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Heaven Is A Better Place Today

I woke up this morning and after my shower instead of heading downstairs to find some underwear I went straight to my closet and put on my Hip shirt. I know that doesn’t sound like anything odd but I ALWAYS do shirt last, after a teeth brush and layer of deodorant so that I don’t get anything on the shirt. As I was looking through my shirts I also brushed past the shirt I had made for the last concert that reads “Here’s a glue guy, performance God…” and it was just enough to put it in my head. I walked back downstairs to brush singing “heaven is a better place today”.

I was in the movement room at work, alone, when my phone started blowing up. “Gord died…” was the first thing I read from Al and it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I just had trouble pulling it together. Then as other people started texting me it was just too much emotion. It was definitely a tough day working with kids. One woman I work with also loves the Hip and when I first met her we were both wearing Hip gear. I was the one who told her when she got in this morning and her eye’s just welled up and she went straight to the phone to call her husband. The impact of it all was just so HARD, HUGE, and HAUNTING.

I tried hard to compose myself throughout the day but it was hard. One text I received said:

“sad day – I was thinking of you this morning. Great memories – thank you for bringing the Hip into my life!”

Back to square one. I just kept telling myself that Tom Petty died just a few days ago and I don’t remember any grown men walking around the office all welled up. Pull it together man, I kept telling myself. Then I read the obituary on Maclean’s – that was a mistake.

What I realized was that it wasn’t just about the passing of an amazing man. A man I feel some kind of personal connection to that I have never met. I realized it’s about all of you. All of the people who share this music with me and the memories that pop into my head when I hear it. The concerts, the road trips, the parties, the clubs, the camping, the hockey, the socials, the weddings, the friendships…all of it.

It’s the knowledge that today is the day the music died. Literally. What I can only explain as the soundtrack to my life now has a beginning and an end. I know that the music lives on but it makes me sad to think about the flame that brought so much happiness to my life has gone dark. Knowing that I will never again sit in an arena and see Gord live weakens my will a little. I can clearly remember them all and never wanting that feeling to end. Even just sitting in my car alone and cranking it up – it could never get loud enough, no number on a dial could ever explain it.

So that’s what I did on my way to pick up the kids after school. Got lost in it.

When Shan got home we asked GOOGLE to play some HIP and opened up a bottle of wine I never thought there would be an occasion for. We drank for Gord – and then Al came over and we all drank for Gord, just as we have so many times before.

RIP Gord Downie – Thank you for everything.

Back Step

It seems each summer Shan and I decide that we need to get at least ONE house project done on our summer budget. This year it was the back step and slanting sidewalk.

Destruction of the existing back step was our first concern. I took a few whacks with a sledge and broke the hammer so Shan said I should go and rent a jackhammer. I was still determined at this point to get this done frugally so I borrowed a hammer from a neighbor and channeled all that doubt into rage and this was the result.

Even Penny looks impressed.

Post project we always go back and forth about how to attack these things. Not being “very handy” there are some things out of my comfort zone and in this case it was drilling into the foundation. I wanted to put a header on the house to attach the frame so Shan’s dad offered to help with that. I also talked to my other neighbour who suggested I bring the step out another block so that you don’t have to step off the step to open the door like you had to before. Brilliant if you ask me. So we increased the size of our header to accommodate that and JD guided me with where to put the lag bolts and how the frame would come together and attach. Big thanks JD for all the help with that.

Notice those big holes in the frame so that it can be flush with the house and the lag bolts can come through? Well drilling those is not fun unless you have a really good drill. I found that out the hard way! Shan helped me put together the frame and I think we did a super good job. Once that was done I attached it to the house and built the legs to level it out and keep it steady. We ordered a yard of 1/4 down to fill the frame and planned on using the rest for the sidewalk. Shan thought a yard was too much but it turns out it’s not.

What $100 looks like on your driveway.

