Author Archives: kerryreneemarie

Lest we forget.

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day here in Canada and it’s a time to reflect and thank our veterans and those who lost their lives in all the wars over the years.

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My grandpa (on my dad’s side)

Both of my grandfathers were soldiers for Canada in WW2, I don’t know the story of my dad’s dad, but I know the story of my mom’s dad’s time. All of this information I know about his time overseas is second hand, from my uncles and grandmere, as he never talked about it when he was alive, I can understand why, it wasn’t a pretty time, full of sunshine and rainbows. I have a “letter” that was written by one of my uncles but it was written from my grandpere’s point of view (from what my uncle was told by his dad), this is where I’ve gotten this story.

 

My grandpere didn’t join the Canadian Royal Air Force until 1942 and was sent over to Gloucester, England in 1943 where he completed his training. The squadron he joined, #415, was based in Leeds, and most of the missions that they flew were done at night, from 8 or 9 p.m. – 2 or 3 a.m. He was a co-pilot and flight engineer on one of the Lancaster bomber planes. The last flight they were on, they were being shot at from the ground by anti-aircraft fire and were hit on the wing, and the with the fuel tanks being on the wings, it would be a short time before the plane itself would be completely on fire so they were told to evacuate.

My grandpere grabbed a flashlight and attached it to the top of one of his boots and jumped out of the burning aircraft. As he pulled the rip cord of the parachute, it would not open, he started to panic and tried to open the small parachute from his chest. It eventually opened and he landed on the ground, separated from his squad. He had lost one of his boots, the one with the flashlight attached to it and buried his parachute, which he had been instructed to do. He later regretted burying the parachute though, as it would have kept him warm during the night. So he wandered around aimlessly, not knowing where he was, with one boot, both socks on the other foot and hoping to find a place to hide before daylight.

He came up to a bridge and hid under that the whole next day, making himself as small as he could, but he was miserable and cold.Once it got dark again, he thought it was safe to leave his hiding place and he tried to get his bearings, hoping he was walking in the right direction, towards Switzerland and freedom. He walked all night, but didn’t meet anyone.

As daylight returned, he saw a sign on the side of the road and quickly read the name and located it on the map that he had in his survival kit.He laid there, crouched on the ground, nervous, scared, cold and hungry, and a young boy came by on a bicycle. Short while later, the German police came and he was taken prisoner.

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My grandpere’s POW card

Along with other prisoners, they were taken on long forced walks, and whenever possible, they would steal potatoes from farmers fields or whatever they could because they were starving. They were spat at, kicked and yelled at. “Kanada shiiwne” was shouted whenever Canadian prisoners were seen by civilians who were also suffering. (not sure of the translation of the word “shiiwne” from German to English. But I think it might mean “shit”. “Kanada” means “Canada”). An American prisoner had a mouth organ and he would play songs during their marches. His favourite song was “The Yellow Rose of Texas” which was able to help the gloom a bit. That song remained in my grandpere’s memory, likely until the day he died.

 

They finally arrived at a Stalag in Mooseburg, Germany, and the compound held about 15,000 prisoners. Food had been rationed all over Europe and so whatever was available, was very meager. They ate thin soup at dusk so they couldn’t see the grubs in it, they slept on the bare ground of the camp. He was held prisoner for a few months, but it felt like an eternity.

The Stalag was liberated on April 29th and they were free. My grandpere eventually made his way back to Canada and back to St. Claude, Manitoba where he returned to his family, friends and his bride to be (my grandmere).  grandmere-grandpere

My brother and I had asked my grandmere at her birthday if her and my grandpere were together when he left to go to war, she told us that she was, but she didn’t want to marry him before he left, just in case he didn’t come home. But he survived, came home, had a beautiful family, 6 kids, many grand kids and grand kids (who never got to meet him, but I’m sure he would be proud of them).

This year, I work with refugee kids, many of them Syrian, some of them, victims of war. I can’t imagine what they’ve seen, what they’ve gone through. We had our Remembrance Day assembly yesterday at school and some of the students sang this song. Very fitting.

So tomorrow, think of those who have risked their lives for our freedom, those who lost their lives and those who have lost loved ones because of wars.

Something to make you think.

I spent the day today with my student at a Holocaust symposium, I had to note-take for her but the whole day was definitely an eye opener.

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Pinchas Gutter – Holocaust survivor. – Picture credit Ottawa Jewish Bulletin. 

