From personal

Mark is 16 today

16 years ago today Mark was born.  Today we are celebrating another time the earth has circled the sun and Mark hasn’t been tossed off.

Mark Cooper turning 16

For his birthday, we gave him a new hiking backpack.


and a pair of Pentax UP 8×21 black binoculars.

Pentax UP 8x21 black binoculars

They are the same kind that the boys got me for Mother’s Day and are perfect for hiking and a a Victorinox Swiss Army Spartan knife.

Victorinox Swiss Army Spartan knife

and a pair of Sennheiser HD 202 II headphones.

Sennheiser HD 202 II headphones

We also got him a front pocket wallet from Cabelas.  Jordon has one and loves it and so we got Mark one.

After work today, we are taking him to Mr. Mikes Steakhouse Casual and then this Sunday, we are taking both Oliver and Marley for their first long hike in Prince Albert National Park to the Spruce River Highlands.  It is going to be a 8.5 km hike into the backcountry and back near Anglin Lake.  Hopefully we make it back in one piece.

Back in the day turning 16 meant that you could get your drivers license.  Mark is in drivers education this year and under new rules, he has to pass his drivers education and then have a clean drivers record for 9 months and then he gets his driver’s license.  I guess that mean’s that the sidewalks are safe for another couple of months.

That was quick

I don’t know what happened but Mark grew up.  It doesn’t seem like 16 years yet but on Friday he went for his first job interview and got a job working in the produce department at Safeway.  He’ll be working weekends and a couple of evenings a week.

Like most of us, he was horrified of his first interview and didn’t think he did that well.  As someone I know told me, you bring most of our self-doubt along to the interview so no wonder you think you did so poorly.  So in between then and now we have been busy getting his banking information, a Social Insurance Number and preparing him for what will be a bit of a learning curve.  That being said, he’ll do fine.

He’s so nervous about the rest of his life.  He wants to travel but doesn’t know where to begin.  Today Jordon broke it down for him and helped him plan some trips for the summer after high school if he saves up enough money. 

We are travelling this summer and next summer.  When he is 18, we are driving out to Vancouver/Victoria for his birthday and then later that summer, heading to Yellowstone.  He is making some other plans with Jordon.

I can’t believe he is almost an adult.

Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!  Hopefully your day is a good one and your kids treated you well.

I was woken up with the boys bringing me up some Mother’s Day gifts.  Oliver had made me a card and a gift at school.  The gift was a picture of him holding a sign that said, “Happy Mother’s Day” on it.  It was a great job by him and his teacher.

The boys got me a pink pair of Pentax 8×21 U-Series UP Binoculars.

Pentax 8x21 U-Series UP Binoculars

They are compact but of high quality and will be great to take hiking with us this summer.  They also come with a lifetime warranty.  I’m pretty excited by them.  Oh yeah, they are super cute and pink!

They also gave me some double sided Wendy Cooper business cards. 

Wendy Cooper Business Cards

There were some packages of Fujifilm Instax film and a Fuji Instax album.  It wasn’t just any film but Air Mail and cartoon themed film.  All of it was cool.

Fuji Instax albumFuji Instax album

I am always intimidated to print out my photos.  Jordon gave me a Itoya 11×14 portfolio which will force me to not only take some great photos but edit them and print them.  Luckily I know of just the place.

Itoya  Art Profolio Advantage, Bound Portfolio with Crystal Clear PolyGlass Pages for 11x14 from Don's Photo

For brunch, the kids took me to Smiley’s Buffet for brunch at 10:00 a.m.  It was quiet when we got there and insane as we were leaving.  Luckily we went early and got a spot (they don’t reservations for groups under 8).

I was kind of difficult when coming up with some Mother’s Day ideas to do and so Jordon just said fine, “I’ll plan something.”  He had the kids pack their bags and place them in the car.  After brunch were done, we got in the Ford Focus and hit the road.  He drove us to Prince Albert National Park where we wandered into the Parks Canada office and bought a Discovery Pass that is good for all National Parks and National Historic Sites from now until May 2018.  Jordon was giddy with it as he has wanted a Parks pass since he was a kid.  They never had the money for it growing up and we got too busy when were adults but he was so happy purchasing it.  He also got me a nice Parks Canada t-shirt. 

We also took some time to try out the Parks Canada Red Chairs…

Trying out the Red Chairs in Prince Albert National Park

The first couple of many I hope to enjoy this summer.   We also went for a walk around Waskesiu.   Despite being  before the long weekend, quite a few places were open.


Oliver Cooper at Waskesiu

All in all, it was a pretty great Mother’s Day.  Thanks everyone for making it special.

The week that was

Not a lot happening this week.  Here are the highlights.

