Mark at his Professional Engineer ceremony

292_APEGBC_DSC6073On January 24th, 2013, Mark and I attended his Association of Professional Engineers and Geologists (APEG) induction for new Professional Engineers.Program

211_APEGBC_DSC5965It was a lovely evening at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver.  It was quite the ceremony, including a bagpipist, and I think it was the only time in the last year at least that I had an excuse to be dressed up!

Congratulations Mark!



Mark and Karen


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Merry Christmas and a Happy 2013!

IMG_1858It has been a mixed Holiday season for us, with a phone call on Friday Dec 7th from Mark’s mum Janet with the news that Morley’s cancer has returned to his spine, confirmed from an MRI, and is now in a palliative care stage.  So we booked our flights for the next morning, and flew over supposedly for a week to help Janet care for him and set up the house.  Unfortunately with each day we saw a IMG_1850marked decrease, it was an aggressive cancer, and we decided to stay.  Sadly he passed away on Dec 21st, we had moved him up to the cottage, his last wishes, and he had all the kids and Janet by his side.  The funeral was held in Aurora on Dec 28th, to a packed house, still very sad but it was nice to see all the family and friends, and it was a beautiful service, with some smiles brought by a few really good speakers – a colleague, an old friend and Janet’s cousin, John.  Jessie was amazing throughout the whole time, she loved having the visitors come to the house and cottage, lapped up the attention, and IMG_1844was very cute with Grampsie, would give him kisses and lie next to him on his bed with her arm around him watching a cartoon movie.  Luckily Tamara organised some babysitters at the church for the funeral, I explained to Jess that we were having a special church service to say goodbye to Grampsie.  Jessie came with us to the church but stayed in the sunday school room,when I went to get her at the end of the reception she said she couldn’t leave yet, as she hadn’t said goodbye to Grampsie, so we both went back into the church and said our goodbyes, I was really touched, I guess even 3 year olds need closure.

She also really enjoyed running around with the other 6 cousins, from 18 months to 7 years old, they all had a great time together at the cottage.  Christmas Day was a bit sad without Morley, but still happy due to the 7 grandkids excitement over the whole christmas/santa experience.  I think we IMG_1871had 9 huge garbage bags of wrapping paper and toy packaging from us all!  The kids were well catered for.  Santa had already come to our place in Vancouver, but those presents will come out at strategic times over the next few months.  Luckily there is a new Canadian Tire at Minden which had a small pink wagon and a hippo pop up tent for kids indoor play which was well received by Jess.  Santa had listened to her repeated requests for a pink present, with a pink wrapper, pink ribbon and pink bows, so she was delighted to see her pink presents IMG_1879under the christmas tree!  The cottage in wintertime was wonderful, with the lake freezing over a little more each day, and gorgeous dry powdery snow all around.  We took Jess skating on an outdoor public ice rink, a flooded basketball court, it was her highlight of the trip!  We also build the obligatory snowmen and snow family, made snow angels and gave her lots of toboggan rides.  Minden is a very IMG_1897nice country town, 3 hours north east of Toronto, I looked up online the service times at the local churches, and next to the Anglican one is ‘across the river from The Beer Store’… You know you are in the country when…  hee hee hee… My cousin Jelita said it should follow on from that ‘after the service tea, coffee and beer will be served in the hall…’

We came back to Vancouver on Jan 3rd, and have been getting back to our normal routine, Mark at work in the office (they asked to send him away again and I said no, it’s getting too close now), and Jessie at her various activities.  She has preschool for 2 hours on Tues and Thurs, as well as gymnastics on Thurs afternoon, ice skating lessons on Friday and ballet on Saturday.  Last week she was ok at ice skating for her first lesson, wasn’t thrilled but was ok.  This week she refused to put her skates on, then her helmet, then wouldn’t get onto the ice.  This was a first for me, as Jess normally is the one running and jumping into the pool, climbing the highest at the playground, going on the big slides etc. After these dramatics she had missed her lesson, but the nice instructor had given her some texta markers and she was sitting on the mat and drawing on the ice.  Then one of the instructors asked if she wanted to see the stuffed animal toys on the ice, but only if she put on her helmet.  She obliged and had a 10 minute private lesson, enjoyed being on the ice, so he let her join in the next beginner group lesson.  Then she didn’t want to come off the ice!  So I went and put snow rubber thingies on the bottom of my blundstone boots and went out on the ice with her, at 33 weeks preggers!  Oh well, she now likes the ice and has asked Mark to take her skating tomorrow, so we will see how it goes, hopefully better!