The morning was spent listening to a Polish Jewish man who had survived the Holocaust… the Warsaw ghetto uprising, 6 death camps and a death march at the end of the war. He had to endure losing his family in the death camps, and somehow managed to push through it all. He made a friend, whom towards the end of the war, was selected to be killed. He thought that his best friend was killed and he mourned him more than anyone else. By the time he was 13, he was alone and an orphan. He experienced a bunch more discrimination in his life after, abuse from people and other things.

He said that a few years ago, he read an article that was published for the society that is in, and this author was in a lot of the same camps as he was and so on. He contacted the author and said that he wanted to meet him, so they met in Warsaw… turned out that the author was his best friend, the same man that he thought he had lost many years before! Apparently his friend had bit one of the soldiers so hard and then was able to escape into the forest. They did everything they could to survive back then, including biting guards, faking deaths and more.

Listening to his story (and typing it out… as much as I could anyways), I’ve been going back to it in my mind all day. As he told us this story, I thought about all the innocent people who lost their lives, all the innocent people who fought for freedom, risked their lives, all the people who helped those Jews and other targeted people hide or escape. I thought about my Grandpère who was a co-pilot for the Canadian army and who spent time in a work camp after his plane was shot down and captured by the Nazis.

The man made a few good points and when the time came for question & answer, one of the students asked him how he was able to survive. He, had at the start of his story explained his family’s history and how they had been wine makers for hundreds of years. He then said because of how close he was with his father, and everything that they had gone through, that as long as he was alive, both his father and grandfather were a part of him. He didn’t want them to die since they were his angels. He said that since he had gone through a lot in his life, he was more open to helping others, he doesn’t have hatred and doesn’t regret anything in his life

It was incredibly moving.

The afternoon session was just as moving, it was by a girl who was born in a refugee camp in Iraq. She showed pictures of the camp and of her experiences. She told us about how she tried to hide who she really was once they moved to Winnipeg in 2001, and all the hardships she’s had. She told us how appreciative of the teachers she had here since when the fleed the camp, she only had a grade 2 education and she was put into a grade 9 class because she was 15.

Her main points were more geared towards the students who were still there since she’s much younger than the morning speaker. She reminded them to be proud of who they are, to be proud of where they came from and to not hide their true identity. And that she has been wanting to start a movement where there is less hatred and bigotry in the world. That we should all be accepting of everyone around us, no matter their religion, their race, their culture.

After typing over 10 thousand words, and 90-something pages later, I hit “save” for the last time and my student and the other student who had joined us both cheered, put their hands on my shoulders and thanked me profusely and said that I did a good job, considering I was the only note-taker.

Seriously, my job is harder than you think! But that being said, today was a good day, it’s made me think about life and that we should all be a lot more kinder to each other and we should never let history repeat itself.

If anyone has a chance to ever see either Mr. Gutter or Kobra Rahimi speak about their experiences, do so. They definitely opened my eyes to humanity. The world needs more people like them.

I’m exhausted.

Love, not war

As I sit here, trying to figure out how to describe how I feel about all the craziness that has been going on on Facebook and other social media for the past week, I’m overcome with a sense of sadness. A sense of sadness towards those innocent lives that have been lost, those innocent lives who have been trying to flee their homes because they’ve been through hell due to the wars in their countries, those who have lost loved ones because of other people’s senseless and destructive acts. There has been too many bombings, attacks and killings lately. Too many people pointing fingers and blaming one specific religion, grouping everyone into the same group. That all Muslim people are “terrorists”. Mainstream media and other groups have been instilling fear into people who aren’t aware, who aren’t educated in the subject of that religion. The more fear is instilled in the general public (aka you and I), the more the group doing this wins. The more hatred they see, they win again. We can’t show them that, they want hate, they want war. I’ve seen a few videos on Facebook over the past couple of days that shows exactly that. It shows that we cannot show fear or hatred. That we have to stand up, united and go upon our daily lives. That we still need to be trusting of others since not everyone is a terrorist.

If only all fathers were like this one. ❤

12243403_10156247857950581_4405667613859825433_n As sad as what happened last Friday in Paris, don’t just “pray” for Paris, but hope for peace for Syria, for Beirut, for Iraq and all the other places where innocent people have lost their lives because of this “war”, these inexcusable acts of terrorism. What you and I can do is be nice to everyone, don’t accept xenophobic comments on your social media, accept and care for those who aren’t the same race, religion, culture or whatever than you. Learn about the Muslims, learn their values, their religion, don’t just go and dump them into that “terrorist” group just because they’re different.

