The Medal and The Photo

MiniSir and I attended a gala last weekend on behalf of the Regiment. It was a very fancy affair – hosted in the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald’s Empire Ballroom, which looks like a set from Marie Antoinette. The supermoon made the river valley look silvered and beautiful, the free champagne was flowing, and the music was rocking. It was an excellent evening.

We sat at a table with other soldiers and their spouses, and as I looked around the table, I noted, despite the plethora or dearth of medals, everyone had one specific one; everyone but my husband. Which I mentioned to him, being completely unaware of what it was.

“That’s the CD (Canadian Forces Decoration).” He muttered with a pained smile. “I don’t have one because I don’t have enough time in yet.”

For those that may not know, you need to have 12 years “in” to receive your CD; something that, if you’re a Major, is so common that the joke is to not trust one without that medal. And yet here he is, being an exception to the rule. Ask any soldier under him, and they will tell you that the joke (at least in this case) is completely inappropriate.

And yet the pained smile when I mentioned it.

MiniSir likes to say he hasn’t done “a lot of stuff” with the Army. He will tell you he hasn’t if you ask. He is wrong when he does.

Nothing makes that more obvious that the photo he received this morning as a gift. This photo was taken this past Remembrance Day at the gravesite of one of the soldiers killed on MiniSir’s tour. In this photo, 5 men stand together to remember their fallen comrade. They are smiling. There is beer on the grave. And Nathan’s spirit is with them.

This photo was taken, enlarged, framed, and gifted to him by one of the wives of the other men there. I cannot express how much having it means to him, and how touched he was in receiving it. But the man who always says he doesn’t do “much” messaged me this morning, told me about the gift, and then expressed a desire to make a collage of photos for his office wall. Because this gift made him realize that, even without his CD, he has still done some amazing, sad, wonderful things, and he has the friends to prove it.

He has so much more than shiny brass – he is surrounded by people who will tell him he’s valued, and help him remember his worth. Which is way better than a silly medal.


Week(s) in Review: Home Sweet Home

Yeah, I know it’s been forever since I posted an “In Review” piece. And to be honest, a LOT has gone on. Let’s recap:

  • – I’m pregnant!
  • – We are having a boy! This photo is how we told everyone; most people got it, but there was some confusion as to whether or not it was twins.
  • – We went to Walt Disney World on our Christmas vacation!
  • – We survived Winter-Ice-Stormaggedeon-Pocalypse 2013 while visiting family in Ontario!

But I think the most recent event merits the winner of today’s subject award: We bought a house!

We knew we would have to move from our apartment to have the baby (it’s an adult only building) and we were looking at continuing to rent. But then MiniSir got word that he’ll be in Edmonton bouncing from position to position for the next 5 years or so, and we figured why rent for so long when we could become responsible homeowners? So we did!

No, it wasn’t as easy as all that, but it did end up very positive for us. We have purchased a new townhouse in the north of the city near the base. It’s got all the bells and whistles, including hardwood flooring and granite countertops. It’s 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bath – the perfect size for us, particularly since I will have to clean it… eventually. The complex itself is only around half finished, so when I say it’s brand new, it’s really super shiny new.

MiniSir and I are very excited. Neither of us have ever owned a home before, and we feel both grown-up and scared stiff at the same time. So many new changes will be coming in the next few months. The good news is that we can be all moved in by the end of February, so there will be some time for us to relax and get settled before the baby arrives to change everything again.

“She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.”

It has been a super experience with this company. I got to pick out my colour package for what I wanted inside, and tomorrow I get to go choose my blinds which they will install for us before we move in! It’s like playing The Sims, but actually being able to live in it afterward.

My only concern left is: will the duct tape on my couch match the flooring in the living room?

Week in Review: Catch My Breath

What a whirlwind of a week! There was so much to do, and I get the feeling that this is only the beginning; September is going to kick-start a crazy autumn season. Although it’ll be full of crazy while by myself, as MiniSir heads back to Wainwright for two months, which may be better or worse, depending on how things go. To start, we had supper with friends on Monday night – a giant, 22lbs of smoked pork supper – to celebrate a birthday. I spent all day Monday making cakes: a buttermilk chocolate one and a gluten-free banana spice one. Both had cream cheese frosting and sprinkles, because no cake gets made in this household without cream cheese frosting and sprinkles.

