Tag Archives: Great Big Sea

Happy 25th to My Brown-Eyed Girl!

It was 25 years ago today, almost to the minute, that my water broke for the first time…what a strange feeling!  I was a couple months shy of my 25th birthday, and this kid was already 15 days late…I was ready to be done with being pregnant!  Most of my maternity clothes were winter ones, and Moncton, New Brunswick had been having a heat wave the previous two weeks…I only had two short-sleeved dresses that I could squeeze my swollen body into!  I mopped the mess up with a towel, and woke up Kaylee’s father to tell him the news.  Then we waited for something to happen.  And waited.  And waited…

Waiting for something to happen...

 

About lunch time, I walked down to the newspaper box around the corner and bought a paper, as per my usual routine.  I brought it home and read it.  Supper time came and went.  I consulted my labour coach, who suggested I call the hospital.  “Your water broke more than 12 hours ago?!!” asked the nurse in disbelief.  The memory is a little foggy, but I think she followed that with the politically correct version of “Get your ass in here!”

My labour coach, Mary Lyn, came and got us in her car…I brought along a beach towel to sit on to save her upholstery.  Once we’d arrived at the hospital, things went along pretty quickly…I was installed in the birthing room and an oxytocin drip was started intravenously to stimulate my labour.  My plan was to do everything naturally…we’d taken the Lamaze class, and I was not having an epidural!  I stuck to my stubborn plan throughout the four-and-a-half hours of hard, fast contractions…that’s what they called them in the class…sounds so much better than pain, doesn’t it?  My family doctor arrived at the critical moment, a surgical clip holding up his too-big scrub pants…the man probably weighed all of 125 lbs. soaking wet!  

Kaylee Marie was finally delivered at 11:32 p.m., all 9 lbs., 14 oz. of her.  She was 22 inches long, and had a mop of dark hair…her paternal grandmother’s Native Canadian heritage was evident in her colouring (eventually, Kaylee’s eyes would be brown).  I had planned to breastfeed the baby…she latched on immediately, and stayed there for the next 18 months, pausing only to sleep about 10 out of every 24 hours.  I perfected the art of dozing in our pink swivel rocker with a child attached…

Kaylee and I...two days old...

When she was 3 weeks old, I received a call from my doctor…there was a problem: Kaylee had a rare form of congenital hypothyroidism.  Luckily, they had been screening all babies born in New Brunswick for the condition for the previous ten years or so…if it hadn’t been discovered, Kaylee would have had a mental age of 4 for her entire life!  I remember taking her for her first blood tests at the hospital…I cried as much as she did when they poked a needle into my baby’s tiny heel, and filled little glass tubes with her precious blood!  The treatment for the condition was taking a synthetic thyroid hormone pill every day for the rest of Kaylee’s life.  Regular blood work every few months was also necessary to determine that the dosage was correct.  

Since Kaylee’s dad worked long hours at the radio station, I was her main caregiver…every day, we would go for a walk, often to the park nearby.  One beautiful summer day, I carried the stroller down the stairs (we lived in an upstairs apartment), and set it up outside.  I went back in to get Kaylee and the diaper bag.  Once I got the baby strapped in, I remembered that I’d left my purse sitting on the steps.  I tried to open the door…I had locked it…my keys were in my purse, inside the apartment…

There were no cell phones then, and I didn’t have any money with me.  I didn’t know my neighbours either, other than to nod as I went by…I saw one of those neighbours outside, and asked if I could use her phone to call Kaylee’s dad at work.  If you were paying attention, you might remember that I said he worked in radio…of course, he was on the air when I called.  I explained my predicament to the woman at the switchboard…she promised she would give him the message.  I don’t think I mentioned that we did not own a car, and the radio station was a half hour walk away…

I sat on our porch steps while I waited for what seemed like an eternity…there were definitely some tears shed (Kaylee cried a little bit too).  An hour-and-a-half later, we were no longer locked out of our apartment…I can’t remember if we ever went for our walk!

