Monday, August 22, 2016

Another epic summer in the books

Wow. Those were the fastest six weeks ever. Ever!
I can't believe our Canadian summer has come to an end. But, wow, it was so good.
My goal this summer was to surround myself with people who make me happy. I wanted to laugh until I snorted, reminisce with and enjoy all my Canadian buddies, spend more time with my family, and leave the worries to the worry box. Mission accomplished. I feel so full! I am full of happiness, full of strength, and full of love. I was feeling full of energy - until we took the red eye back to Cayman - I presently feel like I'm recovering from a 6 week hangover (Note to self: Don't do the red eye with the pets again. You, and the pets, are too old for that crap). Nevertheless, for the most part, I feel recharged and ready to tackle another school year and conquer the first knee surgery in September.

Back to the "grind"

I've compiled my top 11 list (10 was not enough) of "favourites" this summer (in no particular order, so I don't want to see Grandma and Baba fighting for top spot or anything like that :)

1) Spending time with Kayla. My sister, Kayla, is awesome. She picked us up from the airport at 3am, always showed up for happy hour, and managed to get through the summer without ever wearing pants! She just graduated from the College of Commerce at the University of Saskatchewan and has signed a 6 month contract with a company in the Netherlands! Way to go, buddy! I am so proud of her. We had some great days this summer and it wouldn't have been the same without Kayla and her YOLO floaty.

well this is right up Kayla's alley!

  2) Baba and Gido's 70th Wedding Anniversary.  How many people have the opportunity to celebrate 70 years of marriage? It was wonderful to catch up with so many relatives that I haven't seen in years, as well as party around the campfire at the farm with my dad, cousins, aunts and uncles, who arrived from all over the world! It warms my heart to see my Baba and Gido enjoying all of their family, together at their home, celebrating them!

My beautiful Baba

3) Regular Tea dates with Grandma. I don't know what Grandma puts in her teapot, but her tea makes my heart happy! I love sitting at grandma's kitchen table, sipping tea, eating her delicious cookies, and catching up. Grandma's house is also the hub of family activity, so it was nice to reconnect with aunties, uncles, and cousins at Grandma's house. I am so proud of my Grandma. At age 85 she and her kitty cat live in the same home that Grandma has lived in for over 30 years. Despite a few health challenges over the years, my Grandma is strong, positive, and makes the best cookies, jam, and buns. Plus, she has a kick ass chair lift, which means no stairs to climb for bathroom breaks. Drink as much tea as you want!
I love Grandma and her chair lift!
4) Quality time with my mom. When I say "quality" time, I mean catching up on every "Real Housewife" and "Married at first sight" episode, whilst mocking every ridiculous scene. I just like being with my mom, whether we are chilling on the boat, drinking wine at Lani's deck party, or laying in front of the TV. One morning in July, my mom and I were texting, and I was like, "This is ridiculous. You are a 10 minute drive away. Be right there!" There are many days on island where it is difficult for me to be so far away from my mom, so I took advantage of our time this summer.

Real Housewives of Candle Lake?

5) Sleepovers with the Hunters. When our buddies, Darren and Allicia, have a few wobbly pops and can't make the trek back to their cabin on the other side of the lake, they sleep over. Needless to say, we got quite a few Hunter sleepovers in this summer. I love waking up and drinking our coffee on the deck while reliving the night's events (We will never forget the Karaoke version of "More Than Words") The Hunters are like extended relatives - but the relatives that you actually really like! I miss their faces already!

Cheers to the Hunters!

6) Wearing my veil on our anniversary.  Ev and I celebrated 11 years of marriage this year. I decided that the only way to truly express my undying love for Evan was to don my veil for the day…whilst celebrating on the boat. My beautiful veil brings me so much joy and my friends made me feel like it was totally appropriate to rock the sparkly veil with my bikini for our special day (I think they would have committed me if I had showed up with the veil on any other day). I even got a photo op with my Maid of Honour, Janna! I didn't realize it was slightly kooky until I overheard a guy at the islands say, "Is she wearing her veil? That's…weird." haha. Oh well. It felt right.
Ev has his, "She's kinda crazy" look

Pure. Joy. Love this veil

The Maid of Honour humoured me.

