Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tia's convocation / I love my job #4

My goal is to blog every day this week because I’m so far behind.  I don’t know that there’s much worth documenting, but somehow I feel more organized when I’m up to date.  I’m not even sure where to start, so it may be a little scattered.

I guess I’ll start with Friday.  I went to my niece Tia’s grade 12 convocation in the morning.  She’s a smart one; she graduated Magna Cum Laude (average of over 90%) and got the highest marks in a couple of subjects.  She also received scholarships and was the valedictorian of a graduating class of about 350 kids. I hate to brag (well, not really), but I’m a proud auntie.

I was supposed to attend an all-day work meeting on Friday. I tried to get out of it because of Tia’s grad and then I wanted to pick Neve up after her last day of school.  I thought the organizer of the meeting would tell me it was no problem and that I needn’t bother coming, but instead, she strongly encouraged me to come.  It turns out it was our fourth annual staff appreciation day (Click here to read about the first one).  

Fortunately Tia’s last name is in the first half of the alphabet, so as soon as the F’s received their diplomas, I zipped over to Polo Park to meet up with my co-workers (they had met for breakfast at The Fort Garry, found out it wasn’t a boring staff meeting after all, then hopped on a limo bus to Polo Park). We got $400 gift cards to the mall, but there was a twist this year.  We had to spend $100 on a co-worker (we picked names) and the other $300 on family or friends. I’m not the greatest shopper ever, so at first I was somewhat overwhelmed at having to spend $400 (for others) in two hours.  Luckily I quickly overcame my stress and ran around the mall like my pants were on fire.  I bought my co-worker a bag from Danier Leather and a top; I bought Dale running pants; Chloe and Neve got tops from Lululemon/Ivviva; and Spencer got a Dr. Who T-shirt, a DVD, and a mug with a Princess Bride quote (kind of weak, but there’s no bookstore in the mall so I worked with what I had). But I felt pretty successful and my family was thrilled … I think I’ll give myself a two-hour window to do all my Christmas shopping this year and see how that goes.

After shopping, the limo bus took us to Tavern in the Park, where we had a lovely lunch and took turns giving each other the gifts and then we all went home.  So that was a good day.  If all employers did that, there’d be a lot less job turnover.

The good times didn’t stop there.  After lunch, I actually went back to the mall since I’d seen a few things I liked but didn’t have time to try on.  I bought myself a swimsuit; in a miraculous turn of events, not only did I find one that I liked, they actually had it in my size, AND it was 50% off!  That never happens.  Usually the only one that even sort of fits me is the only one not on sale. Then I went to pick up the kids from my sister’s and had a little happy half-hour, followed by ice cream at Marble Slab and a bonfire in the evening with Jim & Sabrina.  Unfortunately, everything we try to do lately gets wrecked by rain, but we carried on and roasted marshmallows while the rain fell.  Then we went inside and played cards.  At least the rain couldn’t take that away from us.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I think I'm back

The last month or so would rank as one of my least favourite periods of time ever.  Joan's death is of course the worst part by far, but adding to the stress was a big work project with a tight deadline.  I was doing most of my work at night, staying up late and functioning on about five hours of sleep a night. My superiors at work encouraged me not to worry about it and take whatever time I needed, but I so badly wanted to finish it and move on.  I'm not sure if that was the right decision; I have some regrets about not being as present for my family as I should have been. I finally finished the project and sent it to the printers this past Wednesday.  The relief wasn't immediate - it was more like a train gradually picking up steam.  By Friday, I was feeling pretty good and it only got better from there.  We had a completely unstructured weekend; now at the end of it, I feel like a new person.  I finally got around to dealing with papers and summer clothes and laundry and yard work and planting flowers.  I re-acquainted myself with the children - I let Chloe drive me to Selkirk (it's not quite like it sounds), I read a book to Neve and tucked her in at night, and I fulfilled Spencer's wish of going to Shakespeare in the Ruins.  The children's happiness at having their mother back was slightly dampened by the fact I made them spend every possible second outside in the beautiful weather. We played a competitive game of soccer tonight, which was super fun except when Neve kept crying because she thought I didn't love her and when my toenail ripped from corner to corner.  But even then, I still loved every minute of it.  It was so nice being outside - Dale and I went for an evening walk for the first time in ages. I'm looking forward to lots more where that came from.

There is still an air of sadness, especially for my brother and his family, and also as the loss of our much loved sister-in-law and auntie sinks in. But I feel like a bit of the fog is lifting and I can breathe a little more deeply than I could a week ago.  And that's a good thing.

Monday, June 09, 2014


Three and a half months after being diagnosed with cancer, my strong, brave, beautiful sister-in-law Joan left us early Friday morning.  I’m glad her pain is gone and I know she’s living it up in heaven, but it should would be nice if she had stuck around for a few more decades (in good health).  Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support. The calls, emails, texts and hugs mean a lot.  Joan’s funeral service is tomorrow.  Spencer is saying a few words, so we’ll see how that goes.  I convinced him to remove the obscure Hebrew reference that no one would understand, but he fought to keep the sibilance (alliteration with s’s), even though I don’t feel it’s quite as powerful as he does.
I’ll write more about Joan another day; for now I’ll share her own Facebook words and the link to her obituary.

You can tell how loved she is by the 103 comments - not sure about the people that "liked" this status! I was possibly one of them; I know it's just a show of support :)

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Don't give up on me

I haven’t been in the blogging spirit lately.  My sister-in-law Joan remains in the hospital as her cancer takes its toll.  She is a rock star; despite her pain, she has still been making us smile, making my children feel special and loved, and still has a presence that draws people to her. There are a lot of emotions involved and even though my life carries on as usual for the most part, I feel like I’m in a bit of a fog. Making plans or committing to things or trying to concentrate all seems overwhelming. I’m currently working on a big work project that consumes every spare minute, so the lack of focus is not ideal.  That would actually be near the bottom on the list of Things That Are Not Ideal, so I will suck it up and carry on.

My sister-in-law from Vancouver surprised us all by coming out to camp out at the hospital and help Joan and family in any way possible.  My brother Dan followed a week or so later, so it’s good to have them both here.  It would be even nicer under better circumstances, but we are making the best of it.  Bob & Jan are taking advantage of having some extra yard labourers; once they’re done landscaping, maybe I can somehow trick them into working on my project.

Here are a few pictures from recent days (in no logical order), just to prove we do have some fun.

May long weekend in Gimli.  We like to dress our children according to their gender.

Neve looking sad that she has to eat ice cream on a cool, windy day.

My deck on May 24

My deck on May 31.  Yay, summer.

We got to hang out with my great-niece and -nephew  on Saturday.  They are such cute, good, polite kids!  Very fun to have them over.

Geo-caching. We don't quite know what we're doing, so we prefer to do it by the cover of night.

Awkwardly standing on Garbage Hill eating ice cream

Sunset from Garbage Hill.
So what if we're standing on garbage and overlooking an industrial area … it was still pretty.

Cute little Lexie eating a smore

One of these weeks I will get back to more regular blogging, I promise.  Enjoy the beautiful weather in the meantime...