Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Wishes Update!

An update of my summer time wish list.  More blogs to post soon when I have some spare time.  Lots of pictures to talk about...

1. Take the kids to the beach at least once.
2. Watch as Roan scores his first goal in soccer. 
3. Spend more time with my extended family (on both sides).
4. Have more dinners with friends. (5)
5. Take the boys camping for a few days by a beach.  (Separate from #1).
6. Finish the work we started around the yard.
7. Put up a fence, and increase my patio space.
8. Have friends over often for beer on the patio.
9. Get to an amusement park at least once with the boys.
10. Get to an amusement park at least once with adults.
11. Break out a spontaneous soccer game with the boys and their friends.
12. Be a soccer mom twice each Saturday.
13. Go to BINGO at least once with Lesley.
14. Take in a summer concert.
15. Take the boys to the racetrack (horses, not cars).
16. Take lots of pictures.
17. Play hookie from work for a day.
18. Get my left arm tattoo started/completed.
19. Get a pedicure or two.
20. Spend a morning or afternoon at the spa.
21. See Gage graduate from Grade 8
22. Save money for next years vacations.
23. Go down a water slide.
24. Get a sunburn (not a bad one, just for some more freckles and that sunkissed look.)
25. Go fishing with my kids.
26. Camping or cottage with friends.
27. Go garagesale-ing with Margaret.
28. Go to the drive-in.
29. Go for bike rides.
30. Go on a road trip.  Even if it is just a day.
31. Go for walks through the neighbourhood in the evenings. 
32. Say hello more often to all of my neighbours.
33. Laugh so hard I cry.  And maybe pee a little.
34. Sit by a fire.
35. Jump on the trampoline with Roan.
36. Teach Roan how to do a back flip.
37. Sleep in. 
38. Read an awesome book or two or three. 
39. Drive a go-cart.
40. Hike in the gorge.
41. Go to the Zoo.
42. Go to Merrittville Speedway.
43. Make a kitty tower.
44. Witness Gage take the Gold medal in track.
45. Go to the PRIDE parade.
46. Go for a Ghost Tour.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Picture People

So I posted below a picture of the Luminary bag my cousin Keane drew to represent the siblings in memory of my dad.  I mentioned that I wanted to message Keane to find out the meaning behind the drawings and who each one 'stood' for.  He replied to my request.

So here is the story behind the idea:

The idea was Keane's but the answers for the symbolism lay with his mom, my aunt Gay.   Having just returned from a Zen type retreat in BC (I'm sure that does not nearly sum up the magnitude of what it was), he walked her through a brief meditation to quiet her mind and then he had her write whatever word comes to mind as he said the name of each of her siblings.  He then took those words and drew them as images.  The images surrounded the one that stood for my dad with interconnections between all of them that then completed the pictures.

Kit - reading (the book)
Nadine - baking (the oven)
Lana - smoking (the cigarettes)
Tim - quiet  (the mouse)
Laura - dancing (the foot)
Sheila - talking (the phone)
Michelle - laughing (the spiral design)
Terry - singing (the bird)
Gabrielle - courageous (the lion)

My aunt refused to say a word for herself so Keane came up with something himself and it was 'lion', because he sees her as courageous and strong.  And he's so right.  He suggested they may seem like shallow interpretations of people but if these are the words my aunt's subconscious brought forward then there's got to be deeper meaning in them for sure. Perhaps, these are related to fond or strong memories she associates with everyone?

I love my aunt and cousin even more for being willing to do this for us.

It's funny because I guessed the book right!  The book was my dad!

A Gold for my Golden Boy

Last Monday was just, yet again, another day I wish my dad was here.

Not sure what prompted him, but this year Gage decided to try out for Track at school.   It turns out he is quite good at it.  Good enough that he managed to place in the City-wide competition and move on to Regionals. 

He placed in 100m and 200m.  We should have been able to include Relay in that list as well, but their team got disqualified after one of the runners foot went out of their lane briefly. 

