Photo Challenge – Optimistic

photochallenge-optimistic


January is the month that we have to turn vacation requests in at work. I’m usually excited to do it but it’s getting more and more difficult to work around everyone.


This year, we have a wedding to attend in Ottawa (super pumped about that!) and Tyler’s spending 6 weeks at the military college for cadet camp in Kingston. We’re planning a big camping trip, trying to arrange for several families to attend, while still holding out for Tyler’s return from camp. If it all goes well, I’ll get to see my parents for the first time in person in two years. I’ve really, really missed them. It’s really difficult to be away from them.


So I took on the task of checking the calendar, checking dates and trying to map out how we were going to do this. With Tyler away for so long, we will be putting Caleb in day camp for a couple of weeks and figuring out other arrangements for at least two other weeks. That was our big project this week… and I get pretty excited about planning our family time when it’s still cold and dreary outside.


Devin’s vacation has to be approved first, before I can hand mine in… he has to work around his co-worker’s vacations because they have seniority, but for me, it really doesn’t matter. I am fairly lucky that way!


Yes, I can almost smell the Algonquin pine trees and the evening campfires… I can hear the birds chirping, kids playing and wood being cut for fires. The optimistic was of looking at it is that it’s only 6 months away!


Optimistic

Evergreen

Evergreen

My life has been touched by cancer.

Not me, personally. No one in my immediate family. Thank goodness.

A dear friend came over earlier today to announce that he has been undergoing some tests, especially after a recent trip to the emergency room, and the tests did not come back clear. Tears were shed as he told us the news.

This news comes just two months after an acquaintance passed from a similar cancer.

In the moments leading up to the news, I was in denial. I knew it was coming, and I knew it wasn’t good. I knew it was bad news, and it was scary and I felt as long as I played dumb, I could deny it was happening. This all took place in seconds. Literally. And then it was made extremely clear and finally, there was no more denying it.

The good news is that one, his parents have both had this type of cancer, and have been in remission for many years. Annual checkups have confirmed this. Two, while they have more tests to run, there is an aggressive action plan in place. The odds are good.

It’s still scary.

As I continue process the information, and think about the questions I asked him, I admire his strength, his positivity. I am feeling pretty positive about the situation myself, but I know this means nothing, in the long run. There are a million what-ifs and no one can guarantee the future.

Then I think of friends who have also been touched by cancer, through loved ones. It was selfish of me to think it wouldn’t hit me this close to home. Boom. Here it is. In my face.

This is not to say that some of our family members haven’t been diagnosed with cancer. But it seems strangely different when it’s your grandparents. Why is that? Why does it seem so much more tragic when the person is still so young?

When did this start happening to people of such young ages? I have an online friend who’s younger sister passed from cancer. They weren’t even in their teenage years yet. The acquaintance of ours was thirty-four. These people, these beautiful souls, had only just begun living.

Has this always been happening? Has cancer always been there, and we just didn’t know what it was, so we blamed another illness? Is it something we are pre-dispositioned for, something we are born with? Or is it more than that? Is it what we are exposing ourselves to? Foods, chemicals, the environment? These days, it sounds like everything causes cancer.

And, most importantly, is there a cure and “they” just don’t want to share it because fighting cancer is a billion-dollar industry?

One could go crazy with all of these questions and no clear answers.

I have an unshakeable confidence for my friend. I know he is in good hands, and the current health of his parents says something about the outcome of his surgery and treatment. I will be there, holding his hand in recovery after his surgery. I will be there for him when he undergoes chemo and feels like crap (no pun intended)… I will be there for my friend.

Love you, friend. ❤

It’s My Party!

PARTY

Today is June 30th, 2018.

We are at a friend’s house in Newcastle, Ontario. TJ, and his wife, Steph, have graciously opened up their home to us to let us celebrate our vow renewal in honour of our 20th wedding anniversary which was actually in December, 2017. We had a winter wedding, so we decided to do our renewal in the summer months.

The weather is warm, sunny, with a smidge of humidity (which is normal for southern Ontario). The breeze takes the edge off. The kids just finished school this week, and Tyler will be heading off to Kingston for a full 8 weeks of cadet camp at the military college. He really, really wanted to be a part of this special day. He wants to give a speech in honour of our day.

The house is in the middle of a farmer’s field, there is literally no one for miles. It’s a big, country house, a sizeable property with a woodshed and fire pit in the back. They’ve recently redone the deck to make it bigger, not at our request, it’s something they wanted to do anyway. Over the fire is a partially cooked pig on a spit, turning slowly and continuing to cook slowly for pork sandwiches later.

The local Hamilton band that my husband and I have known since we began living together in 1994 is starting to trickle in, with their gear and coolers. We consider them to be friends, we make a point to see them whenever we know they’re playing in town. We love their music… they play everything from Sass Jordan to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Greenday and so much in between. We technically grew up with them.

There are many folding lawn chairs placed around the firepit, and the surrounding trees have white Christmas lights hung on them, for when the festivities really get under way later. A few tents have been set up for guests who are staying the night, so they don’t have to drive the distance to get back home.

