Category Archives: Family

I Was Just Thinking About You

I found this sign my brother made for Mom’s birthday when I was helping my Dad go through my mother’s things.

Today is my Mom’s birthday. My siblings and I used to joke that almost every time we called our Mom she would start the conversation by saying, “I was just thinking about you.” In fact, for one of my Mom’s birthday celebrations, my brother Ken made all these signs with our Mom’s favourite sayings and “I was just thinking about you” was one of them. I was blessed beyond measure to have Dorothy Marie Schmidt Peters as my mother. Her children and their well being and happiness were constantly in her thoughts. Now not a day goes by when I don’t think about her. Here are a few photos of Mom.

My Mom as a baby in 1925

Mom with her siblings in the 1930s in Drake Saskatchewan where she grew up. Mom is second from the left

Mom on her wedding day in 1952

Mom with our family in the 1960s.  Mom sewed the dresses my sister and I are wearing. 

Mom with three of her grandchildren in the 1980s. She provided so much support as we raised our children.

Mom with her family in the early 2000s.

Mom dancing with her oldest grandson at his wedding in 2006

Mom with another one of her grandsons the Christmas before she passed away. That grandson is getting married today on his Grandma Dorothy’s birthday and how she would have loved to have been there.

Other posts……………

Dorothy Marie Peters

Dorothy’s Room

Dorothy’s Garden

 

4 Comments

Filed under Family

I Left My Golf Tees in the Bathroom

On Saturday morning Dave was getting ready to head off to the golf course. He was looking for a few special golf tees he has been using lately.  I do have a drawer in our bedroom reserved exclusively for golf paraphernalia I find around the house.  If Dave is missing a golf ball, tee, glove, ball marker, club headcover, water bottle, golf towel, or old scorecard he knows I’ve probably picked it up from wherever he plunked it down in the condo and put it in that drawer reserved for his golfing stuff.  

During the pandemic, partly because we have had no company, I admit I have become very lax about tidying up our condo.  On Friday however, I was fed up with the state of our home and whirled through it putting away lots of stuff including Dave’s golf tees which I tossed in the golf drawer in our bedroom.  During the pandemic, Dave has become accustomed to me leaving things wherever he drops them. So on Saturday, he couldn’t figure out why his golf tees weren’t beside the sink in the bathroom where he had left them when he emptied his pockets after his previous golf game. “Where are my golf tees?” he fumed. “I left them in the bathroom.” 

His consternation made me realize there are lots of little collections of his scattered about our living space that would have irritated me in the past and I would have itched to organize and clean up and put away.  Now I just let things accumulate.

Case in point his hand sanitizer collection nestled in amongst a display of treasures from our time living in Asia. Dave bought hand sanitizer from Farmery Brewery near the beginning of COVID-19 because it was unavailable in stores. The sanitizer came in beer cans and needed to be transferred to other kinds of containers. He scoured the house for various suitable bottles, bought funnels to help him fill them up and then covered the containers with black duct tape because he’d heard exposure to light decreased the sanitizer’s effectiveness.

Normally I would consider a display such as this an eyesore and would have whisked all these lovely containers into a cupboard.  But now I’ve just let it be.

We must own more than a hundred CDS and one of Dave’s pandemic projects has been trying to listen to them all. On his regular trips to Steinbach to golf, he will take a stack out to the car to listen to as he drives. He brings them back in after each trip and piles them in various places around the condo. Normally I would return the CDs scattered around the condo to the drawer in our living room shelving unit I have designated for them, but because I’m pretty sure all of Dave’s CD piles represent some sort of organized system in his mind I have just left the stacks alone. 

I don’t know if I will be able to restrain my itchy tidying up fingers from putting away Dave’s various COVID collections once we can have visitors in our home again, but I am thinking one of the reasons we have been getting along so well during our time of relative isolation is because I haven’t been cleaning up as much and he can create collections of stuff wherever he wants to. Maybe one of the lessons I’m learning during COVID-19 is that a happy marriage partner is more important than a tidy house. 

Other posts……….

Can Your Marriage Survive Lollygagging? 