Tuesday I went to physio. NBD. Wednesday I had an appointment with a new psychiatrist (that’s right, folks – I’m seeing three now!) at the hospital so it was an emotional rollercoaster of a day. Thursday I spent the day feeling sick and playing video games because sometimes you just need a day to do that, but it was a good thing I did because this weekend was non-stop.

Friday I headed back to the hospital to see another of my mental health professionals, cried some more, came home, got prettied up and went out to dinner in Sherwood Park for their 120th Anniversary of the County celebration in conjunction with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) regiment exercising the Freedom of the County. To explain quickly, a “freedom of the city/county/whatever” ceremony dates back to medieval times when certain units in armies had close ties with certain cities. These units got preferential treatment and were allowed inside the city fully armed and ready for battle. In return for letting them rest inside and replenish supplies, the city was guaranteed protection from outside forces and the assurance that no soldier would take advantage of the situation (and fall to plundering or raping, for example). So Stratchcona County, being another namesake of Lord Strathcona himself, thought it would be super cool for the Strats to come into town fully armed and march through to show their friendly association. Got it?

LCol Peyton riding through in his tank. Tanks are the new horses, yo.

The Friday night was a black tie/Mess Kit affair as I did my best to be arm candy for my husband so he could schmooze. In attendance was the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, along with the Mayor herself, the Colonel, the RCMP Superindendent, and the deputy Premier. Yeah, it was tres fancy. We got home around midnight after dropping off our carpooling friend.

We so fancy

Saturday morning, however, was no time for sleeping in! MiniSir had us out the door by 7:30am and off to the base to drop him with the rest of the regiment for the convoy of tanks, armoured vehicles, trucks, and buses to depart toward Sherwood Park. Yes, you read that right, folks: they took their tanks down to “free the County”. LCol Paul Peyton rolled up in his Leopard 2 and hopped out, put on his sword, and proceeded with the ceremony. He was accompanied by his 100 man honour guard, of which my sweet husband was a member. He was so excited to be a part of it, and even more excited about the sword he got to flourish about. The whole affair was incredible. He’s never been a part of a “Freedom” ceremony, and I’ve never seen one, so it was a big deal for both of us.

Sunday we had to do all the pesky stuff that still needed done, like the laundry, etc. And then we were off again to another friend’s house for some more delicious smoked meat; this time beef. We got to catch up with them and meet their little one for the first time, which was a big hit with me.

I know that so far today I’ve done the dishes that have piled up since… last week some time, and vacuumed half the apartment. In a minute, I plan to go have a nap, and then I might fold some clothes. Maybe. This week I have no appointments booked until Thursday and I plan on making the most of the time I have available by finally cleaning the apartment properly (something that hasn’t been done for a solid month now) and catching up on my sleep. Because whew, I’m beat. Being popular is so hard sometimes.

My Furbabies

2013 seems like the year where everyone I know is having a baby. You know those years. Sometimes everyone you know is getting married and you have six weddings and you can’t wear the same thing to all of them, and then you need to buy six wedding presents and you’re broke and… yeah. This year I’m pumping out little bassinet/car seat sized knitted blankets like nobody’s business. So I thought, since everyone is doing it, I’d properly introduce my babies: Will, Hope, and Jasper. They are our adopted kids, our parents’ grandbabies, and our source of four-legged love and affection. At times, they can drive us crazy and then they can be sweet or silly just as suddenly. They are sometimes demons and sometimes angels, trapped in small furry bodies.


We’ll start with Will. He’s the oldest of the three, having been around since long before my husband. He is my rescued baby that has grown into a beautiful but kinda obnoxious senior cat. He was named Will because when I got him it was iffy as to whether he’d live. I promised him, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You will be okay”, and the name sorta stuck. As he grew, it evolved into “Will Help”, because he thinks he’s people and will help you do everything you don’t want help doing. Lying in the dirt pile while you sweep the floor is a specialty of his. He’s actually more like a dog than anything else – he begs for food, meets you at the door, fetches bits of paper and plays soccer with me. When he was young he broke his hip (I still don’t know how), so he is now without a ball joint in one of his back legs. This means he can’t jump as high as the other cats, but he’s cleverer than them so he figures out how to get up on things pretty well. We are the crips, Will and I.


