Sunday, June 27, 2010


Oh the stress. I thought I was stressed last month, when the house needed painting. I thought I was stressed after that, getting ready for the open house, and then even more so when that hit a dead end. But none of that compares to the stress I felt this past week.

Maybe its the fact that its crunch time: in about three weeks Steve will be getting ready to leave and I will be left behind. I am trying to wrap my head around the fact that this move, this big change - this whole posting, is not turning out at all like I always thought it would. For years I've watched many, many friends pack up their houses, pile into their mini vans and head out on their family trips to their new homes. It is the ultimate family vacation: you get to stay in hotels, visit new places and at the end you drive into a new town to a new house and begin to build a home there. I have looked forward to this kind of adventure for years now, and thought finally - FINALLY - it was our turn. As soon as the message came in I begin immediately to mentally plan our trip. I daydreamed about it, I made mental notes and lists and I began counting down until July. That was my first mistake: making unrealistic and premature plans.

Things obviously didn't go the way I had planned, and so now here I am, closing in on the big day with no house sold, no trip planned and facing the very real possibility of having to be left behind. I am doing a lot of feeling sorry for myself, I know. I am very slowly coming to terms with this new reality but I am going down fighting. As much as it burns me, I have by now made childcare arrangements for when I am "single parenting", have made an appointment to have the van serviced so it won't quit on me when I'm alone with the kids (which seems to always happen when hubby is out of town) and have made sure my kids are still registered in their school for the Fall. I am beginning to talk about it as if it is already commonplace knowledge, anything to take the sting out of it. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle watching him pack up his belongings to move away (not to be confused with the feelings of watching him pack to simply "go away", that is totally different in my mind) but for the present I need to find a place that allows me to function and to sleep at night.

On a positive note: I am really looking forward to this week. My best friend is coming home to Nova Scotia after a year of her being far too far away. She brings home a whole new member of her family whom I cannot wait to meet and snuggle, and in her I know I will find much understanding and endless comfort. This is also the week of the last day of school - finally - not to mention my big movie date with my very own Twi-hard. I scored tickets for the movie's opening day, making me mother of the year (for this week anyway) and I am really looking forward to the excitement that day will bring. Then it will be Canada Day, our annual backyard BBQ - complete with my best girl and her family - along with the much loved fireworks that always give me such a thrill. Friday brings us to Halifax to see the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo and then Saturday will be our big, much anticipated night out on the town.

So much fun I will forget my woes for a little while, right? Here's hoping....

Monday, June 14, 2010

Be careful what you wish for

Lately I have been having many small moments of panic: brief moments of clarity when I momentarily realize just how drastic our lives are going to change once we move and that perhaps I am not as confident as I once thought I was about the whole thing. I generally recover myself rather quickly of course, once I remind myself of all the reasons we are doing this, and continue on until the next moment stops me in my tracks.

Last night I had a moment I am still trying to recover from.

In our world - one of multiple relocations and a high turn over rate in friendships - it is rare to find a family where both couples and their children genuinely like one another for reasons beyond similar circumstance and places of employment. We have been so fortunate to have met some very wonderful people here in this town and I've always known the hardest part of all this would be the farewells. I was not expecting to have to face it quite so soon.

We have many friends here, and many we've seen come and go, but one particular couple and their son have really become family to us. Over the years we have shared many meals, from ordinary week day suppers and weekend BBQ's to Thanksgiving dinners and birthday celebrations. We have countless precious memories, hundreds of photos, and many, many shared experiences that make up a friendship we'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else. We've known for a long time that the military member of that family was slated to go over seas this summer to take his turn in the Sand Box, but between his date being moved up and our whirlwind spring - the date has arrived all too quickly. We planned to play host to our dear friends last night as a farewell send off, but as usual, with a busy weekend, I didn't think much about it until just before they arrived. All of a sudden, while cutting potatoes in the kitchen and seeing their truck driving down the street toward our house - such a common occurance as to be almost mundane - I was struck with the realization that this will be the last time we'll have this family, all together, at this house for dinner. Theoretically, if all goes according to plan, we will not longer be living in this province when he returns from his tour.

I felt like someone had punched the wind out of me. Before I knew it I was standing in front of them and it was all I could do not to burst out in tears. I am not a person who cries easily, but the entire evening for me became one of constant restraint. As fond as we all are of these friends, Rhian is probably the best example of how much this man will be missed. She has known him from a very early age and has always thought of him as a member of our family. As I watched them laughing and joking around last night, as is usual, I realized that as young as she is, the next time she sees him she won't be that comfortable around him anymore. I tried to explain to her that this goodbye was for a long time, that he will be away and we'll be gone when he comes home, but she has no concept whatsoever of what that means; she still thinks when we come back to visit she can sleep in her old room. All she'll know is that this much-loved family friend came over for supper one night, as he has countless times before, and she never saw him again. She will of course see him, but not as she does now; none of us remember things as we knew them at five years old. It nearly killed me to watch Steve say goodbye as well - this friend has been a huge support in all the training and major decisions Steve has made over the past year. He has a unique understanding of the world we are entering, making his support and advice invaluable.