Kaylee got used to our walks…when she was about a year-and-a-half, I found her standing naked in our front hall, wearing only rubber boots and holding an open umbrella over her head.  “I’m ready to go for our walk now, Mom!” she announced.  After I took a picture (and put some clothes on her), we did go!

I used to buy Kaylee books all the time (this was long before I was in the book business!).  Her favourite was Peter Rabbitby Beatrix Potter…she had its text memorized and could “read” it along with me by the time she was 18 months old!  We were also frequent visitors at the library…she’s the only one of my kids who reads much now.

Peter Rabbit (photo from franshouseofdollsandtoys.com)

Kaylee did not inherit my love of bugs…she was three when she was freaking out about an insect flying around the bathroom.  I said, “Don’t worry…it’s just a fruit fly looking for an apple.”

Tearfully, she replied, “Well, give him one!”

Kaylee was in the first official kindergarten class in New Brunswick…she loved it, and her teacher, Mrs. S.  I went in every Friday afternoon after lunch to volunteer in her class…after an hour with 25 5-year-olds, I had a whole new respect for the job that teachers do!

When Kaylee started Grade 1, I put her in French Immersion, since we lived in a city where 1/3 of the people spoke French, in a province which was officially bilingual.  She was like a sponge, and was making fun of my limited French by the time she was 7!  “No, Mom…that’s not how you say it!”

When Kaylee was eight, her sister, Anna, was born…she was excited about being a big sister, but it wasn’t an easy transition for her.  She had been an only child for a long time!  I tell people that Kaylee was a “teenager” from the time she was eight…not easy for either one of us!

Kaylee, age 8...behind that innocent smile lurked the beginnings of a teenager...

Her father used to get free tickets to a lot of concerts, and when Kaylee was ten, we took her and Anna to see The Rankin Family…after the concert, we took them backstage to meet the band.  The Rankin girls made a big fuss over our kids…to this day, Kaylee and I still go to see them perform when they come to town.  Great Big Sea is another one of her favourite bands.

Kaylee inherited the bad knees that women in our family all have.  She was eleven when she was walking across our living room and fell down without warning.  A visit to the emergency room confirmed that her knee had collapsed, and that Kaylee had actually broken a one-centimetre piece off her kneecap when she fell.  They gave her a nice cast, and sent her home with crutches.  An appointment with the orthopedic surgeon was scheduled, and a few months later, he did arthroscopic surgery on both her knees to correct her “floating kneecaps.”  In Grade 7, I got a call from Kaylee’s middle school.  Her knee had collapsed again, and she had fallen down the stairs.  After another trip to the hospital, she came home with her leg encased in fibreglass…at least fibreglass was lighter than plaster!

Hope was born when Kaylee was 12…she loved her new little sister!  Kaylee was a big help with Hope when she was little…I will always be grateful to her for babysitting her two sisters while I was working (her father’s and my marriage had broken up by then)!       

Kaylee’s teenage years were not happy ones…we butted heads constantly, and she and Anna fought…a lot (I remember making frantic calls to her father in Ontario begging him to talk some sense into her!).  She was as stubborn as I am…the apple didn’t fall far from the tree!  For a while, Kaylee hosted an online radio show, and flirted with the idea of going into radio…her father worked hard to talk her out of that one! 

Kaylee as a teenager in the light of her computer screen...

Kaylee was about seventeen before she turned into a “human being” again.  She got her first job at Bulk Barn.  Working hard was good for her…she used to come home exhausted from cleaning all day, but she was happy to have her own money!

I was not happy when Kaylee decided at eighteen to get a tongue ring…luckily, her boyfriend at the time told her he didn’t like it, so she let it grow over.  I still love that boy…

That same year, Kaylee decided she wanted to move back to Moncton…she arranged to get an apartment with her best friend, and we packed up her stuff and took her up there.  Three weeks later, she called and told me that it wasn’t working out, and she moved back home again.

