Sunday, September 03, 2023

Waterton (August 27)

In retrospect, I should have been more forthright with Heather about our accommodations while we were in Canada. To be fair to myself, I was experiencing some insecurities regarding my likability* when I reached out to her to ask if I could stay with her while I was in Canada and, unfortunately, she and her parents and sister had reservations to camp at Waterton the very week I was due to be in Canada. 

She didn't know how desperate I was for accommodations and I was too insecure to say, "Hey! Take care of me for a minute!" So neither one of us thought to suggest that I just...housesit...for her! That would have solved all my problems!

When she drove me to the airport on Wednesday morning (spoilers!), she was like, "Nancy! I should have just given you guys the code to my house! You could have stayed there while I was away! It wouldn't have been a problem at all!"

In fact, Heather was so sweet that when I asked her if I (and my children) could spend the night at her place on Tuesday evening and have her drive me/us to the airport on Wednesday morning, so immediately said yes. 

Then apparently she turned to her mom and said, "I just said Nancy and her kids could spend the night at my place on Tuesday, but...where will I put them?"

Her mom reminded her that her camper would be sitting in her driveway so (spoilers!) I ended up sleeping in the camper with not one, not two, but five little girls! (Miriam slept inside with Sadie and Miley, so I had three of Heather's girls with me and two of my own, and Heather didn't lie—that bed in her camper is really comfortable!)

She didn't even hesitate. She just said, "Of course!" and then bothered about the details, like determining where we might sleep...and informing her husband, who has been working on advanced certifications for his pilot's license (he's already a pilot but is getting extra certifications) and who she hadn't seen for a week and who was due to arrive home on Tuesday evening that, well, he'd have a house full of company to greet him in addition to his wife and his girls. And do you know how Ryan responded to this news? 

By bringing home a little packages of airplane biscuits for the kids. 

When he walked in the door he presented them to his daughters, who immediately started squealing with glee while also calling out, "The cousins! The cousins! Did you bring some for the cousins?!"

"I brought enough for everyone," Ryan assured them, handing biscuits to my children as well.

He's definitely the calming presence in that house, perfectly complimenting Heather's natural rambunctiousness. But she is such a fun and loving and patient mother! It was fun to spend some time with her and I so appreciate how graciously they hosted us.

But, before I knew I'd be spending the night at Heather's house on Tuesday, we had arranged to meet her down in Waterton on Sunday. Waterton is a national park in southern Alberta that abuts Glacier National Park in Montana (together they comprise an international peace park). 

We went to Emerald Bay on Waterton Lake, to splash and kayak and sit and visit. 

When we were deciding where to go, Heather asked, "Are your kids allowed to swim-swim on Sundays?"

We don't have a problem with that in our household, though I know that Andrew's family did while growing up (though to be fair, when Grandma and Grandpa took our kids to Grover the year I was too pregnant with Alexander and Zoë was too sick and Andrew was too out-of-town to join them...they also let the kids swim on Sunday)! Karen texted me to say that they "did NOT let the kids swim in Lake Powell this afternoon." And later Shayla tagged me in this picture on Facebook:

Anyway, given our limited timetable and the fact that our kids all enjoy water, we decided on Emerald Bay, since it's right there by the townsite where Heather and her family were camping. 

Here are Zoë and Phoebe with Bear's Hump in the background:

And here's Phoebe (my youngest) doing some wading with Elaina (Heather's youngest, who is 7):

I believe this is when she slipped and cut her foot, poor thing. She didn't want to go in the water much after falling and I couldn't figure out why until much later in the day when I realized she had a big ol' gash in her foot!

Since I'm in a throw-back mood, here's a picture of me (crawling) in Waterton Lake in August 1986:

I have a picture of this one time visiting Waterton and I went to Waterton with my Auntie Colleen and her kids when I was staying with them for a couple of weeks once. And those are, to my knowledge, the two times I've been to Waterton. This trips makes three! Lucky me!

