Sunday, May 28, 2017

This one's mostly about Spencer

It's been a busy week and this next one promises to be the same. I'm still feeling unorganized and a tiny bit overwhelmed. I'm dedicating this day to getting things accomplished and feeling on top of things by Monday morning. It's a tall order and a long list, but the cool and rainy weather is on my side.
My first step is to empty my brain of all the things I've been meaning to write. Except for the trip update, which will be delayed a little longer.
Last week was filled with work, appointments, yard work and planting flowers, Neve's piano recital, and also some coffee dates, a lunch with friends, a lovely outdoor happy hour, drinks at Mona Lisa with Bob & Janet, and last night my nephew and his girlfriend came over on short notice for homemade pizza. I'm also training for the Manitoba half marathon so I got a few long runs in. It was a really good week, just very full.
Spencer is currently in Toronto with his Reach for the Top team, competing in nationals. Communication has been minimal, as it usually is with Spencer, but he's gotten a little more chatty as the weekend goes on. Maybe he misses us. Wouldn't that be something? When he comes home, he might be a different person, hugging us and regaling us with stories of his adventure and wanting to spend every minute with us. Yeah. If that happens, I'll be sure to let you know.
Anyway, at the end of the day yesterday, the top 12 teams moved on to the next level and Spencer's team was in 5th place. Apparently there was some drama and injustice as the 4th place team won by a questionable method (challenging a tie-breaker question that they got wrong - even though their answer was wrong, the judge threw out the question which won them the game). This morning, Spencer's team won their first game and plays the "questionable" team this afternoon.
They didn't think they'd do this well since the competition at nationals is pretty tough, so I'm happy for them. Spencer gets home Monday evening so I'm hoping we'll get more details of the trip then.
In a surprising and exciting development, he decided to get a haircut before the trip. Here's the before & after pictures:

Who knew he had ears??

When the girls get a dramatic haircut, they don't want me to post pictures until they've shown people in person and experienced their reactions first-hand. Spencer is the opposite. He hates when people freak about it and has worn a hood since the haircut. So if you see him, just say "nice hair" in a very chill way, and then ignore him. Better yet, don't say anything at all. I should write a book on how to deal with sullen teenagers. Except if this is my best advice, maybe I should be reading books by actual experts instead of writing my own.
That's all the time I allotted for blogging ... on to the rest of my list. Happy Sunday, everyone!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Clearing the mind / Mother's Day

It always takes me a while to get organized after a trip and this time is no exception. I feel like I'm running around like a chicken with its head chopped off. I don't know where to start with my list of things to do. Well, the problem might be that I don't actually have a list. There are many random thoughts in my head and my head is so full - not of wisdom or knowledge, but of clutter and crap - that there is nowhere for my thoughts to go. They just cram up against each other and get all squished and bent and crumpled. I can't even get my thoughts organized enough to transfer them to paper.

Waahhh. Woe is me. Life is rough. It was really hard to be taking in this view:

Right. Must gain perspective. Things are always frantic right before and after a trip but it's definitely, without a doubt Worth It.

So before I sit down and make myself write a list, I'm writing this to clear up space in my mind. It's not a trip update, but I'll get to that eventually.

First of all, it's spring! When I left for Europe, there were just a few tiny buds on a few trees. When I got back, things were already getting green and by now - a week later, the leaves and blossoms are almost in full bloom. I feel like I'm coming alive again. I love being outside but since I've been back, I've spent most of my time inside catching up on work. My plant order from Neve's school fundraiser arrives today so I'm looking forward to the long weekend ahead, planting and working in the yard.

As the school year wraps up, the calendar gets fuller. Neve has her gymnastics windup tonight, piano recital next week, choir performances coming up, and several grade 6 farewell activities to prepare for. Now that gymnastics is basically done, she'll have a lot more free time. That free time will mostly be spent doing gymnastics in our backyard and at the neighbours.

Even Spencer is involved in things lately. He is on both the junior and senior Reach for the Top teams at school. The senior team won a spot at nationals, so they're off to Toronto next week. I have yet to receive a single email or note regarding that trip so I'm starting to wonder if he is actually going. I would think the tickets would have to be booked by now but there have been no requests for ID or money. We need to sign permission slips for the kids to walk around the block, but apparently not to go to Toronto.

