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Monday, May 31, 2010

A Tribute to my Aunt - May Murray 1938 - 2010

My Aunt May recently passed away after a hard fought yet quick (although, is it ever REALLY quick?) battle with cancer. She was a beautiful woman who will be missed by all who knew her. Considering her loving spirit and generous nature, that is a significant percentage of the world I'd say! A shining star went out here the day she died. Knowing that it is shining more brightly in heaven eases the pain somewhat but selfishly, I'd rather have her here!!

Aunt May was not really my aunt ... she was my Mum's first cousin but she was always Aunt May growing up and Aunt May she will remain. I remember Mum telling me about their relationship as children. It has always stuck with me. My Mum was the middle of 3 sisters and Aunt May was also in the middle with an older brother and younger sister. The 6 cousins were close growing up and were naturally paired off by age. They did things like exchange gifts with each other according to age. This has become more relevant to me as my brother and I each have 3 children approximately the same ages. It is really neat to see the growing relationships between the cousin pairs and I can imagine what it was like for my Mum growing up with her "special cousin May".

As most of you know, my Mum and Dad were killed in a car accident in 1988. When the will was eventually found and read, they had named my Aunt May and Uncle Alasdair as Legal Guardians to Andrew and I. I think it caught them by surprsie because the request had been made so many years before and then forgotten about. Who ever really expects to be called on to be Guardians to children almost grown and so far away?! The story goes something like this; back in the late 70's Dad took a job in Iran so we packed up the house (again) and headed off on another adventure. The driving habits of the locals were so bad that Mum and Dad took the precautions of making sure their wills were updated before leaving Britain and one of those things was naming Guardians for Andrew and I. A quick phone call to Southampton, a surprised acceptance from Aunt May and Uncle Alasdair, and the deal was done. Little did they know that it wasn't the driving in Iran that would kill them, but here in Canada.

Andrew was 18 at the time and at University so I don't think there was ever really any serious thought given to him moving to England to live with Aunt May and Uncle Alasdair. I was another story though. I was 14, seriously injured myself and - with Andrew away at University - essentially on my own. As much as I dearly loved my Aunt and Uncle, I didn't want to leave Canada. My friends, my brother, my church, my school, ... my whole life was here and leaving it was too much for a 14 year old orphan to consider. Other arrangements were made for Andrew and I but Aunt May and Uncle Alasdair forever assumed a more prominant role in our lives.

In 1989 I took a solo trip to Britain to see the family (show off the fact that I was still alive and could walk mostly) and spent a very enjoyable week (or more - I can't remember exactly now) in Southampton. They took me all over, showing me their little corner of England. I remember being amazed by all that I saw and loving every minute. I just hope I conveyed that to them at the time. 15 year old girls are not always known for their ability to show appreciation!! One day I had the gall to drag Aunt May shoe shopping. She used to talk of that day and laugh/cringe. I guess I dragged her into every shoe store in Southampton!! In 1991 I asked them to come over to see me graduate from High School - a request that seems pretty darn selfish now. How egotistical of me to think that my leaving high school could possibly be important enough to warrant them going to all the expense and bother of travelling half way around the world?! And then to add insult to injury, I think I was so wrapped up in Grad activities that I practically ignored them!! Chalk that up to "things I wish I could re-live and do differently".

After graduation, trips to Britain with stops in Southampton became regular occurances. Andrew and I visited during Christmas holidays in 1991. I popped in for a visit in 1994 before meeting up with a  friend in Paris. Then in 1996 I gave up on University and moved to Edinburgh for a couple years. My goal was to get to know my relatives better and through them, figure out my place in the world. There were many visits to Southampton during my time in Scotland. Aunt May and I had many talks over tea and biscuits. She was so wise! And so full of love. Just walking into their home made my heart feel better. I was so troubled during that time. So lost. She and Uncle Alasdair were so wonderful. Their love and gentle guidance helped me more than words can express.

My last visit to Southampton was in September 2004 with Greg and Marley. Added to my many memories  (train sets in the attic, walks to jump on the trampolines at the local park, jumping across the upper stairs) are ones with my husband and our first daughter. These have now taken on a much more precious overtone in my mind. I was working on scrapbook pages of that trip when I first heard Aunt May was so sick and I looked down at the photos I'd printed off and came face to face with this one of Marley with Aunt May.

It is made all the more poignant because LC looks so similar to Marley at the same age - it makes it almost seem like a recently taken picture. But I know it's not. Finances and time committments have prohibited Greg and I getting back to Britain since. Something I deeply regret now. Aunt May had so much love and I know it extended to my kids. I just wish she could have met Paige and LC. Paige is turning into such a classic Middle Child and I'm sure Aunt May would have had many words of wisdom and comfort for Greg and I!! And many a laugh too!!

