Archive for the 'family' Category

Wine and Love

The lovely Nora over at Walking with Nora has an awesome Thursday feature called Wine and Love. I decided to jump on board this bandwagon of awesome and join the fun.

Reasons I’m reaching for the wine bottle this week:

  • I’m beginning to develop an ear infection. It’s not full-blown yet and it’s starting to get better but it still hurts A LOT. I was under the impression that only 6 year olds got ear infections. I was wrong. Also, when you’re an adult with an ear infection, it is no longer socially acceptable to stamp your feet and whine “but it huuuuurts.” (for the record, it huuuuurts).
  • The weather. I work for a farm organization and when it does nothing but rain for days on end in the planting season, farmers aren’t happy. When farmers aren’t happy, I reach for the wine.

Reasons I’m smiling and loving life this week:

  • I found someone who is willing to go see Scream 4 with me. I have such fond (and terrifying) memories of watching the original movies camped out in sleeping bags in the friend’s living room whose parents didn’t care if we watched R movies that I can’t resist this movie for nostalgia sake. Also, who doesn’t like being scared (oh, apparently a lot of people).
  • I’m reading a great book that is slightly more refined than the trash I usually read. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some trash (well hello, sexy vampire), but it’s nice to know that I haven’t become a complete heathen.
  • I started watching Firefly and it’s awesome! Who can resist cowboys in space? (oh, apparently lots of people, people that aren’t me).
  • My sister is moving home from the Caribbean in a week! I’m excited she’ll finally be living in Canada for longer than 2 weeks!
  • This is my second post this week! It’s too soon to say I’m back in the blogging swing of things, but this is definitely a good step!

60 years together

My family celebrated my grandparents 60th anniversary this past weekend.

I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in:

60 years

Are you there yet? Comprehended how many years – how many DECADES – that is devoted to the same person. That’s 10 years more than double my entire lifetime!

To celebrate, my grandparents and their 6 children and their 6 spouses did a tour of our hometown stopping at each and every place my grandparents have lived in. My grandparents moved to my small hometown right after they married. They chose it almost arbitrarily as it was a central location for my grandfather’s job with the railroad.

It’s insane for me to think that they chose this town for nothing more than the convenience of its location when the town has become so much more to our family. Both of my grandparents were heavily involved in the community; my grandpa was on the school board and my grandma was once named “Mother of the Year” in the local paper. Today, a lot of my family still live in this small town and they are all involved in the community. My cousin coaches a hockey team, another cousin referees soccer and my aunt has been an integral part of the Relay for Life event held every year. For those that don’t live in town, myself included, we still visit as often as possible and keep up with the news through the rest of the family.

As a town that means so much to my family, it’s hard to imagine a time when we weren’t a big part of its history. But, it seems that time exists and my grandparents have just built their lives in a way that most people don’t remember it.

After the tour of their past homes, the “grown ups” joined the grandkids for dessert and celebration (I say grown ups because a good portion of my grandparents’ 16 grandkids are adults now). We sat around eating cake and talking about the past 60 years. My aunt brought a large box full of newspaper clippings. Apparently, my grandma has saved every newspaper photo and article that featured anyone in the family and quite a few that featured others not in the family. She had even saved clippings of my aunt before she had even started dating my uncle and become part of the family – it’s like my grandma KNEW!

I saw the newspaper photo of my mom in the prom court and read my parents’ wedding announcement. My brother’s hockey tournaments were all there along with my sister’s skating competition wins. I read my birth announcement and the article that the local paper ran about the play I was a part of in Grade 4 (I played Jiminy Cricket in an adaptation of Pinocchio).

It was really cool to be able to go through these old memories, some of my own and many of them not, with the rest of my family. But, it made me wonder, what will I sift through with my grandkids on my 60th wedding anniversary?

We live in an age of blogs and Twitter and YouTube and self-publishing. It’s cool to think of what it will be like to revisit these mediums of record with the next generation. Will we be trolling the Library of Congress‘ database to find tweets I sent? Will my grandkids one day read this exact post? Heaven forbid will they read something else I wrote that’s less-than-impressive and slightly embarrassing?

Thinking too hard about this may make me reconsider that tweet I sent about my solution to cleaning chocolate chips off the couch. But, I don’t plan to think too hard about it and just enjoy the idea of following my grandparents’ example and spending 60 years with someone I love.

My family can dance harder than your family (but probably not better)

Excuse me…. is this thing on?

OH! Hi there. Long time no chat. I wish I had some awesome reason why I’ve been MIA these past few weeks. I wish I could tell you it was because I went on some awesome last minute vacation to Maui or because I joined a roller derby league and got my hands smashing in and can’t type. But no. I have no good story. It just got really hot and I got tired and sitting with my heat-emitting-computer on my lap to type up posts was less appealing than eating a popcicle. In my world, popcicles are not to be eaten in the presence of electronics. In fact, it’s best to eat them over the sink or outside.