I was fortunate enough to be able to take the day off from work and go with him to the Regionals to watch him race.  The deal was that he had to place in the first heat for each race and then if successful he would move on to the final race.  There were 5 sets of 8 for the 100m race and 4 sets of 8 for the 200m.  All of the first place winners were guaranteed spots in the final race and then the rest to qualify were based on actual times.

After all the 100m races it turns out that Gage had the fastest time out of 40 kids.  He also placed in the 200m as well but I think he might have had the fifth fastest time out of 32 kids.

As he prepped for his final races it was clear he was getting tired.  It was a long, hot day.  We had a pep talk and he decided that he could endure 12-13 seconds of pain if his Grandpa could endure all the pain he had gone through at the end of his life.

So as he walked away from me to run, he turned and said, "For Grandpa, mom!"  and gave me the thumbs up.  He ran for my dad...he walked away with the Gold medal.  I can't tell you how proud I was of him.  My heart was overflowing.  I was a blubbery, excited mess.   He placed 5th in the 200m, but by then, I think he was quite content with his pretty gold.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I Walk For Kit

No one in our family has had any real motivation to participate in these ever popular cancer awareness walks until this year.    So of course, we were complete newbies.  I laugh because we thought we were all prepared and that was so far from the case! When we first got to the site we noticed how elaborate some of the other teams had made their homebase.  (Ours was a double lot because we had two teams so we had extra pressure to represent.  Little did we know...)  Some of them were inspiring and amazing.  Ours consisted of Uncle Paul and Roan sitting in an empty double wide lot.  That's it.  Not even a chair!  It was a sight to see and I'm sad we didn't get a quick snapshot of the absurdness. 

 We were told a couple of days before the walk that they did some themed walks throughout the night.  I'm disappointed that we didn't find out until it was nearly too late.  Some of the themes were Superhero (I thought with time my brother would have majorly represented), crazy hats, 80's, movie star, etc.  We only had time to pull together some crazy hats.  Here's Eric with my sweet Dollar Store find.  Next year I think we'll better represent.

Roan, Eric and I worked on decorating a paper bag that housed a votive candle.  They used these "luminaries" to line the path and to honour the cancer victim or survivor.  So we did one for my dad.  My cousin Keane designed one to be from the siblings as well.  It consisted of 9 different symbols/emblems that represent the nine siblings.  (I need to touch base with him to find out what they mean and which one belongs to which sibling.)

Dawn, my mom, Lesley, Roan and myself also worked on a large banner/flag for us to proudly hold during our family march.  I'm not gonna lie, it's the second attempt after I experienced an epic fail when I spelled our last name wrong on the first one.  D'oh!  Thirty-six and a half years with this name and clearly I have a problem spelling it slowly and under pressure with permanent marker!  It was good for a laugh and I know my dad would have found it funny too.

Us against Cancer

My aunt Gabrielle had t-shirts made up for our team, as you can see in the photos posted.  We had people bringing a couple of tents, air mattresses, chairs, and snacks for us to munch on through the night.  We thought we were so prepared, but it was blatantly obvious that we were the newbies on site.  Some of the set ups were so magnificent and elaborate. We paled in comparison.  We weren't even seasoned enough to know we would need flashlights for crying out loud.  Strange that we didn't realize this earlier, as it was an event that went through the night.

Uncle Marc and Eric outside a Breast Cancer Survivor site

Aunt Sheila outside of Ruby's Army's site. 
Part way through the evening my cousin Tara came to our rescue and brought us reserves.  She brought us a fire pit, solar lights, bug zappers, flashlights, coffee, blankets, etc.  We've vowed (after stealing other people's ideas) to make next year way better.  Dawn and I were even thinking of an 80's prom theme where we'll walk in tacky, taffeta prom dresses reminiscent of the '80s.  Not truly my dad's era, but fun for the rest of us.  He appreciated lame shit like that.

