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On our way home

Not a whole lot has happened since my previous post but I have time to write now so I might as well get a bit caught up…

Sunday was sick day. I wasn’t feeling well, Dimitri and Xylia had caught whatever bug we had imported from St. Albert, and Ali wasn’t 100% either. So we slept in and stayed home and watched church online (only Kristen and Wyatt actually made it to church). The weather was nicer than the day before but nobody felt like doing anything with it!

Lunch and supper were simple: toast, soup, dry cereal, that sort of thing, since that’s all that people really felt like eating. All in all, a very quiet day. Kind of nice in a way because we could just sit back and visit, but of course it would have been nicer if everyone was healthy!

And this morning, we left! We hit the road a little after 11:00 and made it to Regina around 6:00. We stopped for a bit of shopping before getting to the condo for the night. We’ve had a great trip but we’re looking forward to getting home tomorrow!

 

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I thought southern Alberta was supposed to be dry…

It's a wet, wet weekend in Alberta.

We made it to Coaldale on Thursday a little after supper. Eden did ok; she was a bit sick but not too bad. We hauled all our stuff inside (we want to repack for the trip home so we brought everything in), and after saying hi to the kids and visiting for a bit, we went to bed.

Friday, the kids had a day off school. I slept in until 10:00 or so, while Ali played with Eden and the other kids (I assume). I spent some time teaching the three oldest kids how to build a house of cards (or a “card castle”, as they termed it), and then we went to visit Aunt Erna and Uncle John for supper. We had a very nice visit with them and Tristan, and got home just in time for bed. We drove home in the dark and in the rain, so I had a hard time finding the turn into their driveway, but we made it!

I think there are six different decks of cards here.

Second cousins.

Reading the alphabet book.

This morning, we woke up to a cold rainy day. In fact, it rained all day, and the forecast is for rain tomorrow and Monday too. The kids were bored, not being able to run around outside, but Dimitri and Wyatt got some time outside after I suggested garbage-bag raincoats :). Unfortunately, Ali isn't feeling well, so she spent most of the day in bed. I made more card castles, played with Eden, read books to the kids, and generally took it easy. Later, I drove out to Lethbridge for a little shopping and to pick up pizza for supper — Dimitri came along for the ride, and restrained himself from eating a slice on the drive home!

As soon as I was up, this is what we were doing.

Storytime!

Playing shy?

Relaxing before bed.

And now it's dark outside and the rain is still coming steadily. Apparently if they get all the rain that's forecast, it'll be the most rain the area has had all summer…talk about timing!

 

Edmonton!

I left off the last post in Lloydminster, so let's pick it up from there…

As I said before, Eden was getting fussy after around six hours in the car. Even after a 90-minute break she was crying, but was fine as soon as we picked her up. So we rearranged the car a bit, so that Ali could ride in the back, and Eden thought that was fantastic. That got us to Edmonton just after supper, where Eden met Jeremy and Jess…and their two girls, Juliana and Celeste, who were thrilled to see her.

Our trip to Edmonton was relatively slow-paced. Apart from just visiting (and playing board games), we sort of did one thing every day. Sunday was of course church, and then on Monday we visited the Muttart conservatory to look at the flowers. The current “feature” exhibit was a sculpture exhibit from Zimbabwe; you could buy the sculptures too, and I was rather tempted by a set of three small birds, but passed.

Sunday lunch on the deck

Sunday afternoon story time.

Under the Elephant Foot tree

Eden loved the fish.

We borrowed Jess's baby carrier to see how we liked it. We did!

Family selfie!

On Tuesday we went to West Edmonton Mall with Jess and the girls. The kids went for a ride on the train around the amusement park; the two youngest were free, and needed chaperones, so we ended up with five people on the train and only paid one admission! We didn't have any particular shopping in mind so we just wandered through whatever stores caught our eye. The girls wanted to visit the Disney store, and we bought a Minnie Mouse doll for Eden. Later on we watched the sea lion show (from a distance); Juliana and Celeste really wanted to see it, and we just got there in time. We had cinnamon buns from Cinnzeo (very very good), and walked through an African village exhibit that World Vision had set up (it was kind of neat but seemed to be missing something…perhaps a it would be better without kids, so you could do the audio tour). Then Jess took her girls home, and we did a little more shopping and stayed for supper at Jungle Jim's.