Honestly at this point in the day I was done after hauling in all the 1/4 down. I figured I could finish the rest tomorrow and that is when Nolan appeared out of nowhere! He came equipped with work gloves and shovel in hand. With his help we were able to lift and level the remaining sidewalk that was slanting toward the house. That was our initial job for the summer before it grew into a new back step. Nolan really pushed me to get it done that day and in the end there is no way I could have done that without him. Also, the next time I need that done I will hire someone. I think it turned out awesome but someone who knows how to do it properly could get it done with a lot less swearing. It also didn’t help that the kids were water bombing us while we were working but it made it fun! HUGE thanks to Nolan for being the kind of friend who just shows up at your house when you are doing this kind of thing.

Here is the end result…

Still need to move the hose over.

Kinda makes me want to do a front step next year!

Chewie

Welcome Chewie the Guinea Pig.

The girls have always wanted a Guinea Pig and every time we go near a Petland we are there for hours picking them all up and snuggling them for hours. The more we went the more they became attached and all of a sudden they were also very good at handling them very gently. Coincidentally one of the teachers at General Byng recently got one as a class pet and seeing the kids all pass her around made me think that getting one might not be so bad.

Also one of the kids I work with REALLY wanted one too so I decided to get myself one. This way I could bring it home and see how it goes and also have it at school for the kids and as a buddy for “Tribble”, our class pet. Long story short, this is Chewie.

I found Chewie on Kijiji for $0 and paid $20 for the cage she came in. I needed a cage anyway to bring her back and forth so it was really a no brainer. The girls love her and are starting to share her nicely (sometimes). Ashlyn wants a friend for Chewie for her next birthday so I made this cool home for them out of an old bookcase I found on Kijiji for $15. Ash helped me with the fancy lid.

I was worried about keeping Penny out but they have become really good furiends so it’s not really an issue. That was another big reason I didn’t want one at first because I though Pen would always need to be barricaded when Chewie was out playing with the girls. She still gets licked sometimes but doesn’t really seem to mind. Chewie even comes to Penny when she hangs her head into Chewies cage.

I really like these little guys. Need to clean the cage here and there but they don’t really need much. They are quiet when content and communicate by chirping ar you when they hear their food or when you pick them up. Fun and easy to care for that is forsure. Not sure what 2 will be like but we am sure to find out!

Santa Fe XL

It’s a 2017 Santa Fe XL with 30,000 KMs and it only took 5 months to find!

Yes we will all miss the van but it was time to say goodbye. Just like the stabilizer bars, the ABS, and the engine mounts on the van said goodbye to us. The “Memory Machine” was traded in but will always be remembered. Especially the next time I need to move something big or dirty.

Shan and I have been looking for a long time for the right vehicle. It had to be AWD, with low KMs and have the ability to pull at least 5000lbs in case we ever upgrade our trailer. That way we won’t need to go car shopping again for a very long time! If I had to give any advice to someone car shopping I would say to them what people said to us “be prepared to walk”. In fact the day we bought our car we walked and the salesperson was on the phone with her manager as we were leaving and I heard her shout “they’re walking, THEY’RE WALKING!”.

In the end we were able to make a deal though and we are very happy with our purchase. It’s “the latest” as Lexi calls it and I think it will be with us for a very long time!

Blue Lake 2016

Last year we camped at Blue Lake on the way to Thunder Bay and the kids loved it. This year we asked the Ratte’s and Morrison’s to meet us there for what would be the most epic camping trip to date!

We were supposed to leave on Sunday but I received a text from Paul letting me know that they were going up Friday. I looked online and could not get the site I booked early so I figured I would just stick to the Sunday departure time. After talking with Shan we decided to pick up a different site for the extra couple of days and we rushed to get packed and ready to leave Friday morning. Seven days is officially the longest we have been camping as a family to date.

campers

Now camping with friends makes it all worthwhile. The kids just entertained themselves it seemed. Lexi was gone from the moment we stepped outside until bedtime. She played with Alyssa, did hand knitting, played games, and read her chapter book by the fire. Ashlyn has become such a swimmer this year it was hard to keep her out of the water. She also kept busy collecting worms, teasing the boys, and playing with her babues. She also loves to play with Haddon so when he arrived she was in heaven. It was such a nice trip.

