I flew home to Saskatchewan to surprise my mom for her fiftieth birthday. I also got
an invite to spend time with Natalia's family at their cottage at Candle Lake, SK.
(Click on the smaller pictures for slightly bigger pictures, or click on the 'Full size'
link for the full resolution)


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My lovely girlfriend Miss Natalia Lynn. My flight from Portland was extremely delayed and so
I wound up getting into Edmonton around 1 AM. Natalia and my sister Renee and their friends
Kathryn and Rob were nice enough to come get me from the airport.


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My great sister Renee back at the Lynn compound in Edmonton, AB.


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I'm told that Rob is quite the dishwasher. Here he is in action.


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This is quickly becoming one of my favourite pictures of Renee.


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Renee and I schemed on how best to surprise my mother. A few blocks from the house, we stopped the
car and I hopped in the trunk. When Renee got to my parents' house, she told my mom that she needed
her help getting something from the trunk. When my mom came near the trunk, I jumped out and
yelled "SURPRISE!". Natalia was walking up along the front of the house and claims that my mother
actually left the ground.


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I'm frequently accused of sending birthday cards that only I think are funny. Well, this year
my mom got a really nice clown card and she actually laughed.


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Inside the Lynn cabin at Candle Lake. Here, Natalia shows off the heating system (that's an oven).
I think the pink kitchen is spectacular.


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This is Natalia's oldest sister, Bohdanna. Donni just got accepted to the University of Alberta's
nursing program in Edmonton, AB.


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When Natalia came to visit me in Portland in July, one of the last things we did before
she left was accompany Tony and Ramona and Juan out to the Wilson River to swim in the river.
As it turned out, there were people jumping off a bridge that was about 45-50 feet off the water. We all
went up to look at the jump. but only Tony was jumping off it. Just when I thought that I'd be
able to make an exit and not have to get goaded into jumping, Miss Natalia says, "I'm jumping".
She then jumps the 50 feet into the water but fails to arch her back and instead winds up sort of
sitting as she entered the water. This made a terrible "WHAAKKK!" sound and everyone around all went
"OOOOOooooohhhhhhh" and grimaced. Now faced with a choice of being showed up by my girlfriend, I had
to jump the bridge as well and quickly rejoined Natalia (with a bit of a girlish scream). We later
found out that Natalia had broken 4 of her tail bones that day and when she got back to Edmonton,
she found herself an invalid ring that Renee wrote "Lord of the Rings" on. Incidentally, my mother
is now delighted to tell people that she knows what her son will do when "Everyone jumps off a bridge,
would you?"


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It being a nice evening, we decided to put the boat in for a little ride. This is Natalia's
brother Eric and her sister Maria on the back of the car, pulling the boat in.


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This is Natalia's youngest sister, Elizaveta (or Lulu) sitting in the boat, getting ready to ride.


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Natalia, in her element (behind the wheel of the boat), ready to take us for a wild ride on the tube.


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The water was cold enough that we wanted to wear wetsuits. Eric was nice enough to bring wetsuits
from the shop he's working at in Lethbridge, AB. Here he's trying to "help me with my suit" while
Natalia's sister Susanna looks on (in disgust it looks like).


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Eric and I getting the boat in the water.


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Eric, Lulu, and I got to take the tube for a rip with Natalia driving.


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We had a bit of a Battle Royale on the tube with Lulu having the toughest job of staying on.


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Round 1 - Tie. In this round I think the only losers were our shoulders and hands, which took a
savage beating from the event. (I still maintain that I won this round...)


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We were treated to an extravagant brunch with Natalia's dad, Carl, cooking bacon on the grill.


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Maria had just returned from a summer of instructing at cadet camp.


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Eric is Natalia's only brother. He's currently working on his Criminal Justice program at LCC in Lethbridge,
he likes long walks on the beach, tough hiking in the bush, and LADIES - he's single!


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I managed to catch Mary, Natalia's mom, while she was preparing a great brunch for us.
I think I caught her a little off guard.


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Natalia's mom has a habit (I'm told) of buying gifts a long time before actually giving them.
In this case, Mary had bought this quite a while ago expecting to give it to Natalia for her first
car. With the recent purchase of her new VW Golf, it was time to bestow the gift.


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Natalia and Susanna enjoying an afternoon at the beach.


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To further complete the surprise for my mom (in addition to the great "horny" picture of her in the
Star Phoenix), Renee took my mom out to go shopping. We all arrived and waited in the backyard,
and then when Renee brought my mom back (in a blindfold), we all yelled, "Happy Birthday!".


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I don't recall who got this for my mom, but it was a hit.


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One of my mom's favourite birthday meals is fried chicken, since her dad always used to
kill a chicken for her birthday.


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This is my Aunty Deb (my mom's sister) bringing the big 50 cake over to my mom.


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This is my mom and her cake. My brother Denis' niece Alandra is looking on.


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My grandmother and godmother made the trip from Saskatoon for my mom's birthday party.
I like the umbrella she's wearing in her hair.


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The family minus Danielle, Denis, and Leah.


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Alandra is quite the musician. Check out her first music video: HERE


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I'm not even sure where to start with this one. Apparently, my mom, her sister Deb, and their cousin
Shirley (I call her Squirelly Shirley) thought they were the Beatles. Shirley found a picture of them
as the Beatles, and so she brought all the costumes to recreate the picture. I'm not sure who
my mom was supposed to be.


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Wow, is all I have to say about this.


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I have no idea who decided it would be a good idea to give my mother Baja Rosa, but
she opened it and drank it from the bottle, as I'm told all fifty-year-olds do. Yay Mom!


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Most of my mom's family and friends who made it to the party. From left to right roughly,
my aunty Judy, Shirley and her husband, my grandma Banda, Debbie and Larry Richard (our neighbours
in Saskatoon), my mom, Renee, and Alandra, my uncle Ralph and Lil, me, my uncle Art, my aunty Deb,
my dad, my Aunty Eileen and Uncle Bill. Thanks go out to my sister Renee and my Aunty Deb for
putting the whole thing together.

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