Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Ending on a High Note

Try as you might, it is hard to get through New Year's Eve without reflecting on the past year.  As such, this post is more sappy and less witty than usual.  It's still the holidays, so please be nice and humour me by not commenting on that last sentence, letting me believe that previous blog posts have been witty.

2013 was an eventful year for Tom and I.  I ran the Boston marathon with finish-line bombings.  Tom and I  sold our house in Arnprior and moved into an apartment in Ottawa.  We spent a long weekend and ran a marathon in Austria.  Tom began working as a private consultant.  I changed schools and teaching subjects, and had my first student-teacher. It was a good year, but a challenging one.

If you are reading this, you already know that that universe kicked the "$h!t" out of us in 2011, with the loss of Granny, Dad, and Father Bob in a 4-month window.  Looking back now, I think we used 2012 to prove that we were strong and that we could fight back.  Tom worked hard and was top of his MBA class.  I trained hard and qualified for the Boston Marathon.  In the not-so-famous words of Chumbawamba: I get knocked down, but I get up again.  You're never going to keep me down.

Maybe we tried to start over in 2013... I'm not sure.  It certainly felt like it in June when we moved into a new place and I took the job at a new school.  Why the big changes?!  I'm not sure about that either.  I think that part of it was a simple need for change.  Part of it was a need to get away from situations and places that reminded me of losing Dad.  It's not that I'm trying to forget Dad; that is the furthest thing from the truth.  What I would like to forget is the pain of the loss itself.  It is amazing the totally unrelated things that trigger painful memories of the days surrounding his death.  Two years later I struggle to teach the lessons I was teaching the day he passed away (even though I taught them that day before I found out).  I was never able to leave a West Carleton staff meeting without replaying my trip home and the news I got the night of that September staff meeting when I got the awful news.  The staff at my new school is so irritating at staff meetings that they take away the ability to think of anything but their ridiculousness.  

I've probably grieved more this year than any.  As it turns out, I needed it.  A lot of the sadness and memories culminated last week, on Boxing Day, when I made a photobook of memories of Dad.  I looked through every photo I have of him, and I put together pages of memories including racing and doing our favourite dance: The Twist.  Making the book wasn't easy, but it was worth it.  I cried and smiled in about equal proportions, and finished with a true sense of lightness.  I lost my dad too soon, but he left me with enough love and happy memories to last many lifetimes.

Feeling so refreshed from the Dad photobook, I also want to pay tribute to Granny before this year comes to an official close.  I spent a lot of time reminiscing about Granny during my long flight home from Egypt for her funeral, and in writing and practicing her eulogy.  Granny was a strong woman who loved God and her family above all things.  She appreciated everything she had in life, which may have seemed little to some, but which she saw as the most rich and abundant blessings.

Over the years I have collected several rings from Granny.  Since I don't wear many rings, I am going to use three of my Granny rings to make a necklace.  I received two of the rings directly from Granny when I was single and in my lower twenties.  I remember the day she gave them to me saying  "I'm giving you these gold rings Katie, in case a man never does."  Granny wasn't one to mince her words.  I received the third ring from Aunt Suzy after Granny's passing.  I love the ring and its green stone.  I wore it for a few months, but found that I never stopped fidgeting with it and pulling it on and off.  I will be much less scared to lose it in necklace form.

I did not buy any new beads to make this necklace.  I was tempted to, but thought that it wasn't what Granny would do.  She would make the best with what she had, and make it wonderful.  Thank you Granny, for a good life lesson and for saving me a few dollars!  Dad, Granny, and I used to say that we were "cheap, cheaper, and cheapest", but we never could agree on who was who.  Maybe I am cheapest now that the necklace is done without a penny spent.

With the end of this year comes the end of this beading blog.  This will be my last entry.  Aunt Christine may have been onto something when she said to me a little over a year ago "A beading blog Katie?!  How on earth is making jewelry going to be interesting enough for that?!"  I enjoyed writing the beading blog, and reading your kind comments, but beading is just too easy to put aside when life gets busy.  Stay tuned for a food blog in the new year.  I eat everyday whether I'm busy or not, and love talking about food too!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  2014 is going to be a great one... I can feel it already!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Back for the Holidays

My dog ate it.  My printer wasn't working.  I forgot it at home.  Those excuses work for my students, but I have a feeling that they don't help to explain why I haven't blogged in months.  I suppose my best excuse is that I got busy.  I don't accept that as an excuse from my studentsthough.  Thankfully my awesome student-teacher has helped lighten my load over the holiday season, so I've got the time and energy to share a new project with you: my Christmas party necklace.

