Christmas Letter 2004

 

Over the past decades, I’ve always tried to write an annual Christmas letter to family and friends summarizing our family activities and highlighting our proudest moments. TODAY’S CHRISTMAS LETTER IS FROM DECEMBER 2004, word for word.

Seasons Greetings 2004!
This year was full of exciting events! Robin and Taylor both made it home from B.C. in 2004, although not at the same time…..

Wintertime found us enjoying our outdoor “playground”: a huge 65′ x 110′ hockey rink plus a full size curling rink and all surrounded by a huge skating oval – on the river! After Chris plowed the majority of snow off, it still took us 4-6 hours to shovel the remaining snow to bare ice. It’s great exercise – usually we’re too pooped to actually skate, but we do curl and play Bocce on it.

Our Skating Party was a great success again last February. Nellie’s entire class even came another day for ‘Operation Fun’. One night we even had a local CTV Ottawa weatherman do his 6:00 o’clock report right from our backyard rink! THAT was exciting!!

On March break, Taylor came home from Vancouver for a week and we really enjoyed his visit….. We also went winter horseback riding (my first in nearly 40 years!) at our neighbour’s sister’s farm – what a blast! Nellie took her babysitting course this spring and passed with flying colours. Melvin participated in all the school sports teams. Everyone passed and moved on to the next grade.

Marty still has a girlfriend, Tanya, and is now in his last year of high school. Kristi is also in her last year of university and is getting married to Mike next August 12, 2005!

In early July, I took a tumble in the woods across the road (which I’ve walked thousands of times in the past 23 years) and broke my left leg. I was in a cast until the end of August, so my garden took care of itself for awhile. I still have difficulty walking and am trying home physiotherapy to help my feet.

Robin came to Ottawa in July for a conference and visited overnight. Natasha stayed home in Victoria. He’s working on is PhD now – Dr. Rob, imagine that!  Chris was in B.C. for 3 weeks this summer on a job and got to visit with Taylor one night.

Our little “Munchie”, grandaughter Kalia, is so sweet.  She turned one in November and is walking all over the place! Darin and Amanda and Kalia moved to London, Ont. this fall where Darin accepted a job at a high-tech firm. We miss them a lot, but we talk every week and they’ll be here for a week at Christmastime. They are such great parents!

Well, I’ve mailed the parcels to B.C. and done most of the baking. Just a bit more to do before the kids get out of school in the next 3 days: Chris is painting the mudroom, we’re finishing up all the shopping, clean the house …… is there really any point!

I really hope that we see you all sometime in 2005 – or at least write or email us!
Merry Christmas!

 

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The Last Day

Writing this post today is bittersweet.  Today the dog and I walked my youngest child Melvin, who’s  17 years old,  up to the schoolbus stop at 6:50 a.m. for the last time……….he’s finished high school today.  I’ve been putting my 7 children on the school bus for 32 consecutive years now (except for the home schooling years).   WOW have the years flown by!  I could never have fathomed on that very first day in 1980 that I would EVER get to this very last day.  That first day began abit rocky :  when the big yellow schoolbus arrived, my 5 year old decided that there was no way was he going on that thing with all those strange kids.  So he clung to the nearest chain link fence as if his life depended on it and no amount of coaxing, bribing, or cajoling was going to convince him to let go.  I couldn’t pry  those little fingers off so I just told the bus driver to go ahead and we drove him.  He came to like the little world in the school bus.  Year one was only a five minute bus ride to school.

1986 Boys First Day of School

In 1981, we moved to our present location in the country.  There’s actually an old school house, now a converted home, about a few kilometers (a mile) away that children in the area walked to, about 70 years ago.    At our new home, the schoolbus took an hour to finally arrive at the childrens’ school – a 6 minute drive by car straight up the road to the village.  The bus picked up our kids first, in the morning,  and always dropped them off last, at the end of the day, making it a very long ride.  They picked up children going to 3 different schools and dropped off the kids at the other two schools first.  After school, they began at my childrens’ school.  Over the years, I developed a great rapport with the staff at that small elementary school – when my youngest graduated from it in grade 5, I was the parent with the most ‘seniority’ (25 years)!  Two years later, my granddaughter started school there and soon after,  I was going on school trips and attending concerts there again.

Many bus drivers are farmers who supplement their incomes by driving the schoolbus.  .  They know the area and all the backroads and often have some time in between milking a herd of cows or haying, to drive the bus (don’t ask me how!).  Some are Moms who take their little ones to work with them as they drive the schoolbus while other drivers are ‘semi-retired’, like Glen, Joy, and Bronwin (who also owns the local Christmas tree farm).  I remember once in the mid-80s when the schoolbus got stuck in some snow on a back road, after a big storm.  The driver, Mr. Graham (an elderly farmer up the road), told all the bigger boys, in grades 7 and 8, to get out and push!  They got the bus rolling.  But that would NEVER happen these days.  Bus drivers have to maneuver a big long bus, watch the road, watch for other drivers who may decide to pass illegally, ‘mother’ little ones nervously just starting school, keep an eye on the back of the bus where the senior kids sit, break up fights, and most importantly, get the kids to school safely on time.  A couple of years ago, there was a bully on the bus, picking on a smaller kid in my son’s high school.  So being a peaceful person – and 5’11” tall –  my son Melvin just moved up beside his bullied friend and ‘negotiated’ a truce with a firm hand on the bully’s shoulder and told him to SIT DOWN and behave!  These days, school bus drivers are instructed to pull over and radio for assistance if anything out of the ordinary occurs.

First Day 1987

At one time, my children attended five different schools in various areas in the same year:  the little elementary school in our nearby town (grades JK-5), the middle school in another nearby town (grades 6-8), a high school in a further town, another high school of the fine arts in the city, and Carleton University in Ottawa.  Just imagine Me trying to attend all  the school concerts, interviews, and activities!  My daughter Kristi, was accepted to Canterbury High School for Literary Arts in the city of Ottawa, the only school for the arts (literary, dance, drama) in Eastern Ontario.  My husband would drive her up to the nearest village at 6:45 every morning and pick her up again at 5 p.m every night.  HER school bus ride was an hour and a half each way!  She was definitely committed to the program to endure THAT long bus ride.

Schools have changed over the years too.  At one time, there was only one computer in the entire school for the students to use.  Now there are computers in every classroom, even the Junior Kindergarten.  I’ve seen the school population, in our local elementary school, bloom so they had to bring in ‘portable’ classrooms for a few years.

In the last few years, after the school bus left in the morning, the dog and I would walk along the flower gardens out front, picking out weeds or just checking on things.  I’d come inside and make myself a tea and abit later have breakfast.

Does it mean that my kids are all grown up now?  That my job is ‘done’?   Well at least the job of walking to the school bus, since the job of Mother is for life.

I’ve spent my entire adult life raising my 7 children, from the time I was 22 years old to the present (@ 59 years young).  After today, I’ll have to let a new flow to come into my life.  I’m not quite sure what that will be yet, so I think I’ll just let it happen……

Farewell Schoolbus

http://www.123rf.com/photo_346561_school-bus-back-view.html

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