The Past and the Future

I treasure life’s unique experiences, especially those that come out of nowhere.

Last weekend, I had one of those experiences. I went to two parties on one weekend – one for our 96-year-old Baba and a first-year birthday party for my littlest niece. It was the past and the future all rolled into one weekend.

One of my favourite people in the world.

Baba first.

At 96, I can’t help but be amazed at the life Baba has lived.

Born in 1923.

Let’s think about THAT for a second.

To say it was a different time would be like saying the winters are a little cold in northern Saskatchewan.

Her mother and father were children of Ukrainian immigrants, simple farmers fleeing violent oppression, seeking cheap farming land in Canada. She grew up in a time where religion and community went hand-in-hand, through times when her family didn’t know if they’d have enough to eat over the winter, and in a home with no running water or Google (FYI, of the two, I think I could survive longer without water than the internet.)

She survived the Great Depression, all the sicknesses that took so many back then, and literally had to walk miles through blizzards to attend school. (And me, I complain if I have to walk to my car in the rain.)

So, imagine how the world has changed in her lifetime.

She saw how the world transformed after World War 2, from the rise of feminism, to the growth of suburbs, to the civil rights movement. She would have listened to the Beatles on the radio, watched men land on the moon on her black and white TV, and seen the ushering in of the computerized world.

For most of her life, she would have used a rotary phone, likely with an overly long spiral cord that risked strangling anyone who got in-between you and the phone. For most of her life, she would have gone to an actual store to shop, not Amazoned a blender or a book about bees. For most of her life, she would have had to rely on her memory to recall who was that actor who played that doctor on that show set during the Korean war, not simply spoken her request to the god-like Siri.

I could go on and on (and actually did, but edited this for brevity). This was a woman who not only lived through those times but refused to be confined by those times.

She never finished school, yet created architectural drawings for the church she helped build. While raising 4 children, she helped run a drive-in movie theatre (which I think is super cool). All of her life, even into her 70’s and 80’s, she organized and led her church women’s group, and worked in the kitchen cooking up legendary dinners at the Ukrainian Hall in Surrey.

She is a woman who has never slowed down, never given up, and always finds a way to contribute.

So, for her birthday, we all gathered to celebrate this amazing woman. Married at 16 to a man 8 years her senior, she had four children, who went on the have great lives and provide her with a boat-load of grandchildren who, in turn, brought forth many, many more great-grandchildren.

One of several tables full of family. Great Baba is at the head of the table.

Nearly all were able to come for her birthday. We sang, (poorly,), laughed loudly, watched a slide show of her life with her family, and cried with her as she thanked everyone for their love.

Personally, I love spending time with her, listening to her stories, hearing her history and shaking my head in wonder at someone who has been through so much, remains so positive, so productive and still so funny.

She is an inspiration.

Tomorrow, the future.

How Do You Survive A Kid's Party Part 2

There's always an odd one left out
There’s always the odd one left out

So, we had 5 kids coming over for a birthday party.  An even number would have been better. Odd numbers leave a team lopsided. It becomes 3 vs 2.

My first solution was to dis-invite someone, but that didn’t go anywhere. Apparently feelings might be hurt. Nor did my idea to lock one in a closet for a while. Apparently that’s no longer allowed. So we would manage with 5, and all but one would be sleeping over. At least the sleeping bags would be all even and that fed the OCD beast inside of me.

Having cleaned the room and put away anything that could be broken or ruined with sticky fingers, and removed all the violent video games, (which, as it turns out, was about 95% of all the games I own), we were satisfied that we’d done all we could.

Then the kids arrived. We went against our instincts and basically left them alone. We had a few rules, but nothing too draconian.

Top 5 rules

  • can we body slam? ah, no
    Can we body slam? ah, no

    No hitting each other. No wrestling, either. No fake hitting each other. Basically no violence. None. Ok, well, nerf wars, yeah, but no violence other than that.

  • Please include everyone in all games. Even if only 2 can play on the xbox at a time, make sure everyone gets a chance to play. You know, take turns.
  • No playing upstairs. No hiding upstairs. No running up the stairs that lead to the upstairs. Keep the play downstairs.
  • Do not go into my office. I have it boobie-trapped. Plus, I have presents in there. So it’s a no-go zone. No. Go. I’ll post a sign. And an attack dog.
  • If in doubt, ask. If you wonder if it’s a good idea to light someone on fire, come ask. If you want to eat your weight in candy corn, come ask us before you do. Or, assume the answer will be no and don’t do it in the first place.

We had to add a sixth one. No slamming doors, or as I said when I came down to remind them of that rule for the forth time, no frigging slamming anymore frigging doors or the nerf guns go.

Nerf warriors, open fire!
Nerf warriors, open fire!

They were loud, but not too loud, and from the few times I went down there, they seemed to be having the BEST time. Nerf bullets were flying, bases were built and defended, sniper spots established and teams made and remade (even one epic 4 on 1 battle.)

They played for about 2 hours before pizza arrived. Much to my surprise, they all ate politely upstairs. No food fights. No sticking pepperoni slices up anyone’s nose. Nothing. They ate like little gentlemen, wiped their little fingers on their napkins and even thanked us for the food.


Then they went back downstairs to watch the movie they’d decided on by democratic vote. Jurassic World. With the sound way up. After that, they watched a bit more TV, more flipping channels than actually dedicated show watching, and fell asleep around 12, after much giggling and talking.

To be completely forth-coming, I went to bed at 10, exhausted. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world, with mom-stamina, stayed up until they boys were in bed. And asleep. And for a few hours afterwards to make sure they were, you know, actually asleep and not lulling us into a false sense of security so they could kidnap the neighbour’s cat or something.


Top 5 observations

  • Given a game without structure, such as nerf wars, they will invent structure.
  • Even if they don’t have guns, they will use anything as a gun. A pillow. A bag of chips. A broom handle. They are very creative in this aspect, yet ask them to think about what they can get their mom for her birthday and they stare at you like cows who’ve drunk too much.
  • The dinosaurs were not the only things running around when the boys watched this movie
    The dinosaurs were not the only things running around when the boys watched this movie

    No one can sit still while watching a movie. I know kids fidget, but holy hell, 5 of them on a couch watching Jurassic World is like looking at a bunch of fleas trying to flee the flea spray.

  • Everyone is a critic. They all know the BEST way to attack in lego batman or how a dinosaur SHOULD have looked or how THEY would have scored in NHL 2014. This does not bode well for the future of our world.
  • Unlike girls, there is no talk of feelings. Not at 9 or 90. It’s just not a guy thing. Oh, we may have feelings, and The Youngest is absolutely no exception, but there is very little talk like, when you say I’m stupid, I feel that you don’t respect me and it hurts my feelings, and more, shut up or I’ll punch you in the nuts.

All in all, the night went well. No children were harmed in the experiment. No teeth were lost. No tears shed. Worst thing that happened was they went to bed at 12 and woke up at 6 am.

So, lacking any great stories of disaster, I’ll leave you with this.

Best line of the night.

Can I please smell your breath? (one said to another after one of them had eaten bubble gum cupcake frosting).