Here are a couple more of Aunt May with Marley. These were taken 5 years ago - May 26, 2005 - when she and Uncle Alasdair came to Canada for a visit. The first is taken down at Spanish Banks in the bucket of a digger that put Matthew and Caleb into spasms of ecstasy due to the fact that it was parked next to our picnic spot!

The next was taken at one of our many Ultimate game nights. Aunt May and Uncle Alasdair were keen to see for themselves what this "Ultimate" thing was that we kept talking about so they came out and watched.

Her funeral and Remembrance service is tomorrow. I had hoped to go but just can't get away right now. My heart will be in Southampton with my family though. Aunt May was such an amazing woman. The embodiment of the word "matriarch". Our family has lost a huge part of it's ... heart and soul. But that is small in comparison to what Uncle Alasdair, Crawford, Rowena, Anna & Jo, Euan, Ruth, David, Ruairidh & Callum, Kenneth, Liz, Jack, Tom & Lucy have lost. Wife. Mother. Mother-in-law. Grandmother. Words can not convey how heavy my heart is for you. I know we can take comfort in knowing that she is with the Lord she served so faithfully all her life. That she is pain free. And that we will see her again someday. Someday seems a long time right now!

Oh Aunt May, I miss you! I could really use your gentle words of wisdom right now. Rest in peace. See you again.

PS - say "Hi" to Mum and Dad for me!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Greg is 40!!

Well, in all the hub bub of preschool saving, hotel designing and kid raising/household running, Greg turned 40 and we had a little shindig to celebrate. I was terribly negligent and didn't take any pictures on his actual birthday (it was a Monday and a horribly stressful day for me 0 so sorry hun!) but I did manage to snap a few on Saturday.

We were all having fun ribbing Greg about his age so when I saw this at the Dollar Store I just had to get it for him. To his credit, he wore it ALL NIGHT! What a guy! (Oh, and do you like the stain on his shirt? So Greg!!)

What says Greg more than a soccer cake?! The candles (another Dollare Store purchase) say "OH NO THE BIG 40". Snicker, snicker!
Being the Old Fart that he is, he needed a lot of help blowing out those candles.

Greg hammed it up for me...

What a goof I'm married to, eh?

Then I thought I'd throw in some pictures of people that were there and the craziness that was had!

(Uncle) Aaron and Griffin.

Celia and Charlie (6 days younger than LC - possible future boyfriend? Hmmm...)

Sadie LOVED LC's car.

Sadie goofing around with her Mom, (Auntie) Jonina.

LC (and The Blanket a.k.a. Deetee) was in heaven having so many kids to chase after.

Digging in the unplanted vegetable patch - basically a "gourmet" sand box!

Paige really got into it!
Tag in the backyard.

After most of the guests had left, Marley and Jonathan took on Richard and Phil (not pictured) at MarioKart. I can't remember who won but I'd bet money on Marley!

While the Mario was going on Paige, Sarah, LC and Aaron had a ball with all the toys in the Pack 'n' Play. Paige and Sarah had about as much fun IN the Pack 'n' Play as OUT of it. Who knew that baby toys had such wide reaching appeal?!

Well, in true we've-got-young-kids-and-can't-stay-out-past-9PM fashion, our last guests left at 9 and after baths (Paige's legs were SO unbelievably dirty! she looked like a homeless child!!) the girls all went to bed. Greg and I then pretty much flaked out. It is so much fun to host a party with close to 50 guests (approximately half of which are under 7!) but it is SOOOOO exhausting. I think I may have redeemed myself after the lack lustre Monday though.

Happy Birthday Honey!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Building Courage

My life has taken a turn for the stressful recently. Stressful, you say? What's stressful about raising 3 kids, going to school and taking care of a household? LOL! If that were all then I'd be a happy camper but ... when it rains, it pours. Isn't that the saying?

Paige's preschool is a Parent Participation Preschool and we have been having problems finding the motivation amongst our parents to participate! Kind of makes things fall apart quickly when noone is willing to stand up and say "Me! I'll do it!!" Long story short (and despite my best efforts) I have agreed to step up and be President. Yikes! There are a few "conditions" though that are going to be tough to implement but truly are in the best interest of the future of the preschool.

Another stressor at the moment is my Aunt's health. She is battling cancer and things are not looking good for her. She is my Mum's cousin and she and her husband were so close to my Mum and Dad that they were named guardians to Andrew and I. I'm not sure that any parent actually expects to have to call on the people they name in their wills - at least they HOPE to never have to test that relationship! Well, my parents couldn't have picked a better couple to care for my brother and I after their deaths. Even though we didn't move to England to live with them, they stayed in constant contact and became to mean so much more than "first cousins once removed"!!! Needless to say, my heart is heavy. I wish I could be closer to her - not that I'd know what to do and would probably just be in the way. But I just wish I could be closer.