I hope that one day, for our future generations, they won’t have to live in fear, that they can still live in a free country and have all the rights that  we, here in Canada have. After all, all we want is love, not war right?

Where has the time gone?

Where has the time gone? Summer flew by as it always does and we’re back into the swing of things with the school year already a month into it. My summer was awesome as it always is, the 6 weeks of work with the day-camp was entertaining, as always; Connect was spectacular (I love being able to see my out of town friends, it’s very much like a family reunion); MEME was hectic with all the volunteering I did and then I visited friends in Calgary the weekend after which was exactly what I needed. It was relaxing for the most part, unlike the last time I was there which was a whirlwind of a weekend.

School year is back in full swing, I’ve been moved once again to a different school. (This is what happens when you have a special skill, mine being sign language), it’s been crazy hectic, I’ve mostly been computerized note-taking for a couple of hard of hearing grade 9 students. But it makes the day fly by. I miss my old school though, just as you get settled in, there’s a chance you get moved because of student needs (or lack there of).

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in Canada, and it’s been an absolutely gorgeous weekend. Normally, in the middle of October, we’re seeing the leaves changing colours and falling, the sun is setting much earlier making the days shorter. The days and nights are also normally much cooler/chillier. Not this weekend, though, I was able to do the much needed yard work in a t-shirt and jeans and not have to worry about getting cold. The sun was warm, it was about 24c, much warmer than normal for October. I got a lot done yesterday with the yard, just have a little more to do, but I don’t want to let the last bit of summer go just yet, some of the plants haven’t died yet in my front flower bed, so they’ll stay there a bit longer.  I’m sad to see summer go, it’s never long enough here. Winter is long, and usually cold. It brings hibernation, warm hoodies, blankets, hot chocolate and hockey. (at least there’s something good about it, hockey! lol)

I’m grateful for a lot of things, my wonderful, supportive family, my amazing friends (aka my chosen family), my house, my cats (who are like my kids), a free country that will hopefully be changing for the better on the 19th (GO VOTE! I did yesterday!) and so much more.

 As for today, I’ll be relaxing at home, watching movies and trying to figure out why my cell is being sketchy. I think I’ll have to back it up and factory reset.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving to all of you reading if you’re in Canada 🙂

the countdown is on!

I haven’t written anything in a while… it’s been a combination of not really having anything of importance to say and kind of forgetting I had a blog. Oops, my bad, sorry guys. (No, really, I am)

But as I was sitting on my couch, listening to music and refreshing the evil world of Facebook, I realized that I should probably mention that the school year is finally coming to a close! The kids have 14 1/2 days left… SO close to being done for the year!! Being a part of the staff, we’ve all been counting down those days, it can’t come soon enough. The kids are all pretty much on summer mode too, nobody really wants to do work, everyone just wants to stay outside while it’s been nice out. And really, I don’t blame them. At all. I want to do the same! All in good time.

There are so many things that I’m looking forward to this summer.

  1. The first being this Saturday, when my friend Anj will be coming in for a visit. (This is a girl I only really see once a year at our usual music festival in Saskatchewan.) I’m stoked that she’s coming in to visit family but she wants to hang out too!
  2. The next thing, after school is done, one of my best friends, Mikaela, is coming to visit for the weekend. I haven’t seen her in a year and a half, 24 more days! I think the plan that weekend is for us to go to Bridge Party on the Saturday, should be a good time. Last year’s was a blast.
  3. The 6 weeks of awesome work I have this summer with a day-camp program that is run by the city. If its mostly the same staff as the past few years, we have a blast together, it really flies by tho.
  4. August long weekend is of course my usual music festival in Saskatchewan, Connect. This will be my 13th year going, its more become more of a family reunion for me. A place I get to see my friends from Calgary, and all over Saskatchewan too. It’s a weekend full of music, friends, lots of laughs and more. I usually come back feeling much more grounded than before. It’s my “home away from home”.
  5. This brings us to the middle of August and MEME. It’ll be my 5th year volunteering and it’s awesome to see some amazing acts in our “big/little” city. I love it.
  6. Lastly, the end of August I’ll be making the trip out to Calgary for a weekend to visit my friends whom I only get to see once a year at Connect. I need out of the city in the worst way, and honestly, Connect doesn’t really count for that lol.