Heather brought out a couple of kayaks for the kids. Little Elaina gave Zoë a quick tutorial before relinquishing the watercraft to Zoë. 

Zoë took a minute to figure out the rhythm of paddling and then took off around the bay:

Get ready for a million pictures of Zoë kayaking (and, yes, I know she's not wearing a lifejacket, but the lake is only about knee-deep here right now and we were watching her)...

Here she is lamenting that she needed to give someone else a turn. She had so much fun!

Here's Miriam with Taya (Heather's daughter), Juliette (Sara-Beth's daughter (Sara-Beth is Heather's sister, so also my cousin, but older than Heather and I), and Miley:

The older girls weren't so desperate for turns in the kayak and spent a lot of time just wading around and talking (I don't know about what).

When the littler girls were finished in the water, they made some elaborate mud cakes together:

Here's beautiful Miriam:

There were no little cousins Phoebe's age, but she didn't care because Heather brought her new little puppy to the lake:

Heather talking to my mom with Phoebe and Lola in front

Lola is only six months old, and she's really the sweetest thing. Phoebe thought Lola was her best friend (which means, I suppose, that she understands dogs well, since they're supposed to be man's best friend). 

Not only did Heather haul an RV down to Waterton with five children by herself...she also brought along a puppy and a nervous mother cat (recovering from a nipple infection and mourning the loss of the rest of her litter) with her singular surviving kitten (only a few weeks old). Of course, Heather reminded me that she didn't quite do it by herself, because Ryan came for one day and her parents and sister were there...but still! I probably would have just stayed home! Heather is much braver (and chiller) than I am!

Me with the itty bitty kitty

Here's my mom chatting with Lavon and Dennis (with Sadie in the small green chair beside Dennis):

And here's a picture of Heather and me (with Phoebe):

And again with Miley (who honestly reminds me so much of Heather at that age):

It was so fun to get to visit with Heather and see the little bit of Waterton that we saw. I think it worked out particularly nicely for the kids because they got to know each other a little bit on Sunday and then looked forward to seeing each other again on Tuesday (and were able to jump right into playing with minimal awkwardness). I shouldn't be surprised that that's how things are with Heather's girls, though, since that's how Heather is as well. She always finds a way to cut through time and space—to be present in the moment.

I'm so lucky to have a (second) cousin like Heather! And I'm even luckier that because of how close our moms were growing up that we grew up more like cousins than second cousins! Proximity probably helped with that as well, since I lived in High River and she lived in Okotoks (which are neighbouring communities).

(And, in case my kids (or any other dear readers) want to read about Heather's wedding: here's that post, going all the way back to the beginning of this blog, to my newly-wed, child-free days)

*Due to various instances of various family members expressing a desire to not spend time with me or my children. Like, I'm all about setting boundaries—everyone needs time and space to process things in a safe environment—but I also think it's possible to set toxic boundaries, which aren't helpful to anyone on either side of the boundary. And, anyway, this summer was just painful for a number of reasons and so I felt apprehensive about asking anyone to do me any favours or spend any amount of time with me. Because I'm deeply insecure, I guess. So I appreciate Heather, who jumped at the opportunity to spend time with me (and Aunt Linda, who so kindly opened up her home to our entire family while we were visiting Utah, and John Gillespie for inviting our entire extended family over for dinner, and, and, and...). I have had a lot of wonderful experiences with family over this summer as well, and should focus on those things, rather than the bad memories, I suppose. But also, I want to "work on it and get to the root cause(s), and you are learning how to manage its impact in your life and deal with the person or people affecting you in a healthy way" so it's hard for me to just set aside.


  1. You did not put the picture of you holding that tiny kitten! It was so cute.


  3. I know! It was a whole bakery you had going on there! You should write about it as well—share your perspective! ;)

  4. Love it mom ❤️Alex Heiss