 I was so proud of my Aunt Nadine and Uncle Larry for coming to the walk to offer us their support.  It's extremely difficult for both of them to walk any sort of distances now, but they walked for my dad and then stayed for a bit to offer us their moral support.  She is my dad's older sister, the only one as all the rest are younger sisters and my uncle grew up across the street from the Rousseau's and eventually married one.  So he's probably the only person still in my dad's life that he'd known longer than his own family.  I'm so grateful they found the strength.

Josh and Eric

We had an over all good time with all of the family.  Some stayed with us right through the night (THANK YOU!!) and some came and visited, walked and went (THANK YOU!!).  It was so nice to see everyone again.  I love to hear stories about my dad growing up, they keep him vivid and present.  It was nice to hear that others are still struggling as I do.  It reinforces to me that I'm (and our immediate family) are not alone in our sorrow.  It's nice to know that they didn't all just go back to their lives after the initial loss and return to normal.  It's nice to know they still think of him often, are overcome with tears at inopportune times just like me and that they are still sad.

Alison, Adam and Becca
Roan and Eric

As night fell and Dawn and I continued to walk we paused three times so Dawn could light the luminary bags for our dad.   I'm not sure why something so 'trivial' seemed so important, but it was.  I hope he could see the lights and I hope he knew we were doing this all for him.  It was nice walking the path, just me and her for him.  We did, however, eventually stumbled upon a hidden gem (albeit a little off course)....the concession stand inside (the civic centre on sight) and discovered they had fries and gravy and nachos and cheese.  So just a minor side step and then back to the walking.

Roan AKA Moonlight (the Superhero as dubbed by Captain America)
 After total darkness, Roan became infatuated with all the glow sticks and made it his mission to see how many he could scam out of the volunteers, family and complete strangers.  I deem he was greatly successful.  He then spent numerous laps trailing some dude dressed as Captain America, probably inundating him with the most absurd questions and stories.  Hopefully to his delight and not chagrin.

Eric being well...Eric!
And of course, once Eric got his hands on a glow stick, one of the first questions he posed was if I thought he could fit it through his old septum piercing.  Much to his delight and my young cousins' (Becca and Jordyn) chagrin, he was successful!!  I think he should have done an entire lap like that. 

Cole and Roan
Roan came with us to walk.  Gage wasn't able to come as he wasn't going to be getting back from his Grade 8 end of year school trip until 9 p.m.  I couldn't believe that Roan walked that circuit as often as he did. He didn't stop moving until I forced him to lay down to try and get some sleep around 4:30 a.m.  He walked the path, he ran the path, he played games with Sawyer, he scammed glow sticks, he pal'd around with Cole, and he ate cookies.  

The above is a picture of a bunch of the luminary bags in the shape of a heart.  Our two decorated bags are up in the top left lobe (right on the screen). Sadly I didn't get a picture of it lit up at night as it looked pretty.  But we did get a picture of HOPE and a couple of the lined pathways.  

We spent a lot of time between walking hanging out around the 'camp fire', laughing, telling stories and singing.  The entertainment provided was not even mediocre.  It was painful and lacked any sort of talent what's so ever.  We still haven't figured out where they found these people.  Needless to say, they provided us with our own form of entertainment.

But I'll close with perhaps the best word only t-shirt I've ever read (sorry no picture):

"These boobs are fake.  My real ones tried to kill me."

Cancer, you may have taken someone extremely important to all of us, but you will NOT break us.  Go fuck yourself. 

She goes for a walk and rides a roller coaster.

I've been dreading this weekend since April 9th.  Our first Father's Day.  An empty Father's Day.  I felt it was somewhat appropriate that we, as a family, united together to walk in the Relay for Life Cancer Walk in dad's honour on Friday night.  I was looking forward to doing the walk, as well as spending time with our extended family.  I thought it was going to be lots of fun, and at points it, for sure, was.  We managed to raise just under five thousand dollars in his name for this walk.  That's amazing and I'm humbled once again at the support I, and my family, have received from so many.