Not to mention all the patios, BBQ’s, fires and (hopefully) beach days. It’s seriously shaping up to be a wicked summer. As much as people complain that there’s nothing to do here, there really is something almost every weekend.

Dreams are weird.

I’d have to say for the past two and a half years (or so), I have very odd/vivid/strange dreams for at least a week every month. Now, normally, I don’t remember my dreams, unless they are those odd ones. Those ones are usually the ones that can set me off for the day, usually throwing me for a loop depending on who was in the dream or what it was about.

Lately, a friend of mine who passed away 3 years ago tomorrow has been on my mind. Craig used to visit my dreams quite often, until a year ago December. I don’t remember the exact details of the dream, since it was so long ago, but I do remember him giving me advice on a few things and telling me that he is okay. It was a few days before Christmas break and I woke up to go to work the following morning, feeling a bit off. Went about my day and as I was doing something, I could hear Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” (which happened to be a song that my friend loved), I walked into the back room and saw that my coworker had put it on the smart board. I knew Craig was there, visiting me at work. That was the last time he was in my dreams until about a week or so ago, where he literally walked into the room, which was filled with a lot of our friends that we had in common; and he kept walking through and out the door on the opposite wall. As much as we were all trying to get his attention, he didn’t stop. It was almost like he was just “passing through”. But for the most part, it has been silence from him. And it has once again, thrown me off.

I’ve had dreams of friends and family who have passed away before, and I’m not entirely sure what the exact meaning of the dream was, but it seems to be one that I can’t shake.

Its funny what a simple dream can do to the mind, its a mysterious tool. tumblr_ll6yjcVsrH1qjwngso1_400

#BellLetsTalk

Today is Bell’s #BellLetsTalk. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a campaign to hopefully end the stigma of mental illness. Something that has been, for years, something that has been “swept under the rug” and pushed to the back burner. Something that people are ashamed or afraid to talk about because they could be labeled as “crazy” or “psycho”. Meanwhile, they’re very likely just scared and they don’t want to be known in society as those labels.

I have personal experience with mental illness, with family, friends and even myself. I’ve never wanted to talk about it to people, in fear of being called one of those labels I mentioned before, but my close friends and family know about my bouts of anxiety. You always try to look tough on the outside but eventually you do break down and that is okay. Cry, scream, yell, punch a pillow (or something soft), talk to someone, write it out, but let it out in some way or form.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post, I’d type a few words and then delete it, that subconscious anxiety voice of mine tells me “its not good enough, nobody will like what you’ve written.” Its really hard to write or talk about something that is so hard to explain. With me, my brain is in overdrive most of the time. Jumbled with words that are moving, what feels like, a million miles an hour and they don’t want to seem to slow down so I can decipher anything. I have so many thoughts that I want to get out, but sometimes honestly have no clue how because of that “inner-voice” that tells me that nobody wants to hear it. That nobody cares or that I’m wasting my time.

I’ve been told I’m shy, well, here’s the main reason for it. Anxiety can be a bitch and I’m usually second guessing everything that I want to say or that I’ve said. Fighting with that inner voice as I said before. Worrying about what the future holds because of my past mistakes.

anxiety1I’ve been dealing with anxiety issues since I was about 12 years old. For about 3 years, I had thought so many times how I could run away because of certain people in my life at the time; then I eventually did, I switched to a different school where I had friends, wasn’t bullied because of the way I looked and acted. When they say “kids can be cruel”, I totally agree. It’s really surprising what a few words can do to a person’s self-esteem. For a bunch of years after graduating, I had, what I thought was a good grasp on my anxiety. I had met a lot of people who were in the same boat as I was. Bullied in school, was considered the “out-cast” and the “weird one” etc. Then a few years back, due to reasons I won’t get into in my blog, the anxiety sky-rocketed again, just as bad as it was, if not worse than it was when I was 12. One again, I wanted so bad to run away, but I fought through it and found another group of friends who know the issues and I know they still care. As much as my brain doesn’t believe it at times. I’m not saying that I’m completely overridden with anxiety, and that’s because I’ve been doing my best to have a grasp on it again. But I do have a ways to go before its gone, if it ever will be.

