Friday, March 2, 2018

A Gift

All I ever wanted was the white picket fence and kids.  My brothers started early and I was surrounded by babies from the time I was 13.  Babies were amazing.  I wanted one or two or three and soon.  Jim wasn't quite as eager as I was, let's at least wait until we are married.  Fine let's get married.  And we did and Jim finished school.  And much to my surprise getting pregnant wasn't as easy as I thought.  It took almost 6 years after we were married for Andrew to appear (Jim was exhausted).  From that moment my life changed forever.  My focus became my children and my family.  David and Rachel quickly followed and my life was complete.  My heart was literally bursting with love.  My children were a miracle, my gifts, nothing can replace them.

Time moved on and my children grew up.  Memories were made, some of these memories started to dim as the kids met their partners and new memories filled our memory banks:  Family gatherings at the cottage, travelling, weddings, tequilia (we won't expand on that).  What is next?

Well as any married couple can attest, it doesn't take long for everyone's eyes to start drifting to their bellies.  Everytime Rachel walked around with a wine glass, people were wondering if it was wine or grape juice.  Lots of teasing around the dinner table.  And then March 2017 I am talking to Rachel on the phone and she said she wasn't feeling very good, could they come for dinner.  Of course they could.

Within 2 minutes of them coming in the door, we were all in tears, Jay and Rachel had brought us an amazing bottle of wine :), which we still haven't opened.

What a year, a wedding to plan for David and Stephanie followed by our first grandchild.  My emotions were on my sleeve and running down my cheeks.  Wedding showers, Baby showers, weddings, babies, by the time October came around I couldn't contain my excitement or nervousness.  The wedding went off without a hitch.  Now to focus on baby time.

OH MY GOODNESS MY BABY WAS GOING TO HAVE A BABY.  What if it hurt?  She's my BABY.  My motherly instinct kicked in big time.  And then had to be controlled.  What the heck!!!! Jay wanted to be involved.  Rachel didn't want me she wanted Jay.   And a better partner she couldn't have asked for.  Anything Rachel wanted Jay gave her.  Thank you Jay for taking such good care of her during this amazingly exciting time and sharing with me your excitement for your darling baby boy (picture Rocky at the top of the stairs - that was Jay in the waiting room when he came to tell me "I HAVE A **** BABY BOY" and then burst into tears).  A memory I will never forget.  Rachel came through with flying colours and I could now go down and see them both.  Little Ethan James George Fyfe weighing in at 7 lbs 15 ounzes and born at 5:05 November 23, 2017.

Here I am at 62 years of age and holding little Ethan a Gift so precious.  I was terrified to hold him, he was so little, so fragile, a miracle.

Over the last few months, there is nothing more important than Ethan.  If Rachel needs me, I am there.  I don't want to work anymore.  Nannie can you hold him.  Like yeah!!!!!!!!  I feel like I have gone back in time.  He is now 3 months old and developing his own little personality and making lots of noises as his arms and legs wiggle all over.

As much as I love holding him watching Rachel and Jay share their love with this little boy and watching their relationship grow makes my life complete.

Christmas came and went with new memories and lots of new outfits for Ethan (back of the line everyone else).  This last week we celebrated Rachel's birthday.  Always special but her first birthday as a mother.  WOW, she is all grown up.

I finally broke my camera out to do some family pictures.  All of a sudden the boys like getting their picture taken if Ethan is in it.  LOL

You don't realize when you have a grandchild that not only do you have all of these amazing new memories but he brings back all the memories of your own children.  The songs you sang, their sleeping habits, your adventures together.  Holding him in my arms and looking down on his little face allowed me to experience the love I had holding Andrew, David and Rachel at this age.  And yes my heart was bursting then.  It also brings back memories of your parents - Ethan's great grandparents, who were such a big part of your life.  All those little stories pop back up and sitting rocking him I find Rachel and I talking about their memories.  Ethan is a gift, a treasure, I feel like I have opened up a favourite book as I add new chapters to it.  And yes mom and dad "Wee Chookie Birdie" lives on for another generation.

ps:  Another memory surfaced yesterday when Rachel sent me this picture of Ethan.  We were driving to Nana and Granpa's along King City Sideroad when Rachel was around 4 months old and she was screaming her head off sitting in the front seat (different rules back then), the boys were in the back.  I finally had to pull over, the boys have their hands over their ears, her hands are flailing around like a wasp was around her.  I grabbed her wee hand and popped her thumb in her mouth.  Peace, Quiet.  Wonderful.  After that everytime she cried the boys jumped up and put her thumb in her mouth, we didn't get it out until she was 7.  Here'ssssssssss Ethan yesterday. 