But, I do have a few exciting tales to tell of the past little while.

This past weekend my big brother tied the knot with his long-time high school girlfriend. They have been dating for 10 years and they are absolutely perfect for each other in the way that OMG she will put up with all of your annoying tendencies and she’s awesome! Marry her! Don’t let her get away!

The wedding ceremony was in my parent’s backyard and it was absolutely perfect. The reception was at the vineyard that neighbours my parents’ place. They recently built a reception hall there and it was also perfect.

The days leading up to the wedding were full of mani-pedi appointments, tux rental fetching, MC-prepping (my sis and I MCed the event) and calming my mother down. The morning of the wedding found me in my parents’ backyard at 8am with unbrushed teeth and still in my pajamas setting up 168 white chairs around the “wedding tree”. Now, this sounds like a horrendous time but considering my cousin (the best man)’s insistence that we all start the morning with “WEDDING HIGH FIVES!” everyone was actually in a good mood and it all got set up in less than an hour.

My brother stayed pretty calm throughout the day and save for some time spent pacing through the house, he held everything together.

The ceremony was beautiful.

The reception was a blast. My family likes to party and this wedding was no exception. I did a Russian jig with my cousin’s new man, I watched my aunt and uncles have a dance off to Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean and I attempted to two-step with my cousin with minor success as neither of us really know how to lead.

The night closed out and I walked back through the vineyards to my parents’ house and the party continued on the back deck. I called it a night at 3:30am but I’m told that my dad, sister and cousin didn’t pack it in until 5.

I’m still recovering from that night. I think it will take another week to be rid of the aches and pains that come with dancing your butt off and and I think I need another few night of sleep before I feel “fully rested”.

So, what has everyone else been up to? Anyone joined any roller derbies?

Cuttin’ it up on the dance floor

This post is long overdue. Sometimes I feel like the internet moves too fast, as if this post is pointless because many of the events it’s centerd around happened 1-2 weeks ago. TWO WEEKS. That’s like a millennium in the internets. But, I’m going to write about it anyway because I was there and in reality, I could lie to you all and say it happened yesterday.

So, yesterday was my brother’s stag and doe. For those unaware, a stag and doe (aka: a Jack and Jill or a Buck and Doe) is a pre-wedding party. The goal of the party is to raise money to help the bride and groom pay for the wedding. I know that may sound crass but that’s how we roll in rural Ontario and no one’s going to get upset about a rockin’ party, no matter the reason behind it.

My bro’s stag and doe was no exception. Surrounded by family, friends and people I just met, we all drank and danced and fun was had by all – too much fun in my case. I don’t know why, but often when I’m with my family I forget my limits when it comes to alcohol. I think it may be the security in knowing that with my mom, my dad, my grandparents, 10 aunts, 10 uncles and 15 cousins surrounding me, someone will get me home in one piece.

And I did get home in one piece. But, not before I did my fair share of jello shots, danced with my grandpa, shimmied with my aunt, played electric guitar with my cousin and watched my friends do the same. My family loves to dance! We’re not necessarily good dancers (although my grandpa has some moves!) but we do it anyway. It’s one of my favourite things about my family; we’re always ready for a party.

I always feel so lucky that I get to let loose and have fun like this with my family. I feel lucky that I can bring friends along so they can experience my dad serving them drinks and my grandpa cutting a rug with them on the dance floor.

At the stag and doe I had two great friends join me, one of which came all the way from Switzerland.

One of my best friends spends most of the year in her native Switzerland where she is studying medicine. She’s in Canada for the summer and the first time I’ve seen her in MONTHS I was able to introduce her to my family and show her around my home town.

I was equally excited to show my other friend around. She’s one of the few people left that still lives in my university town (where I still live) and we’ve become much closer as we’ve watched the exodus of our friends move on to bigger and better things (for the record, we’re also doing bigger and better things. Those things just happen to be in our university town).

I’m always proud to bring friends home to where I grew up but it’s so much more fun when I can show them a true family party at the same time.

Do normal people party like this with their families? I’ve always thought that my family was awesome but that maybe not everyone has the same party mentality. Maybe it’s because we’re Irish?

Three’s company

I had an awesome opportunity to have some drinks with both my brother and my sister a week ago and despite the wine-induced illness the next day, it was definitely an awesome night.

I don’t get to see my big sis all that often as she has this wonderful life all set up on a wonderful island called Tobago in the Caribbean (why, of course you can hate her out of jealousy right now).