Why Do People Collect Things? 

Marriage Advice

Leave a comment

Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Family

A Gift For My Father

I made a book for my Dad for Father’s Day.  It contains over a hundred photos of Dad with my Mom, with his children, with his grandchildren, and with his great-grandchildren. Each photo is labeled with the names of the people pictured with Dad and a statement about how he is related to them. 

dads photo ablumLike so many people in his age category who have been isolated and cut off from family during the pandemic, my ninety-one-year-old father has found it harder and harder to keep his connections to all the people in his family organized in his mind.  

He is used to seeing us in person on a very regular basis and now for months and months, we have only been able to talk to him on the phone.  Dad is not very computer savvy so using a screen to connect with him hasn’t been a possibility.

grandchildren dad

Dad with two of his grandchildren

When I noticed Dad struggling to recall all his family connections , I decided to design a book for him.  I found multiple photos of him with individuals and small groups of his immediate family members and then arranged them in different categories and in different ways, to make it easy for him to see where everyone fits into the family.

I sent Dad’s book to the printing company more than a month ago but when it arrived just ten days later it had gotten damp in the shipping box somehow. The spine was buckled and the colors on the photos had run.  I was so disheartened. My Father’s Day gift was ruined. 

I used all my best writing skills in an impassioned e-mail to the photo book company to explain how my Dad REALLY needed this book and it had arrived in such bad shape I couldn’t give it to him. 

They were very apologetic and printed and shipped another book by expedited mail immediately. It arrived yesterday and I was very happy. 

dad great granddaughter

Dad with one of his seven great-grandchildren

Rules have changed at Dad’s assisted living facility so we can see him now for outdoor physically distanced half-hour visits. That means we will be able to be with him on Father’s Day and I can give him his book.

When I told Dad it was Father’s Day on Sunday and we wanted to celebrate with him he asked if he should be getting gifts ready for his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  I told him that Father’s Day was a day to celebrate him and so he would be the one getting gifts not the other way around. 

I am glad my gift for him arrived on time and am hoping it will help maintain a strong connection with the family members Dad cares for and who care for him. 

Other posts……….

My Dad Is……..

Good-by Dad

Dad’s Treasures- A Cowbell

 

1 Comment

Filed under Family

Two Lessons From Mom

This morning I will give a short talk via Zoom to the members of a church where I have spoken on several occasions in the past. Since it is Mother’s Day I thought I would share two lessons I learned from my mother that are helping me during the current pandemic.

Mom with three of her grandchildren. She provided so much hands-on support and unconditional love as her grandchildren were growing up. 

My Mom was a person who reached out to help others in a myriad of ways. She was a dedicated volunteer in her church and community, a loyal friend, and a mother and grandmother with a listening ear. She was ready to provide hands-on support whenever we needed it. Mom was a caring presence in the life of extended family members and someone who always had a warm greeting for the people she met. My Mom’s life was not always easy. She faced many challenges but I remember her as someone who was almost always positive and cheerful.

During our current uncertain situation Mom’s example of reaching out to others and trying to remain positive inspire me to do the same.

At a family Christmas gathering, Mom plays the piano and my grandmother sings

Mom also managed to find time to use and enjoy her creative gifts. She was a fabulous pianist and one of my childhood memories is of Mom sitting at the piano on Sunday afternoons playing all kinds of classical and popular music mostly from memory. There were times in her life when the workload she carried was huge but she still made time for her music. She used her musical gifts in all kinds of ways. When Mom was dying she imagined the linens on her hospital bed as a kind of keyboard. She’d determine a spot for middle C and then her fingers would fly across the blankets playing her favorite pieces. 

During our current uncertain situation, Mom’s example of finding the time to be creative inspires me to continue to nurture my inner spirit by fostering my creativity in whatever way I can. 

My mother died in 2013 and wonderful as it would be to bend her listening ear right now I am thankful she is not here to experience this.  Mom may not be physically present but she continues to inspire me to meet the challenges of the pandemic with a helpful hand and heart and a caring and creative spirit. 