He's also signed up for dragon boating. I tried to play it cool and not show my shock and surprise or he would surely have un-signed up. I'm happy he is getting involved in things, but sadly it comes at a price. A friend is going on a quick road trip to Chicago to see U2 in concert and Dale and Spencer thought it was such a good idea that they wanted to copy their idea. They were about to buy the tickets online when Spencer realized it conflicted with his dragon boat race. That was the end of that; he didn't even entertain the thought of missing dragon boat to fulfill his dream of seeing U2. I admire his dedication to the team, but still.

Chloe spends her mornings sleeping, her afternoons watching Netflix, goes to work for a few hours, then makes popcorn and watches Gilmore Girls with me and Neve. It's a sweet life. She has been applying for summer jobs but the perfect opportunity has not yet presented itself. She will probably end up doing the same job she did last year; lifeguarding at an apartment building pool. She didn't want to do it again because she was bored silly last year, but the pay and flexibility are hard to turn down. Plus she gets to read a lot.

We had a lovely mother's day last Sunday. Dale and the kids made crepes for breakfast and gave me lots of nice gifts: jewelery, soap, candles, chocolate, an India book and two tops. Chloe is the ringleader behind all that and she knows me well.

Very natural posing going on ... this picture will probably turn up on Awkward Family Photos one day

Dale's mom came over for lunch and it was nice enough to sit out on the deck, which was wonderful.

For dinner, we went to Bob & Janet's for a delicious BBQ with my parents and siblings. We continued our annual tradition of multiple photo opps.

First all the moms

Then Mom and most of her children (we missed you, Dan!). This isn't the best photo of the bunch but it's the only picture you'll ever see with Greg hugging my head and I thought it deserved a spot on the blog. I should probably make it my Facebook cover photo too and get it printed on mugs and t-shirts.

Grandma with her grandchildren... missing a few.
This photo also warrants a spot. It's Jan winning the pogo stick contest.

Dale and I are very lucky to have both our moms, healthy and well. I'm at the age when that's not the case for many of my friends and I try not to take it for granted. But I still do. Sorry, Mom. But I love and appreciate you!

Okay, back to work. My head is a little clearer now. Oh, and if you want to come to India & Dubai with us in September, sign up now! The trip is getting close to being sold out and we've got an AWESOME group of people going. I'm not just saying that; half of them are my relatives! It's a good deal; for not much more than the price you'd pay for flights alone, you get luxury hotel accommodations, about half your meals, local guides, transportation, and a whole bunch of sightseeing!  Check it out here.

Friday, May 12, 2017


So that was Europe! I have to say it not only met, but surpassed my expectations. I'll try and write about it more in the coming days but Chloe was bugging me to update the blog, so here's a few words just to make her happy.

This trip - unlike the others - went off without any major hitches. No deaths, no missed flights (except for a missed connection for two of the travellers who went early to spend a few days in Venice before the tour started) and no major hitches. Two pieces of luggage didn't arrive in Winnipeg until today, but if a bag has to go missing, the very end of the trip is probably the best time. We also had a long trip home with extended layovers in Frankfurt and Toronto. Then our final flight was delayed an extra hour because mechanics had to fix the lock on the cockpit door (!?), resulting in a 1:30 a.m. arrival in Winnipeg. We were all very exhausted and a few people were very vocal about their displeasure at the long layovers and delay. There were a couple of chronic complainers in the group, but overall it was an excellent group. This tour was a bit different than the others I've done; our group included some people from the US and Britain. They were nice people but we didn't interact too much with them and it made the group a bit fractured.

But also different was the fact we had a tour manager with us the whole time, from start to finish. Dale didn't come on this trip and I was a bit worried beforehand about being with the group on my own. But I needn't have feared; the tour manager did an excellent job of being in charge of the entire group. There was literally nothing for me to do, which was pretty sweet.

My family appeared to manage quite well without me. The house was very tidy; cleaner than it was when I left. Laundry was done, carpets were vacuumed, and there wasn't even a stack of mail/papers/newspapers, etc.  Dale had food ready for dinner the next day and the van was clean inside and out. I did notice the hand towel in the bathroom hadn't been changed since I left and I swept up enough crap off the floor to fill a shoebox, but overall it was very, very nice to come home to. I don't think I was missed too much; Chloe is sad she doesn't have unlimited access to a vehicle anymore and Spencer is sad to be asked questions about school. Apparently a LOT of ice cream was consumed. I'm not sure why that only happens when I'm gone; it's not like I'm the ice cream police or anything. But it's all good; I'm happy when they're happy. Truth be told, I didn't miss them that much either. I knew they were in good hands with Dale at home and although I would have loved to share the experience with Dale and was very ready to see them all by the end, I enjoyed the trip to the fullest. It really was amazing.

And that will be a story for another day(s).