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Friday, December 29, 2017

Tuscany, Siena - a magical place

Could there be anything better than waking up on your birthday in Florence, Italy.  I was so looking forward to my day.  Ilaria from Fun inTuscany was taking us to Siena and another vineyard for lunch and a tasting.  Up we all get and head to the local cappuccino and pastry bar to start the day.  Siena is only about an hours drive from Florence, so I took a chance on a large coffee.

Ilaria had her van decorated for my birthday with balloons, hats and leis.  Getting in the spirit of it, I might be a year older I may as well enjoy it.  I popped the little hat on and proudly wore the lei in the Italian colours (I'm sure part of me is Italian after all).

First stop the beautiful city of Siena.  Parking in all of these walled cities can be a nightmare, thankfully Ilaria knew all the tricks.  She dropped us off at the Basilica Cateriniana de San Domenico, 




St. Catherine is not only the patron saint of Siena but also a co-patroness of Rome and a joint patron of Italy with Saint Francis of Assisi.  Remember the term reliquary, well they have one of St Catherine's head in the basilica.  This picture is from their website.  And yes it is her actual head.  This church is a pilgrimage site.  She was responsible for Pope Gregory XI returning to Italy from Avignon.  

I somehow missed the big sign that said no pictures below.  It is considered a very holy site, only whispers permitted and yes no pictures.  There was a very spiritual and holy feel to it.  

We continued our walk up and down the hills of Siena.  Lots of alleyways and basically no cars.

Ilaria takes us to her favourite cappuccino bar.  It's called Nannina's.  And was delish.  Ilaria not missing a chance to celebrate my birthday, brought a pastry with a candle in it.  LOL.  She was brought up in Siena, her grandmother and mother still live there.  After our coffee we stopped in to see her mother as she had to pick up another surprise for me :).  This is FUN IN TUSCANY.  LOL

We headed down to the famous Piazza del Campo (this Piazza is one of the reasons UNESCO recognizes Siena as the ideal embodiment of a medieval city) where Ilaria popped out a bottle of champagne.  The day just keeps getting better and better.

As we drank our champagne Ilaria gave us a history of the famous Palio Horse Race that runs around the square twice a year, once in July and once in August.  The town is divided into contradas (neighbourhoods) and they all wear the flag of their contrada.  The people are in the middle of the square while the horses race around the outside.
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 This is the crest of Ilaria's family.  Needless to say how could I resist buying a scarf and draping it around my shoulders to match my other decorations :)

Siena Cathedral


We were given an hour to wander around Siena before we headed off to the vineyard for lunch :).  How could I not stop in this little store to pick up my handmade Christmas Santa :)

To get to our next stop we were able to sit back and enjoy a beautiful drive through the Tuscan countryside.  At the top of this long driveway is Querceto di Castellina, an organic family vineyard.  Our hostess was actually from Napa and had met and married her husband and became a part of the vineyard family.  She explained to us about the rooster that appears on every bottle of Chianti Classico and what the DOCG rating means:
"Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): Seeing this on the label of your wine bottle means that the wine producers followed the strictest regulations possible to make that wine. The wine was tested a committee that then guarantees the geographic authenticity of the wine and its quality. There are currently only a handful of Italian wines that qualify for DOCG status." DOCG, DOC

The vineyard was built on a hill with magnificent views.  We met 2 ladies there who were taking a week long cooking class (no husbands).  There are 4 wines to taste with our meal today.  As you can see Jim has totally recovered and is not missing a drop today.

What a fun holiday with a great group of family and friends.  Thank you to Ilaria for making our last day in Tuscany so memorable.  One last stop on the way home to find our "Gladiator" moment.  

We are all very sad about leaving this beautiful piece of Italy.  The countryside, the cities, the history, the people, the wine the coffee, the food (I could keep going on and on) are truly beautiful.