Tag Archives: family

Making everyone happy is not possible

IMG_4633
I’ve been keeping a secret…

So, it’s been pretty quiet around here for the past few months, once again. And here’s why: My Darling and I got engaged!!! He popped the question all of FOUR days before we left on a two and a half week trip to Poland so he could introduce me to his family over there. The vacation was planned, the engagement was kind of expected, but we were getting so close to our departure date that I honestly was not expecting it anymore. It finally happened though and we are both so, so excited.

Our trip was lovely although quite busy, we changed hotels seven times in eighteen days and saw more pretty much every single family member of my Darling’s still living in Poland. That was a lot of people and a lot of travelling and while Poland is a beautiful country and the food was delicious and I mostly had a good time, I got homesick at one point. The episode, which lasted a few days, was mostly triggered by the fact that I had never traveled to a country where I did not speak the language with enough proficiency to have a conversation. The other part of the trouble I is that we were travelling with a couple we are friends with and being with other people day in and day out can be exhausting. I am not a person who can be around other people 24-7, I just end up going bananas and the male counterpart of the couple we were travelling with eventually got rather annoyed with my moodiness and even got upset with me for not wanting to tag along on an excursion at one point, mostly, I believe, because I darling opted to go back to our lodgings with me. Hence, the title of this post: you can’t make everyone happy all the time. Sometimes, you have to put your own comfort and happiness first, whether it is while traveling or in everyday life. I was tired, I had a headache, I needed some space and I was craving some time alone with my Darling. We got engaged four days before leaving on our vacation, for crying out loud and we had not had an entire day to ourselves since two days before we left! So home we went and to heck with the friend’s grumpiness.

It is also impossible to keep everyone happy while planning a wedding. I’ve been at this for about two months now and have already managed to disappoint one bridesmaid and long time friend by not including her in my first dress shopping expedition and a cousin’s husband by addressing their ‘Save the date’ card to Mrs. Jane David & family (as I do with her Christmas card every year) and not Mrs. Jane & Mr. John Doe & family. I have tried to soothe the friend by explaining that the shop I am going to for my first afternoon of dress hunting only allows a bride to bring three people along and that my mom and best friend (and maid of honor) were no-brainers and that my sister in-law said she wanted to come along too right in front of my brother. I have so many friends who have told me over the years that they absolutely HAVE to come with me the day I go shopping for my wedding dress that I will not possibly be able to bring them all along, so what I have told them is that I will be rotating them in and out while always trying to include my mother and my best friend. I have four bridesmaids and one maid of honor and at least one friend who is not in my bridal party who has insisted on being included in one of my excursions. God help me if I find my dress on my first day out, but what else can I do? I can’t keep everyone happy and if I bring everyone along I will have too many opinions in one go, which I absolutely do not want. I have to think of myself and my sanity.

As for the card, what can say? I did not know my cousin had changed her name after she married and did not know that it was legally allowed in the Province she lived in. Women have not been allowed to change their names upon marriage here in Quebec for years now because it was causing too much paper work. Honest to goodness, my cousin’s husband’s reaction didn’t bother me nearly as much as her telling my aunt about it and my aunt telling my mother about it and then my aunt asking my mom to write Mrs. Jane & Mr. John Doe & family on their wedding invitation. I would have much preferred my cousin to contact me directly, but I have not hear a word from her. I am therefore left wondering if my cousin was so very bothered by the incident or if it was just her husband who for some reason overreacted to the save the date card when he had never said a word about any of the other mail I sent. You can’t make everyone happy, you really can’t. I cannot imagine the scenes that will be caused by the eventual seating plans, but ultimately, the wedding is my Darling and I’s day and anyone who tries to rain on our parade is the one with the issue, not us. Someone will complain about the cake, someone else will complain about the music and my dress will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I just don’t care. What does matter is that my Darling and I’s wedding pleases us. Of course I want our guests to have an awesome time at our wedding and I will do everything in my power to ensure that they do, but I refuse to believe that a bridesmaid will have less fun at the wedding because she didn’t come dress shopping with me or that my cousin’s husband will spend the evening sulking because one day, about nine months before the wedding he got a card with his wife’s maiden name on it instead of his and he didn’t feel included in the word ‘family’.