IMG_1901We had a nice ‘christmas’ dinner with Liam and Tricia on the Friday night, Jessie was so excited to see her best friend again, it’s all she was talking about, her first words on Friday morning were ‘can we see Liam today?’

Jessie is getting very excited for the upcoming new arrival, she still calls it ‘Nurnie’, but now says she would like to call it ‘Isabelle’, which by coincidence IMG_1910was Mark’s grandmother’s name.  She still says it’s going to be a girl too, but I think she will cope if it’s a boy.  It is still very active, and is head down, so that is a relief, although I find it more uncomfortable in this position, and I am still nauseous and exhausted.  Mark is just ‘nervous’ about it all, but unlike last time, hasn’t asked me not to call him at the office yet, as with each call it used to freak him out thinking I was in labour.  We will see…

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Happy Halloween and our Ontario trip

Happy belated Halloween!  It has been a while since I have had a chance to update the blog, it’s been a busy time.

Jessie had a blast at Halloween, with the help from our friend Pam in Whistler she was Winnie the Pooh, and also Tigger.  We had Tricia and Liam come over for a play and dinner, and our neighbour Nadia with Julia and Marcus also came over for Halloween cookie decorating (pumpkins and stars with pink/orange icing and sprinkles on top).  Of course Jessie had great fun spilling the sprinkles all over the floor, and after many sweeps, vacuums and mops we are still finding little coloured balls on our floor all over the house!

Halloween was a cold, wet and windy night, so I was glad that Jess had on the full fleece suit, I followed her around with a big umbrella, and we didn’t get too wet, but she was definitely done after an hour.

Liam was a fantastic pirate, Tricia did well with his make up, and they even made a pirate ship from a box that he wore, unfortunately we didn’t get a pic of that.

It was our first trick or treating experience in North America.  When I was in Canton, NY, as I was a senior we were too old to go door knocking, and I think I went out with my friend Megan to a fraternity Haunted House, and we avoided getting egged.  This year I learnt that protocol was to have one person stay home and give out candies to the trick or treaters, and then one goes with the kids.

Mark stayed home, surprise, surprise, and I went out with Tricia, Liam, Nadia and her two kids.  We went trick or treating for about an hour, up and down our block and the next one.  Jessie took a cleaned out orange sand bucket, but lots of kids had special Halloween lanterns or buckets, and the older kids had pillow cases.   It was fun, there were lots of parents dressed up in Halloween attire, from gorilla suits to witches and everything in between.  The best ‘score’ for Jess was a flashing light tube, which is actually a great treat, as it makes the kids visible in the dark, another good one was a tub of playdoh.  Many of the houses were decorated too, with graveyards, skeletons, chains, skulls etc. in the front yards, and spider webs and spiders over the trees, doors and stair rails, which is what we had.  I also learnt that not every house participates in the festivities.  We only door knock on houses that either have their light on over the door and pumpkins out with candles in them.  Mark and Jess had fun on Halloween eve carving the pumpkin, and I loved eating the seeds (after being mixed with some butter and salt then baked), it tastes just like popcorn.