More Photos

Camping tips for Blue Lake:

Firewood: The first night we arrived I bought firewood at the park like a dummy. I spent $21.00 on 3 tiny bundles that we burnt through sparingly between 6pm and midnight. I like to have fire in the morning sometimes as well so you figure at least 4 bundles a day at $7 each will add another $170 to the fire over the 6 days there. On top of the $300 we paid for the site that adds up. On the second day Paul and I drove to Oxdrift Country Store (about 20 mins past Vermillion Bay). There we met a nice lady who was selling 3 larger bundles of wood for $10. She ended up giving us 12 bundles for $35 which we burnt constantly at $3.00/bundle. Feel free to call ahead to make sure she has stock 1 (807) 937-4052.

The Poopers: At first I always liked Blue Lake for it’s flush toilets. It added that taste of home just in case you wanted to rough it and still have the dignity that comes with a flushable toilet. Of course you must bring your own toilet paper from home. This year I found it much better in the “plop toilets”. My reasoning for this is simply for the privacy it provides and the accessibility. I found myself competing for the flushers too often. Walking toward them with my toilet paper in hand and making eye contact with another camper who also has toilet paper in hand…both our pace quickening…butt cheeks clenched in anticipation just to be elbow to elbow in those tiny stalls! Not me, this year I went plopper. Just me and the clicking the of the automated light timer. Use as much toilet paper as you like in there as well because you’re not going to bung anything up.

Dogs: Bring em. There are lot’s of dogs here and as long as you keep them off the beach nobody complains. There is basically a “no dogs past this point” line on the beach but it’s reasonably close so you can bring your dog to the beach and sit a little further back with your pet and still go in the water. I also noticed several spots for them to swim off the hiking trails so that is nice too.

Busters BBQ: Just because you are camping doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself! “Busters” is a five minute drive from your campsite and guess what? It’s air-conditioned and there are no bugs inside. It was super nice on our last night to break away from cooking and eating in the heat and covered in bugs. Make a reservation though (1-807-227-5256) because we went on a Wednesday night and it was packed.

Hip Summer

Summer holidays have officially started.

This summer is being dubbed the summer of the Hip. When the fan club pre-sale started we were all online trying our best to get tickets and luckily I think we got everyone covered one way or another. While I was trying for Winnipeg, Shan was getting seats in Calgary. Looking forward to taking in that show with Tim and Les and then following the band back to Winnipeg for likely the last time we will ever see them live. Pretty sad to think about really.

Brey had the great idea to get some shirts made up with our favorite Hip quotes as a tribute. This inspired me to really listen to some Hip in the past couple weeks and memories flooded in. I also realized I hardly ever really listen to music anymore. I mean, it’s on in the car and in the kitchen when I’m making dinner or cleaning up. It’s on my computer right now but I’m not really listening am I? One night last week I slept in the basement and just put the Hip on random and really listened. I forgot what that was like to be honest and vowed to do more headphones this summer.

If a song can’t save us then nothing can

I am looking forward to a slow paced summer of camping, good friends, and really listening to The Tragically Hip.

MALEFACTOR

mal·e·fac·tor

a person who commits a crime or some other wrong.

synonyms: wrongdoer, miscreant, offender, criminal, culprit, villain, lawbreaker, felon, evildoer, delinquent, hooligan, hoodlum;

It’s OK to be a man. Not all men are bad, or have done bad things. It’s OK to love women, to think they can be smart, beautiful, and strong all at the same time. All the while, still a man.

My feelings on this sparked during a family life class for grade nine boys. I was an adult in the class working with a specific student and they had split the class into boys and girls. Each group watched this video that basically showed the many ways in which men objectify women. It was a good hour and thirty minutes long of this is how men treat and think about women.

I think not. At the end of the video I had male students approach me wondering if anyone really thinks like this anymore. It was as if they felt bad for being male. A malefactor perhaps. Like they were already guilty of treating women poorly by association and still only in grade nine. I wasn’t privy to the girls class but I am sure it made them feel victimized and a second class gender. A seed planted that men are the enemy and a progressive chip placed on their shoulder they will need to work harder than most men to shake off.

It also made me really question gender politics in my own life. I always knew women had it rough in some cultures but surely in Canada and the US women and men are treated fairly. I hate to say equal because, let’s face it, men and women are not equal biologically and for that reason there will always be inequality. I thought that feminism started as a movement toward equality and found that today it’s more of a right wing turn toward demonizing the male gender.