The bottom line is, folks, being kind is important, being thoughtful and respectful towards others is important, but being kind, thoughtful and respectful to yourself is important as well.If you are making everyone except yourself happy, then you are ultimately doing yourself more harm than good.

Spring and everything that came with it

As you have no doubt noticed, I have been quiet for a while. That’s because life has been quite busy and complicated here lately. We have known for quite a while that we might be in for a bit of a rocky ride, but let me start at the beginning:

I bought my home about three years ago, as I have mentioned before. It is a beautiful, rambling old upper duplex in NDG and as with most of these properties, it is an undivided co-property, meaning that when you buy one of these places, you are essentially entering into an unofficial marriage with the folks living either above or below you. You therefore would do well to figure out who the nosy neighbor in the area is and get all the information you can about the people you are going to be sharing your duplex with before you decide to buy, because if you end up in this type of ownership with the wrong sort of people, you are in for a very bumpy ride. The lady who lived below me when I bought was everybody’s dream in this type of situation. She was a very kind, deaf, elderly lady. She never caused me a moment’s worry (well, except for that one time when she set her oven on fire…), handed over a year’s worth of post-dated cheques for her half of the monthly insurance premiums and was delighted when I offered to take over the care of our front garden and bring it back to life by planting things in it. Unfortunately, her health got a bit iffy in the Winter of 2014-15 and she and her family decided that it would be best to move her into assisted living. My Darling and I were devastated and concerned about who would end up living downstairs, especially when it took months for the unit to sell, a phenomenon that is pretty much unheard of in our area. The longer the home was on the market, the more nervous my darling and I became because we knew our nightmare scenario was getting closer to becoming reality: people who were waiting for a bargain price before snapping the place up in order to tear it apart and put us through months of renovation Hell and then move in and not want to spend another penny on the building for years. Or worse still, these same people trying to flip the house and not know what they were getting into, running out of money and then abandoning it or try to sell it half renovated.We ended up with scenario number one. A couple our age had been watching the unit’s price drop for months and bought it so they could customize the heck out of it. Since our new downstairs neighbors have started their renovations, all Hell has broken lose. First off, we are dealing with the usual inconvenience of work going on downstairs: infernal racket from 8:00 A.M. to anywhere between 4:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. (although on Good Friday it was really bad and we had a plumber in and out of our place and theirs cutting pipes etc. from 10:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. who was unable to get his job done due to complications and left us without heat for 32 hours), dust, noisy workers, debris piling up in front of the neighbors garage and as often happens when the ceilings are torn down, a few minor issues have been found with our place which meant some unplanned spending. Plus, with the ceilings down and all the soundproofing gone, we feel like we have unwanted guests in our house who just keep coming back day after day. When these guys are talking and drilling and hammering away, it feels as though they are working in our own house and not downstairs. In the first three weeks of work, I had three separate meltdowns over the fact that I felt like my home was no longer my own.

The last meltdown was on Good Friday when I had spent all day cleaning a ton of dust that had come up from downstairs through undetected and therefore unprotected gaps between our unit and the lower one to make our home presentable for my in-laws who were coming over for Easter-even lunch the next day only to be informed at 10:00 P.M. that my guests would be eating in a cold, unheated house to the sound of plumbing work being done downstairs. My poor Darling scooped me up and comforted me as best he could before counselling me to spend more time outside the house and away from all the racket, which I have been doing. It has helped, as has the fact that we have been having one of my father’s good friends put the finishing touches on our house so that it finally feels like it is all ours. We had 85% of the house painted last year, so this year all that needed doing was the living room and our main staircase. My dad’s friend is an extremely talented painter and has worked in a lot of homes in our neighborhood restoring them to their former glory. Ours has a lot of its original features, but its beautiful oak beams had been painted over twice in the home’s 89 year history including once in, God help me,  red, and again in beige. See?