7) Celebrating an engagement and shark week all in one day!  Anyone who has followed our shenanigans over the past summers know that we have a fantastic tradition of celebrating shark week. By "celebrating," I mean wearing shark paraphernalia, carrying blow-up sharks, and well…drinking margaritas…because we all know that sharks LOVE margaritas. This summer, we celebrated the engagement of our awesome friends, Brad and Lindsey, with an engagement party brunch, and quickly transitioned into shark week festivities. It was an action packed day. My face hurt from smiling so much. I remember looking back on the boat and seeing all my friends dancing, laughing, and hoisting their sharks in the air. I took a mental snapshot of that epic moment and stored it in my memory bank. That memory will come in handy some crappy day when I'm being chased by the chickens.

From engagement party...


Such a super day with the best people!

8) Hanging with my dad and Farm time. My Baba and Gido's farm is about a half hour drive from our cabin at Candle Lake. I love stopping in for visits! Often I ended up searching the bushes for my very spry Baba who is picking mushrooms or tending to her garden. My dad is there frequently in the summer as well, fixing equipment and preparing for harvest. I was able hang out in the shed and have some visits with him. Last summer I couldn't drive for most of the summer (post surgery) and I really missed the ability to take road trips to the farm and see what is going on (and eat Baba's food - I would pay $100 for a Baba pickle right about now) My dad has been so helpful in letting us store furniture and our truck at the farm over the winter. I really enjoyed spending time with him this summer and (hopefully) expressing how grateful we are for all of his help.
Baba patrolling the farm

My dad and I - visits on the deck

9) Our wake surf montage. I haven't been able to wake surf many summers due to those pesky knee surgeries. Although my knees were far from "in working order" this summer, I made an executive decision to say, "screw it!" My first surgery is in September, so if I rattle a little cartilage making myself deliriously happy then who gives a care! My surfs were short and responsible (no 360 attempts), but I enjoyed each and every second out on that board. It's nice to participate in an activity that makes me feel like "me" again. We decided it would be incredibly clever to incorporate activities of daily living into our surf sessions..and take pictures. Best idea ever.

Julia's getting divorced?

Ev's taking his vitamins

Allicia can't even stop to eat her burger!

Stacey loves Cheezies

Darren is bananas

10) Camping with Ev's family in the mountains. We rented a trailer and along with Ev's mom, brother, and our nephew, Kyson, we "glamped" in Kananaskis country (the Rocky Mountains). Despite most of the trails being closed due to an abundance of bear sightings, we had a great time. We had nightly campfires, played games (knock the beer can over with a rock - much more exciting than it sounds), took bike rides, and ate Peg's awesome homemade food. It was great to spend time with Kyson, who is now 9 years old. Every year he, and his interests, change so much! Last time I saw him he was in to lego and Pokemon. Now he's whittling sticks with his Swiss army knife and fishing! We don't get to see him often, but I hope he always has good memories of spending time with his Aunty and Uncle.

The bears must have eaten all the fish!

11) Catching up with "old" friends. Now that we've been living away for 2 years, I'm realizing that it's much more difficult to stay connected with everyone. I know it's difficult, especially in the summer, to make the time to organize visits with friends. I was super pumped this summer to reconnect with the friends that I used to work with at the Victoria Hospital. I even scored a short visit with my old office-mate, Heidi, who now lives in Alaska! Miss you girls! We were a great team.

Therapies crew!

Summertime at Candle Lake will forever be my "happy place." I love the calm cool mornings sipping tea on the deck, the busy fun-filled afternoons with lots of friends and family, and the amazing night skies (complete with Northern lights and stars for as far as you can see!) I love opening our bedroom window at night and falling asleep to the sound of the wind in the trees and the waves lapping on shore. Candle Lake is a magical place! I am so grateful for the ability to spend time there every summer.

My happy place

Candle Lake makes us awesome!

Cheers to an awesome summer! Thanks to everyone who made it possible!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

To Love, Honour, and Cherish

Hey Friends!

