese and grilled prawns at The Curve which was perfect. DH was happy with his butter chicken and on tap beer. The best thing was a compliment on my hair cut by the young waiter!

After a fabulous sleep on the oh so comfy bed, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the buffet with many tasty choices before heading back home. We didn’t travel far but what a nice get-away to celebrate another year of living.

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Text messages from both of the kids, a phone call from Mom and another from my younger brother. Cards from all over the world and 140 messages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; I was sure feeling the love.

I guess getting older is not so bad after all.

Jesse - Darlene Foster

GS 2 and I have reviewed a book together and are featured on Mother Daughter Book Reviews blogsite today.

http://motherdaughterbookreviews.com/guest-book-review-among-the-hidden-by-margaret-peterson-haddix/

Check out what he said and what I said about the book Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Among the Hidden

This was a fun project to do together, even though we live in different provinces.

Let us know what you think of our review.

I have loved visiting museums for as long as I can remember. As a young person, I would rather go to a museum than play sports or hang out with friends. My aunt and I would often spend entire days at the Medicine Hat Museum which  at that time was a log cabin filled with items from the past. We liked to pretend we were living in the pioneer days. The original museum has been moved a couple of times since then and is now housed in the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre. Last summer, my grandson and I stopped in to view the displays. I was pleased he shared my excitement of museums. The displays were well put together with some of the original items  still showcased as well as many other artefacts. Here are a few samples.

Items from the original log cabin museum

Items from the original log cabin museum

Toys from the past

Toys from the past

The cowboy lifestyle

Representing the cowboy lifestyle

A dressmaker's dummy

A dressmaker’s dummy

A note left by a frustrated homesteader

A note left by a frustrated homesteader

We also visited The Pioneer Village located on the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede grounds. A collection of heritage buildings from the surrounding area which includes a general store, a church, a fire hall. a school and a blacksmith shop.

A typical prairie general store built in 1924

A typical prairie general store 

Items for sale in the general store. Look at those prices!

Items for sale in the general store. Look at those prices!

How many miles has this trunk travelled?

How many miles has this trunk travelled?

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Grandson by a prairie church built in 1924

Grandson by a prairie church built in 1924

It was a fun visit exploring the past with a young person. I’m so pleased that communities realize the importance of preserving a way of life that is no longer.

Do you enjoy visiting museums and heritage buildings?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just before Christmas we lost a family treasure. My Great Aunt Barbara Reimann walked this earth for 95 full years. She was an amazing woman who inspired so many of us. She did not always have an easy life but she did not let that stop her. Her youthful vigour stayed with her until the end.

She was born Barbara Hoffman, the 10th child of a hardworking immigrant German family from Russia; my maternal grandmother’s younger sister.   The last of her generation, she survived 6 brothers and 6 sisters. A loving mother to four children, she doted on her nine grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. She was also dearly loved by numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. The incredible thing was that she remembered everyone’s name as well as their spouse and children’s names.

Great Aunt Barbara with my Granddaughter and Grandson-inlaw

Great Aunt Barbara with my Granddaughter and Grandson-in-law

Aunt Barbara was the stalwart head of our large family; without her we feel somewhat leaderless. With her, there were six generations alive in my immediate family.

She was determined, bold, fearless and committed. Nothing stopped her. She learned to swim at age 75, travelled to Australia and New Zealand to celebrate her 85th birthday and drove her own car until she was 93. She made the wedding fruit cake for my mom and for me and  my daughter used the same recipe for her wedding fruit ckae. She loved to cook, bake, quilt, sew, knit and crochet things for others. She always had something on the go. Everyone owns at least one fabulous afghan, sweater, quilt or tablecloth made by Aunt Barbara.

She loved to spend time with her many friends and family members sharing a cup of tea, (although she only drank hot water with lemon) telling stories or playing games. She was a champion scrabble player. She kept active bowling and floor curling up to the last year.  She celebrated her 95th birthday with a huge party. She had a walker but seldom used it.

A principled woman of strong faith, Aunt Barbara spoke her mind, was always ready to listen and to give out her sage advice. Even if she disapproved of your actions, you still knew she loved you. She handed out big, warm, hugs indiscriminately.

She was one in a million and I was so fortunate to have had her in my life.

Rest in peace Aunt Barbara. You are flying with the angles now and no doubt making sure they fly in formation. We love you.

Mom and Aunt Barbara, best pals

Mom and Aunt Barbara, best pals

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I have written about my wonderful potter daughter here before. She doesn’t live very far from me but since her home is on a small gulf island, it requires  two ferries and a boat to get to her place. Total driving, waiting and sailing time is about 5 hours one way. I don’t get to visit her often but when I do it is always worth it. This recent weekend between Christmas and New Year I made the trip and had so much fun. It’s always an adventure but once there, it is so relaxing, away from the constant busyness of my life. She always makes sure I am well fed and comfortable. I’m not allowed to lift a finger. Here are a few pictures of the weekend.