1169250_1821624141398622_1955363445_n

So my dad’s friend stripped them for us and painted our living room in two different shades of my favorite color, purple! We chose purple because it compliments the red we have in the office next door and the paler of the two shades fits in very well with the pale, buttery yellow we have in our main hallway and kitchen. The oak beams though, my goodness! Who in the heck would ever want to paint over such beautiful beams?

12677363_731069577029512_990482105_n

So, finally having our house the way we want it has perked me up quite a bit, as did a seriously healthy dose of fresh air and sunshine last week, part of it taken in during a vigorous 10km run. I also spent quite a bit of time cuddling our cats in the evening once all the noise was over for the day. As you can see, Quinn and Magique have not been nearly as bothered by all the noise as I am. All they need is the couch and some sunshine and they’re all set.

IMG_3787
Quinn soaking up the sunshine
IMG_3798
Magique has a different approach to sunbathing from Quinn’s.

Before we had the painting done, I also cheered myself up by putting some cheerful Spring flowers in the living room.

IMG_3803
Beautiful Spring blooms from Westmount Florist

Also, we enjoyed a lovely Easter Vigil at the Oratory, like we do every year. If you are ever in Montreal over the Easter weekend, I cannot recommend this service highly enough. It is filled with candle light, music and hope. Plus, nothing beats the view of the Oratory lit up at night.

IMG_3817
St.Joseph’s Oratory after Easter Vigil.

I also got seriously excited when I saw that the buds on our Maple tree were opening up. This, if memory serves me, is happening much earlier than last year which wouldn’t be surprising since our Winter this year has been a lot milder. I’ll have a better idea of the time frame later in the season though, because I know that our Maple didn’t have full-sized leaves when we left for Vegas and the Grand Canyon last year and that was in early May.

IMG_3819
Buds on our Maple tree!

So there you have it, my life lately has not been very conducive to creativity, but I think I’m back on track, especially since I took the initiative of purchasing a keyboard for my iPad. I will now be able to write posts away from home and since the neighbors plan to be renovating until at least June 30th, I will be spending a lot of times in Montreal’s many cafes and will therefore more than likely have a lot of time to write and read and take pictures. I will not hide the fact that I would much rather be spending time in my beautiful purple living room though.

12501877_1711580449086265_1576826721_n

On living in the neighborhood your family has been in for four generations

OMG you guys, I am so sorry for being such an absentee blogger over the past few weeks, but I was hit with a nasty bug at the end of December which left me completely wiped out. I only started getting back to normal last Friday. The moral of this story is: if your house is way too dry (below 30% humidity), any chest and throat infection you contract will potentially be way worse than it normally would. I kept getting worse until we went out and invested in a good quality humidifier and got our numbers back over 40%. Yup, old houses dry out fast in winter!

Now, on a more cheerful note, I am, as I have mentioned before, seriously in love with the neighborhood we live in. My Darling and I have been in and out of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce all our lives and from the time I was in my late teens, I knew without a doubt that the day I got my own place, it was going to be in N.D.G. What I did not know until far more recently was just how deeply rooted in this part of Montreal my family’s history was. That sort of family history is not the kind of thing a kid is typically interested in. All I really cared about when I came into this neck of the woods for dinner with my paternal grandparents when I was little was how many sweets my grandmother was going to slip me when my mom wasn’t looking, the bouquet of flowers my grandfather would give me from his flower pots in the Summer and the huge (to my brother and I) hill we would drive down in Montreal West on our way home. Since I have moved out here though, my grandmother has loved telling me stories about what the neighborhood was like when she and my grandfather grew up here, because it turns out that out of her 84 years, my grandmother spent 79 of them living in NDG and my grandfather spent 84 of his 89 years here. They moved out to the suburbs to be closer to my aunt a few years ago and while my grandfather was perfectly happy with the change, my grandmother felt completely uprooted and it took her over a year to get used to her new neighborhood.

