Happy Holidays to all from the Stephansons ! 

Christmas 2011

This year, we will take a short trip to Dan and Cyndy's in Kanata to enjoy Christmas Day with all its goodies and wonders, especially watching the grandkids open their gifts. Leif & Wendy will go to Whitby to be with Wendy's family, and in a few days we'll host Ethan's birthday celebration and "Little Christmas".


Press release! On December 5th, 2011, Cynthia Lynn Marie Cantlie was promoted to the position of Director, Finance and Administration, Infrastructure Canada. After months of intense effort in the fall of 2010, Cyndy achieved her bilingual designation in oral and written French. Bilingualism is a prerequisite for managerial success in the federal civil service, but in this case working in French is a daily necessity, as most of Cyndy's staff and colleagues are Francophone. Following ten months of many long days and several weekends as "acting" director, her official status was finally granted. Cyndy was chosen THE BEST among six candidates interviewed. With her many talents, hard work, and drive, paired with the support of her loving family, she has achieved her long sought goal. Congratulations, Cyn. We are very proud of you! 

Our Poker Club Pals

We feel very blessed that three times each year we still reunite with most of our friends from the seventies in Montreal. The June golf weekend found us returning to the Cambridge Hilton Garden Inn, where the staff treated us royally and surprised us with a golf theme cake to honour the 35th year of this event. In September we meandered down to the Haliburton Hylands for more golf and a whole lot of great cottage food. Again this year we will travel to Toronto for a wonderful New Year's Eve celebration, starting at the Oliver & Bonacini Restaurant, and bringing in the New Year at the beautiful home of Marsh and Judi Egelnick.


Travel and Visitors in 2011

In March, Judy and sisters Nancy and Sandy flew to Victoria to stay with their sister Dell, who has dementia, although fortunately she still has several capabilities. Dell's principal caregiver is her daughter Jo-Anne, supported in this role by her husband Warren. It was really important for them to be able to get away on a cruise, knowing their Mom was in safe and loving hands. The four sisters all had a great time together, so it was good for everyone.

April brought a visit from Wendy's family and, in June, Leif's friends from Australia dropped in with their very tall young boys. I wonder what they feed them down under! July was a funfilled month and the weather was superb. After starting with a get together at Leif & Wendy's now annual July 1st Pool Party, Judy's friend from University of Windsor days, Gay Viecelli, flew in to catch the Caravaggio exhibition at the National Art Gallery, and to catch up on their friendship too.



Later in July, sister Nancy flew in from Winnipeg with son Kirk, wife Fiona and boys Jaax and Nash. As they stayed with Leif & Wendy, the boys, big and small, got lots of pool time.






 Leif & Wendy made a jaunt to New York City in the summer, travelling with close friends and their friends' kids. They saw NYC through "kids"eyes this time, enjoying Carlos Bakery (aka the Cake Boss for those avid followers), Ellen's Stardust Restaurant and biking in Central Park. Their big adventure in Kenya came in the fall. They travelled to Nairobi first, staying at the Tribe, a hotel in a secure compound near the UN. While Leif conducted business at the UN, Wendy and another spouse toured Nairobi, visiting the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, the historical site where "Out of Africa" was filmed, the Giraffe Centre, and the Kazuri Bead factory. Their real holiday began with a safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve, where they saw amazing animals in their natural habitat; then on to Tanzania and the island of Zanzibar to Stonetown, taking in the historical sites (particularly moving was the Stanley Livingston emancipation museum) and winding up their holiday with beach time on the north east coast. In spite of war on the northern border of Kenya, extremely tight security and a grenade scare the day after they arrived, they "would go back in a heartbeat" to visit this land of exotic beauty and incredible experiences.

PS: The photo below is NOT their cat Soda!!!









Our last big trip was to Italy in 2010.  At the time of last year's Christmas letter, we still hadn't finished the full description of our wonderful Italian adventure to post on our web site. Here is the link for those of you who may be interested in viewing the "pics and quips":  

Hangin' Out with the Kids and Grandkids

Somehow the ordinary becomes extraordinary when you discover you can still do it... This year we spent a Sunday hiking up Lusksville Falls, Quebec, with Dan, Cyn and our grandkids. We hadn't done that since Dan & Leif were little tykes. And, yes, we made it to the top AND back down! Another time, Dan invited Judy to join him and Ethan for a Saturday overnight camp out at Wabun Lake, where we used to take the little boys skinny dipping in the sixties; the three canoed, snorkeled and fished to their hearts' content, with hardly a soul around. The "Camping Grannies" and munchkins again made their foray to Logos Land. This time cousin Parker joined them, and although he missed his Mom, he was a good little trooper and a pleasure to be with. We managed lots of safe family outings on our bikes, as the Ottawa parkways are closed to cars on Sunday mornings.

Julianna and Ethan and their swim pals continue to make progress in refining their strokes, improving their dives and learning life saving skills. Their cultural quotient is pretty high too. Musically, Jules is learning to play the flute - we attended her school concert this week- nice job :-) and Ethan is taking guitar lessons. As well as attending special shows with their parents, they both enjoy theatrical events, taking in CATS, The Lion King and OLIVER with the grannies, as well as attending Mamma Mia, Blue Man Group and West Side Story with the Cantlies. 