In December of 2006, she met Scott online on Plenty of Fish.  They were “an item” by January of 2007.  By then, Kaylee was working in a call centre uptown…she arranged to share an apartment with a friend she worked with, and moved out that spring.

Kaylee and Scott in their early dating days...

 That fall, my mother died…Kaylee was devastated…as the first grandchild, she and my mom had been close!  I didn’t have the money for plane fare to Ontario…it was Kaylee who bought two tickets for us with her credit card (I repaid her later), and helped me pack up my mother’s estate (along with my brother and sister-in-law).  When we returned, Kaylee got a small tattoo on her wrist in honour of her Gramma…

Kaylee and Gramma...Kaylee was about 5 in this picture...

Today, Kaylee and Scott are the parents of my 20-month-old granddaughter, Elise.  They have their own house about 25 minutes away, and come to see us every couple of weeks.  Kaylee is a great mom, and is perfectly happy staying home with the baby (I was itching to go back to work by the time my kids were 18 months).  She uses cloth diapers for Elise, and they’ve been teaching her sign language since she was an infant.  Kaylee has her own website promoting contests open to Canadians (she’s been entering, and winning, every contest she can find since she was in her late teens – she won a Vespa scooter a few years ago).  Kaylee loves 80’s music, and is vocal about human rights issues (homophobes had best be silent when Kaylee’s in the vicinity!).  She is also the Coupon Queen, hunting online for the best deals on groceries for her family.  Kaylee inherited my love of cooking and baking, and hates cleaning up as much as I do…luckily, Scott takes up the slack in that department!  Kaylee gets exasperated sometimes when I give her vague answers when she calls me to get my recipes!  She and Scott frequently entertain friends in their home.  Kaylee dabbles in photography and has thousands of photos and videos of Elise!

Kaylee with Elise...April, 2011

Kaylee and I are a lot closer now than we were when she was a teenager, although I often have to find out things through Facebook (like when she got pregnant, for example!).  I am proud of the young woman she’s become: smart, strong and loving!  Happy Birthday, Kaylee Marie!  I love you!

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Popcorn, Puddin’ Pop, and Provisions for the Privileged…

Sorry for the long break between posts…it was a busy weekend.  I’ll do my best to catch you up on happenings in Hammond River over the last little while:

1. Popcorn.  Jim, Anna and I finally got to see The King’s Speech last weekend.  We loved it!  It had sharp writing, pathos, and humour all in one p-p-p-package!  Helena Bonham Carter was particularly good as the Queen.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, please go…you’ll be glad you did!  While we were enjoying ourselves in the company of civilized adults, Hope and her friend, Gabrielle, were down the hall in another theatre, watching the premiere of the Justin Bieber movie, Never Say Never, with two or three hundred screaming tweens (I felt sorry for the theatre employees who had to clean up afterwards).  I did appreciate Bieber’s impression of Obama when he was a guest on Conan the other night…it was bang-on!

Hope with her idol outside the theatre...photo by Jim...

2. Puddin’ Pop.  For new readers of my blog, “Puddin’ Pop” is what I call my 17-month-old granddaughter, Elise.  On Friday, I was called upon to babysit while Kaylee and Scott went to Moncton to see the Great Big Sea concert I gave Kaylee the tickets for at Christmas time.  Despite the fact that I have three children and two stepchildren, I don’t consider myself “the mommy type” and was a little nervous about spending several hours alone with no backup “Aunties” to help care for my Puddin’ Pop.  Kaylee took pity on me, and prestuffed the liners in the cloth diapers (which I’ve never used…they’re a lot fancier and more expensive than they used to be…velcro and liners and snaps, oh my!).  Jim dropped me off at Kaylee and Scott’s on the way to work.  The first thing we noticed was that Scott had shaved off his beard (yay…I like beards on certain people…my son-in-law is not one of them!).  He was all ready for those questions at work like “Where’s your beard?”  He saved the clippings in a Ziploc bag, so he could pull it out and say, “Right here!”  All together now:  “EWWWWW!”