I know part of why this is especially difficult for me is for the simple reason that it is the first of many. Its not like this is even the first time we've faced this kind of thing; last year one of my closest friends moved to the other side of the country and I felt like she took my right arm with her, I was so lost. But being left behind is different than being the one leaving. Thats where the panic comes in. I was perfectly content to deal with the stresses of selling this house, buying a new one and organizing a move to Ontario - and to leave the emotional part of it for later. I hadn't even truly considered how I would handle the good-byes, as they were down the road, something I could always worry about later on. All of a sudden I get hit with the reality that it is not easy to look at a person you've come to care about and send them off without any idea of when you might see them again. In fact, its damn hard. I am so thankful I still have a couple months - at least - to spend with the rest of their family and to prepare myself for the other good-byes we will have to face. I will not lose sight again of how important it is to cherish the moments we have with our "military family", and I look forward to the many memories we have yet to make before we leave.

As for our most recent military member to make the trip "over there", I just want to say this: take care my friend. Stay safe, keep in touch and we will take very good care of your wonderful wife and son while we can. You will be missed.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Winds of Change

I have always been a person who craves change. There are some very important constants in my life of course: family and friends, my job and most of my long time preferences and goals. But things like houses, furniture, wall color, clothes - I like to switch it up from time to time. I was always famous as a child for changing my room around and to this day Steven teases me about it. In our current, very small and oddly shaped house, there is only one way our furniture fits and it has bothered me for years.

So now I have this wonderful blog. I get to say what I want, share my feelings in any manner I want and most importantly - I get to change the decor whenever the mood takes me!

I felt it was time for a change, pink is not usually my color but this felt right to me today.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Ok its official: I am freaking out. Don’t pretend you didn’t know this was coming, I may have fooled myself into thinking I would get through this with a minimal amount of stress and anxiety, but I don’t think I fooled many others.

I couldn’t say exactly what brought on this sudden wave of panic, other than to say it occurred to me yesterday that I really don’t want to “stay behind until the house sells” like I always said I would. I suppose deep down I didn’t believe it would actually come to the point where that would be a reality so I simply didn’t dwell on it. Now that we’ve entered the time period where it has moved from “possible” to “probable”, I am getting nervous.

Recently we started exploring our options to see if perhaps there is another way, some alternative that will allow me and the children to make the move this summer as well, without having to wait for the sale of our house. It seems, however that our hands are tied; every avenue we have explored has ended before it really began. We considered leaving the house and living in a PMQ while keeping the house active in the market, but it turned out the military has changed their rules – just last Friday, no less – on paying for the expenses on a vacant house for posted members. Now they will only pay if the house is listed below “assessed value”, which is done by their assessors and in our case is $15,000 below our very fair asking price. There are also no PMQ’s currently available in Petawawa so we were put on a waiting list, with no guarantee we would even secure one this summer. Dropping the price drastically may attract a buyer but without the equity we have in our home there will be no down payment to purchase the next one. We are also being cautioned that the market is not moving at all between $120,000 and $175,000 so it would do us no good to make such a bold move at this point. We could always rent the house out, but that would mean taking it off the market in the middle of posting season – never a smart move – and dealing with renters from two provinces away (and that is only if a Q opens up there).

So it looks like I am back to square one and waiting it out. Only this time it won’t be because I’ve made the responsible, adult decision to do so, but rather because I have absolutely no choice in the matter. I feel like I am a child having a temper tantrum. I don’t like the “unknown” at the best of times but this one takes the cake. I don’t know what to tell the kids when they ask when we’re moving, have no way of giving work any kind of notice, I haven’t signed the kids up for anything this summer other than soccer and still don’t know if they are going to spend their vacation here or not. Everyone says we still have plenty of time but to be honest, 8 weeks is not a long time to complete an offer, do a house hunting trip, give work my notice and plan our trip to Ontario. Most of it is out of our control so the sooner it happens, the better.

And that brings me to my next biggest stressor: I am currently in week 7 of my self imposed “12 week program” but haven’t seen the inside of the gym since week 4. My excuses are legitimate: I have been working more shifts than usual lately, soccer registration has been out of control busy these past couple weeks, we’ve put a rush on our house renos recently and now that soccer has started the kids are barely in the door when we head back out again. However, the fact remains that I haven’t made it a priority. When I first started this my ultimate goal was to fit back into my summer clothes from last year and to learn how to eat a healthy, regular, metabolism-friendly diet. As the early weeks passed I began noticing changes immediately; I was suddenly hungry all the time and almost as soon as I started needing a belt for my “fat capris”, I found I fit better in the clothes two sizes down. Still not my regular size, but much closer. I must admit that this small amount of progress took the “fire” out of me and my plans. I was happy where I was and couldn’t find it in me to push myself that little bit more to achieve the original goal I had set for myself. I am still eating much better (although I MAY have forgotten breakfast a morning or two) and despite my slackened attitude, feel that I’ve made some important progress.

