Mother’s Day In Waterton

My first Mother’s Day without my mother was a bit of a kick in the pants but Brad was a gem and did his best to make it a good day for me.

After work we took advantage of the spring weather and hopped on the motorbike for some dinner in Waterton, one of my favourite places.

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The closer to the park, the prettier the drive gets!

Just as we turned off the main highway into the park we saw a bear! Only one lane of traffic away, I managed to snap a pic before it went down the embankment to the the lake.IMG_6072

It was the first time we had been there since last years devastating fires and I was so sad to see how much of the park had been destroyed. Many of the hiking trails were closed and I could still smell the charred trees

We hit up one of the restaurants on the main drag called “Trappers” and I was surprised to see it had been redone in a very cute, rustic theme. Brad and I both ordered the daily special of a smoked beef sandwich and it was delicious and so big, I only ate half. Brad teased me when I asked for a to go container to throw in a saddle bag. No way was I leaving that tasty sandwich behind haha

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We had plans of getting a famous Waterton ice cream after dinner and walking around the town but we were both too stuffed, so we settled for just a walk to try and burn off some calories. The weather was perfect for a romantic little walk down by the lake and roaming the streets taking in the gorgeous scenery and fresh air.

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More wildlife!

We took a quick drive passed Cameron Falls on our way out of the park and I couldn’t believe how fast the water was coming down! It was absolutely raging!

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It was a perfect Mother’s Day evening, thank you Bradley for making sure my day was special!

C

Grandma Still’s 85th Birthday Weekend

Brad’s grandma is the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful woman anyone could ever have the pleasure of knowing. I’ve been lucky enough to know her my entire life. We lived in the same small town when I was a kid and she was the classroom aid when I was in kindergarten and first grade. Her and Brad’s grandpa were also our visiting teachers in our church ward and my parents loved them so much, they refused to have anyone else. For years. If that doesn’t tell you how great she is I don’t know what does.

This past week was Grandma Still’s 85th birthday and her kids planned a huge party in her honour. Family came from Utah, Texas, BC, and all kinds of other places. This meant we got to spend a few days with family members we barely ever see, it was great!

On Friday Brad’s cousin Jess and her other half, Martin (from Utah) picked our girls up after school, met up with another cousin (from around here) and spent the afternoon at trampoline world letting all of our girls have some good quality time together.

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Afterwards, they all came back to our house for dinner, drinks and a fun evening of beersby. Brad and I were totally disappointed in ourselves when the American first-timers beat us at our own game!

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We had all the girls sleep over that night and had to pull our girls mattresses out onto the living room floor just so the other 2 could sleep on couches. I was exhausted the next morning when I got up for work but when I saw kids everywhere and what a mess the house was in, I was not even a little sad to be leaving for the day haha

Saturday evening was Grandmas party and it went perfectly! I met lots of family members I had only heard about, caught up with some I only see once in awhile, and chit chatted with the ones I see regularly. Of course I took advantage of the new babies that were there and got in all the baby snuggles I could. Yes, I admit, I did my best to hog our nephew Tynan but ultimately had to share him.

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Baby Rivers is the cutest little chunk!

Everyone took turns at the photo station with Grandma and I might be biased, but I think ours were the best, even though all our daughters took off to the park and 50 percent of the brothers and their families are missing.

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We ended up bringing our nephew Joey home for a sleep over and then allowed the girls to have our niece Ryan sleep over as well, so back to the living room went the girls beds. To our surprise there was a knock on our door and our niece Jasmine walked in! Obviously we invited her to sleepover and again, the next morning, I wasn’t heartbroken to be leaving Brad at home with a messy house and 7 kids haha

Sunday I came home to a spotless house (my husband is the best) with every intention to relax and do nothing but that took an unfortunate turn when we received news that my kids Grandpa (on their dads side) had a massive heart attack and passed away. My heart crumbled for my kids as they spent the night sad and now grieving for two very close grandparents.