What I didn't expect was the wave of emotions I experienced during the night.  At the beginning of the walk, they had a separate "survivor's walk" to start the event.  We all lined the path and those who have cancer or are survivor's of cancer adorned yellow shirts and lead a parade through throngs of people clapping and hooting for them.  Myself included.  I stood there, eventually overwhelmed in my own silence, at the numbers of yellow shirts.  Not because there were tons of them, but in my opinion, there were not enough.  And there was certainly one specific person wearing one of those yellow shirts who was noticeably absent. 

I was overcome with a feeling of  admiration and wonder.  Admiration knowing those people in front of me had been dealt a shitty blow and still they managed to work through it and come out on the other side.  The remission side, the celebratory side.   I was also struck with curiosity of how they mentally dealt with the whole situation.  Probably because in my own grief I seem to be stuck on the continuous wonder of how my dad felt mentally about his situation.  I wonder if he was scared (I am pretty sure I already know this answer but I'm sad he never felt he could truly speak of it).  I vividly remember the look on his face when they told him he had maybe two days left.  It far outweighs the look on his face when they first told him he had cancer.

After being surprised with those feelings, I was immediately overwhelmed with a feeling of jealousy and envy.  Jealous because my dad didn't get a fair chance.  Jealous that these people got to walk beside "their" survivor in support.  Envy because we had no one who could wear the yellow shirt.  I miss my dad.  More than I ever thought possible.

I was on the continuous verge of tears the entire night and many times, the tears won.  At one point I had a complete break down and had to walk away from the event area and go find a private spot with Eric just to try to regain my composure.  Just walking the path could set  me off.  Spending time with my dad's family set me off.  Hearing their stories set me off.  Getting hugs from them set me off.  They are one step closer to my dad for me. 

It was only a walk but it was also an emotional roller coaster for me.  One I never considered I'd be riding last night.  I suppose it's healthy in my grief journey.  I know I hold in my thoughts and emotions for the most part and I keep pushing the whole thing to the back of my mind so I don't have to feel the pain.  Yesterday and last night I was overcome with emotional pain. 

I'm sad and I'm angry and I'm hurting.  I'm tired, already, of trying to find the silver linings.  The silver linings that help me process everything that's happened.  They help me temporarily but the unknown, the uncertainty, the fear, the loss, the look on his face....they all continue to haunt me.  They peek through the silver linings.  They seem to be winning.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Always Coca Cola, Always My Dad.

For my dad.  Happy Father's Day. 
(A father's day gift I'd rather not give.)

Epic Failure

Today we had so many fun things planned for the day and we didn't seem to find success in any of them.

First we headed off to the go-karts for an hour of fun before Gage's soccer game .  We managed 5-6 laps before a group of older teens came on to the course and were acting like assholes, bumping and passing and just plain being dicks.  At one point, after side swiping me and hitting my car, one of them smashed into the back of Eric.  When he looked around to see who the culprit was he found this tool and Gage (though he didn't realize it was Gage at the time).  Not being sure who actually hit his car, he got pissed and demanded they be kicked off the track.  Sadly I think there was some confusion but it still cut Gage's time on the track short.
Roan however, seemed to have a total blast.  It was his first time riding in a go-kart alone let alone driving one.  He did awesome.  We let him finish all his laps while we waited with Gage. 
I had gotten out of my car after seeing Eric lunge after the asshole teenager in the middle of the track.  I didn't need to be bailing him out of jail.  Thankfully, Eric's friend works there and was on the situation immediately.  It all ended peacefully I suppose. 

This is a picture of me prepping myself for my go-kart experience.  A sweet hairnet and helmet.  Unbeknownst to me when Eric asked me to pose for the picture I happened to make the exact same pose as the gorilla behind me.  Funny...

This was while everything was still fun, fun, FUN! 