The week before Halloween we went back to Ontario to visit with Mark’s Dad.  We had a great time catching up with the family, but it wasn’t in the best of circumstances.  Morley has now had lymphoma and brain tumours, chemotherapy and radiation, with the outlook going from 5 years, to 3 years to 6 weeks – 6 months.  So basically it’s an unknown when the cancer will return, we are all hoping and praying for a lengthy reprieve.  He is in pretty good spirits, considering, and the latest scans showed no new cancers, and the brain tumours shrinking, that was very positive news.  He will be coming off the steroid drugs too over the next six weeks, so his weakness, tiredness and mood swings should also improve.  He is even talking about catching the Rocky Mountain train over to see us in February, with a stop in Lake Louise, so that would be something we can all look forward to.

They are busy winding up their medical practice by the end of December, I think it is hard for him to say goodbye and hand over patients that he has been successfully treating for over 20 years.  Also, the cottage is being renovated (it’s been under construction now for 1.5 years, I have money on it taking 2 years) and Janet is project managing this, I don’t know how she is still sane, she is one remarkable lady that I truly admire.  We were lucky to make it up to the cottage for a night, the new renovations are gorgeous, the patio room is spacious and very comfortable, with outstanding views, and their new master bedroom just gorgeous.  It will be worth the wait when it is completed.

While we were there we had a dinner with the family (now 18 people with immediate family), and the kids all dressed up in their Halloween costumes.  Luckily Jess insisted on bringing her dress up ballerina outfit over, so she wore that and Janet’s actual tiara from her wedding, to turn her into a princess.  The kids were terribly cute.  Morley had a fantastic menu, we had gourmet chicken pot pies, then we made a French apple strudel for dessert, it was delicious!

You will have to agree that they are one photogenic family!  Morley, Stu, Tam, Mark, Paul and Janet, left to right.

We are all doing well, Jessie has had her September cold, and her October cold, so I am waiting for her November cold.  She is very excited about the new baby, her baby, coming soon, and also about christmas.  She tells everyone that our new baby will be a girl, and she will call it ‘Nurnie’.  I think it’s something to do with Mark’s sister Tam’s childhood nickname, Nurnur.  Anyway, I think she will cope if it’s a boy, and is very excited about helping out, especially changing the diapers/nappies.  This week is a good week for us, as it’s the first time in about three months that either Jess or I have not had to visit the hospital for anything!  One of us always has a Drs apt etc., so it is a nice break, for one week at least. It is now 26 weeks, which is good, and since about 18 weeks the nausea hasn’t been as bad, it hasn’t been all day everyday, just certain parts of the day, so that is an improvement.  Although for the last week or so I have been taking iron tablets as I am anaemic, so the nausea came back.  Last Tuesday I had the diabetes glucose blood test, where you have to fast for 12 hours, then go in and have a blood test, drink some orange liquid, then wait two hours and have another blood test.  I knew it was going to be a bad day when I was throwing up in the morning before I even left the house.  I have recently changed to a new iron supplement, and am ‘beefing’ up my meals with more meat (which I have been repulsed by) and Jess and I are having a kale, spinach, orange and other fruit blender drink each afternoon.  Cross your fingers that my iron levels improve!  Luckily the blood test was negative so that was good news, in fact I am 15 pounds/7kgs lighter at this stage in the pregnancy than I was with Jess, so that is good.

This morning we started doing some christmasy things, we went to a shopping mall that has a model train go through their santa village, and Jess and her friend Micah just loved it, they even got a free sit on santa’s knee.  When he asked her what she wanted santa to bring her for christmas, she said a pink wrapper.  So I think we will be fine with anything, as long as there is pink paper on it.  Does this give you some idea how obsessed she is with the colour pink?  She is also loving doing her craft,, drawings, stickers, gluing pom poms and feathers on paper, and still playing with playdough.  Anything pink of course goes first.  Mark is doing well, and just received a promotion at work, he has gone from a Staff Engineer to a Project Engineer, which is great.  Happy American Thanksgiving to all our friends down south!

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Good News!