To put things into perspective, my grandparents remember what NDG looked like before a chunk of it was torn down to make room for the Décarie Expressway. They remember where the old streetcar routes ran (there have been no streetcars in Montreal since 1959) and they saw the Basilica of St-Joseph’s Oratory be built and its dome rise into the skyline of the neighborhood in 1937. My grandmother’s parents arrived here as immigrants from Slovakia in the 1920s and my great-grandfather delivered coal in the neighborhood. My grandfather’s parents were the first owners of a house down on the corner of Old Orchard Avenue and Côte-Saint-Antoine. They moved in in 1932 when my grandfather was six years old and the family kept the house for nearly 50 years.

I love the feeling of living in a neighborhood where my family has so much history. I love knowing that I am walking the same streets that my great-grandparents, grandparents and father walked. I love being able to talk to my grandmother about how little the area has changed since her childhood. She actually grew up in the same ten block radius  that I have called home since 2008. However, having so much history in the neighborhood can also be very bittersweet, like when a venerable old tree reaches the end of its life:

Montreal plans to fell 165-year-old tree in N.D.G. | Montreal Gazette

You know a tree is old and much-loved when news of its upcoming demise makes the news in all the English outlets in town. Everyone who lives in my area knows this tree and I spent well over a half-hour talking about it with my grandmother earlier today when she called to ask me if I had read the story I linked to above. The tree is right across the street from the house my grandfather grew up in and he couldn’t bare to talk about the tree being cut down when my aunt gave him the news earlier this week. I know the tree well, because I can barely stay on the sidewalk when I jog by it and I give it pat and say hello to it every time I go by. A tree this old merits some form of deference when you cross its path. The tree means so much to locals that the borough is bringing in a second team of experts to make sure that nothing can be done to save it before making a final decision about its fate, but it is fairly certain the poor old fella will have to come down since the entire center section of his trunk is rotten. I am planning on walking down to visit him, say goodbye and take some pictures of him in the next few days…and hopefully he won’t fall on me if he really is in as bad a way as they say he is. I will probably cry. This tree has been in the neighborhood long enough to see it grow from a tiny farming community to one of Montreal’s first suburbs and four generations of my family have walked past it, watched it grow and admired it. How can I not be touched by its demise when I think of that?

If you would like to learn more about the history Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, you can check out this site.

 

Happy New Year!

Gosh, I can’t believe how quickly the Holidays flew by! What a whirlwind! I’ve spent the past two weeks going from party to party. Everything went so well, I can’t think why I was so stressed out before it all got started, but that’s the Holidays for you, a huge load of hype and preparation and then they’re done in the blink of an eye!

My Darling headed back to the office today looking much more cheerful than he did a few weeks ago, so that was nice to see. He really needed a change of pace and a bit of a rest and he got that. As for me, I’m happy that I made so many people happy over the Holidays and I’m also happy that I had an easier time with them than I’ve had in years. I didn’t shed a tear on Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day. I didn’t cry at all until we put my Grandmother on a train to Toronto on the 27th and that was because I was so sad to see her go! I don’t know if it’s because I had a proper meltdown days before Christmas or because my grandmother’s visit kept me so busy, but whatever the reason for my lack of Christmas doldrums this year, I’ll take it and hope they will stay away in the future!

I also must say that I am looking forward to 2016 with more hope and optimism than I have had in quite a few years. 2015 was a year of healing for me and I hope that 2016 will be a year of happiness, celebration and health for my Darling and I and our families. I know that every year has its ups and downs, but I’m hoping for another year that will have more positives than negatives.