I came across this article on Buzzfeed Canada about the Jian Ghomeshi verdict titled I Hope The Ghomeshi Verdict Makes You Fucking Furious. It’s written by female writer Scaachi Koul and it really made me wonder how many women in Canada and the US really feel a deep rooted resentment toward males. Let me preface this by saying I didn’t follow all of this in the news. From what I understand of it the ruling was based on lack luster evidence and the word of the girls against Ghomeshi. I have no sympathy for Ghomeshi and if he hurt any of those women in any way I hope he gets his. Thankfully it’s not up to me and thankfully it’s not up to Scaachi Koul because it’s evident throughout the article that she’s on a manhunt for not just Ghomeshi, but men in general.

First she attacked the judge claiming that women knew what the verdict was going to be right from the start “because the (justice) system wasn’t built for us (women). It was built for the men it protects, the ones we try to expose.” She refers to the judge as “a cartoon sheriff from the ‘50s”.

Huh? Currently in the US 93% of incarcerated inmates are male. To further those stats I looked at the offenses committed and sex offenses ranked 4th on the list of reason convicted out of 13 possible offenses.

Although my favorite quote, and the whole reason I am writing my thoughts on all of this, just so I won’t forget this beauty of a statement…

Let your body crack wide open and fill the world with your anger because anger gets shit done. Male anger is turned against women and our heads are smashed against walls and our bodies are shaken and bruised; female anger activates and shoots up into the sun and forces change.

Yes, let’s promote anger instead of truth and rationale! Not Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails, kind of anger but sugar and spice and all things nice kind of anger because that’s what little girls are made of.

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You can also read a more unbiased report on the verdict.

Winter Update

Ok, we have been hiding from you winter.

The kids have been busy with school and activities. Lexi is doing gymnastics (at Panthers) and dance this year. She is built for gymnastics and I am always impressed at her strength and natural ability. She tries hard and has fun there so what else can you ask for. I sometimes think she needs to be challenged more and the instructors look like they would rather be texting but I know I have a knack for the negative so I look past. Friday nights after a long week topped off with gymnastics Lexi looks forward to what I like to call “Foot Rub Fridays” before bed. Lex is also losing teeth like mad. Four this year already and one more on the way so that is exciting for her. I can’t stand watching Shan wiggle them out for her.

bday-baconWe just celebrated Lexi’s 7th birthday and this year she chose Montana’s for her family dinner. It was a good time watching her stand on her chair with the horns on and I got to pack in the all-you-can-eat ribs. Nolan also showed up and brought the birthday bacon too! Win win.

For the friend birthday we decided on a pool party so we booked the Canad-inns a little late and had all the girls out. Last year one of Lexi’s besties had to move and I was able to track her down for the party. It was really cool to see Lexi’s face when she saw her…and the hug, it was one of the best hugs I have ever seen. Big thanks to everyone who helped out that day and Michelle for doing all the hair after!

besties

Ashlyn is busy dancing and back in swimming. We called last minute for the swimming and ended up at Bernie Wolf pool. I’m not a fan but Shan says we are just there for a few months and it’s better than nothing. The instructors there make Lexi’s instructors look like Richard Simmons. I do see improvements in the pool though. At Lexi’s party Ash was fearless on the water slide.

Ashlyn is also adjusting to the morning routine much better now. I think pre-school is making her less anxious and daycare this year is gold. We love her there. Saying that though next year we will have just one drop off and pick up at the school and that will be so much easier. After playing most of the day Ashlyn likes to come home and have some alone time. She takes care of her babies still and has been getting into the lego lots lately. She also loves coming for walk with Penny and I which usually turns into her climbing up and down the snow banks filling her boots with snow!

chewie

I am ashamed at how long it’s been since I have written. My new years resolution was to “do what I want” as much as possible. I know that sounds selfish but mostly it means to find time to do things I enjoy like writing and listening to music. I don’t mean the kind of listening you do in the car or while your cleaning the house. I mean really listening. I think it also goes hand in hand with not putting up with unacceptable shit and giving zero fucks. Wouldn’t you know just like every other get ripped NY resolution I have had it’s February and I’m just getting started!