Yes, we are now pregnant at 21 weeks, 4 ultrasounds down with ‘couldn’t be better’ from the Doctors, so that is nice.  Due date is Feb 27th.  I am very glad to be pregnant but can not wait until March 2013, the nausea and exhaustion is not much fun.  Although then I will be dealing with the sleep deprivation and exhaustion, but hey, we will have our other bundle of joy, which always makes it worth while.  The parents trip was again fantastic timing for us, with two extra adults to help occupy Jess and make dinners, as I was around 12 weeks at the time and quite incapacitated.

Apologies for not updating the blog in a while, but it’s been quite busy here.  Jess has now started her pre-school and is loving it.  Each time she runs in without even a look back, and the teachers like her as she goes and comforts the other kids when they are upset or missing their parents. I have seen her kiss and hug some of the boys, it is really cute.  It is a small class, 9 kids in all, with only 3 girls, and she is good friends with both girls, but Penny in particular.  Her pre-school is only for 2 hours, at 12.40pm Tuesday and Thursday, although it is enough time for me to go swimming at the pool, Hillcrest of course, and even read a bit in the library or have a coffee at their cafe.  We have been lucky to have gorgeous weather here, so the kids all play in the park after pre-school for at least an hour each day.

She is liking gymnastics on Mondays, and is good at putting her feet up at the bars and doing two forward rolls in a row down the mats, of course she likes the trampoline and the foam pit best.  On Wednesday she has swimming, and loves this, she can swim about 2 metres now unassisted, and can (just) tread water, so that is great.  Saturday morning she has ballet, which is really cute, and loves it too.  I love that the community centre has a coffee shop and two other kids from our baby group attend the class, so the Mum’s and sometimes the Dad’s and I have a nice 30 minute coffee break, without interruptions.

Mark has been busy with work, and has been away twice now back up to the Mt Milligan mine.  Luckily it was only for a week at a time, but the first time at the end of September both Jess and I were sick with colds then chest infections.  Not much fun, it was a very long week.

Just before all the activities started again after the summer, we managed to go to the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition, a bit like the Royal Easter Show, but on a smaller scale).  Jess liked seeing the farm animals, and went on her first ride.

As I have had a rough time with the nausea, we decided to have vegetarian burritos and ricotta cheesecake for Thanksgiving this year.  Jess helped me make the cheesecake, it was delicious!

On Thanksgiving Monday we went to the Pumpkin Patch farm with Tricia and Liam.  This was a lot of fun, they have a petting zoo there, with some pigs, llama’s, rabbits, goats, ducks and chickens.  We all went on a tractor trailer ride and had a play in the pumpkin patch.  They had a corn maze too, but we didn’t get to it.

Last weekend as Mark was away we thought it was a perfect opportunity for a Whistler weekend!  We went up on Friday afternoon, and stayed with Pam and Wayne and their girls Chantal + Cassidy, and JJ.  We also had time to see our friends Shelley and Jade for breakfast on Saturday morning, and had a nice playdate with Yolanda and Mason for lunch.  Then Saturday afternoon was the big 11th birthday party for JJ.  Jessie was invited to attend and was the life of the party, loving all the attention from the girls, she was just adored by them which was nice.  It was casino themed, so they had various stations to play casino games, with poker chips of course!  Jess liked roulette and blackjack best, and actually won a few games.

Jess has had a wonderful time at various friends birthday parties. Zoe’s was particularly fun, Princess themed, and they had a really great kids face painter there.  Jessie became a princess unicorn, and looked quite cute!  Liam’s birthday party was also a lot of fun, Fireman themed, and the kids all had fire hats and water squirted out some flames in chalk in the sidewalk.

As the leaves are falling from the trees now, people are decorating their houses for Halloween.  Jessie has a few choices for costumes – ballerina, princess, Winnie the Pooh or Tigger, thanks to our neighbour Nadia and Pammy.  I think (hope) Winnie the Pooh wins!  They can wear their outfit to preschool the day before Halloween, and gymnastics two days before, which will be cute.