Volunteering and Other Activities

Judy continues her volunteer work at May Court Hospice. As well as gardening and co-chairing a committee for the annual Hike for Hospice, she agreed to be signage coordinator for the biggest annual fundraiser in November: Homes For The Holidays. Of course, these jobs grow as you get to the nitty gritty and include a lot of computer time and savvy. Naturally, Judy volunteered me as her computer guru. The Hospice got a 2 for 1 deal!



Judy continues to enjoy what she calls her "art therapy" classes. After some nagging on my part, she agreed to have some of her watercolours framed. Her personal favourite is "A Fence in Winter; mine is "The Birches" at right.







For her close friend Carol's milestone birthday, she painted a polar bear and with expert help had it beautifully matted and framed.


The happy outcome is that Carol loves the painting!






As for me, I have been taking fairly regular bike rides to keep my joints mobile and my heart pumping as it should, and going for walks almost daily, including long ones in golf season. The rest of my time? ... too highly classified to include here (Eyes Only)... Actually I have mainly concentrated on my hobby - computing! In that vein, I've been given the job of scanning all of our 35 mm slides and converting them to jpgs. This involves a full steamer trunk, containing some in slide trays, some in boxes of various sizes - generally hopelessly mixed up as to year and location. While the actual scan (four slides at a time) takes only about five minutes, cleaning them up, cropping, then trying to determine Who, What, Where, and in some cases, Why, is very time consuming! Regardless, it's interesting to see our past in all its glory (or not) and opens a floodgate of memories! I should be finished some time in February 2012, certainly in time for our 50th wedding celebration in September. Speaking of which, three of our friends celebrated their 50th this year. Gee, I thought it was only OLD people who reached this golden milestone!


 And yet more milestones in the family in 2011. Julianna turned twelve, on the cusp; Ethan will turn ten, starting a new decade. And, oh, yes, Judy turned -is that the right term?- seventy. OMG! She didn't want any fuss so I just treated the family to a very $nice$ dinner out. Her friends made up for it with several small celebrations, so she has been feted indeed!

 At left is Judy feeling just ducky about the whole event.





Judy also decided it was time to treat herself to a new car. So, out went the 2000 Accord and in came the 2011 CR-V. To make sure that the choice was indeed hers, I stuck clear of the decision making, only inputing when queried. Outstanding assistance was provided by our sons. Thanks and gratitude go to Dan for his presence and patience through the whole process of test driving various makes and models, returning to Honda as top pick, choosing options, and negotiating the best possible price. (Mom loves her new SUV- and the deal!). And kudos to Leif for offering a complete list of tips for preparing the Accord for a quick sale, including advertising on KiJiJi (We had a lineup of buyers and got a good price!).


Sorrow and Hope

Sadly, Judy lost some precious family members in 2011. Her nephew Tom Hartle passed away in Winnipeg in April at just 60 years old, from complications caused by diabetes. Tommy was born on Judy's birthday and always phoned his love and best wishes, so this birthday held a terrible emptiness for her. Her niece Heather King, only 51, who seemed so full of life during the Victoria visit last spring, succumbed to a very rare cancer which was untreatable. Sweet and giving Heather lived her life her way until the end. As well, Judy's cousin Verne Mullin passed away after a long illness.

We are happier to report that Judy's bachelor brother Barclay, who has had multiple health issues, seems to be getting his life back together, with help from his Winnipeg family and community health support. Just recently, however, her brother-in-law Ted LaRue has been diagnosed with bone cancer and is expected to start chemotherapy soon. Hang in tough, Ted! Earlier this year, I had a personal health scare. I had a tongue biopsy and was left waiting for three weeks for the test results . In the end, everything was okay, but it sure wears you down with worry, not knowing. I am relieved to report I am "good to go". To our family and friends who are struggling to become and stay well, our thoughts are with you.

Another Courageous Journey

Sue Kempton is Cyndy's sister. For about the past ten months, Sue has been writing on E-mail and Facebook of her journey with breast cancer. She has amazed us from Day 1 with her positive attitude and her ability to lift US up, even though it's her fight. She continues to share her personal strength with many others going through the same struggle, who don't have the same will or tools to "beat that damn cancer". And she continues to be a great Mom and loving wife, and also to run her business, Finesse Interiors, as home stager and decorator. Sue has been very fortunate and appreciative that her Mom and Dad travelled regularly from Ottawa to Whitby to be with her, providing care and support through this almost year of trials. She has finished chemo and radiation, and her body is resting and renewing itself for the next steps. Susan, we love and admire you more than words can say. You go, girl!

And on this affirmative note,

 May 2012 bring to you and your loved ones happiness, prosperity and peace.



PS: Here are our e-mail addresses:

Garry: gwstephanson@rogers.com

Judy: jstephanson@rogers.com

and Our Web Site: http://thestephs.ca