So here’s to 2016 and I hope it brings you and those you love plenty of health, happiness, love and dreams come true!

arriva-il-nuovo-anno-2016

In which I admit to having an up-and-down relationship with Christmas

FamilleGagnon_0046
My first Christmas

When I was little, I was crazy about Christmas. What kid wouldn’t be when they were fortunate enough to grow up in a stable, loving family environment with two parents who were crazy about each other, four adoring grandparents who spoiled them silly in every sense of the word (all the hugs and kisses you could want and sweets and toys galore), aunts, uncles and cousins to goof around with and nothing in the world to worry them. I remember that the two weeks I had off from school at Christmas every year were so completely different from the rest of the year, they were so filled with love and fun and magic that by the time I went back to school, I felt like I had been out of my routine for a solid year.

Things changed early in my teenage years though. My maternal grandparents, who had been central to my upbringing and had showered me with more affection than words can express, moved to California when my grandfather got his last transfer before he retired (yes, I had very young grandparents, they were all in their early to mid 50s when I was born). I was fourteen at the time and I cried for weeks after they left and after that, Christmas was never the same. They split their holidays between my family in Montreal and my aunt’s family in Toronto, so one year they would spend Christmas with us and do New Year’s in Toronto and the following year it would be the other way around. It was a huge change for me and that is when I started feeling lonely at Christmas. It got far worse when my parents split up about five years after my grandparents moved away. I decided to live with my mother, but my brother moved in with my father when he eventually got his own place and family tiffs would begin months in advance over who was going to celebrate Christmas when and with whom on the years when my maternal grandparents were in town. Unfortunately my brother and I were not in a situation where where big collective family Christmases were an option. I often ended up in tears and I would even get snappish with my grandmothers when they would start talking about the Holiday arrangements at the end of Summer.

FamilleGagnon_1407
My brother and I, Christmas 1990 or 1991

I was hoping that things would get better once I moved out on my own, but they only got worse. I would end up alone on Christmas Eve every other year and wouldn’t see any family at all until Christmas Day and would then be alone again until New Year’s Day. I very rarely had anyone to celebrate with on New Year’s Eve. I tried going out for walks in Mount Royal Park or to the movies in town to break the monotony of it all, but I would return home feeling more depressed than ever because all I would see everywhere were families celebrating the Holidays together. Let me tell you this: being alone at the Holidays is the worst kind of solitude you can feel. It gets to the point where you just was to lock yourself away in your home with nary a Christmas decoration in sight until the whole thing is over because everywhere you are, you are hit in the face with images of what you do not have: someone to share it with. Even when I worked through Christmas Eve I would feel unbearable lonely the minute my shift was over at 2:00 A.M. because most of my colleagues were heading straight off to join their family celebrations and I was getting on the bus home back to my apartment, which was empty except for my cats. I would get home, curl up with my cats and cry.

Then the worst thing of all happened: my father died. He was so unwell on Christmas Day in 2012 that he wasn’t able to join us at my aunt and uncle’s place. We decided to have a second Christmas celebration for him on Epiphany (January 6th) and he barely made it to that. He passed away about three weeks later.

IMG_6885
My father at Christmas a few years before he passed away.

At this point, I had had it with Christmas and when it came time to chose my vacation dates for 2013-2014 I decided to not take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off. I couldn’t have guessed that by the time Christmas rolled around, I would have had a burn out and quit my full-time job and also that my Darling would finally have decided that he was willing to put me through the introduction process into his very traditional Polish family, but I am so infinitely grateful that he did, because I don’t know how I would have made it through my first Christmas without my father otherwise.

I am slowly beginning to reconcile myself with Christmas, but it has not been easy. I have yet to wake up on Christmas Eve without crying and even though my in-laws, especially my mother in-law, do their best to make me feel welcome at their Christmas Eve celebration and my nieces and nephew fill the evening with cheer, they are not my traditions and I feel slightly out of place and oh-so nostalgic for the Christmas Eves of my childhood. The ones where my maternal grandparents would bring my brother and I to Midnight mass ahead of our parents so that my parents could help Santa lay out our gifts. I miss sitting around the tree with my family, I miss singing carols at church with them. I miss the later traditions as well, the ones we barely got used to, like my father handing out the gifts at my aunt and uncle’s place. I miss seeing his handwriting on his gift labels and reading the Christmas card he would send me. I inherited all of his Christmas ornaments though, all the ones I grew up with. Now that my Darling has moved in with me, we have gotten a natural Christmas tree two years in a row (no way could I have gotten one of them into my home by myself!) . It has done wonders for me to be able to have a real tree like I did when I was little and to hang so many of the ornaments I remember from my childhood in it along with my own.