Hope is next oldest. We adopted her shortly after I got out of the hospital. Will was waiting for me at home when I was released, but it was pretty clear that he needed some feline companionship. Her name is completely a product of how I felt at the time – I needed a little hope. And she is little. Weighing in at just 4 lbs, she’s the tiniest cat I’ve ever had. When we brought her home for the first time, she swatted Will, ran by him up the stairs, and then waited for him to follow, kind of like they were playing tag. This is Hope’s personality in a nutshell. She is the most feline of the three. She will hide in boxes and bags, randomly self-pet but then run away if you try to actually pet her, and every once in a while she turns into a vicious huntress and pounces, teeth and claws out, on your feet under the blankets. Her favourite things include being up high and drinking out of the fish bowl. Her one quirk is that she doesn’t make any noise when she purrs. You can feel her vibrating, but she is silent. She also fiercely protective of her people. If I could make her into a jaguar I would, because aside from that being epic, I think that’s how big she believes she is.


Jasper is the baby. And not just because he’s the youngest. If he could change himself into a baby human, I think he would. He loves sleeping on his back in your arms, is extremely needy, and very vocal if you are somewhere without him. He runs to the bathroom (which is down at the end of the hall) and sits on the toilet, waiting for me to get there. I have to push him off to use it. He doesn’t like cheese or any other human food for that matter. What he does like is belly rubs. Hours and hours of belly rubs (and also being a complete crazy pants when the thunderstorms are rolling in). MiniSir brought Jasper from Kingston, ON to live with us after a stray that my mum took in had kittens. He is, of all of them, his cat. The hilarity of having a cat named Jasper while living in Jasper House on Jasper Avenue is not lost on us, but it is a well-suited name for him. He’s lazy, sleeps under the bed at my head, and if I walk into a room where he is, I always get a “Hi mom!” meow.


My kitties keep me company on my good days and my bad ones. They sleep with me when MiniSir is gone so I have some warmth in the bed beside me. There are days I couldn’t imagine life without them, and there are days I want to sell them to the circus. But I love them all – they are my babies.

Real Life Kings Quest

You ever play the game Kings Quest in the 90s? I had a 8-bit version of it with nine 5-inch floppy disks, and I used to lie them all out on my bed so I could switch between them easily.

This summer, a local journalist has organized a real-life quest for intrepid Edmontonians to encourage the exploring their own city. She has launched her “yegquest” through the Edmonton Journal, and has brought along some local fowl for the ride. Every day, she posts a photo of her papier mache feathered friends in a recognizable Edmonton location, and challenges readers to go find the exact spot and submit a photo of themselves for a chance to win a night for two at Fairmount Hotel MacDonald, with breakfast included the morning after.

To me, this is like Kings Quest all over again. Using Google Maps and local news to figure out where the locations are is like collecting the rhymes and clues that tell you where you need to venture. For twelve consecutive days, a new photo will be posted on Paula Simons’ blog. You have until September 1 to enter all your yegquest photos into the contest. You can follow @yeg_chick or @paulatics on Twitter for more updates and info on the contest.

I think a night at the Hotel Mac would he the perfect way for Matt and I to celebrate our first anniversary on September 8, so we are totally committed to doing this. Quest on!

Week in Review: Holi-daze

Ah, the August long weekend. A time of complete and utter indulgence. Aside from Christmas, I can’t think of another holiday that lends itself to the kinds of selfish behaviours that Civic Holiday does. I was going to describe all the wonderfully self-indulgent things we did this weekend, but my blog post has now been eaten twice, and after a ridiculous appointment with my doctor this morning, I’m getting frustrated.

In my medieval best. Ish.

Dread Pirate Matty

So, in short:

    We went to a viewing of The Princess Bride in Churchill Square downtown on Friday evening. The square was packed (about twice as many people showed up as they expected), and there was dancing, comedy improv, a Knights of the Northern Realm demonstration with actual swords and a mace, and a costume contest. Matt and I did dress up and were invited to take part in the contest, but since it was purely based on crowd approval and I don’t enjoy being publicly judged, we declined (but still got a sticker – yay!).