And the final stressor (new one that is) is my last class for my Interior Design course at BCIT. It is called Directed Studies and is our final project. We get 8 weeks to fulfill the requirements of the design project handed out. At the end of those 8 weeks we have to present our project and 100% of our mark is based on this presentation. This time around we have been given the ground floor of a downtown hotel. Our job is to plan and design a high end retail space (ala BCBG or Gucci) in the space provided (including coming up with a store name and signage) PLUS a gourmet coffee/pastry cafe PLUS the 650 sq.ft. apartment of the hotel manager. We must manually draft the floor plan (with furniture and fixtures), 4 elevations, a reflected ceiling plan, a section, a perspective, a materials board and a furniture board. Yikes!!!

Somewhere in all that Greg turned 40 and we are having about 50 people over on Saturday to celebrate. Marley, Paige and LC still have to be taken to school, gymnastics, soccer, field hockey, you name it; they still have to be fed 3 meals plus about a million snacks a day; they still need to have clean clothes and clean bodies and a (relatively) clean house to live in; and my vegetable garden and flower beds have to be planted; and ... and ... and ... the list goes on! I tend to eat when I'm stressed out this much so I've already put things into place to try and curb the inevitable weight gain over the next 8 weeks - ie. joined a gym.

I titled this post "Building Courage" and you're probably wondering when I'm going to addess that. Here goes ... I receive motivational emails from Christine Kane at Live Creative. They are pretty much all relevant to my life in some way or an0ther but none so much as the one I read this morning entitled "52 ways to Build Your Courage". I was saying to Greg, after a fairly disastrous preschool meeting on Monday night, that it was time I stepped up to live my own life as I felt that I'd been drifting too much lately. Like I wasn't in control of my own destiny. This is quite true and a whole other rant I'm sure!! I'm attaching the entire article for you to read and maybe you'll see what I mean about it being timely!!

52 Ways to Build Your Courage

by Christine Kane

“Excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.” - Aristotle

Courage is a muscle. Just as you wouldn’t go into the gym for the first time and lift a 100-pound dumbbell - you don’t have to begin building courage by running for President.
People often think that courage has to be big. Like sky-diving. Or giving a speech to a stadium.
Those things do require courage, yes. But in some ways, that’s baby courage. It’s obvious courage. I call it Bungee-Jumping Courage.

Bungee-Jumping Courage is convenient because it lets us define ourselves as “not courageous.” When you set the stakes that high, then you never have to approach it. You simply get to say, “Hmm, I must not have courage.”
I’m not letting you get off that easy.
Because there’s a deeper level of courage. It makes you strong. It makes you fall in love with yourself. It makes you fall in love with your life.
At its core, courage is about strengthening your relationship with yourself.
Here are 52 ways - little and big - to build your courage. Some of them seem completely foolish. But they’re not. They’re just uncomfortable. And that’s the whole point! Success in life is directly related to how uncomfortable you’re willing get. Now, get uncomfortable and go be courageous!


1 - Paint your nails green. (Guys get extra credit for this one!) [Maybe I won't try THIS one!]
2 - Begin to live your life as an “experiment.” [Isn't it already one giant experiment called Parenthood?!]
3 - If you’re always spontaneous, plan something in advance and stick with it. If you’re a meticulous planner, do something spontaneous.
4 - Quit your job. [Ummm ... don't think I can actually do this one either!]
5 - Start a blog. [Check!]
6 - Take a drawing class. [Check.]
7 - Learn a new language.
8 - Begin yoga.
9 - Do something tourist-y in your own town.
10 - Get up in the morning after having a bad day yesterday. Encourage yourself to begin again.
11 - Give money away.
12 - Look into people’s eyes when you’re in public - on the street, buying groceries, etc.
13 - Hire someone to do a regular task you can’t stand doing. (i.e., mowing the lawn.) [Would LOVE to!! You paying?]
14 - Play music more. Watch TV less.
15 - Get rid of everything in your home that’s not an Absolute Yes.
16 - Put on a goofy smile and look at other drivers when you stop at lights.
17 - Go vegan.
18 - If you never host parties or dinners - invite friends over for dinner.
19 - Teach a workshop.
20 - Start a mastermind group.
21 - Be bad at something. Do it anyway.
22 - Make requests. Don’t complain.
23 - Join a writer’s group.
24 - Hire a life coach.
25 - In social situations, allow people to talk with you instead of running around the room “networking.”
26 - Worry less. Act more.
27 - Enter a writing contest.
28 - Start your own business.
29 - Ask someone out on a date.
30 - Make a business card for yourself.
31 - Eat at an ethnic restaurant you’ve never considered.
32 - Respond. Don’t react.
33 - Get some music from another culture. Sit down and really listen.
34 - Listen more. Talk less. Especially to your kids.
35 - Take a swing dance class.
36 - Hire a physical trainer.
37 - Start a book club.
38 - Test-drive a luxury car.
39 - End a relationship that drains you or hurts you.
40 - Pray.
41 - Quit smoking.
42 - Take different routes to work each day.
43 - Drive around and get lost on purpose.
44 - Wake up at 5am and write.
45 - Assumptions are the enemy of success. Question them often.
46 - Excuses are the enemy of action. Stop making them.
47 - Admit when you are wrong.
 48 - Write a fan letter to someone who’s not famous - a teacher, a grocery store clerk - anyone who delights you or touches you.
49 - Pick one incomplete in your life. (A cluttered garage, for instance.) Tackle it for 15 minutes a day.
50 - Do an open-mic night.
51 - Pay the toll of the person behind you.
52 - Run for President. [Check again!]