Other Mothers Day posts………….

What Does Your Mother Do?

Mothers at the Met

Mother’s Day Kitsch

A Hat for Mother’s Day

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Family

All By Myself

I was all by myself for most of yesterday and it felt strange. Since we returned home from Arizona in the middle of March Dave and I have been together virtually all the time, except for a few occasions when he went on short solitary cycling rides or shopping trips.  Yesterday he headed out to Steinbach for a round of socially distanced golf with friends and I was alone for almost eight hours.  

During our life before COVID-19, we were apart most of the day.  We each had part-time jobs and a whole variety of independent social, sports, church and community commitments. Now we’ve been together practically around the clock and it felt so strange to have our home all to myself for such a long period of time.  

Out for lunch with friends at Green Gates. Prior to COVID-19 Dave and I often had meals that didn’t include each other 

Prior to COVID-19 our schedules usually coincided enough for us to share some meals each week, often with friends or family members, but now we have been sharing them all and deciding together what we will eat.  It felt strange yesterday to make my own decisions about what to have for lunch and supper. 

My sister-in-law Shirley and me in the VIP lounge at a ball game during our recent stay in Arizona together

While Dave was gone I had a long phone chat with my sister-in-law Shirley who was celebrating her birthday. Near the end of our call, Shirley remarked on how conversations these days always seem to revolve around the coronavirus. I thought back to what we had talked about and realized every one of our topics whether about family or friends or work or even the weather had been in some way connected or circled back to COVID-19. Will there ever be a time when that will change? 

It was a gorgeous day so I went for a 7-kilometre walk along the river trail marvelling at the series of spectacular views I got of the stunning city skyline in my neighbourhood. As I walked the Human Rights Museum seemed to move from its position to the left of the Provencher Bridge, to behind it, and finally over to it’s right.

Another project I worked on in Dave’s absence was refining a sermon I will give via Zoom on Sunday morning to a rural congregation. 

I listened to a Hidden Brain podcast about choices.  I found it interesting that many people are happier and more productive when they have fewer choices like we do right now during the pandemic. 

I kept working on my latest writing project a series of stories for children about women artists on the prairies. 

I finished a jigsaw puzzle I have been working on for more than a week. It was a tough one!

I read the latest book I have on the go. It’s about May Alcott, the younger sister of Louisa May, author of Little Women. I’ve been wanting to learn more about May ever since I saw the movie Little Women in December. The movie gave the character Amy a much more central role in the story.  Amy is based on Louisa May Alcott’s own sister May who like Amy in the movie was also an artist. Elise Hooper has written a creative non-fiction piece about May. 

 

Although the time passed quickly I was glad when Dave returned home full of stories about his day.  That is something I have missed.  Before COVID-19 when we spent most of our days apart we had lots to talk about in the evenings because we had both had all kinds of interesting adventures during the day. Lately, our dinners have been quieter affairs because we already know what has happened to the other person during the day. With some restrictions on social distancing being lifted, perhaps we can go back just a little bit to the routine and rhythm our relationship has had in the past. 

 

Other posts………..

Little Women- Getting to Know a Character in a New Way

The Provencher Bridge

Dave At the Top of the World

Who is Gaylord Perry and What Does He Have To Do With The Apollo 11 Moonlanding?

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Family

Swimming Down a Different Canal, After the Storm, Old Friends and Inspiration from Young Educators

Dad and me with the globe we gave him on his birthday some thirty-five years ago. Dad has interesting ways of describing what’s going on in the world right now. 

Like many of us when we grow older my Dad often has to search for just the right word to describe things. I think Dad has always fancied himself a wordsmith and when he had to write a speech for any occasion he usually did so with the dictionary open beside him. I suspect he also used the dictionary when writing the very poetic and sometimes difficult to discern messages of advice he always included in our Christmas cards. Now, Dad finds it a struggle to look things up in the dictionary but his penchant for describing things in unique ways has not changed.  This weekend while talking about our current world situation he said,  “Well MaryLou we are certainly swimming down a different canal right now.”    Yes, Dad. You are right. We most certainly are. 

