Tag: Alberta

The Travelling Treasure Jar

I went on the longest road trip I’ve ever taken this summer. My boys and I drove all the way from Southern Ontario to Alberta — Prairies and Rocky Mountains and my family — then back again. We wondered if we might be insane to attempt such a drive with a 4-year-old and a 10-month-old, but off we went, and it was truly a great adventure. There was only one roadside timeout for the kid (there probably should have been a few for me, ahem, lucky I’m in charge!), occasional nursing breaks for the babe and the usual gas/pee/food/photo-op stops.

I wanted to do something crafty with Rudi to keep him engaged along the way. So in addition to borrowing a portable dvd player (a total godsend) and the required colouring materials and books to read, we made a diary book for each day and prepared an antique glass canning jar to collect simple treasures along the way: Rudi’s Travelling Treasure Jar, a.k.a. The Jar!

The Jar itself is a beaut with its glass lid and metal flip attachment. And every day, once or twice, we’d gather a stone or pine cone from the roadside, parking lot or forest path of the day, or a coin from the US, or an arcade token from the movie theatre, or some grain or oats from the fields we were passing, or a beer cap from mommy and daddy’s adult pops in the hotel room (we drink beer with really cool caps okay? It’s all for the kid. Honestly) .

I only had to suggest collecting pieces the first couple of times, after that Rudi would gather things for his Jar in his pocket and in the evenings in our hotel, or at Granny’s house, we’d open The Jar and review the contents, talking about our journey thus far and then add the new trinket/s to the collection. A couple of favourites are the little white figurine of a man with a walking stick and rifle, his paint all but gone. Rudi spotted him in my aunt’s garden and she said, “take it! the bird’s are always dropping crazy things in here!” We can hardly imagine what adventures the wee old fellow has endured! And the mini horseshoe, which was smithed for Rudi right before his very eyes at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village where I worked in my teens.

The final result is a jar full of prairie flotsam and jetsam, a beautiful collection of the in-betweens from our trip. And those were my favourite parts — the in-betweens. Being cooped in a car with my husband and our boys for 5 days of driving each way was my favourite. Kicking stones in the hotel parking lot in Lake Louise and then running through a forest path to catch the sight of the passing train was my favourite. Stopping for an emergency pee on a prairie back road that looked so quiet only to be overwhelmed by the earsplitting cricket song outside was my favourite. Standing on the car to get a better view of the massive hoodoos in the North Dakota badlands … you get the drift, I could go on and on about the favourite moments that The Jar conjures.

Of course there were the standard squabbles between all of us, usually to do with hunger, exhaustion or sore butts (around hour 5 Rudi would always moan spectacularly and say, “my bum hurts!”)  but really there was more harmony than I’d anticipated and I loved that it was just the 4 of us in our Toyota Matrix ship, rocket or pirate depending on Rudi’s mood, zipping across the miles and miles and miles and miles between my adult and childhood homes. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. And I look forward to opening the jar from time to time with Rudi and remembering.

Hometown, Heart and the Headstrong Baby

12 days ago my dad’s heart very nearly failed him. He lives across the country from me in my hometown of Edmonton and with this hard news came the clarity that I dearly wanted him to meet 8-month-old Gene. So Gene and I flew over the lakes and the prairies and I got to introduce my dad to his second grandchild. Happily, the docs were able to fit dad with a pacemaker/defibrillator and he’s back at home for now, heart ticking along.

In spite of it being an emergency trip filled with apprehension, it was so good to share my wee boy with my Edmonton family and friends. My own heart is overflowing with big sky and the big love of my amazing people there. Gene made some ridiculous strides in Edmonton, standing against things and cruising a bit, crawling for the first time and walking his little legs to get where he wants to go when you hold his hands. He is a ball of determination!

Edmonton was exploding with apple blossoms. I was lucky to catch those magic couple of days when the trees are full of their short-lived pink and white flowers:

I miss the wide Alberta sky. If you aren’t familiar with prairie skies, it’s hard to describe the amazing, shifting endless space. I don’t really miss it til I’m there and then I feel like I’m brimming with the aching familiarity of it.

I learned about chewbeads, silicone bead necklaces that are made to be chewed by babies yet look look like lovely, chunky jewellery, brilliant! My cousin was wearing hers so stylishly while her little guy held onto them with a vice grip, chewing and playing as we walked and caught up.

I went with the aforementioned cousin to the Duchess Bake Shop, a super fancy, high tea looking place, yet totally approachable and momma-with-baby friendly. We  ate and savoured and enjoyed our little boys, who are only 15 days apart in age. This made for an extra special, hilarious visit as we are both firmly in the midst of sleep deprivation, infant eczema, baby food and the glorious madness that is mothering an infant. The Duchess has a great ceiling, it mesmerized both me and Gene!

My cousin’s name is Tamsin, but we mostly call her Tam. And it happened to be her birthday! I opened my mom’s late 70s edition of The Joy of Cooking, found a delectable banana cake recipe and baked it up. Then I had a wave of brilliance and cut out the letters of her name in paper, sifted sugar over them and presto:

Lastly, my cousin adventures ended in a quilting shop. Oh dangerous deliciousness! She is a crafty fabric-a-holic also and we found some prints that simple could not be left behind. Here are my spoils:

And here I am, back in super-hot Toronto, somewhat jet-lagged. Back to my mothering of 2 and my sewing and my regular blogging. Happy week everyone!