Along with his ornaments, I inherited my father’s collection of CDs, including his Christmas albums and I created a huge, hours long playlist with his Christmas music and mine last year. Among them are pieces from a recording of a concert we attended together at Notre-Dame Basilica featuring Bruno Pelletier accompanied by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 2003.

zik87782-1440622820-580x580

I have also started writing and sending out my own Christmas cards and I always, always bring Christmas wreaths to my father and grandfather at the cemetery and ask my father to help me be happy and my grandfather to help my grandmother.

I know that compared to others I am very fortunate. I have happy memories of Christmas from my childhood and have always had someone to celebrate with on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Some people have never even had that or have had it very rarely. That’s what makes the holidays so bittersweet though, having had so much happiness and then losing it and trying to get it back. What I am coming to terms with is that Christmas will never be as it was when I was little. The best I can do is to take those wonderful memories, cherish them and use them to create my own happy Christmases. I am striving to do that. It doesn’t mean that I can’t be sad or miss my loved ones, it wouldn’t be normal if I didn’t miss them, but I can also show them what I am doing to keep sharing Christmas with them even though they are no longer here or, for my aunts and uncles and cousins, that I am thinking of them even though we spend the holidays far apart. It may not be easy, but it is a start and I’m hoping to smile a bit more and cry a bit less every year.

All about my brother’s wedding

Well, ladies and gentlemen, my little brother got married this past Saturday and it was an absolutely beautiful day. The ceremony was touching, funny and adorable, just like my brother and his wife are and the reception was one Hell of a party. I never expected to cry as much as I did throughout the day though, I must have gone through at least a dozen tissues and unfortunately for me, one of the wedding photographers seemed to get a kick out of how much I was crying because she kept taking photos of my meltdowns. Eventually this got on my darling and I’s nerves and he started shielding me from her view when he noticed her pointing her camera in my direction. I mean seriously, one or two shots of the tearful sister of the groom is fine and touching, but a ton? I don’t get it.

My brother and his wife were married at the Notre-Dame-du-Sacré Chapel of Montreal’s much famed and photographed Notre-Dame-Basilica. They lucked out, it’s their parish and the chapel is a beautiful, intimate place away from the glitz and opulence of the main part of the Basilica.

Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur chapel
Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur chapel

It was just the right size for my brother’s wedding since he and his fiancée had about 100 guests in attendance. This is the main Basilica:

Notre-Dame Basilica
Notre-Dame Basilica

Drop dead gorgeous, but huge and not my brother and his fiancée’s style. The one advantage to using the main Basilica for your wedding is that they close its doors to tourists during the ceremony so you and your guests can enjoy the ceremony in private and don’t have to traipse through a herd of them to get out of the main doors for your photos after your wedding like we did. One of the church employees actually had to remove some tourists from our group after they had inserted themselves right in between the bride’s brother and his wife and my Darling and I as we were making our way out of the church. They looked displeased with having been found out, but their checkered shirts (I kid you not) and cameras were a dead giveaway. The horde of tourists outside the Basilica who took pictures of us along with the official photographers could unfortunately not be avoided however, but hey, at least we put a smile on everyone’s faces!