CBS’s Sunday morning did a documentary yesterday on Kadir Nelson whose work frequently makes the cover of magazines like The New Yorker. Nelson just won the 2019 Caldecott medal for children’s literature for his illustrations in the book The Undefeated. He has created a new artwork that shows people after the pandemic is over. It is called After the Storm.

After the Storm by Kadir Nelson- from the CBS website

Look at how the marvellously diverse people in the painting all have their eyes focused on something ahead of them and how they are all touching one another in various ways. Will the pandemic help to unite us and force us to focus on the things that are vital to creating a bright future for our world? 

 Kadir Nelson’s painting reminds me of a painting by Norman Rockwell called The Golden Rule which graced the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in April of 1961. Rockwell reminds us that no matter our differences we should treat others the way we want to be treated. 

Mural on the wall of one of the schools I visit.

I have been busy reading the papers and assignments my student teachers had to submit to me in lieu of their practicum placements in classrooms during the months of March and April.  I have found so many pearls of wisdom in these young educators’ reflections. 

“If kids are hungry or they don’t feel safe they can’t learn.

“COVID-19 has made me aware that not all students have access to technology at home and that is making it hard for them to keep up with school work right now.” 

“I’ve learned that teaching children about mindfulness and meditation can make a difference in how they handle things.”

“I’ve developed this real passion for teaching in the inner city and I wasn’t expecting that.” 

” If you give kids choices instead of always telling them what to do they will feel more responsible for their own behaviour.” 

” I love my students and I am so sad I won’t get to see them again before the school year is over.  I didn’t even have a chance to say good-bye to them.” 

Our small group in 2016

We have been in a friendship group with four other couples for decades.  Our group began at a church we all used to attend. Dave and I are trying to connect with one of the couples each week to see how they are doing.  On Saturday we had a great visit with our friends who are isolating on their country property and having some interesting encounters with skunks.  We used to stage an annual lawn dart competition at this couple’s home and while cleaning up their shed they had found some posters celebrating the winners of those tournaments.  It was nice to reminisce about old times and catch up on what’s going on in our lives right now. 

Other posts……….

Norman Rockwell at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

90 Years

Cocktails in a Stable

 

Leave a comment

Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Education, Family

Beer in the Kitchen, Travel Apathy And New Music

My husband Dave has always done some of the cooking in our household but now that his busy social and sports life is on hold he’s really embracing the kitchen. Last night we had a pot of delicious stew that he had slowly simmered in the oven for the whole day. There is enough of his signature chilli in the freezer to last for quite some time.  He’s played around with lots of different varieties of pizza, used bacon as the secret ingredient in egg salad sandwiches and is wondering if he could make chicken noodle soup.  He has also taken over primary responsibility for loading the dishwasher, experimenting to try and find the best way to arrange things in it for maximum capacity so we don’t have to run it as often. It won’t be long before he has it down to a science. A side benefit of this is I am not allowed to load the dishwasher. 

My friend Pat makes notes as the rest of us critique a novel synopsis she has written. I’m in the upper left-hand corner. 

I zoomed with my writers’ group last night for nearly two hours.  We were discussing writing work we had sent to each other to read before our session.  Seven of our eight members showed up for our virtual hang out and it was very productive.  During our first post-pandemic meeting two weeks ago we seemed to need time to just catch up with one another and see how we were all handling the isolation, so we didn’t do any manuscript critiques.  But yesterday we were ready to get down to work and focus on our writing.   My husband Dave had a long Zoom session in the afternoon with the members of a committee he serves on at our church.  On a cold snowy day, it was kind of nice for him not to have to get in the car and drive to church for a meeting but rather to have it barefoot, in his shorts, at our kitchen counter while enjoying a beer. 

 And speaking of beer Dave was very excited to learn that a local brewery Farmery was delivering beer.  He ordered enough to last him a long time.  Dave is part of a beer club that meets regularly to explore all the different local breweries.  As with most things his beer club meetings are on hold for the time being. Farmery is also making hand sanitizer now and Dave has ordered some of that as well. 