Since we arrived back at Candle Lake 4 weeks ago, life has been a whirlwind of activity. Time is flying by much too fast, and I'm desperately trying to hang on to these last few weeks and enjoy my friends and family before it's time to head back to the "real world." (Wait a minute...isn't that crazy that a tropical island has become "the real world"?) Wow. Mind is blown. Haha.

My beautiful Baba at the Anniversary party
Today Evan and I are celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary! I remember our wedding day clearly and it's difficult for me to comprehend that it was 11 years ago. I can't even begin to imagine how my Baba and Gido (Ukrainian Grandma and Grandpa) feel, who recently celebrated 70 years of marriage! 70 years! Can you believe that? Now that's a milestone. Our friends and family gathered at my grandparents hometown last weekend and celebrated my Baba and Gido with food, drink, and a fantastic program of music and videos. In the video that was created, my Baba and Gido described their first impressions of each other (Baba: "He pulled at my zipper. I didn't like him very much!" Gido: "Her skirt was very short. That caught my attention"), the proposal (Baba: "We looked through the Eaton's catalogue and picked a ring. It was $35! I told him it was now or never. I had received other proposals you know"), and their wedding day (Gido: "We had to get married on a Sunday because it was the only day that the Priest was in town!"). The video was awesome - the room was filled with laughter and tears. My Baba said something in that video that really resonated with me, "We took our vows seriously. Marriage involves hard work. You must work at it. It seems like in today's age, couples do not take their vows seriously." Anyone who knows me well is aware that this is one of my pet peeves. I start yelling angrily at the TV when a "Four Weddings" bride vows to "always leave you the last chip" or a groom vows to "make you laugh every single day of our lives." That is BS. It might sound romantic and cute to promise these silly little insignificant things during a wedding ceremony; however, let's be honest, there are going to be some tough times. There will be days when your spouse requires a lot more than the "last chip" or "a good laugh."

11 years ago today, Evan vowed to love, honour, and cherish me through good times and bad, in sickness and health and in all circumstances of our life together. In that moment in time, under the hot August sun with the waves lapping on shore, life seemed perfect. We were in love, repeating our vows in front of our friends and family, and embarking on an amazing adventure together. The future was bright! It has been an amazing journey and I can't imagine traveling through life with anyone other than Evan. But…sometimes you have no control over the circumstances of your life together. In 11 years there has been success, failure, heartache, celebration, sadness, anger, happiness, sickness, health, victory, and defeat. There have been days where we didn't particularly like each other, days when we've struggled to communicate, days where we have been filled with sadness, and days where we've been exasperated with our situation. Despite the struggles, in 11 years, I have always felt loved, honoured, and cherished by my husband. Always. It's easy to love each other when we're sipping wine on a white sand Caribbean beach. It's easy to honour each other when we're celebrating professional successes. It's easy to cherish each other when we're snuggled in by the campfire on a beautiful Saskatchewan summer night. Thankfully, Evan continues to love, honour, and cherish me when I require his help to climb the stairs, when I am crying and overwhelmed in the Doctor's office, and when I am throwing my knee brace in frustration (yep. It happened).  Evan loves me when I'm awesome…and Evan loves me when I'm, well…not so awesome. I'm just beginning to realize the power of those vows that we took 11 years ago and we can only aspire to reach a 70 year milestone like my Baba and Gido.

Cheers to my Baba and Gido - Congratulations! It must be an amazing feeling to look around the room at your 70th anniversary party and realize that the two of you created all of this! There is so much love surrounding you! What an accomplishment. I love you both so very much!

Cheers to my Evan. We've created such a wonderful life together! Remember when we were 17 years old and we aspired to one day live in a place with palm trees?  Haha. We did it! I'm so thankful that we found each other 21 years ago in grade 12 Social Studies class. Thanks for being my best buddy. I love you with all of my heart!

Ev is hilarious! Still making me laugh 11 years later

Ev carried me on our wedding day, even with  2 good knees!

My Baba and Gido - Happy 70th Anniversary!

PS: Good Morning Lisa Wallin ;)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

4 Things I no longer care about

Hey Everyone,

Check out my blog post that is up on "Women Who Live On Rocks." It's called, "4 things I no Longer care about."
To be perfectly fair, I have been curling my hair since I've been back in Canada this summer…and it feels pretty awesome.