Elise and her bearded Daddy at Christmas time...

Kaylee gave me detailed instructions about when and how much to feed my granddaughter (the milk with the cow on the pitcher was for Elise), and when she went to bed.  She showed me the gold-plated baby toothpaste ($4 for a tiny tube).  Scott showed me how to get Netflix on the Wii (they only have 21 channels on the TV)…seeing the blank look on my face, he wrote it down.  Kaylee put the baby down for a nap about 11:30, and she and Scott left shortly after that, almost forgetting the sushi they’d bought to eat for supper.

Puddin’ Pop woke up a couple of hours later.  The next five hours is a blur of activity: trying to get her to eat something besides grapes and baby banana rusks, chasing her down the hallway when she tried to “escape” to her room, watching “Barney” on Netflix, reading stories (Elise recognizes her letters already – she is also learning sign language), and taking the lid on and off the wooden block container (over and over and over again).  By 6:30, one of us was ready to crash…I put Elise to bed too, after putting the triple-stuffed nighttime diaper on her.

"Whatchoo talkin' about, Gramma?"

 

I went back into the living room and turned on Cake Boss…on one of the episodes, the bakery had run out of sugar…how ludicrous is that?  Puddin’ Pop took a while to settle down, but she seemed happy to talk to herself in her crib.  I was ready to go to sleep by 10:00 p.m.  I changed into my jammies, and curled up (or more accurately, “doubled up”) on the loveseat.  Kaylee had suggested I bring our air mattress, but I was afraid her cats would poke a hole in it.  I woke up in the middle of the night with one of the cats’ faces peering intently into mine…Yoko is the one that races you down the hall to the bathroom to get a drink if you’re foolish enough to turn the faucet on for her (I’m not that gullible!).  Cats aren’t nearly as good at cleaning up under high chairs as dogs are either…

About 8 a.m. the next morning, Scott brought Elise in to change her diaper.  “Hi, Sweetie,” I called, as they went by.  The response was considerably more masculine and mature-sounding than my granddaughter: “Hi!” answered my smartass son-in-law.  After we had breakfast, and the kids told me about the concert (uncomfortable seating, the “yelling yahoo” sitting beside them, etc.), they drove me home.  I stayed in my jammies for the rest of the day…I was exhausted!

3. Provisions for the Privileged.  Jim, Hope and I went to Costco yesterday.  We left Anna at home, because I didn’t feel like spending $200 in one go.  We needed acetaminophen, and their price was far less than the drug stores (I remembered afterwards that we also needed allergy meds…oops!).  As we were going in, Jim flashed his member’s card at the doorperson.  Hope asked, “Do you have to show your card?”  

“Yes,” I replied.  “They don’t let just anybody into Costco!”  It was at that point that I realized just how “lucky” I am to be one of the families they admit to the home of the biggest jars of olives you’ll ever see…three years ago when I was a single mom, I couldn’t have afforded the membership fee.  My parents certainly would never have been able to swing it when I was a kid either. 

I don’t enjoy going to Costco…it represents the kind of greed and consumerism I hate, and it’s a cold experience to shop there.  Nonetheless, I spent $55, and picked up a few bargains on essentials.  While we waited in the checkout line, Hope wondered why the clerks didn’t have a microphone to call on when they needed something, instead of just yelling out?  Why indeed?  She was also surprised that we didn’t get bags to put our purchases in.  I explained that that’s how they were able to offer such low prices…no frills! 

I would like it if I got a warm and fuzzy feeling shopping at Costco, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen… 

4. Bonus: Hope-ism of the Week.  When Hope brought me a form to fill out for cheerleading, I asked her why she didn’t do it herself…she knew all the information.  “My messing’s writey!” she replied.  She’s also left-handed…

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Charming Cherubs, Ghastly Greenery, and Other Holiday Highlights…

Christmas, 2010, is history in Hammond River…here are some highlights (and lowlights!)…you might want to pour yourself a cup of tea and grab a cookie or two…this is a long one:

1. Christmas Cabaret.  On Wednesday, Anna went to her high school’s Christmas Cabaret at the Lily Lake Pavilion at Rockwood Park.  She insists that she didn’t dance with any boys while she was there, but claims she had fun!

