I can't believe it's the middle of November. In my mind, I had planned to wrap up this blog of our two year adventure on the west coast a long time ago. But then life happened, as it always does. I supposed the "post script" to our time in BC isn't a bad thing to have tacked on to the end. It gives context and fills in the blanks of what it was like to reintegrate into prairie life and times.
There are times when it feels like we just got back and others when it feels like we never left.
Sometimes when I'm walking in a parking lot or am shopping I'll catch a glimpse of someone who I think is a person I knew in BC. It's like I'm transported back. I almost call out a greeting to them but then realize it's not who I think it is and I'm not where I believe myself to be! I think this kind of thing must happen to anyone who has moved and transitioned. It's all part of the grand adventure.
Life as we know it is busy. Busy. Busier than it's ever been. I can't say I like that part. But busy kids usually equals kids who are engaged and involved and so I'm grinning while I bear it. This isn't the kind of "life" I thrive on. But growing kids who have dreams and plans don't really have a lot of time to wait around for you to "feel it" before doing it.
Since returning to Winnipeg, Hannah has jumped into to her reality with both feet, at least up to her neck. She is feeling increasingly more comfortable and at home at her school. Being at a tiny school like Confederation Park for those two years and then coming back to a huge school with lockers, lots of teachers and tonnes of kids has been an adjustment. She has found some things and people to no longer be the same as when she left them. She has accepted this with an amazing amount of maturity and insight. We often talked, before we returned, that her old friends won't be the only ones who were likely to have changed, but that she changed a lot too. Life lessons early.
I love the way Hannah taken nearly every opportunity that has come her way. She is part of the Middle Years Leadership Team, part of the Middle Years literary publication committee, in the vocal ensemble, the jazz band, and still takes piano and contemporary dance. Her lunch hours are full of meetings and practices and her evenings are full of homework. She's busy. But she likes it that way. She is learning to navigate life with a busy schedule and still find ways to preserve herself. This is a lesson I'm still learning. How to refuel, regenerate, and re-engage for more when what you really want to do is curl up in your bed with a book, shut your door and hide. Hannah is a lot like me. This occasionally makes for some interesting encounters of the "slamming doors" variety.
Ellie is Ellie. If you know her, you know what that means. She's quirky and silly and soft. She likes school a lot, but would rather stay home if given the choice. When she's had a hard day or has been though a rough situation she still likes to curl up in my lap and snuggle. Physical touch is important to her. She needs time at home to feel connected to her roots in order to go take on the world. She has managed to reignite some of the friendships she's left behind and even create some new ones. She has a giant hole in heart where her special friend Nikki took up space in BC. There are moments and days when she starts talking about Nikki and then dissolves into a puddle of sobs and tears over the pain of not having her as a daily part of her life. This is heartbreaking to see.
There are a host of other moments when Ellie looks more like this....
Ellie managed to snag the lead role in the school Christmas production. She went through several auditions to end up with the part of "Cecelia" - a diva-like news anchor who is reporting on the Christmas story for the first time. Ellie can play up a role like this with great skill. She's got a thick script to memorize and she's well on her way. She wanted to do jazz dance again this year, and has class on Tuesday nights and was asked to be part of the performance team which also rehearses Sunday afternoons. I couldn't believe we were driving her to dance twice a week and then knew that it's just what you have to do. Sometimes it's not about you.
Sasha still loves school. Loves it to the point where she gets melancholy and down on Friday nights because the weekend means a break from the classroom. I'm grateful she wants to be at school. It was all new to her this year. New building, new teachers, new classmates, new routine... all of it. She is quiet and serious at school. It often appears as though she's having a tortured time, but her reports tell us otherwise. She skypes regularly with her beloved friend, Heloise, back in BC and still hasn't found a friend here who even measures close to what Heloise was to her. Relationships take time, I tell her. But I know it's hard to not have your one true comrade with whom you think you can conquer the world.
Piano makes the world go 'round for Sasha. She loves to practice and eagerly anticipates her lessons on Mondays. She has a teacher who makes music come alive for her and who builds her up and makes her feel special. I don't think it gets any better than that.
Mike is a superhero. Really, he is. He is still biking to work downtown, even with all of the snow on the ground! He gets up ridiculously early to get his gear on and then slaps on that safety vest and takes to the streets like a champion. In Winnipeg, this is no small feat! I just put together a tag for his vest that gives his name and says who to contact in case of emergency of accident. Hopefully no one needs to look at the tag this winter, but in Winnipeg, you can never be too sure.
Work has been good for Mike. He's loved being back at the Winnipeg office where he is known and connected and comfortable. He's back in the role of Mechanical Department Head, and has been extremely busy with lots of good projects and people. Even in the middle of all of that goodness, he still desperately misses BC.
As for me, well, you can find me in our van. Driving around one girl or three. I might also be waiting in a parking lot or getting groceries. I'm also in a classroom at the Uof W as I started my Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy this fall. I love my course work and the time in the classroom. The school experience feeds me and generates excitement in my soul. I've connected with some amazing people who challenge me and help me realize I'm not as smart as I like to think that I am.
I can also be found subbing at the girl's school in any classroom from K-12. Subbing affords me the chance to say "no"when I need to. The teaching part is ok, but mostly I like talking to the kids and making relationships with the kids at the school. I already have a new little gaggle of friends in a few different grades that greet me in the hallways. Hannah gets a serious and perplexed look on her face every time I go in for subbing and don't know the grade I'll be in yet. She'd prefer that I stay as far away as humanly possible from the grade 7 classrooms, while Ellie would just hop right up on my lap wherever I am. Sasha would like for me to not be so "friendly and embarrassing" when I volunteer or pop in to her classroom.
So, that's mostly our life. In between all of those lines you might hear some Dan Mangan playing in the background, or maybe Tubular Bells or the new Tragically Hip album. You might find a book by Jim Palmer lying around the house, or maybe some old-school Beverley Cleary or a copy of The Mysterious Benedict Society. You'd probably see sketch books and pencils and drawing books out on the island counter top and Halloween candy wrappers lying around the house. The toques are on, the boots are out, and the air is crisp. That's life as we know it today.