Then I read that my long time friend Melanie has worked very hard to lose 50lbs since January and that Jenn is over in her corner of the world getting so motivated and doing so well with her healthy lifestyle - and I feel like I’m really slipping. We are all in this together ladies, we may have different end goals but we have the same motivation and I am going to use your successes to kick start myself once again. As I promised Jenn on her blog earlier today: I will get up tomorrow, eat a breakfast with enough calories to get the old metabolism going, and head out for a run. You never know, maybe I will find running to be a great stress reliever.

Well, one can always hope.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Relay for Life 2010

As I am sure anyone who would be reading this knows by now, our daughter Morgan participated in the Middleton Relay for Life this year. She, along with 7 of her friends, came up with the idea to create a team all on their own and with very little aid from any of their parents, raised just over $1,800.00.

Heading into the event, which was held last night at Rotary Park in Middleton, NS, we were bursting with pride and excitedly awaiting the recognition they were to receive for being the youngest and the most successful youth team at that Relay. In fact, they were in 6th place overall for fundraising out of 72 teams. A very impressive accomplishment. We also knew that one of the girls on the team, whose hair was quite long, planned to have her ponytail cut off to be donated to a charity that makes wigs for kids with cancer. Once she got up on stage, however, talk turned to shaving her head in order to get more. Egged on by her friends and cheered by the crowd she readily agreed and before her head was halfway completed the rest of the team wanted to do the same. Unfortunately for them the only way to have enough hair to donate was in fact to shave it all off, but not one of them blinked. In the end, five out of the eight team members and two of their siblings sacrificed their locks to a very worthy cause, including our Morgan. In doing this they earned another $135 for their team and the utmost respect of all those present.

Needless to say, Steve and I are very proud of our girl - but not just for the decision she made on that stage, rash as it was. There is a certain type of mob mentality when it comes to things like this: one does it and the rest are quick to follow. It was a brave, courageous and extremely thoughtful thing to do, but it sure comes with some heavy consequences. After a long, emotional and very satisfying 12 hours, Morgan returned home (with a logo painted on her bald head just for me!) exhausted and ready to crash. We made her have a shower first and it was in there while preparing to shampoo her hair that she had a moment of panic and the tears began. At first, when she was sobbing and mumbling incoherently I panicked myself, wondering if we'd made the wrong decision allowing her to do this. But when all she complained about was the strange feeling and the lack of need for her favorite shampoo I realized she was simply over tired. So often I lose sight of the fact that she is still a child after all. We sent her off to bed and hoped for the best.

This is when the real bravery surfaced. She woke up several hours later in a fantastic mood, chatting excitedly about how in a few months time another child would have the opportunity to have a wig because of the hair collected from her and her friends. She talked about the feeling of pride she had in her friends and how good it feels to think of others. She mentioned one of the girls was concerned the boy she liked at school may not like her anymore now that her long blond hair was gone, and that she told her if the boy didn't appreciate the sacrifice she'd made than he wasn't worth her time. I stood there listening to her ramble on, watching her explore her bald head with a sense of awe and knew right then we had done well by letting her make this choice. What an incredible lesson. The fact is: it sucks to lose your hair. For any reason. But I told her she was lucky to be getting ready to sleep off a long night spent with friends and not getting ready to have chemo. She did this willingly, not because she knew her hair would eventually fall out in clumps. She is now a little closer to understanding how it feels to be in those shoes, without actually having to hear the diagnosis. Her sadness was a good thing, and although short lived, taught her once again how lucky she is to have her health, how important it is to do all we can to prevent cancer and how satisfying it can be do good for others. And as Steven said, its better for her to learn about quick decisions and their consequences from shaving her head than from something more permanent like getting a tattoo!

Later in the day I took Morgan and two of the other girls to the mall for some retail therapy. I felt they would now like some new trendy hats and bandanas to make the transition easier and to put a positive spin on the fact that despite the good they have done - they were now all bald. I watched them in their favorite store, trying on different hats and giving each other a fashion show - oblivious to the stares and tentative smiles from other customers. Each time someone stole a glance at them they returned it with a wide smile and didn't miss a beat. Instead of being embarrassed they were proud. Despite the full bags they carried, each one of them walked out of the mall with bare heads.

In my humble (and admittedly somewhat biased) opinion, I believe there are many adults who could learn from these girls. They each ran for a member of their family who had suffered from cancer and in the end they touched many more hearts than they'd meant to. They helped several unknown children, taught us all the true power of the young and showed a confidence few could match.

Well done girls.