Just when I thought we were a making some progress, life threw us another curve ball. Our little family has had some pretty extreme ups and downs lately but I’ve learned we are a pretty tough unit and my kids have nothing but love and support to help them get through.

C

Finally a Carefree Weekend

Speaking of keeping busy around here, Brad and I had finally had a weekend to ourselves that was not full of hospital visits or funeral plans. For the first time in months we actually got to make some fun plans on a kid free weekend!

Friday afternoon/night we headed out to our friends farm that’s just this side of the Canadian/US boarder to do some gopher shooting. It’s a pretty popular past time around here, it’s super fun for us Alberta rednecks and it cuts down on the rodent population in the farmers field, really it’s a win/win for everyone haha we literally drove in circles around a field drinking adult beverages a shooting guns. Sounds totally responsible right?

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You can’t really beat the view either

After a few hours of this we went in for some pizza, guitar playing, and cards. It was great to get out of our little town and enjoy some time with friends we actually don’t get to spend a lot of time with.

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These 2 and their music ❤️

Saturday Brad and I decided we needed a day just the 2 of us and we planned a whole day date. We headed to the city where Brad drug me to a couple garage sales (not my forte) and I drug him to the mall haha We had lunch at a new Mexican joint called Mucho Burrito and then shopped until our feet couldn’t take it anymore. Brad managed to get himself a whole new wardrobe for our upcoming trip and if you’ve ever seen Brad’s wardrobe, it was much needed! We grabbed dinner at the food court, wasted some time at the arcade (don’t tell our kids) and hit a 7:00 movie. These are seriously my very favourite kind of days!

We spent Sunday relaxing and doing small chores around the house trying to prepare for the upcoming week with all 4 kids at home.

It felt like I actually got to sit back and relax for the first time in awhile and I thoroughly appreciated it.

C

The Healing Process

I have to say, this experience has been a major eye opener and has really taught me some life lessons. It’s given me a huge admiration for people who suffer incredible losses. I see people in our community, even in our close circle, who have gone through this, and worse, and think “look at them going on with life, they’re amazing”. Let me tell you, going on with life without a loved one is the hardest things anyone will ever have to do. For the weeks leading up to the funeral I did mediocre. My family was around, we had so much to do and everyone’s lives were just kind of on hold. Everyone I spent time with was in the same grieving boat. Once that was all over, the funeral was done and one of my uncles left for his home a couple hours away, reality hit and it hit hard. The week after was by far the worst. Life was going on and it was going on without my mom and hated every minute of it. I found myself somewhat holding it together at work but as soon as I hit the highway home, I sobbed for the whole 30 minute drive. So many things were happening in my life and I couldn’t tell my mom about a single one of them. The shower, the car, days off at home or any time spent alone were sad times so I’ve been doing my best to keep myself somewhat busy and I think it’s actually been helping.

The funeral was closure for our family and it was really a beautiful service. With the help of friends and family, we managed to give Shirls a send off she would have been proud of.

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I’m sure glad my aunt thought to take pictures.

Afterwards our family and my moms life long friends gathered at her house for one last hurrah in her honour just as she told us to do. A night with people I’ve loved my whole life and some faces I haven’t seen in years was exactly what my heart needed.

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A few days before the funeral, my sister in law had a brand new baby boy! I’ve gotten some baby snuggles in when I’ve been able to and it was nice to have that excitement. Plus he’s ridiculously adorable!

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Welcome to the world Tynan Richards!

We’ve also rebooked our missed Mexican vacation and the first week of June we will be hitting the beach with some of our friends that we roped into coming with us haha we are VERY much looking forward to that get away.

In memory of my mom, I got myself a new tattoo that I’m totally in love with! I found a card she gave me years ago and had her hand writing duplicated, with an owl because she LOVED them. What makes this tattoo really special though, is I actually took some of her ashes and the tattoo artist mixed them in the ink. I will literally always have my mom with me. My kids think it’s absolutely disgusting (except Reegan, she wants to do the same when she’s 18) but I think it’s awesome!