Having breakfast with Donna Janke in summer

I got to meet fellow Winnipeg blogger Donna Janke in person this past August. We had a delightful visit sharing ideas and experiences about blogging.  Donna is a travel blogger and in her most recent newsletter, she said she has stopped publishing new travel stories.   People just aren’t reading travel stories right now and even Donna who is passionate about travel and travel writing has found her own interest in reading and writing about travel waning.  Donna was set to attend a large convention for North American travel journalists in early May. It has been cancelled. In her latest newsletter, Donna asks whether travel will still be on people’s agenda when the pandemic is over.  Perhaps we will travel for business or family reasons but travelling for pleasure may not be affordable or even desirable for most of us. You can check out Donna’s blog here

My son with his band Royal Canoe at their phenomenal show on ice instruments at The Forks in Winnipeg January 2020

My word for the year is LISTEN and I had a new listening experience yesterday.  My younger son is a professional musician and owns a music booking agency. As you can imagine the pandemic has had a huge impact on his career and business. But he is exploring new things and one is hosting a music radio show on CKUW 95.9FM.  I listened to the whole show yesterday.  It featured music that is quite different than what I usually listen to.  One song that I really enjoyed was Home by Caribou. It was lovely easy listening and included the line “I’m home” many times. Home is where we all should be right now. 

My 91-year-old father said in one of our recent phone conversations that when his grandchildren and great-grandchildren are his age they will be telling their children and grandchildren stories about how they survived the pandemic of 2020.  Indeed I hope we do all survive and that this rather surreal time becomes the stuff of legend and story.

Other posts…….

What a Delight!

So Cool

Word of the Year- 2020

2 Comments

Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Family

Fun Times With Paul and Shirley

On Friday we said good-bye to Dave’s brother Paul and his wife Shirley who have generously shared their Scottsdale condo with us for the last twelve days.  They are headed home to Ontario.  Even though we live more than a thousand miles apart we have enjoyed many wonderful holiday adventures with Paul and Shirley. I have been thinking about some of them.

Ziplining adventure in Costa Rica.

Getting ready to leave on a bicycle trip in Yangshou China. Hiking Silly Mountain in Gold Canyon Arizona Visiting the Bird Garden in Hong Kong At a Mexican restaurant in Florida.

Mudbath in Costa Rica

Drinking snake wine on a boat cruise on the Li River in China.

On a food tour in Scottsdale 

At a Tigers game in Detroit

Ready for a rafting trip in Bali

Sailing on the Pacific Ocean

Hiking Pinnacle Peak in Arizona in 2012

Biking through the Heidelberg Art Project in Detroit in 2013Enjoying a delicious breakfast on the balcony of Paul and Shirley’s condo in Florida in 2014

Golfing at Mountain Brook Course in Gold Canyon Arizona in 2015Walking tour of Winnipeg in 2016

Family lunch at the Olive Mill in Arizona 2017Dinner with family and friends in the Algarve in Portugal 2018

Paul and Shirley showing us around at Gleaners in Leamington in 2019. They volunteer there helping to dry and package donated food to feed the hungry.

We had a good time here in Arizona again in 2020, hiking, going to a movie, cooking for each other, playing our traditional games of euchre each evening (the Driedger boys remained champions despite Shirley’s and my best efforts), attending the Carole King musical and taking in a spring training baseball game.  We ended our time together with a round of golf at the Star Fire Course and dinner at a favourite Italian restaurant of Paul and Shirley’s called Arrivederci.  Wonderful food!

Thanks Paul and Shirley for a great time!

Other posts………

Terrified Times Three

Mexican Night

Golfing in Phoenix

Hiking in the Homeland of the Apache and Hohokum

Who is Gaylord Perry? 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Arizona, Family

Siblings That Get Along

Last Thursday the New York Times ran a feature by Kate Lewis on what parents can do to raise siblings who get along.  I know just how fortunate I am to have supportive siblings whose company I thoroughly enjoy and I think there are things my parents did to help lay the groundwork for good future sibling relationships. 

stay lox bricks dad plays

My sister and I share a set of building blocks we received as a gift.