I busy myself in the kitchen, helping to organize and prepare salads and crockpots full of chicken and beef. Devin’s shucked the corn and is putting them into a clean cooler. Later, he’ll pour boiling water into it, and the corn will cook itself. Buns are stockpiled for sandwiches as the buffet is starting to come together.

The pastor who married us, Todd, joins the crowd in the backyard, sees Devin and I, and immediately heads over to catch up. He will be saying a few words for us, to us, about us. It’s his first vow renewal. We’re the only couple he’s married who are still together. This makes us proud… I think it makes Todd even more proud.

Portable washrooms have been set up along the side of the yard so that we can cut down on traffic in the house. We’re not sure who is more pumped about this; us or TJ. This party has been in the making for two years, but Devin and I have been talking about it for much longer.

I can hear the band doing their sound checks, as more people join us with coolers and chairs in hand. A couple of people, who are what I lovingly call, 5-star campers, will be heading into town to stay the night at a local hotel. I’m just thrilled that they could come out for this.

My friend Beth-Anne is busy arranging and organizing, insisting that I sit and relax, but I can’t. I feel bad. Friends of ours shouldn’t be doing all of the work… especially since the entire thing was our idea. The thing I love about Beth-Anne is that she thinks about all of the tiny, little details that I never even thought of, but it justs adds to the specialness of the day. She is amazing, and I am so glad I asked her to be a part of this. She is literally my right-hand lady.

The band is now all set up, and they are making their rounds, meeting friends and family. Country music is playing in the background and the roasted pig is smelling amazing. I cannot wait to eat.. I’ve been so nervous all morning, I didn’t eat a lot… and snacking on veggies here and there has done nothing to tame this hunger!

I take a seat, half-listening to the conversation going on around me, but not directed at me. I see TJ and Devin over at the woodshed, as TJ shows Devin the gigantic pile of firewood he’s been storing for the evening… and then promptly drags out three skids from behind the shed. I think we’ll be lighting up the entire field.

For years, we’ve talked about this. This is the only way we wanted to celebrate. Our closest family and friends, good food, guitars and our favourite band playing as we dance the night away. I finally let my breath out and relax. It’s all about enjoying it now… with the love of my life.

Here’s to another 20 years!

It’s My Party

Guitars on Fire in Vineland!

Guitars on Fire in Vineland!

There was pandemonium on Saturday, as folks gathered in Vineland, Ontario to celebrate a young woman’s “29th” birthday with friends and family.

It began as a surprise, as the guest of honour answered the door to several, unexpected guests. She was force-fed a delicious, gourmet meal, and coerced into drinking several adult beverages, under the pretense of celebrating.

A hoe-down occurred outside, around the campfire, with the onslaught of several guitars and much merriment, with singing and dancing. Hits such as “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Simple Man” were strummed and sung along to. Indoors, “S.O.B.” was blasted on repeat over the home theater speakers. YouTube videos may or may not have been posted on social media.

A homemade, chocolate cake was later introduced to the crowd of party-goers, to infuse them all with further energy to withstand the fun-filled evening.

The evening was full of laughter and good times, as people eventually made their way home or to bed, in the large, beautiful house. However, the party didn’t end there. Four inebriated people stumbled their way to the host’s hot tub outside. Water was consumed at this point, to offset the results for the following day, as the hot tub light show carried on, invoking relaxation and a sense of peacefulness. Perfect for slumber.

The following morning, or perhaps, later the same morning, the opening song for Gone in 60 Seconds, “Bring Sally Up” by Moby, could be heard blaring over the home theater in the living room, welcoming any guests who spent the night to enjoy a movie accompanied by a big pot of strong coffee and more laughter, as reactions on social media from the previous evening’s shenanigans came to light.

”It was a phenomenal time… the entire evening was a blast. Good people, great food. Couldn’t have asked for a better night, or better friends.”, one party-goer stated.

Stay tuned to this breaking story… this reporter has a feeling that there may be a repeat performance.


Ripped Into the Headline

Feeling Festive

FeelingFestive

It’s been a crazy busy week here… with our anniversary on the 7th, a little boy suffering from the flu and missing a couple of days of school… laundry, more laundry and disinfecting the house, setting up the Christmas tree and decorating our home. It might be why I slept for 10 hours last night!My favourite thing about the holiday season is getting together with our friends and family, and enjoying their company over some great food and a few drinks. I love catching up with their lives and sharing what’s going on with us.

I love the warm feelings of friendship and laughing together, with music in the background.

We had some great friends over last night, and enjoyed a nice meal together (that our son helped prepare). We played Cards Against Humanity (what IS it about that game? I just love it!) A little (or a lot) of wine and friendship go a long way to soothe the soul.

It reminds me that there is more to life than work and paying bills, and “getting through the day”. It reminds me that there is so much more to life and we are meant to enjoy it. Fully. With full hearts and good friends. It reminds me of how blessed we are to have these people in our lives.

So in the busy-ness of the season, don’t forget to make time for your friends, and your family, and enjoy what the season is all about: Love. Friendship. Happiness. Joy.

What is your favourite thing about the Christmas season?