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Last weekend the girls and I had a shopping day at the mall so we weren’t just moping around. We got some new summer clothes and had lunch together. I had lots of those kinds of days with my mom as a kid and I hope they cherish them like I did.

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I really stepped out of my box this week when I went to a paint night with my cousin Amanda and some of our friends. I have zero artistic ability and painting was soooo hard!! There were tons of swear words from all of us and threats of quitting but the company was fantastic!

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Coincidentally the theme of the night was owls

They say grief never goes away, you just learn to live with it. I fully believe that. There’s no way this pain will ever leave me but I am most definitely learning to live with it and I know one day I’ll get to a point where I’ll get through a day without tears in my eyes. For now I’ll just continue to lean on my husband (who has been AMAZING through all of this by the way. He’s really gone above and beyond to make this as easy for me as possible), spend time with my family as much as possible, and count my lucky stars that I have the friends and family that I do.

C

My Worst Nightmare

I’ve contemplated for days if I should write this post and if my mother knew I was about to post all about her, she’d have my head. But this is a blog about my life and my family and it doesn’t get more real life than the last month. It’s literally been a living hell.

On March 2nd my mom gave us the news that she had been diagnosed with cancer. I was shocked, and yet in a way, I wasn’t. Cancer has certainly made its rounds in our family and my grandma and great grandma both passed away from breast cancer. My mom had it on her left kidney but her doctor was hopeful that with surgery they could get rid of it. I was devastated for my mom, I spent most of the weekend crying or trying NOT to cry in front of people.

The following week my mom went for another scan and it had spread to her back. Surgery was still an option but more tests were needed.

The week after that (2 weeks after we got the initial news) my mom went for a bone scan, her legs were weak, she could barely walk and she had fallen the night before. Her neighbor and good friend who was driving her, decided to take her to the hospital in the next town over. The hospital admitted her and she spent the night until she was sent to a bigger hospital in the city for an MRI where they found more cancer in her spine which was causing her not to walk properly. She was immediately admitted into that hospital.

Within days the cancer had compressed her spine so badly it had pinched a nerve and caused total paralysis in her legs.  It had also spread to her lungs and was in her bones. She was sent 2 hours away to another hospital to see a spinal surgeon but after being told there really wasn’t much they could do, she was sent back to her regular hospital.

Our family was in utter turmoil. I am an only child and my mom was a single parent for a lot of my life. Her and her 3 brothers have always been very close and we are a very tight knit group. Watching someone as strong as my mom get weaker and weaker was so unbelievably hard on all of us. We did the best we could to spend as much time as we could with her so she wasn’t scared or lonely. She eventually was given an epideral to localize the pain so she was alert and could actually have conversations without falling asleep and it seemed like she took a turn for the better after this.

A family meeting was held the following Sunday with one of her doctors, and she was told the damage to her spine was irreversible and she would never walk again. This was totally devestating news. My mom was the most independent person I’ve ever met, the idea of having to rely on others was horrifying to her.

She was doing daily radiation and there were talks of chemo and moving her to a different care facility, we knew we didn’t have years left with her but we were keeping hope our hopes up for atleast one.

During all this, Brad and I were trying to decide what to do about our upcoming trip. We didn’t want to throw away thousands of dollars but we sure didn’t want to be out of the country if things turned for the worse. It was extra stress on an already stressful situation.

On Good Friday I took the kids up to visit and they decorated her room for Easter. She seemed to be a little worse for the wear that day and slept the whole time we were there except for a few minutes she woke up to look at the decorations and tell me to take pictures.

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A nurse pulled me into the hallway and told me not to go on the trip as my mom only had hours left. I held myself together as much as I could with the kids but I was completely distraught by the time I got home to Brad. He took action and called the hospital demanding to talk to the dr. The dr told us completely opposite information! She told us it was more than reasonable to go on our trip and worst case scenario, my mom had MONTHS left. I felt a little better but I wasn’t totally at ease. Something was different about my mom that day and I knew it.