As for the ceremony itself, it was beautiful and touching. I teared up when I saw how nervous my brother was getting, I cried when I saw him cry as his fiancée walked down the aisle and then cried again when the priest welcomed us and mentioned that the candle burning on the altar was there in memory of my father. I got myself under control just in time to go up and do my reading, which was the first one. I only found out I was reading first at the rehearsal last Thursday and flipped out because I could not imagine how I would manage to compose myself in time to read, but desperate times called for desperate measures: I started counting the figures in the large bronze sculpture behind the altar as soon as the priest told us to sit down and that did the trick. I then proceeded to cry when my brother and his fiancée said their religious vows and then their own vows and then I cried when they were pronounced man and wife. One of my cousins who was seated behind me offered to take some of my crumpled tissues off my hands while she handed me another as I had run out. I refused and shoved the whole lot into my clutch in embarrassment at that point and got overly excited when we came across a garbage can on the way out of the chapel at the end of the wedding ceremony so I could throw them all away. I kept one only slightly used tissue because yup, I teared up on the steps of the church when the bells started ringing too.

We had an hour to kill between the ceremony and the cocktail and reception, so my Darling and I walked back to the hotel and went to relax in our room for a bit. The reception was amazing with delicious food and great music and the speeches were wonderful as well. I went up with my mom she gave hers since she wanted me to take over in case she lost it, so I stood next to her with a box of tissues just in case. She did amazing though and everyone got a kick out of us telling my brother he was so not sorry when he tried to apologize for being an incorrigible tease. Oh and the best part of the reception? I caught my sister in-law’s bouquet!!! I couldn’t believe it, hers was the third bridal bouquet I have ever caught! She was actually apparently going to come over and hand it to me, but my brother told her that would be cheating, so she tossed it, it flew over everyone’s heads and landed on the ground in the right hand corner of the dance floor. I made a dash for it and voilà! It was mine and I just about died laughing!

So there you have it, the happy couple are married and currently off on their Hawaiian honeymoon and we are all left with beautiful memories of their magical day.

Special kudos for the day go out to:

1- My brother and his wife, naturally, for all the beautiful personal touches to their day, right down to personalized M&Ms with one of their engagement photos printed on them which we were all presented with as favors and the donations they made to two charities on behalf of each of their guests, one in memory of my father and one in memory of my sister in law’s grandmother.

2- My local hair salon, Salon Au Premier, who, thanks to my stylist and makeup artist managed to make me look amazing in spite of some major bags under my eyes and my being paler than usual.

3- The Westin for their amazing service, food and beautiful, quiet, comfortable rooms. If you are in the market for a venue for your wedding reception or any other event, check and see if there is a Westin hotel near you and be prepared to be impressed!

The times are a-changing!

My brother and I in the Fall of 1985
My brother and I in the Fall of 1985

So, you know how I mentioned in my last post that Fall is a season of new beginnings? There is going to be a big new beginning in our family this Fall: my little brother is getting married! Yup, that baby on the right hand side of the picture. If that seems funny to you, imagine what it feels like for me, since I remember him being that little! This photo was actually taken in the last wonderful months before he found out what teasing was and started driving me up the wall. It was also taken before he learned how to talk which was when we discovered that he absolutely hated to be wrong. I have been thoroughly enjoying time spent with my future sister-in-law since I now have someone to try to catch my brother out on his mistakes with. Frustratingly, they are few and far between, but my brother’s fiancée and I have a whale of a time when he does make one, which in my books makes her excellent sister-in-law material, especially since she also happens to be crazy about my brother.

The wedding is bringing a lot of excitement to our family naturally, but it is also, probably mostly for my mom and I, a big change. I am having trouble reconciling my memories of my childhood with my brother with the thought that he is going to be a married man in just a few short weeks. I’m guessing it might be easier for me to wrap my head around if he were my older brother instead of my younger brother. I’ll have to consult my Darling on this point since he has an older brother who is not only married but has three children.

Anyhow, wedding mayhem is beginning to fall upon us, so my posting may become a bit sparse. I make a point of trying to get at least one post per week up, but that may not be possible in the next few weeks, especially since my Darling and I are making a trip down to the States so we can travel back up to Canada for the wedding with one of my Grandmothers. Rest assured though that you will be treated to a wedding post. Maybe not with pictures since I will not be bringing my camera along with me on the wedding day in order to be able to fully enjoy the festivities, but most certainly with as many details as I feel comfortable sharing.