 My parents made us share things.  My sister and I always shared a room.  We shared our toys. Our whole family shared the dinner table.  We shared the car on vacations.

With my siblings when I was eleven

My parents expected us to care for one another.  I was frequently given the responsibility of helping to look after my younger siblings. 

My Dad with his sisters. 

My Mom with her sisters 

My parents were role models by having good relationships with their own siblings.

My sister and I were featured in the local paper after our winning piano duet performance in the Winnipeg Festival

My parents provided opportunities for us to work together at things as a team.

Skiing with my family in Banff Alberta

My parents organized fun family times together.

Family conversation 

My mother was a great listener and my Dad readily expressed his opinions and so my siblings and I learned to do that with each other too. My parents maintained a cottage where we spent lots of quality time together as siblings

My Mom in the boat with us kids

and where we learned to work together, enjoy nature together and have a good time together.

With my two great brothers

With my terrific sister

I realize that despite their parents’ best efforts sometimes siblings don’t get along and I can assure you that in our family we had our share of sibling spats, particularly in our younger years.  One thing I noted in the comments about Kate Lewis’ story in the New York Times was that even when siblings didn’t get along as children they often had rewarding relationships as adults particularly if their parents continued to work at fostering family connectedness.  The comments also made me aware however that many siblings have very distant or contentious relationships which made me all the more appreciative and grateful for my good relationships with my siblings. Those relationships enrich my life a great deal and I need to be careful not to take them for granted. 

Other posts………

Siblings- More Important As You Grow Older

Giving a Child Away

Siblings

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Family

Paternity Leave- A Winning Scenario for Children, Families and Society

Significantly higher IQ scores, fewer behaviour issues, higher academic achievement, decreased delinquency rates, enhanced cognitive development, fewer psychological problems and an eventual career that is more satisfying and economically rewarding.  Aren’t those things we’d all like for our children? What parenting strategy will provide those kinds of benefits to families?  Would you believe it’s paternity leave?  When fathers take time off from their careers or make it a priority to assume an equal percentage of the care for their children the benefits are overwhelmingly positive.

This week my son who is a high school teacher and administrator begins five months of leave caring for his young daughter while his wife returns to her career as a paediatrician. I think his family has made a great decision. 

Not only does paternity leave provide benefits for children, but it is also good for people’s careers. When Dads accept part of available family leave benefits, they provide a boost to their partner’s career, because their partner can go back to work sooner. A Swedish study discovered that for every month a father stays home with his children the mother’s income increases by nearly 7%.  Another benefit is that when couples choose to share parental leave time mothers are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression and take fewer sick days when they return to work.  And a little added bonus to fathers staying home?  A Quebec study showed when fathers took paternity leave, they continued to do a much greater share of the housework even after they returned to work than fathers who had not taken paternity leave.

Fathers taking a leave from their jobs for childcare can also reduce discrimination in the workforce.  A recent article in Forbes magazine tried to explain the reasons why only 6.4% of Fortune 500 companies are headed by women.  One factor was that young women are discriminated against in the hiring process because employers think if they have children they won’t want to travel, work late hours and they will have to find a replacement when the woman goes on maternity leave.  The Forbes article suggests one solution to this kind of discrimination would be to make paternity leave mandatory for new fathers.  That would put men and women on an equal footing because even when their employers provide paternity leave most men choose not to take it due to worry about what impact it will have on their careers. That’s kind of ironic because study after study has shown that paid parental leave has no negative effect on businesses and workplaces and in some cases profitability, performance and morale improve.

A UNICEF study reports that nearly two-thirds of the children in the world live in countries where they do not have legislation granting fathers even a single day of parental leave.  That includes the United States the only developed country without a national parental leave policy.

We can be very glad indeed that Canada has a generous and progressive parental leave plan that allows both mothers and fathers to stay home with their young children. It’s good for families and for society too.

Other posts……….

Finding Father

Mothers Have A Stronger Bond With Kids Than Dads?

Should Women With Young Children Be Politicians

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Family