All aboard!

Princesses in the Disney store

Yes I DO like this Minnie Mouse, I think we should buy it!

Learning about high-fives

Watching the sea lions from the cheap seats

Supper was slow…slow getting seated, slow getting our orders taken, slow getting our food, slow getting the bill, slow paying the bill… Turned out that the restaurant was running short-handed; one person wasn't working that day, one didn't show up, and one quit, so the two remaining staff were handling the work of five! That wouldn't have mattered much except that Eden was bored of sitting in her chair, and we had made plans to take everyone out for ice cream, and we needed to get back to St. Albert in time to do that before the kids went to bed! But we got to the Dairy Queen at exactly the same time as they did, and Juliana (who had insisted on changing into her new “Frozen” hoodie for her frozen treat) had an ice cream cone as big as her head (that may have been a bit my fault for suggesting the chocolate waffle cone). She ate most of it and took the rest home for the freezer (and later admitted she had a small tummy ache).

A portrait of ambition.

Ice cream for everyone!

These kids are a handful in more ways than one.

Wednesday was our quiet day. We went for a walk through the nearby woods and to the park with Jess and the girls (Eden had about a 90-minute nap in her stroller), and in the evening we went to visit Nathan and Tracy, so there were more kids for Eden to play with!

A walk in the park.

Sometimes I have to try to get fancy.

Do you want to go for a ride?, he asked. No was not an acceptable answer.

Someone — I'm not saying who — was getting a little jealous.

These kids loved Eden but wished she knew how to play better.

And now it's Thursday, and we're driving to Coaldale. As I write this, we're just driving through Red Deer — don't worry, Ali's driving — and I'll post it wherever I get wifi! Unfortunately, Eden's been sick today…she started throwing up while napping back at the house this morning, and hasn't really kept anything down since. We think she might have a bit of a cold or something, but we really don't know. We were told that Fifth Disease is going around in St. Albert too, so I guess that's a possibility. Hopefully she gets better fast!

One last picture together!

 

All around Saskatchewan!

Oh man, I'm like five days behind on this. I'll keep this short with lots of pictures, and I'm only going to cover Saskatchewan in this post, I think.

So, Thursday, we packed up the condo and left Regina. We drove through Wadena but didn't stop; we were going straight to Kelvington. We arrived at Aunt Leona's house to find her sitting on the front step! She greeted us with smiles and hugs and welcomed Ali and Eden to the family (or “the club”, as she put it). Turns out she had forgotten we were coming that day and was just outside doing some gardening!

Meeting great-great-aunt Leona

We went inside for a bit of a chat, and Aunt Leona promptly got down on her hands and knees to play with Eden! She assured us that she could get up no problem, because she exercises every day, and then demonstrated that she could touch her toes!

I had to act fast to get this picture!

After she got herself ready to go out, we got gas, went for supper in Archerwill, ate, and drove back, with Aunt Leona giving us directions and talking up a storm the entire time. We learned that she didn't think I was “the marrying type” but always thought I was good-looking; that she thinks Pamela maybe looks like grandma (she wasn't sure about that though); that she remembers us being out for a party (their anniversary?) and Lisa announced “I'm hungry!”; and a million other things besides, including which farm belongs to Wendell Clark's dad, and that Wendell ruined his life with too much fighting. All told we had a very enjoyable visit with her and it was clear that she was happy we came out to visit.

Driving Mrs. Ladubec!

We made it to Wadena around 9:00, and since we had told Aunt Joyce 8:30, she was getting worried…but she didn't have my phone number so she couldn't call! We had tea and baking and a bit of a chat; Eden was too tired to be friendly though. It had been a busy day and we were happy to get to bed (we picked the downstairs bedroom; Uncle Eddie watched me set up the pack-and-play and thought it was pretty nifty).