As per usual all these photos and more are on Flikr, just click here to go to the site, or click on the pics to the right under ‘Karen’s Flikr Photos’.  We also have a few You Tube clips:

Jess and Liam on the boat ride at the PNE

Uncle Wayne tickling Jessie at Whistler

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Granny and Grandpa’s visit

We have been very lucky to have Granny and Grandpa visit us from Australia for three weeks.  It was pretty amazing that Dad took three weeks off work, and Mum parted with her kitties and all her duties, we were truly blessed.  Jessica was absolutely thrilled, and loved waking them up each morning, they were the last thing and first thing on her mind each day.  She adored the attention, having them 24/7 on hand to play with, many songs, nature walks, drawing, elephant rides, Jack and Jill games etc.  Jess loved the snuggles, especially with Winnie the Pooh, which they brought over for her.

On August 11th we were invited to Jessie’s friend Alex’s 3rd party, at Burnaby Train park. It was lots of fun, Jessie enjoyed two rides on the train, it was really cute, it went for 10 minutes each and the kids loved it.  Grandpa took her friend Liam on one trip too, it was a real hit with the kids.  We played pass the parcel and had homemade Winnie the Pooh cupcakes, pinwheel sandwiches, and the kids all had fun.  I think Mum and Dad liked their first look in quite a while at a 3 year old party, it was a good run up to Jessie’s which was the weekend after, fully detailed in previous blog.


Mum and Dad helped us take Jessie for a ride on her bike, she likes it but not as much as her male friends like their bikes.  Mason, Liam and Alex are really fast on their bikes, and just love them.  Jessie likes her bike but is more content doing nature walks, collecting leaves, grass, flowers, rocks etc. in her many buckets, or playing on the swing set or in the sandpit.



We also had a very lovely breakfast at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, thanks to Dad.  He is fortunate that the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron has reciprocal privileges with other yacht clubs around the world.  It was a spectacular day, and the views were amazing, right on the water at Point Grey, looking back across the city and West Vancouver, with many islands in the background.  After breakfast we went down to the beach and played in the sand, Jessie even sat in her sand ‘speedboat’.

Over the whole three weeks there were only two mornings where we had drizzling rain, we had straight sunshine and dare I say it, hot weather for the rest of the time.

One rainy morning we allowed Grandpa to have some quality Jessie time at home (ie. mum and I ditched them) and had a fairly luxurious morning at Starbucks, clothes shopping, and grocery shopping.  It was very nice leaving the house with a purse, not a backpack, listening to the CBC on the radio in the car, not the Wiggles, and relaxing, not having to constantly be on alert for Jess.

The other rainy morning we met our friend Leah who has Maegan and now baby James, at Maplewood Farm.  The girls had a ball, feeding the ducks and chickens, patting the goats, sheep and cows, and feeding the bunnies.  It is a good space, not far away (about 10 min drive in North Vancouver), not too big, and has a nice picnic shelter for snacks/lunch.

We had a lovely picnic at Deep Cove, North Vancouver, with our friend Michelle.  Jessie was playing with the rocks and dipping her feet in the water, and showing Michelle all her treasures.  We had gorgeous fish and chips, halibut no less, followed by yummy gelato.  Jessie loves playing with sand, rocks and water, so was in heaven.

On their last day we finally made it to Burnaby Village Museum.  It is a ye olde town of the 1920s era.  Jessie was not fussed to go on the carousel this time, but enjoyed wandering around the shops, and always likes the garden cow, pictured right.  We went for a tour of the old farmhouse, and the tour guide was talking non stop, mostly about her daughter and her future son-in-law, not the historical highs and lows of the cottage.  By the end of it Jess had had enough, and asked her in a loud voice ‘Will you stop talking!’, at which point I had to agree with her, but quickly took her outside, trying very hard not to laugh, I think I made it to the flowers before falling into fits of laughter.