I’ve had friends commit suicide and if that is something that has been a thought, please call the Manitoba Suicide Line at 1-877-435-7170 or visit http://www.reasontolive.ca/ or your local suicide prevention help line.

Always remember, you’re not alone. There are more like you out there and no matter what people might say, people do love you. Lets end the stigma of mental illnesses, no matter what they are.

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Jamaica

Wow, what an experience last week was. Getting to travel to a third world country to be a part of two of my closest friends get married, getting to see another country (other than Canada or USA) not to mention to be with some of the best people I know and best friends a girl could have.

Jamaica is a beautiful country, considering how poor it is. We landed in Montego Bay and then had a roughly 2 hour bus ride to our resort just outside of Ocho Rios. Stopped at a little shop on the side of the highway for more drinks and bathroom break, and on our way to the resort, we saw so many unfinished homes. The tour guide told us that the reason for that is because the owners would work and build at the same time, save up more money and build a bit more. They can’t afford the ridiculous mortgage interest rates which is apparently a whopping 25%! There are no problems there, only situations. Everyone is happy, music and dancing is a plenty. I’ve been singing a variety of reggae songs for the better part of the past week and a half now. Including this one

Finally got to the hotel and were greeted by a few friends who were already there. Got settled in and the adventures began. We mostly hung out by the pool and the beach for the first few days, having lots of drinks (yay for all inclusive), tons of laughs, jerk chicken, curry goat and lots of other foods. A bunch of us did a few a la cartes, the best one I would have to say was the gourmet one. I’m not a huge meat eater, but my god the duck was fantastic. There were live acts in the evening on the main stage and a few bands on the steps of one of the bars after. The best stage show was definitely the steel drums, they played a mashup of newer songs, tons of talent that’s for sure.

Thursday was John & Kayla’s wedding, it was gorgeous on the beach! The weather was nice, the ceremony was nice and short. We went over to the other end of the resort for dinner and a dance then went over to the Pacha knock off “bar” that the resort has for more drinks and dancing (after getting changed that is). We closed that down and we had the bright idea to go have a 3am swim in the ocean. I was sitting on one of the lounging chairs when my friends Jessie, Kirby & Shawn got the idea that I’m going swimming too. I tried to fight it, but after all the drinks, I lost and ended up sitting in the ocean, in my clothes. I was then picked up and dunked in by both Shawn and Reece. My friends are lucky I love them haha.

Friday was an easy day, we all woke up hurting a bit from the evening before. And we all knew that the next day would be a busy one with the excursion we had planned to Dunn’s River Falls. The excursion was so much fun tho! We met in the lobby at 10:30am and boarded the bus to the boat. Stopped at a spot so people could go snorkeling for a bit (I opted not to), and then continued on our way to the falls. Climbing the falls was incredible, the only down side was losing one of my earrings in one of the pools when we got to fall backwards into it. Bought a souvenir as we were leaving, a wooden carving of a turtle with the Jamaican colours. It’s so pretty.

 We then had a catamaran booze cruise, filled with tons of rum punch, trying to dance on the boat as the captain was crashing the boat thru the waves and even more laughs. We got back to the resort, relaxed and ate. A small group of us went into Ocho Rios to Margaritaville that night. It was entertaining, but kinda creepy at the same time. We had to fend off creepers from one of our friends all evening. I managed to roll and bruise the inside of my ankle too… note to self: heels, even if they’re wedge ones are a bad idea when you’ve been drinking that much haha. Thankfully one of my good friends was behind me and managed to somehow catch me as I fell.

The rest of the trip was very low-key, spent most of the day on Sunday sleeping, sitting at the pool and chatting with friends.

I’m incredibly happy that I was able to go on this trip and spend it with some amazing people and be there for John & Kayla. I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything, and I’m happy to have them as part of my chosen family. I’ll be back some day Jamaica, until then, I will cherish these memories.

One love.

Another holiday season comes to a close

The craziness of the holidays are winding down, with only New Year’s coming up in a few days.

Normally, I love this time of year, all the family gatherings and food but this year felt a bit, shall we say, off. I guess it was because it is the first Christmas without my memere, so we didn’t do anything Christmas-y with my dad’s side of the family since we were all together at the beginning of the month. My immediate family got together Christmas eve, had a very non traditional supper and opened our gifts; then my mom’s side got together on Christmas day for supper so there was that at least. Too much food, and some beer and wine were consumed, came home after and tried my best to not succumb to the inevitable food coma that was trying to take over while sitting on my couch watching a movie.