The next morning a nurse called me at 5am wondering if we were coming in that day, I told her yes we had planned on coming in around lunch time, she told me my mom was asking for us but she would let her know we would be there in a few hours. As I was getting ready later that morning, the dr called and said she was worried about my mom as there had been a drastic change in her and scheduled a meeting time with us. We left our kids at home (as we had for pretty much 2 weeks) and when I got into her room, I could see an obvious change in her. She wasn’t very awake, her speech was slurred and she was very flemmy. My mom called me over to the bed and told me to call her brothers because she was done. That was far more than my already breaking heart could handle. The dr then came in and told us not to leave on our trip as my mom definitely did only have hours left, days if we were lucky, and to start calling in anyone that should be there. My moms neighbor/friend was there with us and the 2 of us immediately started making phone calls while Brad ran home to get our kids. The next 24 hours were spent with family members and loved ones crowded in a tiny hospital room saying their goodbyes and bawling their eyes out. Some had to leave at different times and I sent Brad home at 3am because the next morning was Easter so I didn’t want the kids to wake up alone, Me and 2 of my uncles (David and Rick) spent the night with my mom. We tried to get as much sleep as we could in the uncomfortable chairs until I got fed up and made myself a bed on the concrete floor out of heated blankets. It was the worst night of my life.

The sun came up, David went and got us breakfast because none of us had eaten in 2 days and the visitors started rolling in again. It went like this until about 2:30 in the afternoon when my my aunt noticed moms breathing was really slowing down and we new this was the end. We once again made emergency calls and my mom passed away peacefully with her family and friends around her.

I didn’t even know my heart could hurt so hard. I knew she wasn’t suffering anymore and I was relieved for that but my heart tore in 2. It broke not just for me who lost a mother, but for my grandpa who lost his only daughter, my uncles who lost their only sister, my kids who were robbed of so much time with the best Gran around and for her friends who lost a life long partnership.

We didnt always see eye eye to eye but my mom was my rock. It was just the 2 of us for so many years of my life and no matter what I did I knew she was there if I needed help. I feel like we barely had time to accept the fact that she was sick and now we have to accept that she is gone. One short month from beginning to end and we are now left with a pain and sorrow I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. She decided at the beginning that she wasn’t going through what she watched her mom go through and she sure followed through. In true Shirley fashion, she made up her mind and she did it on her own terms. IMG_5770

Adulting So Hard

This past week has been one grown up triumph after another and I’m totally exhausted. Before I dive into what I’ve been doing, let me give you a little background information.

Rewind 8 or 9 years to where it all went wrong. I was in a crappy relationship where I was the only one bringing in an income, which meant I was the only one paying rent, bills, groceries and any extra expenses, which meant I fell behind on everything. I mean EVERYTHING. Car payments went to collections, so there went my credit. Couldn’t afford insurance which made for crazy amounts of tickets. Couldn’t afford to pay the tickets and couldn’t  renew my license because of said tickets. These problems followed me around for years, snowballing into even more problems, even long after that relationship was over. I haven’t been able to get ahead or put my name on anything since.

Back to the present. We decided it’s time to get a new car, meaning we had to talk to our banker and figure a few things out. She decided it was a good time to check my credit even though I really didn’t want to because it’s been so bad for so long but with much persuading from Brad, I agreed. And guess what! My bad credit was gone!! I didn’t have good credit, just no credit history at all. This meant I can actually put my name on financial things and build my credit up. This was a HUGE relief. Especially since it meant we could actually get a car. Adulting win!

Car shopping was no easy job. We scoured the internet for weeks constantly bickering because I had my mind made up on what I wanted (a black or dark grey Dodge Charger) and Brad was all practical and responsible, taking into consideration fuel mileage, how many kilometres it already had on it, etc, etc. In the end we managed to find exactly what we wanted. A black Dodge Charger that met all of Bradley’s requirements. Hooray!!

Next was my insane amount of tickets. I felt pretty awesome walking into the courthouse on Monday and paying them all off. Every single one of them, gone! I was now able to get a license.