Anna before Cabaret...my little girl is growing up!

2. A Visit from “New Orleans Nick.”  Thursday evening, I came home from the bookstore with a killer migraine…I went upstairs to bed.  While I was up there, Jim’s cousin, Nick, stopped in enroute to Nick’s mom’s house in Fredericton.  Jim had bought a router for him to give to his mother as a Christmas gift along with a new computer Nick got for her.  Nick’s plane from Louisiana had landed in Bangor earlier that day, and he was driving from there to his mom’s.  I’m sorry I missed Nick…he has a pretty tight schedule when he comes home to visit! 

3. Ghastly Greenery.  I managed to kill my 2-year-old poinsettia by overwatering it, just in time for Christmas…this is how it looked before it went to the big compost bin in the back yard (note to self – look in the pot before watering…don’t just pour water on it blindly!).  The Christmas cactus (you can see the buds in the lower left corner of the photo) is doing fabulously, though:

Dead poinsettia in the kitchen window...

4. A “Touch”-ing Evening.  We had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at Jim’s parents’ house, followed by opening presents with Devin and Brianna before they left for their mom’s house.  I let Anna and Hope unwrap one of their presents too…all the girls got iPod Touch’s (I wonder if the bank will give us a mortgage on a house we don’t own?).  Jim told Hope to turn hers over after she opened it…we had them engraved with the girls’ names.  “What does it say?” Jim asked.

“iPod!” Hope answered.

Hope with her new toy and her fleece sweater from Grammy and Grampy...the brown sweater behind her is one she gave Jim...

Devin’s big present was driving lessons, but we also got him a new chair for his computer desk.  I got him a new sandwich maker that doesn’t require a twist tie to hold the two sides together…nothing but the best for our boy!

5. The Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas,

And all over the floor,

A creature was puking

And leaving piles galore…

Jake had been the recipient of the ham bone from our dinner at Grammy’s house…he wasted no time in attacking it, much to his later regret (and ours).  Jake threw up all night and half of Christmas Day…during a somewhat hysterical holiday phone call, our local vet managed to talk me down out of my (Christmas) tree, assuring me that Jake was “a victim of his own excess” and that he would probably be fine.  The doctor didn’t see our water-hating dog climb into the bathtub (twice), or fall asleep standing up while desperately trying to find a comfortable position!  The vet ended up being right, though…thanks, Dr. B.!  Thanks also to my dad, who did most of the cleanup duty! 

6.  Operation Stocking Complete.  I managed to finish Elise’s handmade crocheted Christmas stocking at Jim’s parents’ on Christmas Eve while the kids were opening presents…considering I completely made up the pattern (except for the snowflakes), I think it came out pretty well!

Elise's one-of-a-kind crocheted stocking...snowflakes on other side too...

 

7. Our Green Christmas Came Early.  About 7 a.m., Hope opened our bedroom door and called up to Jim and I that it was time to open presents…I was grateful that she’d gone to bed late (otherwise, she might have had us up at five!).  We stumbled downstairs in our jammies, and sat on the couch while the kids piled presents in our laps as fast as we could open them (they did open some themselves, in between).  I got lots of chocolate (just what I need…not!), gift cards (yay!), and a promise of a trip (without kids) to Prince Edward Island with Jim sometime in the early season (can’t wait!).  Jim and Devin also did an upgrade and installed a new flat-screen monitor on my home computer (the old one was on its last legs!).  Thanks, Honey!  I think Jim liked the dress wool jacket I got for him (sometimes procrastination pays off – 40% off two days before Christmas…score!), and the tickets to The Who tribute concert in January at the Imperial Theatre.  He’s also planning to buy a snazzy new lens for his camera later on…I’ll kick in some funds for that too!