We don’t really do gift giving either anymore, both my brother and I are in our 30’s so for the most part, if we ever want something, we get into our respective cars and go get it. The only thing I really wanted was some money so I can have some for the upcoming trip to Jamaica. I remember growing up, getting all these toys and presents, and now, it is definitely more about family being together.

I still have a week left of my holidays before school starts up again. I always find that January is the longest month since we have no inservice days or holidays. That being said, here on the prairies, it’s been a pretty mild “winter” so far. We don’t have a crazy amount of snow like we normally do and honestly, the coldest it’s been has been I’d say has been about -17 to -20°c (that’s 1 to -4°F for you Americans), when normally it’s much colder than that. This, I can deal with. It’s been a nice change!

I know that January won’t be as long for me since I have 16 more days until I’m on the (hopefully) hot and sunny beaches of Ocho Rios, Jamaica! Actually, I just looked online and it looks like the temps are averaging +30c! YAY! I’m looking forward not only to getting away, but also getting to see some of the best people I know and be there to see two of my very good friends get married. I can already hear my liver screaming at me with all the rum punch and other booze I’ll be having lol.

New Year’s is coming soon, I’ll be spending it with a bunch of friends at a local bar here for a DJ night, should be fun. Normally I don’t do the whole resolutions thing, but I continually try to improve myself and the way I live. There will be no changing that aspect, except I will try to focus more again on the positive in life; although it can be hard when in the winter time, when its warm outside, there isn’t much sun. My body craves sun!

To all of you reading, I hope you have a safe and happy New Years, whatever you end up doing! And all the best in 2015 🙂

Rest easy.

On Friday, the world said good bye to one of the most sincere, humble, devoted, strong willed women I’ve ever met. I’m grateful to have had her as my grandma, she’s taught us all the value of family because she would do anything for hers. After my grandpa got sick, she did everything she could to take care of him, up until his final days, she never gave up hope. All while taking time to take care of the rest of her family in any way that she could.

I remember being a kid and going out to my grandparents’ house in the summer, my brother, cousins and I would play games in the backyard, or the times when my mom was still in university and my brother & I would have to stay out at their house for a week; or at Christmas time, we’d pack up the van and bring every single present there to open (only to turn around on Boxing Day and bring most of them back home). My grandma would always make sure there was plenty of food on the tables and things for the kids to do. She never sat in one spot for long when the family was there, she always had something to do, even after we’d all tell her to “sit down and relax”. I’m going to miss going there, that house has a lot of memories for me. It will be weird going there on Wednesday after the service and not having her there, just like it was weird at first when my grandpa passed away a year and a half ago.

I always thought that I was more like my mom when I was a kid, but as I’ve grown up more, I think I’m a good balance of both parents. My grandma always taught me how important family is, my family is pretty close. Just shows how precious life really is when someone is gone suddenly.

I’ll always remember the amazing times we’ve shared Memere. ❤ I hope that you’re reunited with Pepere & uncle Gerald. Watch over the family and thank you for everything.

R.I.P. We’ll always miss you.

Homeowner woes

Wow am I ever thankful to have a dad who is willing to take time out of his day and come to do the renovation of my kitchen, and the fact that he’s skilled in pretty much everything when it comes to building a house. Because, with all the issues we ran into today, it would have been a nightmare (and it was!) and even more expensive for me had I hired someone to do this.

For those of you who don’t know, when I bought my place almost 5 years ago, the previous owner had renovated the entire house, finished the basement etc. But today, as we were pulling out the old cupboards, we noticed that there was no flooring underneath the cupboard, making it lower. Problem number one was somewhat of an easy fix. The second problem, not so easy. The pipes in my house are really weird, there’s a long pipe that runs from the wall, through a cabinet and up to under the sink. We shut off the water, took out the sink, counter top and the cabinets, and this is when we noticed the problem. Part of said pipe was completely broken off (seemed like it wasn’t the right fit for the existing pipe) and was leaking… so this caused a wild goose chase to find parts, setting us back a bunch of hours. After almost 11 hours of them being here, they quit for the day, not even close to being done. Back at it again tomorrow, for who knows how long. All because of a quick renovation.