We were very sad to see Granny and Grandpa go, Jessie had grown really attached to them, and the attention of two adults 24/7 that loved playing with her.  We still miss them greatly, it was quite sad when Jessie would wake up each morning for the next few days and run out to the top of the stairs yelling ‘granny, grandpa, coming down for a visit’ as she used to wake them up most mornings, after 7am of course.  She is more chatty on the phone with them now, and once they get Facetime set up on their iPad we will do more video calls with them.  There are more pics on Flikr, click here for the link.

Jessie especially liked singing with Granny, and here are two songs that she still sings quite well, click on the link, ‘How much is that doggy in the window‘ and ‘Hey Diddle Diddle‘.

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Jessie’s 3rd Birthday

Last weekend Jessica Rose turned 3, and we had a lovely garden pool party for her and our friends.  We were very lucky that Granny and Grandpa were in town too, so were able to not only attend, but help out!

She especially enjoyed the pink whale cake (Grandpa helped mash the strawberries for the natural strawberry icing), and the pool – I don’t think Liam was out of it for more than a minute at a time.  

Our friend Kristen was a godsend, arriving early and decorating the house with balloons, chalking up the footpath and directing traffic flow to the backyard.

A good time was had by all, and we were especially lucky to have our Whistler friends (our Whistler ‘family’) Pam, Wayne and JJ make it, the twins would have made it too but were in Ontario at the time.

Mum was busy helping out and making plates of sandwiches, the kids loved the fairy bread (an Aussie tradition, white bread, butter and sprinkles), Grandpa and Mark were great setting up everything and bringing out all the food and drinks.  We even played ‘pass the parcel’, and found it hard to believe that a lot of Canadians had never heard of it, I didn’t realise it was an English and Antipodean game.

Jessie even got a birthday smooch from her boyfriend Liam!  The weather was gorgeous, the last really warm day of summer, we were lucky.  We have had a great summer this year, we had about 2 weeks of hot weather (anything over 23 degrees here counts as HOT!) and we even had to buy a small fan to help cool down the house.

More photos are on Flickr, click here for the link, or on the side of the blog.

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Summer fun at the Cottage!

We had a lot of fun at the cottage this summer.  Mark’s parents have a lovely cottage near Haliburton, 2.5 hours north of Toronto, on 12 Mile Lake.  They are doing some lovely renovations, to accommodate the ever expanding family, but Jessie’s favourite addition is the sandpit next to the ‘beach’.  Jess and I flew out for a week before Mark joined us for another week.  On our ‘girls week’ we had Tam & Cedric (Mark’s sister and her 14 month old) and Janet.  We had lovely weather, and Jess and I managed to go for at least one swim a day.  The lake was nice and warm, at least 25 degrees I would say, and they had all the toys for the sand and water.  The Iacurti’s were also up across the lake, so we had a few fun nights and visits with them too.   Stu, Kim, Jordyn and Zachary were up each weekend, and luckily so were Paul, Vicky, Declan, Emily and Wills.  It was so cute seeing all the cousins playing together, Jessie was in heaven.  Being at the cottage is very easy: swim, sandpit, more swims, sandpit time, boat rides, ice cream; basically sums up our time there.

Mark arrived the following weekend with Morley, and the family party was underway on Saturday by the early afternoon.  There was waterskiing and tubing behind the speedboat, and lots of swimming and sandpit time for the young’ns.  The new deck was amazing to accommodate over 40 people, it was easy to spread out.  Stuart and Kim’s bouncing castle was of course a hit with the kids, and Janet’s roast beef dinner yet another success.  This photo was quite cute, the ‘big girls’ girls (Sophia, Lauren, Emily and Jessie) all decided to eat together on the deck.

Unfortunately Morley was not his usual peppy self, and on Monday night took a turn for the worse and was in hospital on Tuesday morning, where he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  This was quite a shock, although he had successfully battled his lymphoma 6 months ago and was given the all clear, in remission, only weeks before.  He has now had a course of radiation, and they are confident he will recover well.  This was of course quite upsetting for all, and we left the cottage and had some meals with him and the rest of the family at the hospital near Aurora.

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