Please do! Just be sure to include this complete blurb with it:
Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 11,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at
See Christine's blog – Be Creative. Be Conscious. Be Courageous – at
While Christine Kane is best known for her hip and catchy songs, and the down-to-earth wit of her live performances, her fans and students share that they are inspired most by her message of living authentically, courageously, and successfully.
Christine's philosophy is that you are the artist and your life is your work of art. That, she says, is what it means to "Live Creative." From her years of touring the country to her wildly successful "Unstoppable Power of Intention" retreats and "Uplevel" coaching programs, her message is clear:
You can create your life exactly as you want it.
 Christine has mentored and coached over 500 people in her Uplevel Your Life Mastery Program and Uplevel Your Business Program & Blueprint in addition to live events and weekend programs.
She has released 7 CDs and an award-winning DVD in her career as a performer and songwriter. Border's Books & Music named Christine one of the Top Five Recordings of 2003, the Washington Post called her "a petite powerhouse of a singer." Her new CD is called Wide Awake. You can order your copy now by clicking here.
Christine Kane, Inc.
Firepink Inc.
PO Box 842
Asheville, NC 28802
For Booking & Customer Service: 800.837.1332

I was originally going to add "smart" little comments beside each point but I guess that kind of goes against the spirit of her work ... Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I'm off to listen more to my kids!!

See you around ... sometime ... when I resurface!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy National Scrapbook Day!

First off ... I've been featured on Ideas for Scrapbookers!!! Check it out! Mine is the 3rd layout down.

Pam had sent out a call for submissions so I thought "what the heck! Could be fun!" She responded immediately to say she'd use it and wanted more info. If I'd known she was going to put everything I'd said about the layout on her sight, I probably would have kept it a bit shorter! LOL! You've probably figured out by now that I have a problem keeping things short and sweet. :)
Anyway, I'm pretty pleased. Yay me!

I also have a new layout to show you. Here is Turkey Day - another page for Marley's baby album. I've only got 4 more months to scrap and then I'm done her 1st year. Only 5 more to go after that, right? LOL! Oh yeah, and then there are two other kids to focus on!! Gak!

The sketch I used is Sketchy Thursday's sketch from last week. I wanted to have this finished in time to submit it but ... ah, life with 3 kids! The sketch shows some paint splatter work in the upper right corner and I have not ventured into the misting/splattering world yet so I figured a little paper ripping could work instead. I think it DOES work, don't you? Also, the addition of the banner adds more fun interest to that corner.

I've been seeing a lot of banners on layouts all over the blogosphere and decided to try one out myself. When picking the paper for this layout I knew I wanted to use a blue and yellow theme (Marley's travel high chair stands out so much in the pictures I thought I'd just use it as my colour inspiration.) When I went digging through my stash I found the Studio Calico Homefront line that I'd won AGES ago but not found an appropriate use for yet and the scalloppy (is that a word?) paper worked perfectly to create a banner. I also love how the wood grain alphas really pop against the yellow striped paper.

Well, there you are. Hoped you like it.
I'd better head into the shower now and try and recover my "it's going to be a fun day" vibes. Between waking up to a dirty kitchen, baby's that show EVERY sign of being tired but refuse to nap, and 6 year olds who are clearing suffering from PMS, my good mood went racing out the window pretty darn early this morning. That's quite an accomplishment seeing as I'm not a morning person to begin with!!! I hope to get some scrapping in today but as Greg is at a golf tourney for most of the day, it will depend on how much I can distract the other three!! Wish me luck.

Hope you all manage to get your scrap on today!