Things are slowly coming along tho, the old crappy pantry is long gone, new pantry is in. It’s nice to have space for both my and my roommate’s food lol. You never know what you’ll find when you renovate either… we found a book. Yep, a book fell out of the wall when my parents destroyed the pantry! I haven’t looked at it, since I’ve been too busy this past week hacking up a lung because of this god-forsaken cold I have.

You can kind of see the pipe where it comes out of the wall, it makes a turn and then under the other cabinet up to the sink. That was the nightmare.

I can’t wait for this to be done, and I know my parents feel the same way. I know it won’t be for a while still since we have to finish the bottom and not to mention the top cupboards to take down and replace still. But I know once its done, it will look awesome.

True inspiration.

98. When you see that number, what do you think? A number close to 100 right? What about if you hear “98 years old”? I think when I hear “98 years old”, I think of someone who has lived a long life, someone who has a lot of history, someone who has a lot of stories to tell.

Tomorrow, my Grandmère turns that magic number. 98. She’s an amazing woman who raised 6 kids (my mom and her siblings) with my Grandpère, taught for who knows how many years in their small town. She was the head of the choir in the church for as long as I can remember, she played piano until arthritis made constant playing too hard to do. I remember going out to their house for Christmas as a kid, even though her and my grandpère would be away, they would go south in their RV for the winter, but their home was always open for us. After my grandpère passed away in ’91, she continued to live in the house where my mom spent most of her life in, she lived there until recently, maybe the past year or so. More recently, having my aunts/uncles/parents helping her out with all the yard and house work. It was hard for her to leave the house where there were so many memories, so many stories.

The times of me sitting on the coffee table with my grandparents playing guitar & piano and singing with everyone, or me sitting at the piano playing whatever tune was there, my grandmère has definitely been a musical inspiration for me. She still sings when the family gets together, her voice carrying over everyone else. I don’t have my piano at my house (due to lack of space) but if I did, I would definitely be back to playing it more. I sing, but mostly at home, when I do sing in front of people (other than family), it usually surprises them because it’s something I keep quiet.

This is a video from four years ago, of her singing an old French song.

Honestly, she doesn’t look like she’s 98. Nor does she act like it. Last Christmas, it was around midnight and I was about to leave my parents house for the evening. My grandmère looked at me and asked me why I was leaving, she stated, “it’s still early!” This caused my aunts and mom to laugh and poke fun at me saying that she’s “outlasting” a 33 year old. It’s not every day you can say that you have a relative who has reached that age, who has seen so many trying times, the depression and the effects Canada had from the world wars.

mom & grandmere

I know she’ll never read this, but Happy birthday Grandmère! 6 kids, 14 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, and 98 years of stories, you’re a true inspiration to everyone you meet. We love you.

If you never try, you never know!

Time has been flying by lately I find. We’re already half way through October, feels like it was just last week when the school year started! Thanksgiving weekend has passed, Hallowe’en is in 16 days. Someone at work today mentioned that there are only 10 more Fridays until Christmas… crap. That’s something I’m not even going to think about until there’s that white stuff on the ground. It’s too early to think about that! (Thankfully I don’t have many gifts to buy)

And, I just realized that in 3 short months I’ll be basking in the sun and heat with a bunch of my closest and dearest friends in Jamaica, getting a break from the bitter cold that we’re supposed to get here in the lovely prairies of Canada again this winter. See, I’ve never really traveled anywhere. I mean, I’ve been across to the west coast, and the furthest east I’ve been was Montreal, and down into the States a bunch of times, the most recent was when I went to Chicago in 2012. So when my very good friends invited me to their wedding, I crossed my fingers that I would be able to get the time off work, did all the necessary things to get that to happen, and waited to hear back from the school division on if I can go or not.* This will be the furthest away from home I’ve ever been and even though its turning me more into a hermit, it will definitely be worth it. Besides, hermit mode is only temporary.

*working in education usually means that we can’t take “holiday” time, especially since we have 2 weeks off for winter break, just a couple of weeks before. It can be pretty tough to get the time off and the most I could do was try.  

I’m seriously looking forward to the time off, especially being able to hang out with some of the best people I know, not to mention that crystal blue water and amazing beaches. But for now, hermit mode engaged (for the most part that is, a few adventures to be had but not as many)!

A new project.

I’ve lived in my house for about 4 1/2 years now, bought it because the rent in my previous apartment was going up, more than I could really afford to be throwing my money into a corporation where I didn’t see anything in the end except a small fraction on my income tax. My parents were amazing and have been amazing by helping me out with everything in it, something goes wrong, I call my dad. Either he’ll tell me how to fix it or he’ll come and fix when he has the chance.