  • Jordon is walking home from work 4 times a week.  It’s 8 kilometers each time.  He loads up his iPod Nano and it takes about 2 hours to walk home.  He dropped 10 pounds the first day he walked that far.  He’s doing it mostly for himself but it will make it easier for him this summer.  Also he finds walking that far to be fairly stimulating.  He used to do it all of the time at the Salvation Army to help him leave the stress behind and he misses it.
  • Oliver broke his selfie stick and has been sick about it.  Jordon bought him a new one so life can go on.  That thing makes him so happy.  He doesn’t even use it much but he loves taking a selfie while on an adventure.  Cute kid.
  • Mark’s report card was not as bad as he feared.  Not a lot to love about it but it’s not that bad.  He now has to work hard for the next twelve weeks to make it exciting.  
  • City Perks coffee shop is really good.  I wish every neighborhood had something like it but few do.  Part of it is the location of being right in the heart of a neighborhood.  Sadly most neighborhoods don’t have a micro commercial district in it.
  • Jordon moved from Bell to Fido this week and bought a new Moto X Play phone.  It’s not life changing since we all have nice phones but he is enjoying Spotify.  Actually all of us are enjoying Spotify and CBC Music, his is just ad free.
  • Marley growled and snapped at Jordon last night when he got into bed and dared to move her.  That got her banished out of the room.  We learned that she doesn’t do well when she thinks Jordon is mad at her.  All day today, she has done everything she can to make up with Jordon.   Also, this is the same dog that tries to push me off the bed every night.  She doesn’t think so highly of me.
  • So this is going to be a lot of fun or a lot of pain.  Jordon and Mark are going to start doing a video blog a couple of times a week.  That will involve Oliver and myself as well.  I’m an introvert (so is Jordon) but for some reason we are going to have a YouTube vlog.  I am not sure if I should laugh or cry.  Look for it on Sunday.

First trip north of 2016

With the boys off of school, I decided to take the week off of work and spend it with them.

On Wednesday Jordon told the boys to get their go-bags and get into the car.  We then went to Don’s Photo where Jordon ran in and bought a Ricoh WG-4 camera to replace his WG-10 and then we went north to Waskesiu for the day.

We knew it would be sloppy and a mess so we tooled around a bit and then took Highway #263 to the Height of Land Lookout Tower.  At the top of the 15 metre tower you are 100 metres higher than Waskesiu; you can see King Island, Shady Lake and Beartrap Creek.

Height of Land Lookout Tower in Prince Albert National Park

Once navigating the nightmare that is the rest of that highway to Highway #2, we were back in Prince Albert and then home.

Prince Albert National Park is so gorgeous and quiet this time of year.  Without leaves or more than a handful of people in the park, it is an amazing time to visit.

Off to Swift Current

Okay, this is cool.  Ford Canada is lending Jordon a 2016 Ford Explorer and is sending us to the 2016 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship in Swift Current tomorrow. 

For those of you (like me) who have never been to Swift Current before, we are driving east to Rosetown and then heading straight south to Swift Current.  In case that sounds like a boring drive, Jordon assures me that it is not and it is one of his favorite drives.  It’s a hilly, windy highway through a massive SaskPower wind farm.  According to Jordon it is a fun two hour drive south. 

When we get there, we are staying at the Motel 6 which looks to be quite nice.  From the photos and the reviews, it looks like I’ll be staying in an Ikea show room.  I feel like I may have to dress trendier just to stay there. 

Since the hotel advertises “fast Wifi”, expect some photos to be posted online of the drive tonight and a lot of photos to be posted to Twitter tomorrow as the curling gets underway. 

Getting ready for summer

So Jordon and I were having this casual conversation about this summer and he said, “both of us need to start getting in better shape”.  I just glared at him and was silent.  I had hoped he would see the disgust and anger in my eyes and move on but he was right.  Both of us need to get in better shape for some of these hikes we have planned.

I am taking the week after Easter off of work to spend some time with the kids.  Part of that will be walking miles of the Meewasin trail system as I work back some cardio and get back in shape.  The plan is to walk from home, down through always pleasant Caswell Hill and Riversdale and along Victoria Park until I get to the Grand Trunk Train Bridge.  Then I will walk along the east side of the river through Exhibition Park, Saskatchewan Crescent, the University of Saskatchewan until I get to the CP Rail Bridge where then I will walk (crawl) up 33rd Street until I get home.  I plan to do that every day and I will be cursing Jordon each and every step of it.

Our first short hike will be in the hills around Fort Carlton on Mother’s Day.  Then a couple weeks later we are doing the Spruce River Highlands Trail in Prince Albert National Park.  A couple of weeks after that, we are walking 40 kms to Grey Owl’s Cabin and back.  In July we are doing several hikes in the Rocky Mountains.  It’s coming sooner than I want to think about.

So today Jordon and I went out to Atmosphere and Sport Chek to see what I needed to be comfortable this summer.  In the end I bought a pair of spandex tights and some shorts and I figured out what kind of shirts I need to get.  While we were out, we picked Jordon up a lightweight rain jacket that is light enough to easily pack in a day pack.  Once Mark decides what color he wants to get, we’ll get him one as well.

Later in the day Jordon got me some scrubs which will be fine for lounging around the fire or chilling out in the campground when it cools down at night.   He also got Mark some wind pants in case the weather is bad while we are there.  If you don’t like the weather in Alberta, wait five minutes and it will change.  Of course that goes both ways.

We have most of what we need.  Other than a Therm-a-rest for myself, we are set for all of the big items.  Basically it is just the small stuff and getting into better shape is all I need to focus on. 