    Look! I’m a matryoshka!

    Ivan, the Terribly Constipated

    On Saturday we took in the Servus Heritage Festival at Hawrelak Park. It’s a huge festival with tents representing countries from all over the world. There must have been sixty countries represented, maybe more, and each tent was offering a sampling of food as well as artifacts for viewing or merchandise for sale. We circled the entire park, taking in everything, and sampled foods from Peru, Ghana, and Pakistan. It took about 4 hours for the full circut, and I was properly exhausted afterward. We had a fantastic time, though.

    Sunday was paintball for Matty yet again, and it was early to rise so we could drop him off. Once I got home I had a great nap (very fulfilling) and made an apple pie. We went to friends’ for a BBQ supper (hence the pie) and stayed up late, talking about everything under the sun. It is so nice to visit with them – they are great, down-to-earth people. Plus they sound cool when they say stuff, since they are a Kiwi and an Aussie couple.

    The actual holiday Monday was a day of rest for me. I slept quite a bit, and spent the waking hours watching cartoons and knitting. It was a pleasant day of recuperation and I took full advantage of it.

    The most electrifying pie in dessert entertainment!

    We also went to see The Wolverine last week sometime (maybe Thursday?). It was pretty darn good. I really liked how the movie took place mostly in Japan, and when it didn’t, it was clearly in Canada. Hugh Jackman never ceases to surprise me as Logan. He’s perfect for the role, bringing the right intensity to the former X-Men while still making him appear human. I also happen to like Asian-inspired esthetic, so that was convenient.
    In closing, I’ll save my scathing review of the Alberta health care system for another time, since I’ve vented to my mum and feel somewhat better about everything. But yeah. Scathing.

    Week in Review: A Renewal

    Well, howdy. It’s time again for another Week in Review, and let me say that it has been a topsy-turvy kind of a week. Hitting some low notes and peaking at some fantastic highs, it has been another week in keeping with the trend this summer has been setting.

    We both had appointments this week, and so we worked around those in our social engagements. However, we managed to fit in a treat on Tuesday evening as we went to Famoso pizza for gelato, and was generously given our scoops for free! The manager, whom we speak to often when we are there (or even walking by), told us we were such great customers that it was on the house. My Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel gelato tasted even better because it was free!

    We did help friends with the renovations of their business on Wednesday, to the extent that I made cookies and gave my opinion while Matt did all the helping. On Thursday, Matt’s dad arrived for a week-long visit, and we have been taking in the sights with him. Saturday was a rainy day, and we spent it walking around the West Edmonton Mall, getting some dry exercise – something Matt and I do quite regularly if it is a rainy weekend, since it’s a nice flat surface for me to walk on and it usually tires me out nicely.

    On Sunday we had made an appointment at Fort Edmonton Park to take part in their “Weddings Through Time” celebrations with the renewal of our vows at St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church on 1905 St. It was an overcast day, cool and breezy, but that didn’t stop us from dressing up in period-inspired costume for the occasion. During the ceremony, we took advantage of the opportunity to get the officiant to work “even through Time And Relative Dimensions In Space” into the vows (which is epic, btw: we are now sealed to one another again by our vows and TARDIS).

    It was a very nice ceremony, and Bob was eloquent and well-spoken, easy to speak to and easy-going. He made us feel as though we were celebrating much more than just being married 10 months ago (which of course we are although he didn’t know anything about that). Nonetheless, it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. Wandering through the park afterward, we were able to see a 1920s era wedding re-enactment and partake in some homemade raspberry and coconut wedding cake after the 1900s era wedding celebration. Matt’s dad enjoyed the visit to the Park as well, and was happy to be a part of our small re-dedication ceremony.

    Today I have a very important appointment in Calgary with a doctor specializing in occupational medicine. I have no idea what to expect when I’m there, so I’m nervous about the whole thing. I am just hoping that this will result in the definitive diagnosis that I have been missing in my ongoing lawsuit, and that it ends up being exactly what we need to get things moved along to the next stage.

    You’ll notice I didn’t mention the “low periods”, but really, I don’t need to. There were tears, many many tears, but I’m working on it and through it and with the help of Matt, my mum, and my therapist, I’m learning things about myself I didn’t realize until now.