In the morning, Eden and I got up and Ali slept in, and Aunt Joyce and Uncle Eddie played with Eden. They loved her and she had fun with them. Eventually Ali got up and Aunt Joyce could serve the breakfast she had planned for us. Afterwards I spent some time showing Uncle Eddie some of the old family pictures that I have on my iPad, and then we went out for a drive!

Meeting her great-aunt Joyce...

...and her great-uncle Eddie...

...and the family dog!

On our drive, our first stop was Kelvingrove cemetery (where grandma, grandpa, and Uncle Clarence are buried), and then we went to Uncle Eddie's old farm. His first tractor is still in a field there — he bought it when he was 16 with 10,000 feet of lumber. We also drove past the farms where grandma and grandpa grew up.

Getting in trouble before the drive.

Kelvingrove cemetery has carefully-trimmed trees.

Uncle Eddie's old tractor. I took a lot of pictures of it.

Impromptu mushroom-picking lessons

Then we drove to Grandpa's old homestead, where my dad and the rest of his family lived. The house is collapsing but still there. We hiked across the field for a visit, even though there were a lot of mosquitoes, and we got our legs scratched up. I found a doorknob in the house's door that I pointed out to Ali; of course, she wants it now as a souvenir and for decoration, but we couldn't get it safely.

In the field in front of the old house (it's hidden in the trees)

The house has seen better days.

It looks a bit better from the other side.

The inside doesn't look safe.

The next stop was High Tor church and cemetery, where my great-grandparents (my dad's mom's parents) are buried, along with their daughter Catherine (my great-aunt). Uncle Eddie's brother is buried there as well, so relatives of mine make up a significant percentage of the very small cemetery (I didn't count but I'd guess about 20 headstones).

High Tor Sacred Heart cemetery

We stopped for lunch there, but ended up eating in the van because there were an incredible number of mosquitoes! Then Uncle Eddie put flowers on the graves, and we went and checked out the church. It was unlocked, so we went inside to explore a bit. It's a tiny church that recently had some repairs done; it's in better shape than it was the last time I visited.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church. The domes, towers, and roof have been restored recently.

Inside the church. The pews do not look comfortable!

We kept driving, with Uncle Eddie pointing out where their old church was, where old dance halls were, which farms are owned by which people and how big they are, where post offices and towns used to be, where old roads ran, what routes people took to get places… He had a constant stream of stories and information, and I kind of wish I had a recorder or something to capture it because there's no way I'll remember it all. Every road or corner or place triggered a different memory, it seems…this is where Uncle Orville lost part of his thumb when his mom slammed the car door on it, this is where someone got stuck, this is where he was biking downhill at night as a kid and ran into a herd of cows that were crossing the road…it didn't stop!

Eventually we made it to Porcupine Plain, where grandpa lived after he retired, and we stopped for ice cream, and then we drove to Archerwill for supper. Yes, the same restaurant we'd been to the night before with Aunt Leona…but apparently there aren't really any other decent places to eat around, and it's a very good restaurant so we didn't mind!

Ukrainian stop sign in Porcupine Plain. I'm pretty sure I know what it says...

At the Archerwill General Store

Supper time

Playing games with 'grandpa' and 'grandma'

Finally we drove out to Rose Valley, to visit Uncle Bill's and Aunt Elsie's graves at the cemetery there, and drive past their old house (which I definitely recognized). Then one last stop at Wadena to visit Robbie and Rachel's graves, and back “home” for the evening.

As a kid, I loved this grain elevator.

The next morning we got on the road just before 9:00 for the longest drive of our trip: Wadena to Edmonton. We stopped a couple of times (in Humboldt for gas and the Farmer's Market; in Saskatoon for lunch), just outside Lloydminster for gas again (I was hoping to make Lloydminster but the car had different ideas)…and right around Lloydminster Eden decided that she had had enough of this whole “riding in the car” thing, and we took about a 90 minute break for a walk around town and a little bit of shopping. The last thing we did was stop at Safeway for a snack, and ended up buying the best donuts I've ever eaten…we got there just as freshly-baked trays were being put out, and they were amazing.

And, since Lloydminster is right on the Alberta border, I'll end the post there!

In Lloydminster there are trees MADE OF YARN!