Shan and I have been walking the dog lots. She does the morning and I go in the evening. It’s one of those things that is hard to get up for and hard to keep your pants on for at night. Between dinner, and getting the kids to bed there is no down time until 8pm. Penny is a high energy breed (we have decided part Ridge Back) and really needs to get out and run when she can. She is really turning into an awesome dog. She still has her things (like jumping up) but she is really good off the leash now and can chill out a little more at night now. She is a champ at the dog park and sometimes at night we meet up in the field to play with her friend Eva. So nice that she is so awesome with other dogs.

penner

Shan and I are getting away usually once a week too. Shan is playing soccer and I have the usual Nolan’s Hockey Sunday nights. Missed 14 weeks this year already with a pulled groin but have been playing the last 4 games and feeling much better out there. We are also both really involved in the Parent Council at Lexi’s school and taken on roles in the new inclusive playground development project. It’s another thing to add to the pile but we really love this community and want the best for all the kids who go to school here.

We did some really cool stuff this winter on skates and toboggans but now it’s time for the snow to go away. The kids are already talking about camping and we are already making plans and dreaming about what a summer might look like without house painting to do! Can’t wait, and I promise to post again before the snow comes back!

Penny Peever the Rotti Retriever?

Most of you have met, or at least know that we have a new edition to the family. Since Vegas passed in January we have really missed having a dog around and have been kind of looking. After visiting with the Rattes this summer and being around their dogs it really hit home how much we wanted our kids to have a dog back in their lives too.

“Penny” was actually Apple but after much deliberation and a small poll orchestrated by Lexi it came down to Princess Dusty Face, Turtle, Seabass (Nolan) and Penny. Penny won.

We found Penny through the good people at the Brandon Humane Society. We knew we wanted and puppy and after many visits to the Humane Society here in Winnipeg we found that most of the dogs there were older and that puppies that did come in went quick. So we made arrangements to visit Penny’s litter and quickly fell in love with all of them! Shan even wanted to take home their mother (who looked a lot like Vegas) just from seeing her picture!

Penny seemed to stand out as a gentle pup and she made an instant connection with Lexi. Shan and I picked her up on our way back from Fargo on August 7 and she has since adjusted to her new home and family. We are still house training a little bit (the basement seems like a challenge) but she has had zero accidents upstairs in days. We even took her on her first camping trip and she did awesome in the camper. We are regulars at the dog park and she does very well off the leash and socializes great with other dogs. We have been working a lot on sit and stay commands and she is learning fast. She loves her walks and when she uses up all her puppy power she sleeps through child mauling and our crazy day to day. At night and when we are out she finds solace in kennel which she seems to really like at times just to have some alone time. I was worried about the nights but she sleeps solid through the night and seems ready to get up when we are. She walks right to the door to goes outside for a poop so she is learning. I think if we let her she would save it all up for Nolan’s grass just like the other night.

Best of all she is awesome with the kids. Ashlyn still needs to get comfortable with her but it’s not uncommon for us to find Lexi curled up with her on the floor petting her while she sleeps. Or fake sleeps perhaps.

YMCA Problem

Saw this in the Lance today and I was mortified. Not only because I have already written about how much I have to police other people’s kids at the Y on Fermor, but also that the Lance won’t or can’t write where this happened. “A fitness centre on the corner of St. Mary’s and Fermor.”; Grow some balls and just say at the YMCA on Fermor wherein lies an unsupervised play area where people are encouraged to leave there kids unattended while they work out. It’s not the first time either.

I also love the placement of the YMCA paid advertisement that nicely finishes this piece with…

“We never met a kid whose potential we couldn’t see.”

You could start by seeing that the play area is monitored at bare minimum periodically. I am sure one of your minimum wagers or bubbly volunteers could pop a head in there once every 10 mins to make sure everyone is wearing socks, the appropriate age, or not being molested. Please.

ymca

Parents don’t bring your kids with you to work out. It’s cruel, like leaving them in the car on a hot day with the windows rolled up. Bad stuff can happen. If your going to the Y watch them like a hawk or make sure someone else is. For God sakes bring some socks for them.