Jordon turns 42 today

It’s a quiet day around here for the birthday boy.  The boys, dog, and I gave him his gifts.

We were up early to go to Saskatoon City Hospital for treatment on his leg.  It’s getting better but we’ve got a way to go.   Then he was off to work.

I was off to OTV where I needed to purchase Mark a monitor.  Jordon bought him a new desktop PC last night.  He was looking to upgrade an older PC to Windows 10 and it was cheaper to get a PC off-lease with Windows 10 than it was to get the software alone.  We thought we had a monitor but it looks like it was damaged and tossed.  Tomorrow Jordon will get it set up for Mark which will mean a lot of downloading and tinkering.  Along with it Jordon got him a new mouse and keyboard.  Mark is thrilled.

Once that was done and Jordon is off work, we are going to Bon Temps Cafe and then meet up with some friends later that night.

5 Ways to Get Kids Into Nature

I love these adventure and parenting tips from Outside Magazine’s Katie Arnold

5 Ways to Get Kids Into Nature

3.  Become a Weather Warrior

As a culture, we are plagued with a “pandemic of inactivity,” says Louv, who argues that rain, sleet, heat, or snow are no reason to stay inside. Show your kids how to tap into the beauty of all the seasons. In winter, freeze sheets of black construction paper and use them to catch and examine falling snowflakes (they won’t melt on contact) with a small magnifier. Keep an “instant snowman” kit at the ready: rocks or black buttons for eyes; hats and scarves; a carrot nose; twig arms.When spring rains come, make a rain-gauge. In summer, plan family picnics in the park; come fall, hunt and gather leaves, acorns, seed pods, and other collections in a clear, glass “wonder bowl” on the kitchen counter.

4. Expand Perimeters

An acquaintance recently told me that when her son was high school, he used to get up at 5 a.m., fill two glass jugs with boiling water, and drive an hour across the Golden Gate Bridge with his friends into San Francisco to surf before class. When he was done, he’d rinse himself off with the hot water and drive to school in time for the first bell. I love this story because it reminds all of us that as children grow, their geographic boundaries will expand naturally. It’s our job as parents to allow this to happen. Keep little ones close at hand or within view outside but as they grow, encourage them to develop their own relationship with nature, whether it’s through finding their own contemplative “sit-spot” to quietly observe the plant and animal life and weather or, as they reach middle school and high school, exploring the neighborhood by bike, meeting friends for nature walks, or starting their own hiking clubs.

What Aging Parents Want From Their Grown Children

A good article in The Atlantic


So what are older parents looking for in relationships with their adult children? In a 2004 study, two professors from the State University of New York at Albany, the public-health professor Mary Gallant and the sociologist Glenna Spitze, explored the issue in interviews with focus groups of older adults. Among their findings: Their participants “express strong desire for both autonomy and connection in relations with their adult children, leading to ambivalence about receiving assistance from them. They define themselves as independent but hope that children’s help will be available as needed. They are annoyed by children’s overprotectiveness but appreciate the concern it expresses. They use a variety of strategies to deal with their ambivalent feelings, such as minimizing the help they receive, ignoring or resisting children’s attempts to control …”

“One of the scariest things to people as they age is that they don’t feel in control anymore,” says Steven Zarit, a professor of human development and family studies at Pennsylvania State University. “So if you tell your dad not to go out and shovel snow, you assume that he’ll listen. It’s the sensible thing. But his response will be to go out and shovel away … It’s a way of holding on to a life that seems to be slipping back.”  

Whether that means he’s independent or intransigent depends on who’s making the call. A recent study by Zarit  and his colleagues looked at parental stubbornness as a complicating factor in intergenerational relationships. Not surprisingly, adult children were more likely to say their parents were acting stubborn than the parents were to see the behavior in themselves. Understanding why parents may be “insisting, resisting, or persisting in their ways or opinions,” the study reads, can lead to better communication. Zarit’s advice to the adult child: “Do not pick arguments. Do not make a parent feel defensive. Plant an idea, step back, and bring it up later. Be patient.”

But that goes both ways. I speak from experience when I say that too often, parents engage in magical thinking—our children should have known x, or should have done y—and then we’re disappointed if they don’t come through. The onus here is on us older parents to speak up.  The clearer we are in describing our feelings and stating our needs, the better our chances of having those needs met.

Karen Fingerman, who was a co-author on Zarit’s study, suggests a different approach. A professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas, Fingerman is also the director of a three-generational study that focuses on middle-aged children and how they care for the generations above and below them. “The research shows that they have a pretty good idea of what their parents’ needs really are,” she says. “Older parents might do better to try to understand and address the child’s concerns. We found in our research that when the middle-aged adult is worried about the aging parent, the parent is both annoyed by that and feels more loved.”

Interesting study.  I think one of the biggest struggles with my parents is that they never saw me grow older.  It’s been 18 years since we last really talked and they still see me as being in school rather than someone that has married, grown up, has a child that is on his way to becoming an adult and entered middle age myself.   They were always in control and they are right because of being the parents.  Of course that happens when you haven’t ever seen your grandkids and don’t have any relationship at all with your daughter or son-in-law.