I headed straight to a license and registration place to write my learners exam. Which by the way, was not as easy as you would think. I was super nervous, but I passed! I was able to legally drive with an adult haha Before leaving, I booked an appointment for the next day to take my road test.

I was a ball of nerves the whole next day waiting for 4:30. Briggs tried his best to encourage me by saying “Mom, you’re smarter than my friends and if they can pass it, you can too.” Haha He wasn’t wrong, I passed this exam too!! Robyn later told me the only reason she was excited was because now I can take her a Reegan on a girls trip for her birthday hahaha

Bright and early Tuesday morning Brad called our insurance company and got me put on the vehicle insurance. I am now a fully licensed and insured driver!!

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Now I get to enjoy this bad boy!

I realize these are all normal things for adults to already have, but in my life, it’s some major, major accomplishments. I feel like I’ve finally ended a very terrible chapter of my life and I can’t wait for the opportunities that will be open to us now because of it. There is really no better feeling than finally getting of the hot mess express haha

C

 

 

 

 

Brad’s 31st Birthday

Brad’s 31st birthday was this past weekend and it was full of lots of activities that gave us time with family and friends. His birthday always lands on our free weekend of March (kid free/work free) and it’s quite convenient.

FRIDAY: Brad has wanted to go axe throwing at this new place in the city called True North Axe Throwing for a few weeks so we figured this was a good excuse to round up some friends and go. This place did not disappoint! For anyone wondering what the heck it is, let me give you a little run down. It’s a big wearhouse with a bunch of different lanes, big targets made out of wood hang on the wall on one side of the building and you take turns throwing axes at them.

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Our group consisted of me, Brad, Adam and Jess, Our friends Matt and Paula and of course Jessie. We had so much fun! The workers set you up in a round robin tournament within your group and they keep score on a tv above your lane. I surprised myself with my axe throwing skills and tied Adam for 3rd.

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Paula had to chafe her shoes half way through, turns out heels aren’t a good idea here haha

After our hour session was done we headed to the casino for supper where we literally got put in the corner right from the start due to our noise level. Rightfully so, as our dinner turned into a bit of a gong show with Brad eating Jessie’s meal without realizing it, Jessica laughing so hard she spit rice in my hair and Matt singing at the top of his lungs to the live band. We finished our meals and us girls went to play the slots while the boys took off to play black jack.  We had a great time yelling and cheering when we won a few bucks and singing along with the machine music. We even witnessed a man next to us win $1500 and graciously accepted the drinks he bought us with his winnings haha after a couple hours we met back up with the guys andfound Brad and Matt at the bar pretending to be a couple and telling people they were on their honeymoon. That was our cue to leave haha

SATURDAY: Earlier in the week we had promised Brad’s grandparents that we would come visit them in the seniors lodge they live in and join them for lunch. Grandma Richards had said lunch was at noon sharp so a little worse for the wear, we rolled out of bed, made ourselves presentable and took the 30 min drive for lunch. Grandma and grandpa were excited to see house and we spent the next few hours visiting and hearing old stories of Brad’s dad, uncles and other family members. By the time we left we were both ready for a nap and that’s exactly what we did at 6pm on a Saturday night haha we definitely don’t recover from a night out like we used to. We spent the rest of Saturday night watching movies, lounging in bed and eating junk.

SUNDAY: This was Brad’s actual birthday so after sleeping in, I got up and made a birthday brunch of eggs, bacon and waffles covered in strawberries and whip cream. It was delicious! Brad had mentioned maybe getting some people together for a curling game and just after we finished eating Brad’s brother Ryan called wanting to do the same thing. So me, Brad, Ryan, Rachel, Brad’s boss Kinn and his wife Tera headed to the rink for an afternoon of curling and game called liars dice which none of us girls understood but had fun anyway. Lucky Ryan won the game and walked away with $30!

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After the rink we headed home for a great dinner of ribs, fried potatoe patties (an experimental recipe) and veggies. The birthday boy had a few too many beers at the curling rink and was in bed by 8pm, haha

We had such a fun weekend celebrating Bradley and I couldn’t have asked for better people to do it with. Thanks everyone who helped me make this birthday weekend a great one!

