Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lame, lame, lame

Only in Yellowknife would less than 2 minutes of fireworks be talked up as a big New Year's treat.

The city officials were on the radio talking about the spectacular fireworks display they had planned, computer-programmed, yada yada yada.

It was less than 2 minutes, people. Even my-two-year-old knew it was lame. He was like, "Where did the fi-ya-wooks go, Daddy?"

I remember my first fireworks display here. It was actually good -- 15 minutes long, for the big millenium celebrations. And it was cold that night -- about -40C. I was working that night for the newspaper, and my finger froze on the shutter button.

The rest of tonight was a lot more fun than the lame-o fireworks. Alex went horseback riding for the first time, and has proclaimed he is now a cowboy. Isaac rode the rockiong horse in the house while eating as much pizza as he could shove in his rosebud mouth. And I got to hold a two-week old baby that was not mine.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Last Yellowknife Christmas

I have been in Yellowknife for seven years. Cape Breton is the only place I've lived for a longer period.

I came to the city a single 22-year-old girl, to start my first real job after university. I married from here (though in Cape Breton). I had all three of my babies here. Hubby and I bought our first home here. We built a family here, of friends from work and church, adding people as they came, letting them go when they moved.

Yesterday was my last Christmas in Yellowknife.

We did all the things we usually do at Christmas, our traditions: The Christmas sing-a-long at the Landrys; Mass on Christmas Eve; Christmas morning at our house, followed by Christmas dinner at the Paquins.

The Paquins are more than friends. Gail and Gilles have been, in many ways, our Christian role models and parents ever since we arrived. Gail and I met at a church meeting, and just clicked. Gail was my Confirmation sponsor. I often introduce her as my "spiritual mom." My children call her Grandma Gail.

Sitting at the Paquins long and full dining table, all six of their children home for the holidays, praying and eating and laughing together, was almost too much for me this year. As each moment passed, I said good-bye to them. Good-bye to the table groaning with dishes. Good-bye to the sound of 16 people enjoying the food and each other. Good-bye to our traditional dessert of dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies I bake each year. To everyone mooning over my latest baby, how sweet and small and charming on his or her first Christmas.

From the time I turned 16, I've been a wanderer. I thought Yellowknife was just another desitination, a stopping place where I rested for awhile. Now I realize that this little city perched on the edge of a sub-Arctic lake is my home.

I don't know how I'm going to leave come spring.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A picture of us.... and a story about "sisters"

My friend Megan made this South Park-esque family portrait and put it on her very funny and insightful blog today. Get a load of the Hubby wearing camo and sporting a beer. It looks so much like the five of us it's a bit scary.
Megan and I have been friends for about 6 years. We both started at Big Crown Corp. on the same day -- March 20, 2000. We have a mutual friend named Stacey; I met Stacer in Saint John, NB a few months before we both came North.
Stacey and Megan and I have a strange relationship in some ways. The two of them are very much like blood sisters; read more about that over at Megan's blog. My friendship with them both is so intertwined that it's hard to separate how I feel for each. But never having had a sister, our relationship feels more like that than anything else.
In my family, I'm the baby. But with the girls, I'm the middle sister.
Megan is younger than Stacey and I, but she is the older sister. She was the first to marry and the first to become a mother. She worries and frets and (sometimes) gently admonishes us both.
I'm the oldest in age, but the middle sister, the translator. When Stace and Meg start to wrangle, I'm the one who hears both sides of the argument. I'm the one who often explains them to each other, even though they understand each other better than I ever will, since they've been together so long.
Stacey is the younger sister. She is busy forging her own path and living her own life. She is independent, but still needs our love sometimes. She loves us, but ignores our worrying and takes our advice with a pinch of salt. She loves to spoil our kids.
I can't imagine my life without these women, and I miss Stacey every day.
When I move to Victoria, I'll gain Stacey but lose Megan.
Megan, it's time to convince your hubby to move south.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Starting out as a military family

Today was my first day in military family basic training. I brought the kids to the military family resource centre.

MFRCs exist to help military families -- whether they're coming to new communities, or the military member is on training away from home, or on deployments. They offer all sorts of services, depending on the place: day cares, pre-schools, casual child care, a list of local babysitting teens, job placement services for spouses, on and on.

So I hauled my small brood to the one in Yellowknife for their first outing as Navy brats. While the boys decimated the play room, and Baby N. chewed on the Exersaucer toys, I overwhelmed the poor program co-ordinator with questions (thanks, Bev!)

I'm feeling a little better about the long time this winter while Hubby is away; I can't wait to take advantage of the casual child care to get a hair cut or run errands.

When I got home, I promptly called the 1-800 number for the MFRC in Esquimalt, B.C. (directly adjacent to the city of Victoria). Esquimalt is the first base we will be posted to after Hubby's basic. He'll be in school there for a few years.

While the woman on the phone did try to convince me to live in the married quarters out in the suburbs rather than the one closer to town (no thanks, I think, not my thing), she had tons of helpful information about when we can apply for married quarters (ie. a military-owned house to rent), how the waiting list for MQs works, and what we'll need once we get one (MQ's do NOT come with appliances, such as fridges and stoves. You have to supply your own.)

She also took my address and is sending me a package of info in the mail -- more stuff to study and devour about this new life we're beginning.

He's joining the Navy.... and I guess I am too!

More than half a year ago, the Husband and I were sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying the midnight sun while our two boys (finally!) slept. The baby inside me, our first daughter, was wide awake; so were we. That happens when you're trying to decide what to do with the rest of your life.

We'd reached a crisis, in the true sense of the word: a critical point where we had to make some decisions. I'm a reporter with Big Crown Corp.; the Husband has run his own business for the past three and a half years. My job pays well, but it is stressful and demanding. It especially demands a lot of time -- a normal working day starts at nine and ends at 6. Add overtime, a husband and two kids, and things were a little crazy. Add a new baby to the mix, and it would get insane. We'd need a nanny, for goodness sake. We couldn't afford a nanny. And I wanted to raise my own kids full-time.

The Husband was feeling a little rudderless. He had built the business from scratch, but he was.... well, tired of it. He wanted excitement and adventure. He wanted decent pay. He wanted to contribute to the world around him.

We'd been bantering around new careers for him. Trade? Another degree? But we're still paying off student loans from the first time around.

So I gathered my courage together and voiced something I'd been thinking about for a long time.

"Honey," I said, "have you considered the military?"

The Husband looked at me with shock and said, "I'd been thinking about it for months, but didn't want to bring it up. I didn't want you to feel you had to be a military wife."

I was okay with being a military wife. I don't cover the military. I cover health. And I don't object to the military.

He went to the recruiting centre the next day. Two weeks later, he started talking Navy. Then Maritime Surface and Subsurface Command (MARS).

In October, a few months after baby N entered the world, Husband was being interviewed by a naval board. He was selected.

He leaves for basic officer training in January. He returns in late April. During that time, it will be me and the kids. I have no relatives here, just friends and my church (thank God for them!).

So while Hubby undergoes training to be a naval officer, the rest of us will get our own training: basic military family training. Otherwise known as one parent, three kids, and a single-wide trailer in the North. Eeep.

Join us for the ride, will you?