So, when she managed to finagle a 20 hour stop over in Toronto on her way to yet another exotic locale, my brother and I jumped all over that!

I picked her up in the airport where my dad happened to be flying in from Eastern Europe at the same time. He had a connecting flight to a smaller airport closer to home and a few hours to kill. My big sis and my dad and I enjoyed burgers and fries and some much needed catching up time in the airport.

Side note: What are the fricken odds that my dad and my sister would land in the same airport 15 minutes apart when coming from 2 separate continents! Hello serendipity! Too bad my mom couldn’t have been there too. She was stuck at home looking after the cat.

We bid farewell to our dad and carried on to the next family member on the agenda. We arrived at my brother’s apartment and my sister went straight for the fridge searching for a better bottle of wine to open than the crappy one I brought with me from those lame kiosks at the grocery store.

As she reached into the fridge mulling over which one to open the choice became glaringly obvious. Sitting in my brother’s fridge was this lovely bottle of wine:


Clearly, the decision was made (for the first bottle anyway, after that we were much less discriminating against my grocery store wine).

The thing is, even though we are all grown up and we all lead very ‘adult’ lives, we are still siblings and we still rival. The dynamics between my brother and sister and I are probably familiar to anyone who has 2 or more siblings.

My sister, the oldest, sets the tone for everyone. If she’s in a good mood, everyone is in a good mood. If, however, she’s not feeling too cheery, no one else is either. Or, at least, as my brother will surely confirm, no one will attempt to be cheery without being punished.

She is strong-willed and she doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything (she moved across the ocean to follow a dream in Trinidad and succeeded!). She excels at most things in life (aside from ignoring my brother’s taunts) and she is a hell of a good time.

We’re six years apart and so growing up we were never very close. When I was in Grade 8 she moved away to school and she hasn’t lived at home since. Yet, I find that as we get older, I feel much closer to her. Even though she’s a million miles away I know I can always pick up the phone or send her an email and get great advice. When she does visit, she makes sure to make her time here with family count. Plus she was an amazing host when I went to visit her at her home and I hope to go back soon.

My brother, the middle child, is the instigator. He is the one that enjoys being cheery when my sister is not. He has not lost his childhood ability to annoy you so thoroughly your teeth are clenched and your eyes have gone bloodshot only to reign it all back in and make you laugh. He’s fiercely protective of me and always gave my new boyfriends the ‘what for’. But, he sees good in everyone and has always been the guy to befriend the person sitting off on their own. He’s a strong extrovert and likes to be the center of attention always ready to bust out that gawd-awful dance move he’s been practicing since grade 6 (a hybrid of the wave, the robot and a seizure). He likes the feel of a small town and has never really endeavoured to stray far from home. He has big plans for life in our hometown and hopes to be able to move back soon. When he does, I know he’ll do great things there.

I, the youngest, display all the classic signs of growing up as the baby. My theme song as a child was a classic ditty from the Rolling Stones called ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ and that song is probably still applicable in my life on a regular basis. Unfortunately (or fortunately), now I don’t have a chorus of 2 older siblings to sing it to me on a daily basis.

I try to walk the middle line between my 2 big siblings. I too, am an extrovert like my brother. But, I’m also strong-willed like my sister. Like my sister, I enjoy traveling. But, like my brother, I enjoy coming home almost more. I’m sure they would be able to list of a slew of less-than-stellar characteristics about me but this is my blog, not theirs (ha! finally I have the final say!).

The fact is, I look up to both of them. They have both accomplished a lot in their respective fields and they both are so different and yet so awesome. I’m super glad we made the best of those mere 20 hours together and I hope another opportunity like that comes again soon.

Loving, not loving and really wanting or: A haphazard blog post full of lists

Things I’m loving:

  • Dance/pop/rock music. I bought 3 cds in the past 2 weeks (who buys cds anymore?!?) I love me some “round tapes” (that’s what my dad calls them) and these three are fabulous. In my head, they all fit into the same genre of music (I’m sure the internet will correct me if I’m wrong and someone will judge me for being all ignorant about music). But, I can’t figure out what genre it is. It’s a lot of dance, a lot of pop and a little bit of rock/alternative. All I know is they all rock and I’m rocking with them.
    • It’s Blitz! – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
    • Fixin to Thrill – Dragonette
    • We Started Nothing – The Ting Tings
  • Colourful nail polish. Mine are blue today. Last week they were green part of the time and turquoise another part of the time. For a girl who never paints her nails, that’s a whole lot of nail painting!
  • My one and only tomato plant.
  • That my sister is coming to visit soon!