I had just nicely finished my breakfast about 10 a.m., when I realized how many presents were still under the tree awaiting Kaylee and Scott’s arrival…I thought it would be a good idea to suggest they allow extra time to stop at home and drop off presents before proceeding to their next destination after our house…Scott’s car is rather small!  I was talking to Kaylee on the phone when it suddenly went dead…they walked in the door two seconds later, a full two hours before we were expecting them!  They’d been on the go since 5:30 that morning, but hadn’t had breakfast…I switched into “Mommy mode” and started a bagel/toast production line for everybody who was hungry…

Elise had already had some practice opening presents at Uncle Sean’s that morning, and Grampy Paul’s the night before…she was starting to get the hang of it.  Jim took this photo of Elise opening her Etch-A-Sketch/Magna Doodle combo:

Elise opening her presents Christmas Day...

I think Elise’s favourite presents were the soft baby doll I got her, the Potty Elmo from Auntie Anna, and the Little People Farm from Grandad.  I think Kaylee and Scott were happy to have the portable highchair Grandad got for them…it even goes into the dishwasher!  Kaylee liked the tickets for the Great Big Sea concert Jim and I gave her, and Scott seemed to like the lined hoody I got him (plain black, of course).  He wondered if the shaving cream in his stocking might have been some kind of hint…

Elise was exhausted by the time she was finished…they took her home for a nap about lunchtime.  I started making my rolls for our Boxing Day/Christmas Dinner the next day.

About suppertime, we got ready to go over to Jim’s parents for Christmas Dinner with them and Jim’s sisters…unfortunately, Jim’s sister, Kim, wasn’t feeling well.  Her husband, Chris, came and picked up plates for them to take home.  We had another scrumptious dinner with turkey and all the trimmings, and apple pie for dessert!  Yummy!  Jim’s sister, Tracy, played Santa Claus and passed out presents.  Jim’s parents got me some more gift cards, a beautiful set of three bracelets, and a long-sleeved top.  Jim got a nice sweater, a shirt and a pair of pants.  Jim’s mom and dad liked the printer we got them, the Sears gift card, and the shaped 1000-piece dragon puzzle Anna and Hope gave them.

We went to bed soon after we got home…it was a busy day!

8. No One Was Punched on Boxing Day (they waited until the next day).  In Canada, Boxing Day is a statutory holiday the day after Christmas…pretty much everything is closed.  It was after I made everybody a sausage and scrambled egg breakfast that I discovered I hadn’t left us enough eggs to make my stuffing and Jim’s dressing later in the day.  I started making my stuffing and getting the turkey ready to go into the oven (I used my new food processor to cut the celery and onions), while Jim made an emergency egg run to Shoppers Drug Mart (thank goodness they have eggs!).  Devin and Brianna came back from their mom’s…before she left, they showed us their new chihuahua puppy, Azul, who was a lovely shade of gray-brown, very unusual colour for that breed. 

The snowstorm started soon after that, and continued through Monday until we had about a foot of snow. 

I spent the rest of the afternoon peeling and cutting vegetables for our dinner: carrots and rutabaga from the garden, squash from our garden (from the freezer), potatoes, broccoli, and corn.  Jim made his dressing, and the gravy…we danced around each other in the kitchen…it’s not my favourite thing having people there when I’m cooking!  I tried unsuccessfully to find my Christmas tablecloth and placemats…no luck!  My stuffing got soggy in the top of the potato pot because I had so many potatoes in it…I tried to dry it out in the oven a little bit.  Everything took longer than I thought it would, and I ended up serving it about 30 minutes later than I intended to.  The kids were all sitting around the table waiting by the time I brought the food in (I think Elise was already eating carrots!).  The buns were delicious…

Buns, fresh from the oven...

 And so was our blueberry/blackberry pie I took out of the freezer for dessert…remember this?

Blueberry/Blackberry pie I made this fall...

After a day of doing dishes and finally getting around to making a couple of loaves of lemon bread, I’m back at the bookstore today…glad to get back to my routine!

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