C

 

One Year Blogiversary!

I’ve officially been a blogger for one whole year! I have to say, it’s been more of a struggle than I expected. In my head my family is super hilarious and interesting so why wouldn’t people want to read about us haha what I’ve learned though, we are only interesting when the weather is nice and we actually get out and do things. These cold winter months have been killer this year and getting out and about hasn’t happened very much therefore coming up with things to blog about has been HARD.

Struggles aside, I have really loved having a platform to share our adventures on and it gives me a little bit of my own hobby instead of just being “mom”. It’s something for just me that I can share with others.

I know lots of people want their blog to eventually become a business and make some cash, which would be really cool, but I certainly don’t have any big dreams for “Well Blended”. I’d love to build a bigger fan base however and I’m always excited when I get a new follower. I definitely love running into people in our small town and hearing them say they love reading my blog, it warms my heart to say the least.

So thanks to everyone that has stopped by, took a quick read or followed faithfully for the last year, it’s greatly appreciated! I hope you keep popping in for future endeavours!

C

 

Valentines 2018

Oh Valentines Day, a day of love and romance and sweet gifts. Unless you’re me. I am wildly unromantic and feel this day is an overrated money grab. Somehow I managed to marry a super sweet romantic man and even though it’s never anything huge, he always manages to outshine me on Valentine’s and make me feel like a real jerk haha for example, this year he brought home a bottle of coke (my fav), a gift card to Tim Hortons, a bag of my favourite candy and a handmade paper flower because I hate real ones. All of this was accompanied by a sweet love note.

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You know what I got him? A bag of almond m&m’s that came in my popcorn combo at the movies the night before…..but I saved them especially for him because they’re his favourite so that counts right?? I know, I know, I’m the worst haha

We did actually have plans for the evening of shopping for vacation clothes and fast food (seriously, we are not fancy people) and my mom was going to drive to our house to make dinner for our kids and spend some time with them, but because we’ve been having the worst winter in years, a storm rolled in and the roads were too awful for any of us to be driving on the highways. So we made dinner a little early, ran to the store for treats for the family, rented a movie and Brad and I closed ourselves up on our bedroom for a very romantic night of the newest “Saw” movie.

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Im not going to lie, I was just as happy doing this as I would’ve been going to the city and I’m sure Brad was relieved because I’m not always so easy to please haha

Anyone else have to change their Valentines plans due to the weather?

C

Snow, Snow And More Snow

Ok, I get I live in Canada, but this weather is really getting on my nerves. Is this snow ever going to end!? It feels like the last week has been especially annoying. Maybe it’s because we’ve had all 4 kids here for a week so getting Dylan and Robyn to school in another town has made us overly aware of terrible driving conditions, but it seems like we’ve spent every night listening to the kids obsess about whether school would be cancelled the next day or not. It’s driving me up the wall!IMG_5483

We have had just about every kind of bad winter weather lately. If it’s not snowing, the wind is blowing making the snow we’ve recently had blow through the country side causing white out conditions. Then it’ll get warm enough to melt a little causing slush EVERYWHERE. Then rolls in the cold snap. I’m not kidding you, 2 days ago it was -45c with the wind chill when I left for work. So all that slush on the roads….it’s now nothing but ice. That wonderful deep freeze was followed up by a winter storm warning today!! Come on! Kids came home early from school, buses tried picking kids up but ended up turning around and heading back to the school and highways starting shutting down. Needless to say our Valentines plans were cancelled. Today we had snow, wind AND icy highways.

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We are all starting to go a little stir crazy. We’ve tried filling our time with board games, movies and whatever else we can think of, the boys have even bundled up a couple times, loaded up a hockey net and hit our towns newest pond for some ice hockey with friends. The effort is there but the gloom is really starting to set in and irritate all of us. This family of mine needs some sunshine asap.

Brad and I are heading on a vacation in April and there’s a chance may not return haha

Anyone have any other ideas of how to cope with constant winter?

C