The need for a Christmas party necklace was born two weeks ago when I bought a new Christmas party outfit that I certainly did not need.  Tom and I were out shopping the day after black Friday, and most stores still had 40% off everything in the store.  I've never owned a sweater dress, but have wanted one for a while (I love one-item teaching outfits!).  When I saw one for just $15, I had to try it on. 

As soon as it was on I realized that it would certainly never be a teaching outfit.  It was slutty short, and kinda low-cut.  I liked the fit, but decided it was just too short for me to wear anywhere.  As I was heading back into the change room, I saw a girl come out in the same dress, with leggings on.  So maybe it wasn't the dress that was slutty, it was me that was slutty, for considering wearing such a short dress with bare legs.  I wound up buying the dress, then some leggings, which I always swore I would never wear.  Don't bother telling me that I'm too old for leggings.  I have them now, and I've already worn them.

All that to say that I needed a fun necklace to wear with a solid grey sweater dress and black leggings.  Thank you mom for funding this necklace (and much more) with my birthday gift card from Michaels.  I picked up some nice red and green beads as well as some chain for the necklace.  It was so much fun to shop for beads again!  I hadn't done that all year. 

I started the necklace design on Thursday night, and finished, but wasn't thrilled with the final product.  After sleeping on it (the ideas, not the necklace itself!), I decided to add some red and green beads directly into the chain, instead of just hanging.  I finished it Friday evening, about ten minutes before leaving for my first Christmas party.  I'm really happy with the final product, and I got so many compliments on it that I wore it again the following night to another Christmas party.  I was told there that I should be selling my beautiful jewelry.  For how much I could charge, I don't think I'd be working for a very good hourly rate.  I much enjoyed making it though.  Thanks mom for giving me inspiration (aka funding) to get moving on a new project.

Happy Holidays to all!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Come What MAY

May is always a busy month in my life.  At least it has been since meeting Tom.  With my mom-in-law's birthday on cinco de mayo, followed by two sister-in-law birthdays, Mother’s day, my brother’s  birthday, and then a brother-in-law birthday, we typically have a busy May.  Add in a long weekend trip and marathon in Austria, selling our house, finding a new place to live, and moving.  May 2013 feels like just about the busiest month I’ve ever experienced.  Did I mention that I’m coaching the junior girls’ soccer team at school?  We finished second overall and have our first playoff game next week.  Wish us luck!

I can’t use the words “busy” or “tired” with any of my young mom friends, since their response would surely be:  “Just wait until you have kids; then you’ll know what busy is!”  Thank you in advance for your kind and supportive words.  My blog readers are always good to me!  I’m sorry I haven’t been as good as I should be to you this month… especially moms.  We missed Joan’s birthday because we were in Austria, and missed my mom on Mother’s Day because we were house shopping.  I did still squeeze in a belated piece of birthday jewelry for Joan.

I had a hard time deciding what to make for Joan for her birthday.  Every day Joan wears a gold chain with a cross, and gold hoop earrings.  I didn’t feel like making a necklace or earrings really made sense, so I decided on the piece of jewelry she doesn’t have set: a bracelet.  It only made sense to make the bracelet in gold to match the other pieces.  To keep it neutral, I added both black and brown beads.  That’s my trick for being able to wear jewelry with any outfit.  We gave the bracelet to Joan along with a Salzburg (city in Austria we visited) beer stein and some Austrian dark chocolate.  I hope you liked your birthday gift Joan!

Life hasn't quieted down yet, although the stress has.  We signed a lease for our 2-bedroom apartment in Westboro on Thursday.  We will be moving next weekend (May 25-26), but the house doesn't close until June 3rd, so we can take it slowly.  Moving from a 3 bed, 2.5 bath home to a 2-bed, 1 bath apartment will be yet another adventure in my amazing married life.  
Our new living room

A lot of people think we're crazy, but we're super excited about living in Westboro, a green area in Ottawa from which we can walk to parks, bike paths, outdoor produce markets, caf├ęs, restaurants, and MEC.  Not to mention the 40 minutes closer we will be to our friends and family.  The smaller space will be an adjustment for sure, but it's one we've been talking about since visiting Africa and Southeast Asia and seeing how happy people can be with so much less stuff.  Maybe we'll love it... Maybe we won't.  The commitment is only for one year, and we're excited to see what will come of it.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

In Case You Were Curious

I won't even make excuses (at least not long ones) for getting this photo up so late.  Yes I'm still planning to run another marathon next weekend in Austria.  No we haven't sold the house yet.  Enough said.

Two weeks late, here is the picture of my mom's birthday necklace:

There's already another birthday coming: mom-in-law!  Any requests Joan??