Daughter with 18 year old grandcat Barnsworth

Daughter with 18 year old grandcat Barnsworth

Cookbook Christmas gift that matches her kitchen

Cookbook Christmas gift that matches her kitchen

Daughter at home on her island

Daughter at home on her island

Pottery studio

The pottery studio where she creates

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Pottery from recent firing

Pottery from recent firing

Awesome pottery

More awesome pottery

I am so lucky, my daughter has created a safe haven for me to escape to any time.  Spending time with her is always a treat. Great conversations, time to reflect and lots of love.

A walk on her property

Going for a walk on her property

Where do you go to escape?


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I have  many wonderful memories of Christmas growing up. It doesn’t surprise me that many of them have to do with my grandma. She had many grandchildren but always made sure I got something special under the tree. She gave me my first stamp album, books I treasured and even my first Elvis Presley album! Christmas dinners at grandma’s place was special.  Her small house brimmed over with aunts, uncles and cousins. The meal would be delicious with special treats we only got at Christmas time. Grandma provided these treasured memories that always return at this time of the year.  I don’t think I ever told her how much they meant to me.

My 4 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren live in another province so I don’t see them as often as I would like. I’ve only spent a few Christmases with them over the years. Every year I enjoy choosing gifts for all of them, carefully wrapping them and packaging them up to send off in the mail. I like picking out a number of small items instead of one big gift for each. I know kids like lots of gifts to open. There is always a book or two for each child of course (and not always mine!) I admit I have always felt it wasn’t quite enough. I felt guilty not being with them and cooking a big meal for them like my grandma used to do.

Then I got this Facebook message from my second granddaughter, herself a mother of a  3 1/2 year old:

We received the box In the mail! Funny, a few days ago I was looking back on Christmas as a kid, and remembering the grandma Darlene boxes that would come in the mail. And how special and magical it felt to have gotten all those packages for us from you!!! Felt like there was a hundred! Haha! Then boom there’s one on my door step for Devin. Law of Attraction at my door. You made that a very rememberable, special memory for us girls. Something traditional. Thank you. Can’t wait to see what special things you found for Devin. xoxoxo love you!

Later I got a message from her older sister, a mother of a 6 year old.

We got the parcel! I always loved getting those parcels. XO

Then I realized that in my crazy, busy, whirlwind life, I was still making Christmas memories as a grandmother too!

Second granddaughter reading to her daughter and niece

Second granddaughter reading to her daughter and niece

Early Christmas with the grandsons 2011

Early Christmas with the grandsons 2011

 

Grandsons, granddaughter and great granddaughter early Christmas 2012

Grandsons, granddaughter and great granddaughter, early Christmas 2012

First great granddaughter happy with her gift

First great granddaughter happy with her gift

 

The best gifts I have ever received are my grandchildren and great grandchildren. Those of you with grandchildren and those of you without, I hope you are making special Christmas memories for the young ones in your life.

Surely, two of the most satisfying experiences in life must be those of being a grandchild or a grandparent. ~Donald A. Norberg

My mom was born December 25th, 1928. Yes, she was a Christmas baby. When we were growing up, Dad  made sure we celebrated her birthday as well as Christmas that day. There would always be a Christmas gift under the tree for mom and a separate birthday gift. We always had a cake and candles included in all the festivities. When I learned to bake, I would secretly make her a cake myself and bring it out of hiding at one point to surprise her.  It’s true she worked hard preparing a traditional Christmas meal and ensuring our Christmas was perfect, but she was always made to feel special on her day. She tells me she never felt cheated by having a Christmas birthday and no one ever forgot her birthday!

This year, since it was a milestone year, we made her party a month early so that all of us could be there. She still lives in Medicine Hat, Alberta, the community she has lived in all her life. One brother drove down from Edmonton, days before flying out to Thailand where he lives for part of the year. My other brother came from Calgary, and my husband and I flew in from Vancouver. We rented a party room in the retirement home she now resides in and posted an announcement in the local paper. It was a wonderful event as over 100 friends and relatives dropped in to wish her a Happy Birthday. Her sister from Arizona made the trip as well. Mom  glowed with happiness.

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Mom with her kids

Mom with her kids

Mom with her remaining sibblings

Mom with her brother and sisters

It was a lot of work, especially organizing it long distance, but I’m so glad we did it. Everyone pitched in and helped of course. When we took mom up to her room after the party she looked through the guest book and all her cards and commented that she never knew she had so many friends. My beautiful mom is so well loved and we are blessed to have her.

She will still get calls on Christmas day from near and far as we never forget our Christmas Mom!


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