Things I’m not loving so much:

  • Being so fricken busy! This summer I have a tonne of obligations. From wedding showers to family BBQs, my schedule is packed. I am excited about all of these events on their own. I love seeing family and I love dressing up in summer dresses for such fun occasions. But, when they are all combined, it’s a little overwhelming and I feel like I’ve lost control over my own schedule. And, then I feel raging guilt cause I shouldn’t complain because I’m actually looking forward to all the events. I’m just not looking forward to them all back-to-back-to-back-to-back. It feels like I’m booked till Christmas.
  • That clunky noise my car makes when I turn right.
  • That my knee went all wonky before my 5km race. I’m not going to be able to run the one I planned. But, my knee is getting better (doesn’t everyone have a nurse practitioner, chiropractor and massage therapist on call at all times?) and I will run a 5km race this summer.

Things I want:

  • I desperately want to go dancing. Like wild, crazy, wear red-lipstick and a sequined top dancing. But, the aforementioned schedule means I’m booked till August. Luckily, some of my planned events will involve dancing. Even though it will be sans red lipstick and surrounded by family it may fit the bill because my fam can really boogy.
  • A leather jacket. I know it’s not the season for such frivolities, but I really want one for the fall.
  • On a more season-appropriate clothing request, I really want something made entirely of sequins. I don’t know if I could pull off a full dress, maybe a shirt or a vest.
  • A hobby or a project. Despite having full weekends, I still want something to work on that’s just mine. I’m not very crafty or artistic and I’m not very athletic or good at any team sports. I’m still running but I’d like a project that’s a little more fun and a little less sweaty. I’m open to suggestions. No really, please, provide me with suggestions!

What do you do just for you? What are your hobbies?

My first all-nighter (for a good cause and a great time!)

Every year around this time, I travel to my small, hometown to participate in a huge event with my rather large family.

I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with the Relay for Life but, just in case, I’ll give you the low down. It’s a fundraising event that starts at 7pm and ends at 7am the next morning. Teams of people sign up and at least one team member must be walking the track at all times. The track is lit with luminaries (white bags filled with candles) that are ‘In Honour of” or ‘In Memory of’ people who have fought cancer. There is music, games and food throughout the night and in the morning, you all find out just how much money you’ve raised. All proceeds go to the Canadian Cancer Society to support people with cancer and to support cancer research.


Like most families, mine is definitely touched by cancer. Both my mom and my aunt are breast cancer survivors (my aunt survived it twice, many years apart), my grandfather has beat prostate cancer and many extended relatives have died of the disease. So, this whole event is kind of a big deal for my family.

And since it’s such a big event for us, we do it up in style. We have a team of anywhere between 25 and 35. We set up tents, bring food and get our walking shoes on.

Not everyone lasts the whole night. Some go home for a few hours of shut eye before coming back early in the morning for the last lap. Others set up tents and grab a quick nap here and there. And then the real troopers, they stay up all night. They shift between walking the track and refueling with grandma’s cookies.

I am proud to say that this year, I was one of those troopers. I did not try for a wink of sleep until I got home when it was all said and done at 8am! This is kind of a big deal for me as I have never pulled an all-nighter in my life!

Before I get to the part where I tell you how much money we raised (it’s staggering and worth sticking around for), I have to tell you about my favourite part of the whole night.

My family is pretty close. My dad is one of 6 and all but one of those siblings live within 15 km of my grandparents (the one that’s not close is a whopping 2 hours away and comes to visit often!). I am one of 16 grandchildren ranging in age from 31 to 5. We are all loud and we all love attention. I love that we get together so often but because there are so many of us I don’t often get a chance to catch up with anyone one-on-one.

As the Relay runs over a full 12 hours, it’s a great opportunity to catch up with all my cousins and aunts and uncles. I can walk the track with each of them at least 5 times before the night is through. I learned all about my one cousin’s college program, my other cousin’s plans for college and another cousin’s Grade 8 Graduation dress (it’s purple and black and there may be cheetah print involved!). I quizzed my uncle on his trip to Switzerland as a kid (my grandparents first time on a plane) and about growing up being subjected to 80s music.

All around it was an awesome night. There were a few hiccups with a MASSIVE thunder storm complete with lightning and torrential rains (we went inside the high school for a while) but, all in all, the night was a HUGE success.

So, now for the money part. My town of 4,600 people pulled together 26 teams of 300 participants to stay up all night (in the rain) to raise money for cancer.

Those 300 participants were able to raise:


For a small town in a difficult economy, that, my friends is incredible.

I’m so proud of my town and my family (my family alone raised $7070).

Hi There!

I'm Claire. I like to write about ridiculous things.

I love chocolate but don't think cheese and cake belong together.

I often wish it was socially acceptable to wear glitter before 10pm.

If you want to chat, email me at clairesuzanne1 at gmail dot com.


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