Recently, my aunt decided that she’s going to get a new kitchen. My dad offered to help her and take all the cupboards, counter tops and things out of her kitchen. He then got the bright idea (and brilliant I may add) that he wants to take on another project. He wants to put in a new-ish kitchen into my house using the cupboards from my aunt’s place since they’re in great condition, and for those of you who have been to my place, you know how little space I seem to have. And the “pantry” is pretty much a joke. So over the past few weeks, my mom and I have been scrubbing down the cupboards that are taking up half of my parents’ garage to clean them up, I’ve been taking measurements and pictures so my dad can plan out and eventually cut up pieces to make them fit (since her kitchen isn’t the same shape as mine) and then put them into my place. We finally finished cleaning the cupboards tonight, now onto stage 2 of cleaning out the cupboards here and then my dad can come in and start doing the renos.

IMG_3502

This is just a small part of my kitchen… but that “door” to the left of the picture? That my friends, is my “pantry”. Yep, it’s so stupid how narrow it is, long and narrow… bah haha.

The picture to the right will be the new pantry. So much more room! This way my roommate won’t have to have his food in a box on the kitchen table because there is literally no room in the current pantry I have for food other than my own.

This project is going to be a huge and very demanding job, but my dad has the experience (as he’s built many houses in his day including both the houses I lived in growing up, one being their current home), and has the creativity to make a whole new floor plan. I look at the plans my dad has made up and just tell him to do what he thinks will work best. Since I don’t have that level of creativity or artistic talent. We’ve agreed upon one of the plans, and once it’s done, it’s going to look kick ass. So much better than the kitchen I have now.

I’m happy that I have an amazing family who are willing to do these kinds of things. Much love to each and every one of you.

The “New” way to teach math….

Alright, so here’s the deal. I seriously suck at math. Numbers and I have a love-hate relationship and have apparently since I was a little girl… I mean, I knew my alphabet and recognized words (in both French and English) by the time I was 3, but according to my mom, I couldn’t count to 5. That’s how much my brain just despises numbers.

In high school, I failed math (the most basic math too), forcing me to go to summer school in both grade 10 & 11. Thankfully, we were the last graduating class in Manitoba who were able to graduate without having to take math (let’s just say I graduated from high school 16 years ago in June. You do the math) … but I still took it, and yep, you guessed it, failed that too. Really didn’t help that my teacher for grade 12 smelled like cough syrup and/or booze first thing in the morning. I would just show up to class, and sleep or socialize because from what I remember, he didn’t really teach. Or maybe I was just sleeping throughout his lessons? I can’t remember, my memory is a bit foggy. I’ve tried to avoid math since graduation. I know it’s impossible since I do like cooking and more recently, will be helping my dad out with redoing the kitchen in my house. And well now, it’s impossible for me to avoid since I work in the education system. It’s literally everywhere.

Back when I was in school, the way math was taught was simple. 20+40=60. There, done. Easy peasy. Right? We were taught our multiplication tables, how to do long division, basic money math etc. The first time I saw one of the teachers I work with teach something to a class of grade 5 & 6 kids, my facial expression was basically like this:

One of my coworkers looked at me and laughed, asking me if I understood what the teacher was talking about. I looked at her and said something along the lines of how “everything is confusing” and it “makes no sense to do it this way”. Because to me, it was like someone was trying to explain quantum physics (or something completely ridiculous like that).

In case you’re not a parent with a child in elementary school or aren’t around in the education system, this is how they taught it and how they teach it now:

I don’t understand why the fuck they make you do more work than just finding the simple answer? Why add a bunch more numbers to find “any possible answer” that could equal the actual answer for the original question? Like come on people! Why?!? *pulls hair out, screaming* To me, math is just a bunch of numbers splattered on a page, teasing me because it knows it confuses me to all hell.

I was talking with a friend about this exact situation a couple of weekends ago and she said basically the same thing, it makes no sense. What so ever. I guess call me “old fashioned” but I prefer the way I was taught it. Yah I know I said I could barely count to 5 when I was a kid, but if I was taught this “new” way back when I was in elementary school, I very likely would have made the exact same face as I did a couple of weeks ago.

Math + me = don’t get along. That’s my math.

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