After we left the Go-karts, we headed over to Canadian Tire to pick up fishing licenses for Eric and myself.  Later today we had plans to take the boys on a Salmon fishing charter on Lake Ontario.

We then made our way over to the soccer field only to discover that Gage's 'make up' game for being rained out last week was canceled and they are planning to 'make up' the 'make up' game.  So plan number two ruined as well.

The above picture is a fishing lure that Eric created and planned to use in hopes of warning the fish not to fall for delicious looking lures.

Once we got to Port Dalhousie and met up with the Captain and the Skipper it was decided that the weather wasn't really co-operating with us and it was in our best interest that we reschedule our afternoon for a day when the winds and waters were calmer.  I wasn't complaining!  July sounds like a much nicer month to go on a fishing charter anyway.

So since we were in Port and it took us a while to find a parking spot we thought we'd wander up the dock and take in a little of the day.  By the time we got to the end of the dock my feet were soaked from the waves coming up onto the path and I was cold.  Just as well we didn't get out in the middle of the lake on a boat.  I'd have been miserable.  So we took some pictures and watched the boys make asses out of themselves.  Always entertaining.  Then we headed back to the car, but not before stopping for ice-cream. 

Me clearly not being able to eat ice-cream and drive at the same time.

Texting Teen

This is pretty much how you'll also find my kid now.  The funny thing is, right after Eric took this picture he walked into the large floor sign in front of him because he had his head down sending sweet nuthin's to his lady friend.  Sadly, THAT was not caught on camera.

Oh, here he is again, doing what he does best.  Ignoring us while we wait for dinner.

Porch Safety

Lately we've been doing work around the outside of the house.  Well, mainly Eric has.  But I buy the stuff, so I'll include myself in that statement.  I also cleaned up my gardens, laid mulch and planted flowers, so I'm not entirely useless.  Though my poor Forget Me Nots that someone gave to us when my dad passed away have also passed away themselves.  I'm hoping I can revive them, but if not, I'll have to go buy some more...

Anywho, you've already seen pictures of the shed.  And soon I'd like to be able to post pictures of it painted all lovely like and matching my house.  I'd also like to be able to state that the back fence has been repaired and re-installed but so far I can't.  What I can announce right now though is how amazing my new porch railing looks, although it, too, is not complete.  Eric just has to nail down the very top boards, as you'll see in the picture (the boards that give it a completed/finished look), cut the posts down so they are all even and I'll grab some post caps this week to complete the whole task.  

Next up, finishing the projects we have started (as mentioned above), and working out a price quote for the fencing I want him to do next to make my backyard completely private and thus giving us some extra patio space to further enjoy beers on.  

Broken Boy

Oh yes he nephew Sebastian broke his ankle this weekend while jumping on his trampoline.  I feel terrible for him.  We've suffered through three broken bones all in different summers in this household and it's never convenient or fun.  I'm hoping he'll be able to get an air cast for swimming and walking but I don't know if those are possible for a break on a part of your body that you rely on to hold weight. 

So to my most favourite nephew in the whole world... feel better soon buddy!  I love you and don't want you to be broken.

Kind to the Kitties

Last night Roan decided to design a new kitty structure for our brood of 5 feline friends.  The first one he designed would have taken up our entire bay window (5 panes of glass).  I thought it might be a little excessive so I asked him to pare it down a little and he came up with the following drawing.  It's gonna be pretty sweet for the cats. 

After he did the drawing, Roan and I watched a show about the worlds nicest cars and during that time Eric decided to model the drawing in Sketchup so he could sort out exactly how to make this thing.   It's gonna be pretty amazing.  We have a lot of the wood left over after doing the railing and the shed, my dad has a bunch of wood pieces in his work shop as well and any extras we can just pick up.  I have some carpeting left in storage at work that we will use to give them a couple of scratch posts and I'm sure we can find something to use for the hammock-like stations.  

I think it's gonna be fun to build, I hope Roan doesn't lose interest too quickly.